The Big Gigs: Best concerts in the Twin Cities Oct. 25-31

  • Updated: October 24, 2013 - 2:44 PM

The Head and the Heart


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The Head and the Heart’s 2009 debut album earned them lots of love in the Twin Cities, on the impetus of “Lost in My Mind” that was beloved by both 89.3 the Current and Cities 97. The coed folk-rock ensemble from Seattle — fiddler/singer Charity Rose Thielen spent time in the Twin Cities and her parents still live here — were organic and charming live. The group’s sophomore CD, “Let’s Be Still,” released last week, seems stuck in the ’70s, with shades of the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Crosby, Stills & Nash without the big-budget production. More modern vibes are experienced on the Mumford-ish but gorgeous “Gone” and the Coldplay-gone-acoustic “Fire/Fear.” Thao & the Get Down Stay Down and the Quiet Life open. (9 p.m. Sat & 8 p.m. Sun. First Avenue, sold-out.) Bream


After a downward spiral that Twin Cities fans saw firsthand at a slurred Turf Club gig, Jason Isbell sobered up, got remarried and made the best album of his career — and one of the best of 2013, period. “Southeastern” finds the former Drive-by Trucker chronicling some of his bleariest nights with open eyes, from the graceful folk gem “Traveling Alone” to the literally deadly throwdown “Super 8,” but the redemption he finds is also crystal clear in other heart-tugging would-be classics. After a “Wits” appearance and solo gig earlier this year, the Alabama country rocker is finally coming around with his sturdy 400 Unit, including his new wife, fiddler/singer Amanda Shires. (8 p.m. Fri., Varsity Theater, sold out.) Chris Riemenschneider

Regulars at the intimate Dakota Jazz Club, Lizz Wright and Raul Midon will team up in a plush theater. The radiant Wright is a gloriously soulful, deep-voiced Georgian who will take you to church without a minister, Bible or any rituals. Soulful singer/guitarist Midon, from New Mexico, comes across like a modern-day Bill Withers. (7:30 p.m. Fri., Ordway, $16-$36.) Jon Bream

Soul Coughing is still beloved in the Twin Cities (its No. 1 market back in the day), but the hard-walloping ’90s jazz-rock-rap band is not so fondly remembered by frontman Mike Doughty, who likened it to a “dark marriage.” After revisiting that era in his 2012 autobiography “The Book of Drugs,” the gravelly voiced, wryly humored New Yorker opted to “reimagine” his old tunes rather than reunite his old group. He re-recorded many of their biggest songs, including “Super Bon Bon” and “Circles,” for a folkier and rawer new collection, which is how he and a new band are playing them on the so-called “Mike Doughty (used to be in) Soul Coughing” tour. Sons of Hippies open. (8 p.m. Fri., First Avenue, $25.) Riemenschneider

An Illinois-bred folkie, Suzy Bogguss made a splash in country in the 1990s with such hits as “Outbound Plane” and “Aces.” Blessed with one of the prettiest voices in Nashville, she has sung jazz standards on 2003’s “Swing” and folk chestnuts on 2011’s “American Folk Songbook.” But she has never been better than on 2007’s “Sweet Danger,” which showed her to be a smart songwriter and gifted interpreter who is too artful and adult for today’s country scene. Headlining are the revamped SteelDrivers, a bluegrassy folk group now featuring Gary Nichols on vocals and Tammy Rogers on fiddle. (8 p.m. Sat., Hopkins Center for the Arts, $34.) Bream

On his fifth solo album, “Tape Deck Heart,” Frank Turner comes across as Craig Finn’s British cousin. A former punk rocker with Million Dead who once drew comparisons to Billy Bragg, Turner is a passionate storyteller, whether it’s the rowdy rocker “We Shall Not Overcome” (about his non-mainstream tastes) or the acoustic ballad “Wherefore Art Thou Gene Simmons” (about a mom’s admonishment on rock musicians’ lifestyles). (6:30 p.m. Mon., Varsity, $20.) Bream

As he’s done throughout a decade-plus career equally defined by head-banging and head-scratching, Hank III — grandson of Hank Williams and son of “Bocephus,” Hank Jr. — shows off both a Misfits-like thrash-punk side as well as a traditional country side on his new double-LP collection, “A Fiendish Threat/Brothers of the 4 X 4.” Expect to hear both sides and probably lots more in concert opposite “Monday Night Football,” whose controversial canning of his dad was coolly greeted with a shrug by “3.” (8 p.m. Mon., Mill City Nights, $25.) Riemenschneider

The Cowboy Junkies’ return to the Dakota is well-timed. The Toronto minimalists are supporting “The Wilderness,” the fourth and final album in their so-called “Nomad Series.” It’s very wintry, filled with darkness, solitariness and snow. It’s typical Cowboy Junkies — even the outlier rock blast “F---, I Hate the Cold.” (7 & 9 p.m. Tue.-Wed., Dakota, $40-$45.) Bream

Due in town the night after they’re scheduled to be spotlighted on public radio’s “World Café Next,” Texas’ whimsical coed folk-pop strummers Wild Child have a few other distinctions to their name. Fellow Austinite Ben Kweller produced their second album, “The Runaround,” and MTV Hive praised their stomach-testing video for “Crazy Birds” over Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” as “craziest on the block.” You really have to see it to believe it. (9:30 p.m. Tue., Icehouse, $10.) Riemenschneider

So much for a bigger Soundgarden outing. After playing a massively rocking but undersized gig with his old band at the Orpheum in February — leaving many fans praying for a second go-around — Chris Cornell is back out on a solo tour. And this one truly is solo. One of rock’s mightiest howlers, he’s playing stripped-down acoustic versions of Soundgarden, Audioslave and even Temple of the Dog tunes alongside his soundtrack contributions — including “Seasons” from “Man of Steel” — and other random offerings. (8 p.m. Wed., O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, St. Catherine’s University, $40-$46.) Riemenschneider

  • related content

  • Jason Isbell plays a sold-out Varsity Theater on Friday.

  • Lizz Wright performs Friday at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts.

  • Chris Cornell performs Wednesday at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium.

  • Mike Doughty performs Friday at First Avenue.

  • Cyndi Lauper speaks during a press conference on her experience with the March 11 earthquake and tsunami at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo Monday, March 12, 2012. Lauper, who is admired here as a true star who didn't run away despite the tsunami and nuclear crisis last year, is back, to show that she hasn't forgotten. "It's a big tragedy but everybody is trying to move forward. I just want to say hey don't forget about Japan," Lauper told a news conference in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa) ORG XMIT: MIN2013102209195806

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