Big Gigs: A guide to Twin Cities music Feb. 21-27

  • Updated: February 21, 2014 - 9:58 AM
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Paul Simon

Photo: DAVID BREWSTER • dbrewster@startribune.com,

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Paul Simon doesn’t always tour solo. Having teamed up with Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson on previous treks, now he’s hooked up with Sting, which promises a fuller collaboration than he had with Dylan (five songs) or Wilson (none). Thus far on their On Stage Together Tour, Simon and Sting have duetted on 10 selections per night — or about one-third of the show. They even merge their bands. The nearly three-hour concert alternates between duets and solo sets. Read an interview with Sting in Saturday’s Variety section. (8 p.m. Sun. Xcel Energy Center, $42-$252.) Jon Bream

POP/ROCK

An annual reminder of the Cedar’s folkier past — and of one of the Midwest’s all-time greatest singer/songwriters — Greg Brown is once again leaving his farm in southeastern Iowa for a short jaunt north with his golden-handed guitar-miner pal Bo Ramsey in tow. Red House Records, the St. Paul label founded around Brown’s talent, recently gave his debut album, “Iowa Waltz,” the deluxe reissue treatment timed to its 30th anniversary. Brown also proved to be still going strong on last year’s overlooked “Hymns to What Is Left.” (8 p.m. Fri., Cedar Cultural Center, sold out; 7:30 p.m. Sat., Sacred Heart Music Center, Duluth, $30.) Chris Riemenschneider

The legend goes that you gotta have a fiddle in the band to play in Texas, a trait that Carrie Rodriguez has always fulfilled with her own fiddle-playing skills to complement her Americana Music Association Award-winning singer/songwriter talents. Now the Austinite has a Minnesota guitarist to round out her sound: Luke Jacobs of Romantica notoriety. The romantically linked duo show off their musical chemistry on the new “Live at the Cactus” collection, recorded in the venerable Austin folk room that counted Townes Van Zandt as a regular, and featuring the locally rooted gem “Lake Harriet” as the opening cut. So it’s sort of a homecoming, especially with ex-Austin-based Twin Cities countryman Frankie Lee opening. (7:30 p.m. Sun., Cedar Cultural Center, all ages, $12-$15.) Riemenschneider

Moody piano pop, neo-’60s soul, orchestral psychedelia — Liam Hayes’ aptitude for artfully plundering the past without ever repeating himself earned the Chicago-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist a global cult following (and a cameo in Stephen Frears’ “High Fidelity”) long before director Roman Coppola tapped him to score last year’s “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swann III.” While comparably retro, Hayes’ newly completed “Slurrup” is leaner and meaner than anything he’s done all millennium. Next-gen garage Americana firebrands Empires headline. (7:30 p.m. Sun., 7th Street Entry, $10.) Rod Smith

Instead of playing the post-college loaf in Mom and Dad’s basement, Yale music grad San Fermin (aka Ellis Ludwig-Leone) retreated to the Canadian Rockies to pen a Hemingway-inspired, chamber-pop album that would take more than 20 musicians to actualize. “San Fermin” revolves around two male and female characters at life crossroads discussing life, love and the future (anyone smell a philosophy minor?). Composer/beatmaker Son Lux opens. (8:30 p.m. Sun., Turf Club, $15.) Michael Rietmulder

Part of the Cedar’s 416 Club Commissions series to premiere new music, Brute Heart violist/keyboardist Jackie Beckey has composed an epic piece built around a visual installation and Ugandan and Argentinian rhythms. Beckey already showed a knack for composing for the visual realm when the Walker commissioned her group to score the silent movie “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” in 2012, plus she has composed for Bedlam and In the Heart of the Beast theaters. She will be joined by Pittsburgh brass band Lungs Face Feet and local acts Dream Weapon and Mar Habrine. (7 p.m. Mon., Cedar Cultural Center, all ages, $5.) Riemenschneider

