It might seem like old news having a hometown rapper pack First Ave two nights in a row, but Brother Ali's latest stand will offer several firsts: It's his first local showing since last month's release of his provocative, topical, seething new album "Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color." For most local fans, it will be the first chance to hear him with his new, horn-blasting live band, Blank Tape Beloved. Saturday's all-ages show will also feature local high-schoolers who competed to open. New York indie-rapper Homeboy Sandman and Denver duo the Reminders also perform each night. Read a new interview with Brother Ali at startribune.com/music. (9 p.m. Fri. & 6 p.m. Sat., First Avenue. $15. Fri. show sold out.) Chris Riemenschneider

With Ali busy on tour, his partners in rhyme, Atmosphere, are taking over the Twin Cities Day of Dignity block party, which Ali helmed last year to help tornado- and economy-ravaged North Side residents. Slug and the band will play a rare free set along with Ohio rapper and Rick Ross protégé Stalley of the Maybach Music Group. Free clothes, food and health care will also be on hand for those in need. The event is partly intended as an open house for north Minneapolis as well as the hosting mosque, so truly everyone is welcome. (11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun., Masjid An-Nur, 1729 Lyndale Av. N., Mpls. Free.) Riemenschneider


After more than 25 years in Nashville, Michael Johnson has moved back to Minnesota, where he lived during his "Bluer Than Blue" days. He's celebrating his first studio album in 17 years, "Moonlit Déjà Vu," recorded for St. Paul's Red House label. It features a duet with Truly Carmichael, his daughter who was given up for adoption but with whom he recently reconnected. Coincidentally, she moved to the Twin Cities this year and will sing at his concert. Read an interview with them at startribune.com/music. (8 p.m. Sat., Hopkins Center for the Arts, $24.) Jon Bream

Gossip's Beth Ditto remains one of rock's most compelling frontwomen, an unlikely combo of Karen O, Grace Jones and a punk-rock Adele. She's a dynamo onstage, so no wonder the Arkansas native has been pushing her Portland, Ore.-based band and their fans in a get-up-and-move direction with a series of more dance-oriented albums, including the riotous new one "A Joyful Noise." Oregonian soul-pop band Magic Box and Arkansas twang-opera singer Bonnie Montgomery open. (9 p.m. Sat., Fine Line. $20.) Riemenschneider

Over five albums, North Carolina native Tift Merritt has proven to be a superior songwriter, an effective vocalist and an Americana artist to be reckoned with. Dubbed by critics as the Emmylou Harris of her generation, Merritt, 37, goes the spare and understated route on this fall's "Traveling Alone," a quietly compelling collection infused with poetry, emotion and sweet instrumental seasoning courtesy of ex-Minneapolis pedal steel guitarist Eric Heywood and guitarist Marc Ribot. Underrated Twin Cities singer/songwriter Ben Weaver opens. (8 p.m. Sat., Cedar Cultural Center, $18-$22.) Bream

Like David Byrne and St. Vincent, Norah Jones is kicking off her tour in Minneapolis. Backed by a quartet, she's promoting her Danger Mouse-produced "Little Broken Hearts," a breakup album that shatters the notion of her as a coffeehouse jazz singer. He surrounds her in atmospheric and electronic sounds that sometimes stifle the emotional power of her voice. But the haunting twangabilly title cut, the eerie "Miriam" and the spare, cutting "She's 22" prevail. Wisconsin's Cory Chisel opens. (7 p.m. Sun., Orpheum, $55-$65.) Bream

California punk hero Mike Watt is back to his old ways, blasting through 30 short-burst songs in 47 minutes on his latest solo album, "hyphenated-man." The bassist for the Minutemen and later fIREHOSE made the so-called "punk opera" with his road crew the Missingmen, which features guitarist Tom Watson and drummer Raul Morales and recalls those earlier bands. They're on tour with Lite, a Japanese instrumental quartet that recently recorded with Tortoise's John McEntire. (9 p.m. Sun., Turf Club. $13.) Riemenschneider

The Sheepdogs have been facing an uphill credibility battle since winning Rolling Stone's "Choose the Cover" contest in 2011 and getting made up in an uncomfortable episode of "Project Runway." (Best line: "It looks like something an old lady would wear.") They're better than you think, with a soulful, tight, hard-rock boogie that might qualify them as Canada's best Southern rockers since the Band. Or at least give them the benefit of doubt on this great triple bill with Belgian stoner-rock duo Black Box Revelation and the Buffalo Killers, a Cincinnati trio that formed out of the dissolution of Thee Shams and made their last record with Dan Auerbach. (8:30 p.m. Sun., 7th Street Entry. $15.) Riemenschneider

