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DeVotchKa plays First Avenue on Friday.

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Big Gigs, Feb. 15-21: DeVotchKa, Minnesota Sinfonia, more

  • Star Tribune
  • February 14, 2013 - 3:52 PM

POP/ROCK

Denver’s worldly gypsy-folk-kitchen-sink ensemble DeVotchKa is getting together for a Valentine’s show in its hometown of Denver and decided to spread the love to Minneapolis and Chicago, too — three of only four dates on its calendar through the spring. There’s certainly a deep undercurrent of romance in Nick Urata’s operatic voice and the band’s sweeping orchestral sounds, and those acrobatic burlesque dancers they usually have dangling from the ceiling add a sultry element, too. The ensemble just released a live recording from a Red Rocks show with the Colorado Symphony and is working on a new studio album. (9 p.m. Fri., First Avenue, $25.) Chris Riemenschneider

 

Kansas City singer/pianist Kelley Hunt has been regularly bringing her rootsy music to the Dakota. A throaty singer and a boogeying pianist, she’s still promoting her latest and arguably best disc, 2011’s “Gravity Loves You.” It’s a little gospel, a little blues, a little R&B and all very soulful. For her current tour, she’s expanded her band to five pieces. (8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Dakota Jazz Club, $20.) Jon Bream

 

A decade after Wilco headlined Rock the Garden, another member of the band is returning to the Walker to step out from behind the frontman: Drummer Glenn Kotche, who joined Wilco circa “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” follows guitarist Nels Cline to the museum to perform a nature-inspired, tape-looped “percussion opera” titled “Ilimaq” and written by Alaskan composer John Luther Adams. If that sounds a little too bird-cally, Kotche will also pair up with the Twin Cities’ own revered drummer/looper/composer Martin Dosh for what should be a rocking melding of their innovative talents. (8 p.m. Sat., Walker Art Center, $16-$20). Riemenschneider

 

It worked for Elvis Presley — him on film, backed by live musicians who used to play with him. A Rocky Mountain High Concert Tour will feature vintage footage of the late John Denver onstage, with such musicians as bassist Alan Deremo, who played with Denver during his final three years; keyboardist Chris Nole, who gigged with Denver in the 1990s, and well-known saxophonist Jim Horn, who worked with Denver on and off from 1978 to 1995. The set will be filled with songs from Denver’s days in Minnesota (“Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Annie’s Song”) and his many years in Colorado (“Rocky Mountain High,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders”). (7 p.m. Sun., State Theatre, $36.50-$46.50.) Bream

 

Ed Kowalczyk, former frontman of Live, is doing his I Alone Acoustic Tour. After taking a two-year hiatus beginning in 2009, three members of the band sued the singer for misuse of the group’s name. Then in 2011, Live began touring with a replacement singer. If you want to hear the voice that recorded “Lightning Crashes,” “Selling the Drama” and “I Alone,” check out Kowalczyk live alone. (7 p.m. Sun. Dakota, $35.) Bream

 

While he still employs an icy, ambient synth-pop backdrop, South Carolina sonic adventurer Toro y Moi (Chaz Bundick) has sexied up his sound on his third album, “Anything in Return.” Sprinklings of Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” and Prince’s falsetto dot the record, and the beats have a little more grind to them. For a so-called chillwave artist, he’s probably generating some heated dance floors on this tour. Opening act Sinkane is actually the acid-funk-Afro-house pseudonym of Ahmed Gallab, who has been a touring member of Yeasayer and Caribou and comes highly recommended. Dog Bite also performs. (9 p.m. Wed., Fine Line. $15.) Riemenschneider

 

The stately, multistory atrium of the James J. Hill Reference Library is a perfect setting in which to hear the haunting sounds of Mary Gauthier, the best alt-country songwriter you’ve never heard of. She writes with the grit and honesty of Merle Haggard and the literate darkness of Townes Van Zandt. Her voice has the Louisiana drawl of Lucinda Williams but with more range and musicality. Gauthier (go-SHAY, it’s French) will be appearing at the tres cool monthly Real-Phonic Radio Hour, which will also feature Dave Simonett, of Trampled by Turtles and Dead Man Winter, in a rare solo performance. Of course, there’s the most excellent house band led by the underappreciated Eric Koskinen, Minnesota’s best country writer/singer. (8 p.m. Thu., 4th & Market, St. Paul, $20; discount with food donation.) Bream

 

In an odd twist of fate and fur bikini tops, Nashville Pussy has become something of a respectable and perhaps even virtuous mainstay in underground rock circles. The nuptials of co-leaders Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys have outlasted most musical marriages, and their Atlanta-based quartet continually stands for traditional values. Yes, as in sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Opening act Birdcloud is a quirky pair of women from Tennessee with a viral hit, “Saving Myself for Jesus.” (9 p.m. Wed., 7th Street Entry. $15.) Riemenschneider

 

