The weekly Monday night jam at Shaw’s Bar in Northeast Minneapolis, a popular spot for Minneapolis blues musicians, will be renamed “Sarah Papenheim Cocktail Jam,” in honor of the 21-year-old Andover drummer who was fatally stabbed on Dec. 12 in the Netherlands.
Tonight — Monday, Dec. 17 — at 7 p.m., friends, family, and fellow musicians will use the jam as a benefit concert to celebrate the life of the late musician and help fund her family’s travel and funeral expenses. In addition to the concert, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with costs.
Papenheim and her family lived in the Twin Cities until she entered second grade when they relocated to Redding, California. When Sarah was 18, the family returned to Minnesota for the local music scene, Sarah’s mother, Donee Odegard, told the Star Tribune.
Sarah was a beloved presence in both the Redding and Minneapolis blues scenes, making connections with artists as popular as Bernard Allison and Jellybean Johnson. Allison himself became a musical mentor for the young drummer. In March 2017, Sarah traveled to Bonn, Germany, where the Bernard Allison Group were performing live on tour. The guitarist spotted Sarah in the crowd immediately, he told Cosmopolitan magazine, and pulled her on stage to join in a performance of “Sweet Home, Chicago.”
“To see this young girl up there who wants to learn the blues, that is just not common,” Allison told Cosmo, “The first time we played together, I was just so happy to see a young female up there. I got goosebumps.”
Sarah had the confidence and talent to hold her own playing with many prominent musicians around the Twin Cities, bassist Lanaya Baker told the Star Tribune.
Friend and fellow musician Trevis Forslund recalls a time when an older man attempted to instruct Sarah’s playing in the middle of her set. “She gave him this glare and he walked right off the stage,” Forslund told Cosmo, “Everyone laughed at it. But she didn’t stop. She didn’t miss a single beat. She wasn’t even looking at the drum kit. She was just looking at this guy, getting in his face. That chick was a spitfire.”
Sarah had a gig booked with Brian Naughton on Dec. 22. Earlier this month, she told Allison she was excited to come home to the Cities for the holidays and had finally saved up enough money to buy her own drum kit.
Lydia Moran is a music and arts writer in Minneapolis.