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B.B. King

TOM WALLACE • twallace@startribune.com,

Franz Ferdinand

Press Here Publicity, DML -

Martin Devaney

Star Tribune,

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion

Photo by: Joanna Chattman,

Big Gigs: The best Twin Cities concerts Oct. 4-10

  • October 3, 2013 - 4:38 PM

At 88, blues giant B.B. King in concert is more about laughs than Lucille, his trusty guitar. He tells some stories and jokes, lets his band carry the load and, a few times each night, will rise to the occasion to deliver with authority a classic such as “The Thrill Is Gone,” which is as true as it is ironic. Opening is Sena Ehrhardt, the fast-climbing blues darling from Rochester. (8 p.m. Fri., Mystic Lake Casino, $59-$69.) Bream

POP/ROCK

He’s well-known as the musical mayor of St. Paul and one of the Twin Cities’ most poetic Americana songwriters, but Martin Devaney covers a lot of other ground on his sixth album, “House of Rust.” It opens with a song about an eatery in Austin, Texas, and visits the South Dakota prairie before winding up at St. Paul’s Fountain Cave, with several stops at Heartbreak Hotel along the way. Recorded on the Iron Range at Rich Mattson’s Sparta Studio, the music ranges from rollicking, Slim Dunlap-style rave-ups to moody and dark, Joe Henry-ian downers, with backers including fiddler Jake Hyer, Bellwether drummer Mick Wirtz and Big Wu keyboardist Al Oikari. Mattson’s Ol’ Yeller opens the release party with the Cactus Blossoms. (8 p.m. Fri., Cedar Cultural Center, $10-$12.) Chris Riemenschneider

Ra Ra Riot is touring without its co-founding cellist, Alexandra Lawn, which may or may not have something to do with the fact that the collegiate rockers from Syracuse, N.Y., are also touring with a more synth-poppy, less chamber-folky sound à la their new record, “Beta Line.” The disc tellingly opens with a giddy foot-tapper called “Dance With Me” and maintains a light, bouncy vibe throughout. Southern California beach boys Cayucas open. (9 p.m. Fri., First Avenue, $15.) Riemenschneider

After two well-crafted pop albums that made her a Twin Cities radio favorite, Scottish-born, London-based singer/songwriter KT Tunstall has gone all artiste on her third album, “Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon.” As dry as the desert depicted on the cover photo, this is a slow, stripped-down, deeply felt collection about divorce and death. The disc has some lyrical images, ambient textures and glacial vocals that suggest Beth Orton and k.d. lang. Tunstall may not have lang’s shimmering power, but she does have her glass-of-wine-alone intimacy. (8 p.m. Sat., Cedar, sold out.) Jon Bream 

Other-worldly sci-fi metal gurus GWAR still sound like they’re having a bloody good time on their new album, “Battle Maximus,” even though the title and themes pay homage to late guitarist Cory “Flattus Maximus” Smoot, who died of a heart attack after the band’s bus pulled away from First Avenue in November 2011. Ringleader Oderus Urungus and his mavens have produced an all-new stage show for their Madness at the Core of Time Tour, featuring Metal Blade labelmates Whitechapel with Iron Reagan and another costumed fantasy band, Band of Orcs. (6 p.m. Sat., First Avenue, $20-$23.) Riemenschneider

Eight years after Gary Louris produced their breakthrough album “Exploration,” married picking partners Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion got another Golden Smog alum, Jeff Tweedy, to co-curate their latest with his Wilco bandmate Pat Sansone. The duo play around with their sound on “Wassaic Way,” adding a Beatlesque psychedelic pop sheen without forsaking their sweet harmonies and the Guthrie family folk tradition. (9 p.m. Sun., 7th Street Entry, $12.) Riemenschneider 

Singing surfer dude Jack Johnson is totally chill on last month’s “From Here to Now to You,” his sixth studio album. He offers more breezy, hummable ditties with sweet, simplistic messages like “I Got You” and “Never Fade” (“our love can never fade”). Occasionally, he shows a willingness to pick up the tempo. “Tape Deck,” a flashback about his days in a punk band, swings gently. The blithely syncopated “Shot Reverse Shot” could be a mellow Billy Joel on acoustic guitar. And “Radiate” gives off a jaunty reggae-funk vibe. (7:30 p.m. Mon., State Theatre, sold out.) Bream

