MUSIC | Bruce Jackson's right tight blues


June 25, 2009

I don’t spend much time in the Warehouse District. Don’t go there at all, actually, since Babalú closed almost a year ago. Accordingly, I paid the devil trying to get around that vicinity at all, let alone find JJ's Dry Dock Café. Went this way and that, asked the bartender at JD Hoyt’s no less than twice—probably three times—where the place was and, God bless her, she was patient.

When I arrived, it proved to be well worth it. The joint is classy but not stuck-up, with a nice patio where you can catch the band and luxuriate in outdoor ambience. Added to which, Bruce Jackson and the Moondogs are a fascinating outfit, solid musicians working strong material behind a very effective fronting duo. The genre is blues and jazz done real tight. Bruce Jackson (piano, vocals) holds down the blues side of things, Beth Dodd (vocals) holds down the jazz, and both these seasoned pros are tight.

And their backup band cooked. Jackson was moonlighting away from New Primitives, which he rejoined last year after a way-long absence. Jackson contributed the pricelessly ribald “Bangkok Ellie” to New Primitives and will be writing and singing he’s doing for New Prims' overdue second CD American Nomad. The guy has a feel for laid-back, natural funk. Brings it in his own wizened voice. Beth Dodd sings so sweet it’s hard to believe. Her flawless clarity brings Yvonne Elliman to mind, except Dodd employs grit along with the same quality of polish. Her intonation, phrasing, and overall chops in general are first rate. The music, in short, was, whether anything ailed you or not, just what the doctor ordered.

Glancing around between tunes, I saw that the dean of Twin Cities blues, the honorable Willie Murphy his own self, was there digging on the sounds. I went over and made a nuisance of myself—including bugging him to get up on stage (like it was my show or something). Thankfully, he was gracious and allowed me to go back to my table without calling for security. When I left, Murphy, Bruce Jackson, and Beth Dodd were talking shop and such.

JJ Dry Dock Café is at 401 N. 3rd St., south of Washington Ave. on 5th Ave. Get a map. Bruce Jackson and the Moondogs have a pretty full dance card through at least the middle of August. To find out when they’re playing where, look the band up online at