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It's absurd that a three-night stand at First Ave could be seen as "scaling back," but in the case of Doomtree's Blowout VIII concerts that statement is technically true. Last year the Hopkins-reared hip-hop collective pulled off a seven-night run between the main room and the Entry, and the response was so crazed that the venue and fans were pining for a repeat.
"That just seemed like it would be too much of the same thing two years in a row," said Doomtree producer/beatmaker/engine-driver Lazerbeak, who believes his crew "will up the game in a different way" by adding one extra night to the main room. (Friday's and Saturday's shows are sold out but tickets remain for Sunday evening.) They have a few other additions to their playbook, including the first-ever Doomtree pairing with a live backing band. Members of Dessa's touring group and P.O.S.' Marijuana Deathsquads are set to join the crew at some point in all three shows.
Originally, the Blowout concerts were a way for Doomtree members to come together after working on their individual projects. This time, however, they spent most of the first half of 2012 together, touring everywhere from Europe to Lollapalooza behind their group album, "No Kings," released last December. Their adventures are featured in the documentary "Team the Best Team," released on DVD for this year's Blowout. "It's probably the best starting point for anybody who doesn't know anything about Doomtree," Lazerbeak said.
There still is a reunion aspect to this year's Blowout, since four of the five rappers -- Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Sims and Cecil Otter -- have been hard at work on new solo albums. The fifth MC, P.O.S., also just dropped his latest, "We Don't Even Live Here," alongside the stunning news he's due for a kidney transplant next month. With dialysis keeping him strong in the meantime, P.O.S. might even have handled another weeklong marathon. Maybe next year. (9 p.m. Fri. & Sat., First Avenue, sold out. 6 p.m. Sun., $15.) Chris RiemenschneiderPOP/ROCK
After spending most of the past three years touring in Kid Rock's band, Shannon Curfman is getting back to her own group. That means some passionate blues-rock with feisty guitar from the Twin Cities resident who, at age 12, landed a deal with Clive Davis' record label. After two stints on major labels, Curfman, 27, is finding her groove on her own, with the solid disc "What You're Getting Into," released just before she landed the Kid Rock gig. (9 p.m. Sat., Famous Dave's, $7). Jon Bream
When Dave Nada agreed to spin a class-cutting party for his teenage cousin three years ago, little did he know he would accidentally coin a continent-crossing club trend. Slowing down a Dutch house track to appease the adolescent partiers, the punk-rocker-turned-DJ founded what became known as moombahton, a house and reggaeton hybrid. Partnered with techno-reared DJ Matt Nordstrom as Nadastrom, the D.C.-spawned duo has pushed the genre's siren-sounding Caribbean clickers in clubs across the world. Dubstep/electro-house producer Kill Paris and others open. (9 p.m. Sat., the Loft at Barfly, 18-plus, $15 advance.) Michael Rietmulder
As if being a whistling, violin-playing singer/songwriter who records in a western Illinois barn weren't abnormal enough, Andrew Bird put out not one but two unusual albums this year. The March release "Break It Yourself" was a feistier and more frazzled collection of new songs from the willowy voiced bard, while last month's "Hands of Glory" featured rootsy and often elegant covers by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, the Handsome Family and Minneapolis' own Alpha Consumer. The latter band's leader, Jeremy Ylvisaker, plays guitar in Bird's band alongside local drummer/keyboardist Martin Dosh, giving this show something of a home-for-the-holidays feeling. Another of his local collaborators, Michael Lewis, will open the show with his beloved jazz group Fat Kid Wednesdays. (8 p.m. Mon., State Theatre, $32.50 & $40.) Riemenschneider
It'll be the funkiest horn-fueled party of the holiday season as all the players in Tower of Power squeeze onto the Dakota stage. Co-founder Emilio Castillo and crew deliver greasy East Bay soul with verve and style. Singer Larry Braggs, who is masterful on ballads, may be superior to Lenny Williams from ToP's hitmaking "So Very Hard to Go" and "Don't Change Horses" heyday. (7 & 9 p.m. Mon.-Wed. Dakota, $45-$70.) Bream
Iceland's Of Monsters and Men sound like a cross between Mumford & Sons and Arcade Fire. Their folk-rock with a simple beat and Celtic flavor has made them a favorite in the States. The song "Little Talks" received tons of airplay on Cities 97 and 89.3 the Current, and the group's spirited, slightly spiritual performances at the Fine Line and Lollapalooza earned standing ovations. (7 p.m. Tue.-Wed., First Avenue. Sold out.) Bream
2013 is shaping up as a banner year for Graham Parker, the outstanding veteran British songwriter who manages to make fans smile while he snarls. Parker has a co-starring role in Judd Apatow's flick "This Is 40" (opening next Friday) and is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary, "Don't Ask Me Questions." But the best news is his fresh CD, "Three Chords Good," and a reunion tour with the Rumour, the group that put him on the musical map with a string of gripping 1970s LPs ("Howlin' Wind," "Heat Treatment," etc.). "Three Chords Good" is their first new recording in 31 years, and after a "Long Emotional Ride," as the first single tells you, this classic combo still has it. See an interview with Parker in Sunday's Variety section. (7:30 p.m. Wed., Fitzgerald Theater, $37.) Tom SurowiczHIP-HOP
