Joy Formidable

Big Hassle,

The Big Gigs for week of 3/16

  • March 15, 2012 - 3:50 PM


Dave Barnes, the Nashville pop singer (how's that for an oxymoron?), is venturing into Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson territory on "White Flag," his new single that percolates with a reggae-suggesting bubbliness. The rest of the material on his new album, "Stories to Tell," released this week, is sunny-sounding pop that suggests he hasn't traveled far from either his Christian-pop roots or his desire to become the next John Mayer with a more upbeat demeanor. (7 p.m. Fri. Varsity, $18-$20.) Jon Bream

G. Love is back promoting his first album sans the Special Sauce, last year's "Fixin' to Die." Produced by brothers Scott and Seth Avett, it's kinda country, kinda bluesy (with covers of Son House and Bukka White) and kinda special. Scott Biram opens. (8 p.m. Fri. First Avenue, $24.50.) Bream

Nearly 20 years after its debut album, Mustard Plug is still skankin', and presumably there's still a market of ex-band geeks who dig out their checkered Vans and fedoras whenever the punchy sextet comes to town. Rocksteady Breakfast and Blue Waffle open. (10 p.m. Fri. Triple Rock, $10-$12..) Michael Rietmulder

Luke Zimmerman unavoidably gets compared to certain world-famous relatives of his (Uncle Bob and cousin Jakob Dylan), and he even falls a bit under the shadow of his older brother Seth of local 757s and Tangletown notoriety. On his new album, "Shoebox," though, he sounds more like the eighth (or ninth?) member of the Pines, offering poetic, rootsy ramblings with a dark-before-dawn vibe and picturesque acoustic guitar arrangements. (10 p.m. Fri., Amsterdam Bar & Hall. Free.) Chris Riemenschneider

For the 29th year, Boiled in Lead's annual St. Patrick's Day concert serves as one of the most authentic spots to celebrate the green holiday. You'll get a marathon set since the Twin Cities mainstays have the bill all to themselves. BiL recently released "The Well Below," a four-song EP. And fear not, booze hounds: The Cedar promises to keep plenty of Guinness on hand. (8 p.m. Sat. Cedar, $12-$15.) Jay Boller

Eccentric folk-punk duo Alexander Jackson Jihad has a lot to say. Guitarist/singer Sean Bonnette often delivers his sociopolitical commentary with quirky lines about Harry Potter, smoking meth and having oral sex with Satan. Touring with a full band for the first time, AJJ's live show should match the forcefulness of the sincere and restless anthems off last year's "Knife Man," the Phoenix duo's fourth studio album. With Laura Stevenson and the Cans, ROAR and Stop Drop. (10 p.m. Sat. Triple Rock, $10-$12.) Rietmulder

Woodstock propelled Melanie, then a 22-year-old underground folk singer from Queens, into candles-in-the-rain fame. After that post-Ravi Shankar downpour, she wrote "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," which landed her on the radio and pop charts, then followed with the chart-topping "Brand New Key" in 1971. At 65, Nashville-based Melanie Safka is still working it, a sincere, vibrato-voiced folk-pop singer who released "Ever Since You Never Heard of Me" in 2010. (7 p.m. Sun.-Mon. Dakota, $40.) Bream

After a four-year hiatus, Saul Williams returned to music with last year's "Volcanic Sunlight" -- an oddball pop record incorporating elements of trip-hop, forward-thinking R&B, philosophical lyrics and a TV on the Radio-meets-Bloc Party indie vibe. His musical absence hardly represented a creative lull, however: He starred in the film "Aujourd'hui," which premiered last month at the Berlin International Film Festival, and curated a poetry book due this fall. Hip-hopping techno-punk CX Kidtronik of Atari Teenage Riot fame opens. (9 p.m. Sun. Triple Rock, $15.) Rietmulder

Jane's Addiction is touring behind a mostly drudging new album, but who cares? Not only is "The Great Escape Artist" -- only the fourth album in 24 years by the Gen-X alt-metal heroes -- bringing them to town for the first time since 2001, but its premise allegedly inspired them to play more intimate venues. The fact that it's the first show at concert corporation AEG's new local venue also adds to the buzz. Chris Chaney, who toured with the band in the early '00s, rounds out the otherwise all-original lineup. Belgium haze-rock duo Black Box Revolution opens. (8:30 p.m. Mon., the Brick, 111 N. 5th St., Mpls. Sold out.) Riemenschneider

A year after a splashy coming-out at South by Southwest, an unforgettable Entry show and a fall tour with the Foo Fighters, the Joy Formidable shouldn't need much introduction. The Welsh trio crashed around the Entry stage like Nirvana last April, and bleach-blonde frontwoman Ritzy Bryan had a Cobain look about her. But her band does the soft-to-loud thing more elegantly and ethereally, with soft Belly-like melodies. They've been working on the follow-up to last year's debut, "The Big Roar," but are back on tour with New York's great noise-rock quartet A Place to Bury Strangers and NYC newcomers Exit Music. (8 p.m. Mon., Fine Line. $15.) Riemenschneider

