Big gigs June 27-July 3: Lauryn Hill, Ray LaMontagne, John Mark Nelson and much, much more

  • Updated: June 27, 2014 - 1:09 PM

Lauryn Hill

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When missing-in-action hip-hop/soul queen Lauryn Hill showed up in Minneapolis four years ago, she hit the stage extremely late but eventually delivered some indelible, organic moments. Back on the road with no new album in sight — it’s been 16 years since her Grammy-winning “The Mis­education of Lauryn Hill” — she reportedly is still tardy, sloppy but often exciting. (9 p.m. Mon., First Avenue, $65.) Bream


Hardly a summer in Minnesota goes by without an outdoor performance by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Last year, the Colorado rockers played their 1993 hit album “Sister Sweetly” in its entirety at Target Field. This year, the Basilica Block Party vets return to the Minnesota Zoo, promoting the new album “Black Beehive,” which is sort of a return to their breezy “Bittersweet” vibe after a few years of being preoccupied with the blues. (7:30 p.m. Fri., $36 & $48.50.) Jon Bream

One of the first people Krist Novoselic thanked on behalf of Nirvana at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, the Melvins’ electric-haired frontman Buzz Osborne (aka King Buzzo) has probably played Grumpy’s Downtown more than anyone, but never like this. He’s unplugging in support of his first solo album, “This Machine Kills Artists,” an all-acoustic affair that shows what’s under all that sludgy noise-rock. (8 p.m. Fri., Grumpy’s Downtown, 1111 Washington Av. S., Mpls., $16.) Chris Riemenschneider

The fellas of Run Westy Run weren’t kidding when they said their well-received shows in January would be more than just one-off reunions. With Kraig Johnson back in Minnesota rehearsing for the Jayhawks’ upcoming tour, he and the rest of the ’90s art-punk/fray-funk band are converging for two more gigs, including a Sunday show in an all-ages location — fans can show their kids how weird they used to be — plus two choice openers, Dosh and BNLX. (9 p.m. Fri., 7th Street Entry, sold out; 6 p.m. Sun., Amsterdam Bar & Hall, $20) Riemenschneider

For the first time since she thought she purified herself in Lake Minnetonka, Apollonia, Prince’s love interest in “Purple Rain,” will return to the Twin Cities. She’ll appear at Bobby Z’s third annual Benefit 2 Celebrate Life for the American Heart Association, answering questions about the movie. A bunch of Prince tunes will be interpreted by “American Idol” finalist Paris Bennett, Atmosphere rapper Slug, members of the Sounds of Blackness and several Purple-connected musicians including keyboardist Dr. Fink, saxophonist Eric Leeds and singer Paul Peterson. Read an interview with Apollonia in Saturday’s Variety. (8 p.m. Sat., First Avenue, $50-$100.) Bream

Let’s do the 42nd annual Twin Cities Pride Festival by numbers: Four stages of music featuring more than 80 musicians over two days. Let’s talk about some of the big names who will be appearing at Saturday’s Pride in Concert (5 p.m., $10): Thelma Houston, the fabulous voice behind one of disco’s best hits, “Don’t Leave Me This Way”; former Snap lead singer Thea Austin, who propelled the dance-club hits “Rhythm Is a Dancer” and “I’m Addicted to You”; Steve Grand, the gay country singer who has become something of a viral sensation; and Betty Who, the Aussie-bred indie popster who is creating a buzz with “Somebody Loves You.” The rest of the music — featuring everyone from Cities 97 songbird Keri Noble to rapper Toki Wright — is free. (10 a.m. Sat.-Sun., Loring Park, Mpls. Bream

On his fifth album, cult hero Ray LaMontagne has become more sonically ambitious, thanks, in part, to hipster producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. The music on “Supernova” seems brighter and fuller, more accessible and more electric. But it is still strikingly nostalgic, with the rustic singer/songwriter seemingly worshiping at the altar of Van Morrison. Opening are Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser and brother-sister pop duo Belle Brigade, whose grandfather is Oscar-winning soundtrack lion John Williams. (8 p.m. Sat., Northrop Auditorium, $39.50-$69.50.) Bream

