Karl Denson: Steaks with Keith, hugging Mick, and his Tiny Universe

By: Carol Guild, Content Manager
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Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring Street in Nevada City
Tickets: $27 in advance; $32 at the door.
Tickets available online at, by phone at 530-265-5040, or in person at the Miners Foundry or BriarPatch Co-Op.
This is a dancing show, limited seating available.

He lived and performed with Lenny Kravitz. And he tours with the Rolling Stones.
His own band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KDTU) is magnanimous. So is the man.
Karl Denson has many stories to tell. And they’re all woven into the spirit of his music that brims with smooth and energetically danceable soul, funk and jazz.
The band will be in Nevada City on Thursday, performing songs from their studio album, due in early 2017, as well as previous KDTU recordings, such as “New Ammo” and “Brother’s Keeper.” Audiences can also expect a handful of covers by the likes of Prince, The White Stripes, David Bowie and Beastie Boys.
“The new album is little bit more ‘songwriterish’ than the last record,” said Denson. “The last was big horn arrangements. … This is me singing. There’s even a ballad. It’s a bit of a departure, due to the fact that I started playing guitar. Just living life turned into this.”
With Denson on saxophone, guitar and vocals, the current KDTU touring lineup is comprised of Richmond guitarist DJ Williams, Soulive drummer Alan Evans, GreyboyAllstars’ bassist Chris Stillwell, Crush Effects’ keyboardist David Veith, Seattle trumpeter Chris Littlefield and ace slide and lap steel guitarist Seth Freeman.
Living with Lenny
Denson’s fondest memories of Lenny Kravitz were from the very beginning.
“We were living in New York. I lived with him and his wife and ‘little girly Kravitz.’ I changed (Zoe’s) diapers,” said Denson. “That was actually the hardest thing for me when Lisa (Bonet) and Lenny split up. I missed actually watching her grow up in front of me. But I have seen her a few times since.”
Denson stopped performing with Lenny Kravitz in ’93, then went back out with him in ‘08 for about year. They still may perform together when their paths cross.
“I might sit in with him,” said Denson.  “It’s really fun, a chance to hangout.”
On tour with the Rolling Stones
Denson toured with the Rolling Stones for three years, and will again – whenever they plan to tour again.
Saying it’s a sweet gig is an understatement.
“It’s plush,” said Denson. “Playing a couple times a week. Plush hotels. Flying on private jets.”
Dinner with Keith TIME?
While touring with the Rolling Stones last year, Denson invited Keith Richards out for a steak. “And he showed up. Dinner with Keith was a definite highlight,” said Denson. “I sat next to Keith for four hours and actually figured out what he was talking about half the time. Once you’re up close to him you can discern between his thought grunts and actually what he’s saying. He’s like a pirate. Aaarrr.”
Hugging Mick
“The best thing that’s happened with Mick, just recently, was the half hug,” laughed Denson. “Mick’s kind of really all business. He hired me, but doesn’t really communicate with me.”
Mick usually communicates with his longtime saxophone player, Tim Ries, who has been with the band for years.
“End of the last run we did, Foxboro, I felt we had a nice little connection after ‘Brown Sugar.’ After the show was over, in the horn tent, Mick walked in to say goodbye because it’s end of run. I get up and go over to give him a hug. Midway through the hug, I thought, you’re hugging Mick Jagger. It kind of went to a limp half-hug. That was the most awkward thing ever. If you hug somebody, go all in.”
For more about KDTU and to purchase their albums go to CDs will also be available at the show.
Reach Features Editor Carol Guild at