Nothing like a Christmas present from our favorite local Muslim rapper: Brother Ali is offering a cheap, intimate show born out of the Rhymesayers-run "Hip-Hop Essentials" class at Minneapolis' Institute of Production & Recording. Students and faculty get in free. For the rest of us, it's first-come, first-served. Here's hoping the weather outside is not frightful. Plain Ole Bill will DJ with Ali. Aikiiltm + Syilent P open. (9 p.m. Wed., Triple Rock, $5.) RiemenschneiderHOLIDAY
Still huge in their hometown of Fargo, the Blenders are also big in the Twin Cities, where they now live. The spiffy, mostly a cappella vocal quartet only comes out for Christmas, or so it seems, having released four yule albums including last year's "Christmas Light." They are a clever and resourceful crew. Now in their 22nd year, the Blenders have booked five shows in Fargo, three in Minneapolis. (8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., Pantages Theatre, $38.) Bream
Jazz pianist Laura Caviani promises new arrangements of Christmas classics at her annual holiday shows. Singer Lucia Newell once again co-stars, as she did on Caviani's seasonal CD, "Angels We Haven't Heard." The yuletide bop rhythm section has Jay Young on bass, and Dave Schmalenberger on drums. (9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Artists' Quarter, $10.) Surowicz
Kenny Rogers has been doing a Christmas tour for nearly as long as his beard has been Santa Claus white. The country stalwart, who has a bestseller with the memoir "Luck or Something Like It," has his holiday show down to a science. First, it's a set of hits, including "The Gambler" and "Lucille." Then, it's a set of seasonal tunes from his six holiday albums, including this year's "Christmas Live." Billy Dean opens. (8 p.m. Sun., Mystic Lake Casino, $44-$55.) Bream
The Sounds of Blackness' African-American-flavored presentation of "The Night Before Christmas -- A Musical Fantasy" was better than ever last year. Director Gary Hines devised spot-on new send-ups of Beyoncé, Charlie Sheen and President Obama. As always, the full choir harmonized soulfully, and there were star solo vocal turns for Jamecia Bennett, David Hurst and especially Coré Cotton. Expect another spirited, uplifting evening with this 34th annual celebration. (7:30 p.m. Mon., Guthrie. Sold out.) BreamBLUES
The big treat of the new Lamont Cranston album, their first studio release in 15 years, is how it gathers many of the band's charter members in groovy guest-star roles. Bruce McCabe radiates the 88s throughout, laying down some cool boogie-woogie on "'59 Cadillac." Bob Bingham adds acoustic fingerstyle guitar on a couple of cuts. And Tom Burnevik lights up "I Wanna See" with his supple saxophone. Pat "Lamont" Hayes has come up with some swell new material, too, notably the hilarious generational lament, "My Hair Is Gone." Simply titled "Lamont Cranston Band, With Bruce McCabe," the generous 15-track album is a nice addition to the LC legacy. This weekend, McCabe and organist Tim Wick, another guest on the disc, will join the fun fray in St. Paul. (6-10 p.m. Fri., Wilebski's Blues Saloon.) SurowiczJAZZ
One of the better Twin Cities jazz bands of the 1980s-'90s, and certainly the most amusingly named, the Illicit Sextet has been showing up again a few times a year, sounding like they never left. Besides old favorites, the self-described "Twin Cities' first jazz composer collective" is playing new material apparently earmarked for its first CD in two decades. Its fine 1993 CD was called "Chapter One," and we hear the long-awaited follow-up will waggishly be titled "Chapter Eleven." (7 p.m. Thu., Artists' Quarter. No cover.) SurowiczCLASSICAL
With "Rhythm and Verse: An Exploration of Pulse Through Music and Poetry," the Baroque Quartet Belladonna -- Margaret Humphrey (baroque violin), Rebecca Humphrey (baroque cello), Clea Galhano (baroque recorders) and Barbara Weiss (harpsichord) -- with soprano Maria Jette, celebrates the nature of rhythm, an essential element of the musical experience, but one often neglected in the overwhelming focus on melody. The music of the Baroque was particularly alive with rhythmic experimentation, as performances of works by composers from Bach and Monteverdi to Byrd and Dowland will illustrate. (7:30 p.m. Fri., Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University, 1531 Hewitt Av., St. Paul, $12-$20, 651-292-3268 or www.schubert.org/baroque.) William Randall Beard
Year-end best-of lists are confirming what many of us knew back in June when Japandroids played the Entry: The British Columbia duo issued one of the most electrifying albums of 2012. "Celebration Rock," their sophomore collection of hair-raising and/or hair-tossing punk-metal-noise, already made Rolling Stone's top 10 while Spin gave guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse a band-of-the-year accolade. Proof that local fans were already hip to them: Their two-night stand has been sold out for weeks. Opening band DIIV, aka Dive, is an ambient Brooklyn guitar-pop group led by a guy from the Beach Fossils camp. (9 p.m. Fri. & Sat., Triple Rock. Sold out.) Chris Riemenschneider