Going with a self-titled collection a few albums into a career is a tricky proposition, but Delta Spirit seems to have picked the right moment. The San Diego quintet, which already delivered riling local sets at the Entry, Varsity and Soundtown fest, eschews its rootsier Americana sounds for a bigger, sonic display on the eponymous new disc. Frontman Matthew Vasquez seems to have gotten his Neil Young out and seems to be channeling John Lennon and Thom Yorke here, to great effect. Highly recommended. Opener Waters is a new John Congleton-produced, Bon Iver sort of pseudonym-using fella. (8 p.m. Wed., Fine Line. $15.) Riemenschneider

Hatched in the Oakland basement scene, Bare Wires is the dirty little brainchild of Memphis transplant Matthew Melton. The label owner/photographer/self-described "total slacker" has a penchant for fuzzed-out power pop and thrift-store glam. The trio's latest offering, the "Cheap Perfume" 10-inch, is a delightfully unrefined blend of catchy guitar scuzz and soft-serve "Rock 'n' Roll High School" vocals. Hot Rash opens (10 p.m. Wed. Turf Club, $7.) Rietmulder

Pop-metal showman Andrew W.K. is on tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of his bloody-nose-covered debut album, "I Get Wet," parts of which were recorded in the Twin Cities with producer John Fields. The record tellingly earned four stars in Rolling Stone and a 0.06 rating in Pitchfork, and it's reasonable to believe both reviews. Several of its tracks, including "She Is Beautiful" and "Party Hard," wound up becoming ubiquitous in movies, TV shows and video games. (7 p.m. Thu., First Avenue. $20.) Riemenschneider


What are the odds that two great Jamaican vocal trios who made their mark in the '70s -- and still feature their original members -- would descend on the Twin Cities in the same week? Jamaican harmony singing doesn't get better than the Mighty Diamonds. The reggae trio did the original hit of "Pass the Koutchie" in 1981 before Musical Youth turned it into a worldwide sensation. Some 40 albums later, they remain a must-see act. (8 p.m. Fri., Cedar Cultural Center, $20-$25.) The Meditations famously did backup singing for Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Bunny Wailer. But any owner of their "best of" CD, "Deeper Roots," will tell you that the Meditations should always be in the foreground, doing their own gems "Woman Is Like a Shadow" and "Running From Jamaica." (8 p.m. Tue., 7th Street Entry, $15.) Tom Surowicz


A former Twin Cities denizen, well-traveled bluesman Lynwood Slim has been out of action for a year with various ailments and needs a liver transplant. The latest benefit for him brings together a regiment of Minnesota's finest bar warriors, including Willie Murphy, Big Walter Smith, Dave "Cool Breeze" Brown and the Butanes with Maurice Jacox and Willie Walker, for five hours of music in an excellent cause. (1 p.m. Sun., Cabooze, $10.) Surowicz


One of the nicer recent additions to the Twin Cities jazz scene is prodigious pianist Richard Johnson, known for his work with Wynton Marsalis and Russell Malone. After staging a cool series of theme shows, Johnson's impressive trio (bassist Graydon Peterson and drummer Reid Kennedy) serves up the oddest yet: jazz versions of TV theme songs from the 1980s. (9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Artists' Quarter, $15.) Surowicz

Pianist extraordinaire Gonzalo Rubalcaba was a guest on guitarist Al Di Meola's 2011 release, "Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody," and he's also toured with Di Meola's World Sinfonia band. The Cuban emigre and former Return to Forever star have an obvious musical rapport. Expect impromptu jazz that's nearly as athletic as aesthetic. (7 & 9 p.m. Tue.-Wed., Dakota Jazz Club, $25-$40.) Surowicz


The six-member male ensemble called the King's Singers began in 1968 as an offshoot of the Kings College Choir. Their program at Orchestra Hall includes a set of commissioned works by former member Bob Chilcott, along with contemporary American composers Morten Lauridsen and Eric Whitacre. Also on the bill: music of Poulenc, works of the Flemish Renaissance and a close harmony set of contemporary pop music. (2 p.m. Sun., Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., $22-$45, 612-371-5656, www. William Randall Beard

Members of Minnesota Orchestra gather at the MacPhail Center for an evening of chamber music. In Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano by Finnish composer Kalevi Aho, Osmo Vänskä forgoes the baton for the clarinet, joining Thomas Turner on viola and Susan Billmeyer on piano. The second half is Franz Schubert's Octet for Winds and Strings. (7 p.m. Sun., MacPhail Center for Music, 501 S. 2nd St., Mpls., $25, 612-371-5656, www. Beard

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