Back in 2008, melodramatic Scot-rockers Glasvegas were supposed to be the next big thing from across the pond. Although their glossy sophomore album, “Euphoric Heartbreak,” had its share of highs, reviews were mixed, sales sputtered and Columbia pulled out. The on-the-rebound quartet returned last year with “Later … When the TV Turns to Static,” reeling in the synthesizers and beefed-up production values of its predecessor. Frontman James Allan still has a knack for making heartache soar, belting like a bummed-out Bono. But all the brooding can get a tad repetitive. New wavey L.A. trio the Ceremonies open. (8 p.m. Tue., 7th Street Entry, $15.) Rietmulder

Fresh from a European trek opening for Poliça and another jaunt to the Carnaval de Bahidorá Parque Natural Las Estacas in Mexico, Marijuana Deathsquads aren’t going to let their sense of adventure die down just because they’re stuck back home in the snow. The experimental electronic collective is turning its monthly residency at Icehouse into a three-night stand, culminating in a staging of the “We Don’t Even Live Here” remix LP with P.O.S. next Friday. Look for further hints of what to expect each night via the social-media channels. (10:30 p.m. Wed.-next Fri., Icehouse, $10 nightly.) Riemenschneider

The last of the three singers in Sonic Youth to make it to Minneapolis following the group’s unfortunate unraveling, Kim Gordon might be making the grandest re-entrance. The indie-rock heroine will kick off the MIA’s new Sound.Art.MIA performance series with her new group, Body/Head, a semi-improvisational guitar duo with Bill Nace, which recently issued its dissonant debut album via Matador Records, aptly titled “Coming Apart.” Local banjo experimenter Paul Metzger was hand-picked for the opener. Read an interview with Gordon and Nace in Sunday’s Variety section. (7 p.m. Thu., Reception Hall, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, $20.) Riemenschneider

COUNTRY

Josh Thompson, Minnesota’s favorite Wisconsin-born country singer, will finally drop “Turn It Up,” his overdue second album, on April 1 — four years after his debut, “Way Out Here,” which included the hits “Beer on the Table” and the title track. His new music is already making a ripple — the cliché-filled single “Cold Beer With Your Name on It” is generating airplay on K102 and BUZN 102.9. (9 p.m. Fri., Mill City Nights, $26-$45.) Bream

WORLD

The same day he returns to Minneapolis, Afro-pop superstar Habib Koite is releasing a new album inspired by his troubled homeland of Mali. On “Soo,” Koite debuts a new band, and prominently features a new metal string guitar given to him by a British fan. He also makes his first recordings on banjo, inspired by a 2012 tour with American blues pal Eric Bibb. Three tracks — all gentle gems — can be sampled at bit.ly/M78aTS. (7:30 p.m. Tue., Cedar, $30-$35.) Tom Surowicz

BLUES

Tommy Castro’s new album, “The Devil You Know,” has no shortage of guest stars. His Alligator Records label mates Marcia Ball and the Holmes Brothers show up, as does Tab Benoit, Joe Bonamassa, Samantha Fish, Jimmy Pugh, and Magic Dick from the J. Geils Band. Narada Michael Walden was a “guest producer,” and Twin Cities homeboy Kevin Bowe helped write the album’s title track. Castro’s best effort? Hardly. Like too many recent Alligator releases, “The Devil You Know” is brash, loud, trashy and overblown. (7 p.m. Sat., Famous Dave’s Uptown, $10.) Surowicz

JAZZ

Now the “jazz creative director” for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Terence Blanchard is a five-time Grammy winner who’s become as well-known for his film scores as his trumpet playing. He’s famously done the music for a pack of Spike Lee hits and misses, but did you know that he also scored Mariah Carey’s “Glitter” and Josh Hartnett’s “Bunraku,” and penned an opera about bisexual boxing champ Emile Griffith? But his first love is hard-bop and post-bop, the sounds he cut his teeth on in Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers. Read an interview with Blanchard in Monday’s Variety section. (7 & 9 p.m. Mon.-Tue, Dakota Jazz Club, $35-$45.) Surowicz

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