As much as rock fans can get excited about a somber, serene, shoegazing pop band, many Twin Citians have been bursting with anticipation for the return of Beach House. The Baltimore duo, led by siren-voiced, French-born singer Victoria Legrand, has been slowly making the rounds in support of its breakout album, "Bloom," an ethereal collection of broken-heartbeat-paced, Cocteau Twins-style, gray-day songs that earned a 9.1 rating from Pitchfork and many more raves upon its release in May. It may not be a Springsteen-epic show, but Legrand and partner Alex Scalley know how to make these songs fly on stage. Opening band Poor Moon features Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott of Fleet Foxes. (8 p.m. Tue., First Avenue. Sold out.) Riemenschneider

Icy voiced, chills-inducing British folk balladeer Beth Orton hasn't changed her stripes much in spite of the drastic personal changes during a six-year hiatus (she had two children, changed record labels and reportedly dealt with writer's block). Her first album since 2006, "Sugaring Season," just dropped Tuesday with lightly elegant production from Tucker Maritine (Decemberists, Laura Viers) and all the heart-gushing poetic flavor of Orton's best work. She's touring with husband Sam Amidon as her opening act. The Varsity will be reconfigured with seats for this one, like a real theater. (8 p.m. Wed., Varsity Theater. $25-$35.) Riemenschneider

Virginia-bred acoustic guitar wiz Keller Williams will be all over the map this fall. He has dates lined up with the Travelin' McCourys, with whom he made the new album "Pick," plus an "End of the World" party Dec. 21-22 in Colorado with his pals from String Cheese Incident. He's coming here by all his lonesome, though, with no opener -- which is no doubt fine with his fans. (9:30 p.m. Thu., Cabooze. $20-$23.) Riemenschneider


Borrowing a page from the likes of Bela Fleck and Yo-Yo Ma, Gao Hong, the terrific Chinese pipa player who teaches at Carleton College, has put together an all-star, eclectic lineup for a concert called Lutes Around the World. The other players include banjoist Alison Brown and slack key guitarist George Kahumoku Jr. (both Grammy winners), bassist Gary West and oud master Bassam Saba (who plays with Ma's Silk Road Ensemble). (3 p.m. Sun., the O'Shaughnessy, $15-$18.) Bream


Babatunde Lea is an Afrocentric percussionist utterly comfortable mixing aboriginal polyrhythms with slick funk grooves, warm R&B and spiritually infused Afro-Cuban jazz. A longtime cohort of singer Leon Thomas and kindred spirit to Pharoah Sanders with a handful of national albums under his own name, Lea will front what should be a fascinating ensemble that includes guitarist Zacc Harris and bassist Chris Bates from Atlantis Quartet, and former Wynton Marsalis Sextet pianist Richard Johnson. (9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Artists' Quarter, $15.) Britt Robson

Hollywood jazz, like Hollywood anything, is brassy, brazen and eager to celebrate. JazzMN Orchestra will open its season with a "Night of Hollywood Jazz," an ideal occasion to bring back trumpeter Wayne Bergeron, who has blown Tinseltown fanfares for literally hundreds of films and TV shows, played alongside Ray Charles and Maynard Ferguson, and recorded with Quincy Jones. Vocalist Connie Evingson will add a dash of sophistication to the animated roster of tunes. (7:30 p.m., Sat., Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center, 2400 Lindbergh Dr., Minnetonka. $10-$33, jazzmn.org) Robson


Two songs you can expect to hear from Maria Muldaur and her Bluesiana Band at the Dakota this week are her sinuous signature hit "Midnight at the Oasis" and "Tricks Ain't Walkin'," the Memphis Minnie song first played for her in 1963 by blues singer Victoria Spivey and that left an indelible influence on her vocal style. Muldaur features it on her latest disc, "First There Was Memphis Minnie," the most recent chapter in her late-career resurgence as a maven of 20th-century roots music. (7 & 9 p.m. Tue.-Wed., Dakota, $30-$25.) Robson

As if blues singer and harpist Curtis Salgado needed any more emotional grist, he just had a tumor removed from his lung in July, his third cancer surgery in six years. Proving the adage that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, Salgado -- who inspired John Belushi to do the Blues Brothers and has sung with Robert Cray, Roomful of Blues and Santana -- has released the two best discs of his career during these travails, including his Alligator label debut, "Soul Shot," in April. (8 p.m. Thu., Famous Dave's Uptown, no cover.) Robson


Why has it taken so long to put Thomas Dausgaard in front of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra? The Danish conductor, no stranger to U.S. audiences, has brilliantly recorded the complete orchestral music of Beethoven on the Simax label with -- drum roll, please -- a chamber orchestra; he ought to be a regular visitor to our patch of prairie. His SPCO debut program is just about ideal: the "Siegfried Idyll" (20 minutes of Wagnerian bliss), the Clarinet Concerto of Carl Nielsen (aka the great Dane) with the marvelous Alexander Fiterstein and yes, Beethoven (the Seventh Symphony). (10:30 a.m. Fri., 8 p.m. Sat. Ordway Center, $5-$40.) Larry Fuchsberg