As with the BoDeans, we have to accept Barenaked Ladies with one of their lead singers no longer participating. This summer’s “Grinning Streak” is BNL’s second studio album without Steven Page. Despite the title, this is a mostly serious, reflective pop album with an electronica sheen, though frontman Ed Robertson gets a little playful on “Boomerang” and “Odds Are.” Whitehorse opens. (7:30 p.m. Wed., State Theatre, $37.50-$65.) Bream

Oregonian twang-rockers Blitzen Trapper subtly changed to a more rhythmically driven sound on their seventh album, “VII.” Frontman Eric Earley sounds like a rapping Bob Dylan in some of the more adventurous, groove-laden tracks, while at other times he and the boys sound like the Eels as an Americana band. The disc is quite a mess, but the band is reliable live. Cuddly college-hippie ensemble Phox, from Madison, Wis., opens. (8 p.m. Wed., First Avenue, $16-$18.) Riemenschneider

Franz Ferdinand’s buzz came on so strong with its debut album in 2004, the Scottish dance-rock band wound up playing Target Center — a woefully under-attended show that proved how much it had been over-hyped. A decade later, the lads are still brandishing a charmingly rapid-fire, two-guitar grind on record, but they are thinking in much smaller terms on tour, booking an intimate club gig to promote their first album in four years, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.” Former Dum Dum and Vivian Girl Frankie Rose opens. (8:30 p.m. Wed., Skyway Theatre, $32.) Riemenschneider

On “All That for This,” her second post-“American Idol” album, Crystal Bowersox finds her voice. Her 2010 debut attempted to put her in the pop mainstream with ill-fitting power ballads whereas this new disc, produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, is right in her hippie-soul groove. She shows an undeniable soulfulness and a bit of a country swagger on this Americana-flavored record. (7 p.m. Thu., Dakota Jazz Club, $25.) Bream

Coming across like Beach House on coffee, Phantogram broke big in indie circles in 2009 via the single “Mouthful of Diamonds,” boasting a siren-voiced singer in Sarah Barthel and an ambient but uptempo electro-pop sound. The duo from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has since collaborated with Big Boi and the Flaming Lips but has yet to release a sophomore album. A new self-titled EP will have to suffice. Baltimore trio Future Islands opens. (8:30 p.m. Thu., First Avenue, $20.) Riemenschneider

 

As one of the three singers in British psych-pop band Gomez, Ben Ottewell’s name may not ring a bell, but his sandy voice certainly has a distinctive familiarity. He’s on tour playing a few of his regular band’s songs alongside tracks off his not-far-from-the-tree solo album, “Shapes & Shadows.” (7:30 p.m. Thu., Cedar Cultural Center, all ages, $15.) Riemenschneider

WORLD

From Niger’s capital city of Nimey, Tal National is a guitar-driven sextet that has been crisscrossing its home country for years, playing four-hour sets four or five nights a week. The band recently signed with U.K./U.S. ska and punk label Fat Cat Records and is finally crossing the Atlantic to play Chicago’s World Music Festival, with a Minneapolis date tacked on. It combines Niger’s crossroads-like music traditions with manic energy, from the desert blues sound of Bombino to Fuji’s percussion traditions. Chicago’s psychedelic rock band Cave headlines this Cedar Presents show. (9 p.m. Sun., Belmore/New Skyway Lounge, $12-$15.) Riemenschneider

Need more proof that music is the greatest international language? Listen to how eloquently Sean Gaskell, a young fella from the grunge and coffee mecca of Seattle, plays the 21-string West African kora, a gourd-bottomed harp that delivers both acres of melody and gently rippling rhythms. Gaskell has performed at festivals in Gambia and Senegal, and knows well the deep Malian roots of his instrument. His music is the real deal, now coming to a bowling alley near you. (10 p.m. Sun., Bryant-Lake Bowl, $10-$12.) Tom Surowicz

Brazilian singer, guitarist and songwriter Vinicius Cantuária is a quiet master of bossa and samba, and probably the best living interpreter of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s wonderful songbook. Cantuária has worked with Bill Frisell and many of New York’s downtown bright lights, including Arto Lindsay, Laurie Anderson and David Byrne, so his albums often have experimental/modernist flourishes. But in person, his sound is usually intimate and deliciously warm. (7 p.m. Tue., Dakota, $30.) Surowicz