He and his graceful band have gone over well at First Avenue, but John Mark Nelson was wise to keep the release party for his second album in the warm confines of the Cedar. “Sings the Moon” is even more of a softly balladic, intimate affair than the bedroom record he made all by his lonesome while still a Minnetonka High student, when his catchy “Reminisce” went into heavy Current rotation. There’s not much for the radio here, but plenty for still-of-the-night listening á la Nick Drake or early Iron & Wine, with a few swooning, Cole Porter-ish ditties to brighten things up, such as the six-minute penultimate track, “Cigarettes & Postage Stamps.” Bad Bad Hats open. (8 p.m. Sat., Cedar Cultural Center, all ages, $12-$15.) Riemenschneider

It’s harder being a Led Zeppelin tribute band now that Zep scion Jason Bonham has his own group on the road. But the top tribute band could well be ZOSO: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience, fronted by Robert Plant-sound-alike Matt Jernigan, original lead singer for Pantera. The Grande Machine opens. (9 p.m. Sat., Mill City Nights, $18-$20.) Bream

Six months since its re-release on Mom + Pop Records, Wild Cub’s bubbly rhythmic and infectiously harmonious debut “Youth” is holding up as one of the best albums of the year. The Erasure-meets-Yeasayer single “Thunder Clatter” has been all over 89.3 the Current and used in a Bose commercial, and there are many more buoyant melodic jams where that came from, plus a few lovely mellower/ambient tunes, too. The Nashville quintet puts on an impressive live show, too. Escondido opens. (9 p.m. Sat., Triple Rock, $15.) Riemenschneider

Spend an evening with Taj Mahal and Mavis Staples and you’ll get a serious education in American music. Staples is the Rock Hall of Famer known for her work with the gospel-steeped Staple Singers, but as a solo act, she’s explored all kinds of music, working with such producers as Prince, Ry Cooder and Jeff Tweedy, who helmed her last two excellent albums. Mahal, who plays everything from island music and Tex-Mex to jazz and blues, can usually be counted on to sing “Fishin’ Blues” in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where he invariably tries to find time to wet a line. (7:30 p.m. Sun., Minnesota Zoo, $50 & $62.50.) Bream

If you were in a bar argument about the most recognizable voice in pop music, a safe bet would be Michael McDonald. The marbled-voiced soul man can be heard on such hits as “I Keep Forgettin’ ” and “On My Own” as well as the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes” and “Takin It to the Streets.” Lately he’s turned to interpreting classics, including two albums of Motown tunes and most recently hits by Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen and Bob Marley. (8 p.m. Sun., Mystic Lake Casino, $31-$39.) Bream

With this year’s “Revelation” album, Los Lonely Boys touch most of the bases that made them popular: pretty soft-rock, Santana-esque Latin pop, guitar heroics and blues-rock power. Guitarist/singer Henry Garza apparently has bounced back from a 2013 stage fall that injured his spine. (8 p.m. Sun., Cabooze, $25-$30.) Bream

If such lyrics as “I was in Daddy’s car with a joint in both hands” don’t clue you in to the fact that Lukas Nelson is the son of American music icon Willie Nelson, his nasal voice and laid-back charm probably will. Lukas’ guitar playing actually hews closer to that of another Austin icon, Stevie Ray Vaughan. He and his band, Promise of the Real, roll with an Allman Brothers-like Southern boogie on their third album, “Love Yourself.” (9 p.m. Tue., 7th Street Entry, $12-$14.) Riemenschneider

After a three-year hiatus and a location change due to flooding, Taste of Minnesota organizers kick off their revival with a music lineup built on local flavor. Grammy-winning Minneapolis alt-rocker Dave Pirner of “Runaway Train” fame and his remade Soul Asylum headline Thursday’s opening day (8:30 p.m.), coolly paired with another big-wig of the Twin Cities ’90s rock scene, Tina & the B-Sides (6:30), reunited after a 15-year break with a new album, “Barricade.” Blues-rocker Corey Stevens and “The Voice” castaway Tim Mahoney also perform at 4:30. (11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thu., Carver County Fairgrounds, Waconia. Free before 3 p.m., $10 thereafter. Riemenschneider

On last year’s “Minute by Minute,” British blue-eyed soul man James Hunter crafted originals with echoes of his many heroes, including Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, James Brown and his beloved Five Royales. With production by Gabriel Roth of the Dap-Kings, the horn-accented songs are retro but fresh. Hunter’s voice sounds weary and weathered at times, but his passion is undeniable. (7 p.m. Thu. & July 6, Dakota Jazz Club, $35-$40.) Bream


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