That one time of the year you can count on the 89.3 FM DJs wearing shirts with buttons to work, the Current’s Ninth Birthday Bash is itself a wonderfully mixed-up laundry bin of local scene makers circa 2013. Night 1 boasts the entertaining twofer of rap powerhouse Lizzo and the newly/convincingly soulful Har Mar Superstar, who each had singles in heavy rotation (“Batches & Cookies” and “Lady You Shot Me,” respectively). They’ll be joined by dance-pop wiz-kids Strange Names and Eric Pollard’s lush twang-rock ensemble Actual Wolf. The second show has another proven soul-music convert, Caroline Smith, and two bands previewing new albums, U.K.-adored indie-punks Howler and live hip-hop pioneers Heiruspecs. Plus the Cactus Blossoms will open with their sweet old-school country harmonies. You can usually count on surprise guests, too, and maybe soccer score updates from Mark Wheat. (8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., First Avenue, sold out Fri., $20 Sat.) Riemenschneider


Tesla was one of the least Spandex- and lipstick-prone bands of the ’80s California hair-band era, which may help explain why it maintains a dedicated following as well as most of its heyday-era members, including high-wired, raspy singer Jeff Keith. The Sacramento rockers scored the original hits “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Little Suzi” but might best be remembered for a cover of the Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs.” You can count on hearing all three. (8:30 p.m. Fri., Myth, $33.) Chris Riemenschneider

Who can follow President Obama on a TV talk show? Jay Leno had Patti LaBelle sing after the president on “The Tonight Show” Monday, and she tore it up on “What Can You Do for Me.” There were lots of horns, backup singers, roof-raising vocals and pleas for peace and love. When she returns to the Twin Cities for the first time since 2000, expect LaBelle’s timeless, stir-it-up favorites, including “New Attitude” and “Lady Marmalade,” and the chart-topping ballad “On My Own.” Last year, the diva’s diva completed her 50th anniversary tour. (8 p.m. Sat., Mystic Lake Casino, $54-$62.) Jon Bream

Anonymous Choir gave local music lovers a holiday gift last month, covering Neil Young’s entire 1970 album “After the Gold Rush” at the Cedar. The 10-member all-female vocal group — led by Nona Marie of Dark Dark Dark indie-folk fame — recorded its “Gold Rush” remake at Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth and is hosting a party to promote its release on vinyl and (in true 1970 fashion) cassette. Not a “real choir” you’d see at Ted Mann Concert Hall, their folksy approach brings a living-room warmth to tunes like “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” while adding a haunting quality to “Southern Man.” Phil & the Blanks open. (11 p.m. Sat., Icehouse, $8.) Riemenschneider


A rootsy folkie originally from South Africa, Johnny Flynn came up in the British indie-folk scene with Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling and might appeal to fans of either. His backing band, the Sussex Wit, offers a Mumford-ian blend of traditional Americana and Irish music, but his writing style has more of a stark, British Isles brand of acoustic fire. Also a reputable Shakespeare actor, Flynn is touring behind his fourth album, “Country Mile.” Opening is the Melodic, a rustic London folk band that just released its debut via Anti- Records. (7 p.m. Sun., Turf Club, $15.) Riemenschneider 

The irrepressible Sandra Bernhard — the only comic who could disarm David Letterman with her outrageousness — brings her Sandyland Tour to town. That means in-your-face comedy, social commentary, spot-on satire and some sassy rock ’n’ roll with her band, the Flawless Zircons. Don’t be surprised if she shows some love for Prince. (7 p.m. Sun.-Mon., Dakota, $40-$60.) Bream

Not only has the Dark Star Orchestra recently celebrated its 16th anniversary and the arrival of a new bassist, Skip Vangelas, but the Grateful Dead tribute band has actually surpassed the actual Dead in the total number of shows played. Jerry Garcia & Co. performed 2,318 gigs and DSO has finally topped that — re-creating specific Dead set lists. Keep on truckin’. (8 p.m. Wed., First Avenue, $25.) Bream

Veteran New York rocker Willie Nile has been called a one-man Clash. He certainly wears his Dylan and Springsteen influences on his sleeves on “American Ride,” his first album to have major-label distribution in two decades. He kicks it off with a couple of killer blue-collar anthems, “This Is Our Time” and “Life on Bleecker Street,” and peaks on a rockin’ remake of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died.” Nile’s rock ’n’ roll passion certainly hasn’t died. (7 p.m. Wed., Dakota, $25.) Bream



The recent Cedar Avenue fire struck close to home for our finest folk and world music club, so it’s joining forces with neighbors KFAI-FM and Augsburg College and staging a benefit for the victims. The list of performers is cross-generational and impressive, including the mighty Brass Messengers, legendary Spider John Koerner, acoustic guitar great Phil Heywood, sublime harmonizers the Cactus Blossoms, songwriter Jon Rodine and neo-soul band Southside Desire. Five hours of musical diversity in action, for a great cause. (7 p.m. Fri., Cedar Cultural Center, $20.) Tom Surowicz


