Local music notes: Echoes of Bellwether

The band is back -- and will be at the Aster Cafe on Saturday for a stripped-down show.

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ASSIGNMENT SUMMARY - Photograph local roots rockers Bellwether for a local music feature for FreeTime. One of the guys in the band owns Twin Town Guitars in S. Minneapolis, if you think that would be a good location for the shoot. -- (THIS PHOTO Monday 6/12/2000 Minneapolis (l to r) Phil Tippin, Mickey Wirtz, Jimmy Peterson, and Eric Luoma -- members of Bellwether. ORG XMIT: MIN2013011614083215

Photo: David Brewster, Dml - Star Tribune

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True story: An e-mail arrived out of the blue three weeks ago from an independent filmmaker in Los Angeles asking the whereabouts of Bellwether, a Northern Lights-tinted country-rock band from Minneapolis that earned a following in the late '90s and early '00s. Said director was hoping to get rights to its song "8th Street."

I was happy to report that -- just as quietly as it folded around 2003 -- Bellwether is performing around town again and could have some new music in the near future, although primary singer/sonwriter Eric Luoma wasn't quite so eager to trumpet the band's return.

"After this gig, we are going to start talking about some sessions," was Luoma's demure response, referring to Saturday's stripped-down show at the Aster Cafe (9 p.m., $10) with chief partner Jimmy Peterson. This is the third gig the pair has played in recent months after years apart, in which time Peterson fronted Missing Numbers and formed the 757s, now both bands of the past. So here's to a brighter future for Bellwether.

TBT, Atmosphere get busy

If you missed all the news on Tuesday that prompted Mayor R.T. Rybak to declare it "one of the top 10 days in Minnesota music" -- alongside Prince's Dakota gig announcements and the Replacements' benefit EP going up for auction -- both Atmosphere and Trampled by Turtles unveiled big concert plans.

The former is heading up another Welcome to Minnesota Tour starting March 1 in Bemidji and ending March 5 at First Avenue. Brother Ali, Carnage, the Get Cryphy DJs and young buck Haphduzn round out the lineup, and the itinerary also includes Duluth, Mankato and St. Cloud. Tickets go on sale Friday at 11 a.m. via Rhymesayers.com.

Meanwhile, TBT will play Duluth's Clyde Iron Works on April 4 to mark its 10th anniversary, but the big party will take place over three nights April 17-19 at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry with guests including the Pines, Erik Koskinen and Actual Wolf. Those tickets are on sale Friday at noon via eTix.com or First Ave outlets.

Random mix

Local dubstep wizard Vaski, who lists New York's Best Buy Theater and Boston's House of Blues on his upcoming tour itinerary, plays a much smaller set as part of his Skyline series Saturday at Bolt's Underground space, 501 Washington Av. S., Mpls. (10 p.m., $10). ... After their opening set Friday for Pert Near Sandstone's two-night Winter String Gathering at the Cedar, Virginians Black Twig Pickers will play Treehouse Records' Breakfast Series (10 a.m., free). ...

While its own weekly music schedule has been amped up of late, Harriet Brewing is using El Nuevo Rodeo Ballroom's bigger space just a block away to celebrate its second anniversary Saturday night with a coolly eclectic lineup featuring Malamanya, Steve Kaul & the Brass Kings and Postina (7 p.m., $14-$20, HarrietBrewing.com). Chris Koza, Dan "Daddy Squeeze" Newton and more will perform at the brewery in the afternoon. ...

About time: Gay Witch Abortion, which headed to England last month to play the Shellac-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival, is back with a proper headlining show behind its bristling, hard-blasting sophomore album "Smokescreen Opportunistic Behavior," recorded at the newly remade Pachyderm Studio and released in November on Learning Curve Records. The guitar/drums noise-rock duo performs Friday at the Turf Club with the Ex-Nuns (10 p.m., $6) and Friday on Radio K's "Off the Record" at 3 p.m. ... Soon to be a major motion picture? Mark Mallman will open up his tour diaries Sunday at the Turf Club's Clown Lounge as part of the Riot Act Reading series (8 p.m., $5). ...

"Public radio" will take on new meaning this year at 89.3 the Current, which is starting a new Public Music Meeting series Feb. 5 at the Amsterdam Bar, wherein patrons will hear 10 new songs and pick the ones that should go into on-air rotation. Too bad they didn't start this series before that annoying Alt-J record came out. ...While fans are excited for a preview of Cloud Cult's new album "Love" at the Current's sold-out birthday party on Saturday, the band also posted its prior albums for free streaming at Cloudcult.com. Consider it a refresher course. Look for an announcement of tour plans soon. ...

Howler abruptly canceled its gig next weekend at the Varsity Theater and doesn't show anything else on the books for the year. Management and frontman Jordan Gatesmith did not respond to queries asking for explanation. Oh sure, now the kid keeps quiet.

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

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