R&B

There are wedding and bar bands that know the ’60s soul catalog but nobody does it better than the versatile and deeply talented Sounds of Blackness. The Grammy-winning Twin Cities choir has been saluting the ’60s for decades, with a taste of Motown, Sly Stone, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and others. Sing-alongs are allowed, dancing is expected. (6 & 8 p.m. Sun., Dakota, $30-$45.) Bream

BLUES

Well-known in the Twin Cities as Lil’ Slim, Shawn Holt is now using the name on his driver’s license and fronting the Teardrops, the wonderful no-nonsense blues band that his late father, Magic Slim (real name: Morris Holt), commanded for many decades. On his debut album, “Daddy Told Me,” he does a pretty good chip-off-the-old-block job of it, laying down those industrial strength shuffles that brought the elder Slim deserved world fame. With all the Teardrops on hand, Holt will boogie the night away and show you how to “Get Your Business Straight” even if you’re a “Mean Little Woman.” (9 p.m. Sat., Famous Dave’s Uptown, $5.) Surowicz

COUNTRY

Jamey Johnson recorded two outstanding throwbacks to vintage Nashville in the ’00s that had critics gushing and calling him the new Waylon Jennings. Then last fall, this rugged outlaw took a right turn and recorded a terrific tribute to the late, great songwriter Hank Cochran, with a slew of stars including George Strait, Alison Krauss, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Opening is Johnson’s Nashville buddy Chris Hennessee. (8:30 p.m. Fri., Medina, $32-$37.) Bream 

As much as we love Curtiss A’s annual John Lennon tribute, we were hootin,’ hollerin’ and occasionally cryin’ in our beer at his first Hank Williams tribute in May at the Dakota. For three sets, Curt and his crackerjack crew of local twang masters saluted this stellar country catalog, while educating listeners with pertinent and obscure background information. And, of course, Curt seasoned things with his inimitable humor and some spiffy Western wear. This show is part of foodie night at the Dakota. (7 p.m. Mon., Dakota, free.) Bream 

New-ish country station BUZ’N came up with a creative idea for a concert: Girls With Guitars, featuring Sheryl Crow, who just released her first country album with such Nashville knockouts as “Drinking” and “Waterproof Mascara,” along with “Dancing With the Stars” champ Kellie Pickler, clever Pistol Annies singer/songwriter Ashley Monroe, coed harmonizers Gloriana and sassy newcomer Maggie Rose. The event is a benefit for Park Nicollet’s Jane Brattain Breast Center. Read an interview with Monroe in Sunday’s Variety. (7 p.m. Tue., Mill City Nights, tickets given away on BUZ’N, 102.9 FM.) Bream

JAZZ

The Atlantis Quartet is one of the Twin Cities’ most potent groups, jazz or otherwise — would you expect anything less from a band named after a mythic ancient utopia? Their new album, “Expansions,” is full of arresting originals, nearly all by drummer Pete Hennig and guitarist Zacc Harris, while bassist Chris Bates contributes a reprise of his gorgeous, moody ballad, “Hidden Place.” Rounded out by Brandon Wozniak’s tough, expressive tenor saxophone, “Expansions” is rocked-up, serene, hard-swinging and avant-leaning, by turns, with lots to savor and no missteps. (9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Artists’ Quarter, $12.) Surowicz

 

A jazz and classical switch-hitter, Kenny Drew Jr. is nearly as likely to play Mozart as Monk or Mingus, though as guest artist for the JazzMN Orchestra season opener, he’ll certainly stick to 20th century all-American sounds, and no doubt show off his bluesy, forceful drive. Drew is in fine form on his latest trio album, “Coral Sea,”echoing Bill Evans more than usual. Supple singer Connie Evingson also will perform on a few tunes. (7:30 p.m. Sat., Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindbergh Dr.., Minnetonka. $34-$28. www.jazzmn.org or 1-800-838-3006.) Surowicz

CLASSICAL

For the opening of the new Accordo season, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra concertmasters Steven Copes and Erin Keefe and the SPCO’s principal viola and cello, Maiya Papach and Ronald Thomas, are joined by Hsin-Yun Huang, one of the leading violists of her generation. The program includes Mozart’s String Quintet in G minor, K. 516, one of his masterful late quintets, and Brahms’ String Quintet in G major, Opus 111. The next evening, audiences can explore the quintets with the musicians over drinks. (7:30 Mon., Christ Church Lutheran, 3244 34th Av. S., Mpls., $25-$12; 6:30 p.m. Tue., Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 6 W. 6th St., St. Paul, 651-292-3268, www.schubert.org/accordo) William Randall Beard





 

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