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Ruthie Foster performs with Eric Bibb at the Dakota on Monday.

ruthiefoster.com,

Erik Koskinen celebrates his new CD Thursday at J.J. Hill Library in St. Paul.

NATE RYAN,

Sufjan Stevens, center, performs with Sisyphus Friday at Walker Art Center.

BRANDON BEECY,

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin plays the Dakota Wednesday and Thursday.

J HENRY FAIR,

Big Gigs: A guide to Twin Cities music, Feb. 14-20

  • February 13, 2014 - 3:00 PM

Fresh from packing Madison Square Garden, British chop-and-crunch rockers Arctic Monkeys clearly had no trouble selling out a club show here — especially with the heavy Current airplay for their latest record, “AM,” and a steady local fan base that goes back to their memorable First Ave debut in 2007. The Sheffield gang of four was a terrifically spastic live band even back then, and now they’re touring behind their hardest-rocking, most cocksure album yet. