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Continued: Local music: 100 songs for 33rd Lennon show

Don't get Curtiss A started.

The ringleader of Saturday's 33rd annual John Lennon tribute at First Avenue is still steaming over a comment that Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt made about Lennon's song "Imagine" ("It makes me want to shoot him," were Merritt's poorly chosen words to City Pages). Curt is still mad at First Ave staff over last year's tribute, when the club's weekly Latin dance party forced his "Magical Mystery Tour"-sized band to end early.

Don't worry, though: Curt's angry entrenchment on those two fronts will likely wind up as a victory for the rest of us. First Ave has graciously, and perhaps fearfully, moved its Saturday dance party, Too Much Love, into the upstairs Record Room.

"We're going to make up for last year," Curt said/threatened. "We're going to keep going until First Ave throws us out."

His goal is to perform 100 songs Saturday, starting with "Twist and Shout" and ending with "all the psychedelic, big songs." In between, there will be the now-standard intermission to promote "Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol. 4," wherein Molly Maher & Her Disbelievers, John Mark Nelson and Big Trouble will each play their tracks off the new charity CD.

Curt has a few surprises of his own, including a mayoral appearance -- the one who plays guitar, not the crowd-surfer -- and a stripped-down set dedicated to his longtime friend and bandmate, Bob "Slim" Dunlap, who's now back home but still suffering the effects of a severe stroke.

Backed by Tim O'Reagan (Jayhawks), Jim Boquist (ex-Son Volt) and Frankie Lee (Maher's Disbelievers), he'll perform the song that opened the very first tribute on the night Lennon was killed, "I'll Cry Instead," as well as one that Slim and Curt often played together, "I'm a Loser."

Incidentally, a series of 7-inch singles to raise funds for Slim will include a Dunlap song delivered by Curt with backing from the Minus 5, including R.E.M.'s Peter Buck.

"They asked me if they could record another song instead, because they were having trouble getting it right. I said, 'That's fine, but then you'll have to get another singer,'" Curt recounted in characteristically blunt fashion. (If you didn't know, his albums for Twin/Tone Records influenced R.E.M. and the Replacements.)

He said he's in better shape for Saturday's marathon-like performance, having shed 50-plus pounds after suffering a heart attack in 2010. Which reminded him of something else he's mad about.

"Don't run another one of those damn photos you have of me when I was fat."

Prissy works

A year that started with their win in Vita.mn's Are You Local? contest and included a top 10 nod in City Pages' Picked to Click poll, Prissy Clerks will end 2012 with a release party for their debut album Saturday at 7th Street Entry (next door to the Lennon tribute).

The title, "Bruise or Be Bruised," could reflect either its heavy guitar work or the quintet's wounded formation, as singer/guitarist Clara Salyer and bassist Howard Hamilton III came together after the abrupt ends to their previous bands, Total Babe and Red Pens, respectively. Salyer's soft voice belies the sneering tone of such songs as "Blast-Off Girls" and the title track, which musically sound straight out of Boston circa 1990 (see: Belly, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh).

Even when she edges into melodramatic territory in "I'm Too Young to Lose My Mind," Salyer is saved by Dylan Ritchie's potent reverb noodling and the reminder that she is still not even of legal drinking age. Damn! The once-"Legendary" Jim Ruiz will open Saturday's release party promoting his own new record, along with Alpha Consumer and Nallo (9 p.m., $6-8).

Random mix

One of the scene's more colorful characters and best purveyors of foot-stomping blues-rock, Alex Larson and his trio Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders have put together a thick fruitcake-like conglomeration of rowdy and rootsy bands for a Second Harvest Heartland holiday fundraiser at Lee's Liquor Lounge on Saturday afternoon (2-6 p.m., $10, or $8 with food donation). The party will also feature Southern-baked boogie-woogie greats Davina & the Vagabonds, New Orleans-styled blowers the Jack Brass Band and blues-punkers Poverty Hash. ...

Of course, the Saturday night slot at Lee's will be headed up by Trailer Trash from now until Christmas for their never-stale "Trashy Little Xmas" concerts (9 p.m., $12). Not to leave the milk drinkers out of the equation, Trailer Trash is again hosting a family matinee of its holiday show at the Cedar Cultural Center at noon Sunday ($12 adults, $6 kids 2-12). ... Lee's will also welcome back its second-most-beloved honky-tonk purist, Texas favorite Dale Watson, on Thursday with the Cactus Blossoms opening (9 p.m., $15). ...

While Vega Productions continues to bring in big money for music education with its "Beatle Project" albums, another of the scene's big music charities, Rock the Cause, was just granted official nonprofit status and will celebrate that and its fifth anniversary with a George Michael and Wham! tribute on Dec. 21 -- hey, they can't all be Beatles tributes -- followed by a Hookers & Blow marathon Dec. 22, both at the Crooked Pint. Details on these and RTC's other great work at www.IRocktheCause.org.

chrisr@startribune.com • 612-673-4658 Twitter: @ChrisRstrib

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  • Curtiss A

  • JOHN LENNON TRIBUTE

    With: Curtiss A, Jerks of Fate, Molly Maher, John Mark Nelson, Big Trouble.

    When: 7:30 p.m. Sat.

    Where: First Avenue, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls.

    Tickets: $15, eTix.com.

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