Chatty rock and blues legends Hot Tuna — Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady — will be in the acoustic format this visit, joined by constant collaborator Barry Mitterhoff, a versatile mandolin wizard. The Jefferson Airplane grads and lifelong Reverend Gary Davis devotees just reissued eight of their classic Hot Tuna CDs in limited-edition faux vinyl packages, with state-of-the-art remastering. So, you can get a fresh, juicy copy of “Burgers” in 24-bit audio. My, that’s tasty! (7:30 p.m. Thu., Mill City Nights, $34.) Tom Surowicz

COUNTRY

Country brooder Gary Allan rocks a little harder on his brand new “Set You Free,” his ninth album, but the emotions cut deep, especially on the pretty hit ballad “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain),” the organ- and pedal-steel drenched “It Ain’t the Whiskey” and the sweet and lonely “You Without Me.” He shows a change of pace on the unexpected reggae-lite “No Worries.” The big payoff here might be the bluesy rock scorcher “Bones,” which is now the official theme of the Professional Bull Riders’ series. (8 p.m. Sat. Treasure Island Casino, Red Wing. Sold out.) Bream

ACOUSTIC

Brian Gore always puts together an intriguing lineup for his annual International Guitar Night tours, and 2013 is no exception. Brilliant British jazz guitarist Martin Taylor is one of the best solo fingerstyle players on the planet, a dazzler in the grand tradition of Joe Pass and Lenny Breau. The second-ever Twin Cities appearance by Guinga, one of Brazil’s greatest living composers, is another exciting prospect. The 62-year-old singer/guitarist might be a world star had he not spent 30 years as a dentist, limiting his touring. Then there’s Solorazaf, from Madagascar. A remarkably rhythmic player, he’s something of a one-man-band, using lots of foot percussion, and he toured for 15 years with the legendary Miriam Makeba. (7 & 9 p.m. Wed., Dakota Jazz Club, $30-$40.) Surowicz

WORLD

Irish-American folk standard-bearers Solas are back, touring in support of their ambitious new CD, “Shamrock City.” It tells the story of bandleader Seamus Egan’s great-great-uncle, who left Ireland roughly 100 years ago to work in the copper mines of Butte, Mont. The CD has noteworthy guest appearances (Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Aoife O’Donovan of Crooked Still, Scots folk legend Dick Gaughan) and it shows off the band’s latest singer, Niamh Varian-Barry, who also plays viola. (8 p.m. Fri., Cedar Cultural Center, $20-$25.) Surowicz

 

Fans of North Indian classical music probably already know Pooja Pavan, the Twin Cities-based scholar and singer of Urdu love poems and devotional folk songs. She released an album for the adventurous local label Innova in 2010, and has taught at the U of M and Macalester. She stars in an attractively priced concert called “Global Conversations,” where she’ll be joined by esteemed Indian musicians Pavan Allalaghatta and Sriram Natarajan and acclaimed Minnesota musical explorers Tim O’Keefe and Greg Herriges. It’s a good chance for the curious and the uninitiated to sample some exotic sounds. (7:30 p.m. Sun., Cedar Cultural Center, $5.) Surowicz

JAZZ

This year, the format of the annual Bobby Peterson Memorial Weekend changes quite a bit. Instead of six different pianists paying homage to the hard-swinging late Twin Cities master, it’ll be a two-night showcase for his most world-acclaimed disciple, Bill Carrothers. It will also be a reunion of his “After Hours” trio (with bassist Billy Peterson and drummer Kenny Horst), whose 1998 CD, a casual late-night session, helped make Carrothers an international cult star. Bobby P would no doubt be proud. (9 p.m. Fri,-Sat., Artists’ Quarter, $15.) Surowicz

CLASSICAL

Miss the sound of an orchestra? The Bloomington Symphony, a fixture in the south metro, is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and you’re invited. Led by music director Cheung Chau (appointed in July), the program includes the world premiere of “Handprints” by former music director Steven Amundson, commissioned for the occasion. Also in store is a smorgasbord of music by Norway’s Edvard Grieg (from “Peer Gynt”), Sweden’s Hugo Alfvėn (“Midsommarvaka”) and Finland’s Jean Sibelius (the tireless Symphony No. 2). (3 p.m. Sun., St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 9201 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington. $14-$12, students free. 952-563-8575 or www.bloomingtonsymphony.org.) Larry Fuchsberg

 

This is a good time to discover Minnesota Sinfonia, one of the only professional orchestras playing in the Twin Cities. For its winter concert, the ensemble has engaged cellist Dmitry Kouzov, International Beethoven Competition winner, to play Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.” Also on the program: a new commission from Sinfonia clarinetist Paul Schulz, “Overture the Emerald” as well as the rarely heard “Serenade for Strings,” by operetta composer Victor Herbert. (7 p.m. Fri., Founders Hall, Metropolitan State University, 700 E. 7th St., St. Paul; 4 p.m. Sun., Temple Israel, 2324 Emerson Av. S., Mpls. Free. 612-871-1701. www.mnsinfonia.org) William Randall Beard

 

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