Local music: Rap the vote

Two pre-election hip-hop gigs are coming, plus news on Billy McLaughlin, P.O.S., the Swallows and Brute Heart.

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The Twin Cities hip-hop community wants your vote. A diverse group of local rap acts, including Villa Rosa and Guante, take over the Varsity Theater on Tuesday for the Vote No² concert, opposing both the same-sex marriage ban and the voter ID amendment in the Nov. 6 election. The Lioness, Bomba Umoya, Tall Paul and Melong will also perform (8 p.m., $8). An even bigger election-related gig dubbed Get Out to Vote Minnesota has been put together by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's campaign for First Avenue on Oct. 28 featuring the two biggest rappers in town, Slug and Brother Ali, along other mindful stars Dessa, I Self Devine, Los Nativos and MaLLy. Tickets ($5) are being sold along with registration and/or a pledge to vote. ...

Local acoustic guitar virtuoso Billy McLaughlin, who had to reteach himself how to play guitar after being afflicted with dystonia, talks about his triumphant battle with the neurological disorder in a new concert special, "Starry Night" (with Orchestra Nova), premiering Saturday at 8:30 p.m. during TPT Channel 2's pledge drive. ... A record that sounds like autumnal weather, the Swallows' "Witching & Divining" blends raspy-voiced frontman Jeff Crandall's dark story songs with hard, cold blasts of cello, accordion and guitar that fall somewhere between rootsy punk and Celtic folk. The quintet will promote the album (its fifth) Saturday at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall with Venus DeMars (9 p.m., $7). ...

One band's answer to "What'd you do for your summer vacation?" Brute Heart spent many a night holed up in a basement working on an original score to the freaky 1920 German silent film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" for the Walker's Summer Movies & Music finale. It was too much/too good to be a one-night-only affair, so the chamber-rock ensemble will perform it again at Cedar Cultural Center on Friday, a good mood-setter for Halloween (7:30 p.m., $8). . ...

The 331 Club will host a bon voyage Friday for the F*** Knights (10 p.m., free), who head to Europe next week for a monthlong tour. If you haven't caught the band of late, they are playing with an expanded seven-piece lineup. ... A reverb-soaked new band featuring Poliça's Chris Bierden and the Chambermaids' Neil Weir out front with Gospel Gossip's Ollie Moltaji on drums, Pony Trash performs at the Turf Club on Thursday a month before its EP-release party there (10 p.m., $6). You can hear the moody new EP now via the group's Bandcamp page. ...

P.O.S. will precede next weekend's First Ave show with a short in-store set and signing at Fifth Element on Tuesday, the day of release for his album, "We Don't Even Live Here." If you're wondering what's up with this year's Doomtree Blowout concerts, by the way, you can expect P.O.S. to let the cat out of the bag at First Ave.

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 Twitter: @ChrisRstrib

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