Dessa, Tab Beloit Among Spring Line-up as Music Department Performance Series Kicks Off Jan. 31

Dessa and Grammy-nominated Delta blues guitarist Tab Beloit will highlight a Spring Semester of regional and national performers as the Music Department’s Performance Series opens Tuesday, Jan. 31, with folk music artist Pieta Brown performing at 7:30 p.m. in the Halling Recital Hall.

The Performance Series is hosted by the Music Department. Events are made possible in part by a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota State legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008. Additional funding is provided by the Nadine B. Andreas Endowment, KMSU The Maverick, the Bunny Just Piano Endowment and the Music Performance Series.

Brown’s performance is free to students with MavCARD.

An Americana artist from Iowa City, Iowa, Brown is a critically acclaimed musician, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter who has released eight albums and five EPs. She has performed with artists such as Brandi Carlisle, John Prine and Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits).

Tab Beloit, performs with JD Simo on Monday, Feb. 27 at Hooligans in the Madison East Center. Cost for the 7 p.m. concert is $25 for advance tickets and $30 at the door.

Playing a stock 1972 Fender Telecaster, Beloit performs Delta blues and a variety of blues style without any special effects or pedals. The sound he creates comes from his fingers. Beloit is a two-time winner of the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award considered “the highest accolade afforded musicians and songwriters in Blues music.” His Brother to the Blues album was Grammy-nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Dessa appears Thursday, April 6, with Joshua Holmgren and Aviva Jaye as part of the Minnesota Storytellers Series. The 7:30 p.m. is in the Halling Recital Hall. Cost to student is $15 with MavCARD.

A Minneapolis singer, rapper, and writer, Dessa defies genre labels. She contributed to the #1 album The Hamilton Mixtape and the RBG documentary with her track, “Congratulations,” which has notched over 20 million streams. As a writer, she’s been published by The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, broadcast by Minnesota Public Radio, and published a memoir-in-essays (My Own Devices, 2018) in addition to two literary collections. As a speaker, Dessa has delivered keynote speeches and presentations on art, science, and entrepreneurship; guest lectures at universities and colleges across the US; and a TED Talk about her science experiment on how to fall out of love. She’s also the host of Deeply Human, a podcast created by the BBC and American Public Media. Her latest book, Tits On The Moon, is a collection of 12 stage poems, many of which Dessa performs at her live shows.

The full listing of Spring semester artist and concerts include:

Tuesday, Jan, 31; 7:30 p.m. in the Halling Recital Hall: PIETA BROWN has supported and shared the stage with artists such as Brandi Carlisle, JJ Cale, Ani Difranco, Mavis Staples and others. Brown’s music has roots in traditional and rural folk music. FREE to students with valid MavCARD.

Saturday, Feb. 4; 7 p.m. at Hooligans: Regional music favorite CITY MOUSE reprises the 2022 RibFest concert with MARY JANE ALM in a set highlighting the music of Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt and other female artists. Minneapolis singer-songwriter ANDREA LYN opens the evening. Advance tickets are $15 with $20 admission at the door.

Tuesday, Feb. 7; 7:30 p.m. in the Halling Recital Hall: SARAH MORRIS has been described as a bright, clear, brilliant songwriter, offering a Norah Jones-like approach to her music. Sarah has been a finalist in numerous national Songwriting Competitions. FREE to students with valid MavCARD.

Sunday, Feb. 19; 7:30 in the Halling Recital Hall: DOUGLAS ASHCRAFT is an active classical piano soloist and chamber musician and has performed in recitals at Carnegie Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and London’s Wigmore Hall. FREE to students with valid MavCARD.

Monday, Feb. 27; 7 p.m. at Hooligans: TAB BENOIT is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist from southern Louisiana known for his Delta swamp blues. His guitar playing has created comparisons to artists such as Albert King, Albert Collins, and Jimi Hendrix. His lively career has so far consisted of a Grammy nomination, five Blues Music Awards, two BB King Entertainer of the Year Awards, and a spot in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Songwriter and guitarist JD SIMO opens the show. Tickets are $25 advance/$30 day of show.

Saturday, April 1; 7 p.m. at Hooligans: MARY JANE ALM brings to the stage a heartfelt and passionate tribute to Emmylou Harris. The night will be filled with songs and stories of Emmylou Harris and her work. Mary Jane Alm is backed by a professional band consisting of first call musicians from Minneapolis and Nashville. Tickets are $15 advance/$20 day of show.

Thursday, April 6; 7:30 p.m. in the Halling Recital Hall. DESSA returns to Mankato as part of the Minnesota Storytellers Series. Dessa is a singer, rapper and writer who fosters a resume bursting with accomplishments. She has performed at festivals such as Lollapalooza and Glastonbury as well as performing with the Minnesota Orchestra. She has been featured on the Billboard Top 200 with contributions to the #1 album, The Hamilton Mixtape and the RBG documentary with her track “Congratulations.” Admission for students is $15 with MavCARD.

Friday, April 14; 7:30 p.m. in the Halling Recital Hall: ERIC MARIENTHAL is a two-time Grammy award winning and nine-time Grammy nominated saxophonist from Southern California. Marienthal has performed with artists such as Elton John, Barbara Streisand, Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder. FREE to students with valid MavCARD.

Tuesday, April 18; 7:30 p.m. in the Halling Recital Hall: GOOD MORNING BEDLAM has become an innovative force in the Midwest folk scene. Their shows are known for their contagious energy, captivating their audience night after night with a unique twist on folk music. FREE to students with valid MavCARD.

Saturday, April 29; 7 p.m. at Hooligans: THE JIMMYS are perennial Madison Area Music Award and the Wisconsin Area Music Award with over 20 MAMA and WAMI awards including Blues Artist of the year, Blues Song of the Year, Bassist of the Year, Brass Player of the Year and Keyboardist of the Year. In September 2021, the Independent Blues Award Association honored The Jimmys song, “Write a Hit,” (feat. Marcia Ball) with the 2021 IBA Contemporary Blues Song of the year award. Tickets are $15 advance/$20 day of show.

Other Department of Music events include the 27th annual Bunny Just Piano Festival on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m.; and JazzFest ’23 on Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. Department ensemble performances will include the Concert Choir, Elisabeth Cherland, conductor; Concert Wind Ensemble, Amy Roisum Foley, conductor; the Jazz Mavericks Big Band, Douglas Snapp, director; Contemporary Vocal ensembles, Stephanie Thorpe and Doug Snapp, co-directors; and the University Percussion ensemble directed by Michael Thursby. The Bunny Just Piano Festival, JazzFest ’23 and all department ensemble performances are FREE to students with valid MavCARD.

For more event information or to purchase event tickets, visit or call the Performance Series office, 507-389-5549. 

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