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Trio heralds romance in song

The New Standards — Chan Poling, John Munson and Steve Roehm — returns to the Sheldon Theatre Feb. 17, 2018, with a jazz concert spotlighting music for valentines. Submitted photo

The New Standards and 400-plus close friends will celebrate romance in song at a "Valentine Party" at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Sheldon Theatre.

"Valentine's Day is just a wonderful holiday," said Chan Poling, the jazz group's pianist and vocalist. He and Steve Roehm (vibes) and John Munson (bass) have spent it in Red Wing before, and would be happy make it a habit.

"We love Red Wing and enjoy coming there," Poling said. They find that the intimate space that is the historic Sheldon lends itself well to this particular program.

"It's going to be a special, intimate evening with just the three of us" on stage, he noted. At the same time, Poling warned that when the three of them are alone on stage, "It gets kind of silly" at times.

"It will be a full evening of songs about love, heart and relationships," he added, focusing on appropriate themes for the day. The play list will span eras from the 1931 hit "My Funny Valentine" to the contemporary Suburbs hit, "Love is the Law."

That last song is more than familiar to Poling, who also is a member of The Suburbs, an alternative rock band that was part of the "Minneapolis Sound" in the 1980s — and performed at the Sheldon last fall.

Poling has written musical scores for award-winning independent feature films, theater productions and documentaries. Most recently he wrote the scores for the hit musicals "Glensheen" and "A Night in Olympus." He has an Emmy Award, and the Minnesota Music Awards recognized him with a lifetime POP (Perpetually Outstanding Performer" Award.

The New Standards formed in 2005 as an offshoot project for the three Minneapolis-based musicians, according to their Website. The group has grown into a globe-spanning adventure, and the trio has produced several CDs, videos, cartoons, dance/theater projects and a selection of "gewgaws" to please their fans.

Their music base evolved from years of listening to jazz standards while growing up, Poling said. They operate today on the model of jazz bands of the 1950s and '60s that did riffs off popular songs of the day.

"Our standards are a little bit more contemporary," he said. When the New Standards interpret songs, "Hopefully, we bring our own skills and personality to it." The result is more a concert than, for example, a jazz night in a club.

For the Valentine show, the audience will hear jazz trio songs, solos, acoustic numbers and "everything that jazz was and still is," Poling said.

Although they haven't released a new recording in a couple of years, "we will play some new songs" in addition to "digging deep" into their existing repertoire.

Poling noted that they are big fans of the Legacy Amendment, approved by Minnesota voters, that makes it possible for smaller communities around the state to bring in groups like the New Standards to entertain rural residents who don't get to the Twin Cities often for entertainment.

"It's really remarkable," he said. "We love it. It's good for everybody."

Tickets to The New Standards are $25-$30, $13 for students. Call 651-388-8700 or go online to