With the kind of eye for detail and ear for unflashy poetry that once helped earn him a Pulitzer Prize, Pioneer Press reporter David Hanners has become one of the Twin Cities’ most captivating and evocative songwriters. That much is obvious from his third album, “There Are No Secrets in This Town.” The songs were largely inspired by an oral history of a Prohibition-era brothel operator in Terre Haute, Ind., and the twangy folk music falls squarely off the Guy Clark/Townes Van Zandt Texas tunesmith tree. Backers on the recordings include acoustic-string aces Lonnie Knight and Fred Grittner, and Urban Hillbilly Quartet leader Erik Brandt on accordion, all of whom will play the release party. (7:30 p.m. Sat., Ginkgo Coffeehouse, 721 N. Snelling Av., St. Paul.) Riemenschneider


The Wailers are cheating a bit by promising to play the album “Legend” in its entirety on their current tour, which really just amounts to your average greatest-hits set. They’re not really cheating by using Bob Marley’s old group name, though: Bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett was the band leader from 1971 until Bob’s death in 1981, and his remade, constantly touring lineup does the legend justice. The group includes fellow Sly & Robbie/Upsetters alum Keith Sterling on keys and a capable Marley stand-in, Koolant Brown, who also grew up in the Jamaican countryside. Opener British Dependency is a roots trio from Anguilla. (8 p.m. Sun., First Avenue, $30.) Local reggae favorites Irie Sol, 9 Tomorrows and Pee Wee Dread are also adding to the mix next door. (9 p.m., 7th Street Entry, $5.) Riemenschneider


Afropop star Bassekou Kouyate is Mali’s master of the ngoni, a pre-banjo stringed instrument favored by African griots for centuries. Few countries are more troubled these days than Mali, and the Grammy-nominated bandleader recorded his latest album, “Jama ko,” just when all hell started breaking out in the capital of Bamako in 2012. The album became political by necessity, and featured an all-new lineup of Kouyate’s backing band, Ngoni Ba, now including two of his sons. As with his past releases, “Jama ko” was a smash hit with critics and he continues to be embraced by First World stars — he’s performed with everyone from Bela Fleck to Paul McCartney. (8 p.m. Sat., Cedar Cultural Center, $22-$25.) Surowicz

As musical fusions go, the Otaak Band’s combination of Sudanese traditional sounds with Western rock and R&B flourishes is sometimes disarmingly slick, often stark, but always soulful and arresting. Representing the nomadic Beja civilization, and playing the masankop — an ancient lyre — Ahmed Said Abuamna is a terrific singer who’s found a sensitive partner in Miguel Menino, an American hand drummer also skilled on the masankop. Their debut, “Bejawiya,” was one of 2012’s best world music surprises. Opening the show is local trio Body Omara (guitarist/composer Joseph Damman, bassist Tom Reichert and drummer Davu Seru), whose music is inspired by Malian guitar legend Ali Farka Toure and infused with American folk and jazz. (7:30 p.m. Wed., Cedar Cultural Center, $18-$20.) Surowicz


For the 25th annual Century Jazz Festival, high-spirited drummer Butch Miles will join the Century College Jazz Ensemble, a big band of well-schooled non-students. Known for his work with the Count Basie Orchestra, Frank Sinatra and Dave Brubeck, among many others, he’s an invigorating presence, a seasoned swinger. The popular quintet Charmin & Shapira and Friends will entertain an hour before each concert. (8 p.m. Sat. and 3 p.m. Sun., Century College, 3300N. Century Av., White Bear Lake, $10-$20. 651-779-3356.) Surowicz

New Orleans has many fabled piano players, but the most versatile is someone you may not have heard. Tom McDermott is equally adept at blues, classic jazz, brass band sounds, ragtime, Argentine tangos, Brazilian choro, Beatles tunes, Ellington, even European classical fare. He’s bringing a duet partner, trumpeter Kevin Clark, with whom he recorded in 2001, then he’ll reunite with old pals Patty & the Buttons, led by accordion all-pro Patrick Harison. Last visit, it proved to be a match made in bar heaven. (7 p.m. Tue., Dakota Jazz Club, $7.) Surowicz


The Gryphon Trio — violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon, cellist Roman Borys and pianist Jamie Parker — performs a program of trios titled “Around the Great War” as part of the Music in the Park series. The oldest work is Charles Ives’ Piano Trio (1911), a musical evocation of his college years at Yale. The major work is Maurice Ravel’s Piano Trio, finished in 1914, just before he enlisted in the French Army. The rarity is the Piano Trio of English composer Rebecca Clarke, written in 1921. She has a unique voice, but conjures memories of Debussy and Shostakovich. (4 p.m. Sun., St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Av., St. Paul, $24-$20, 651-292-3268, William Randall Beard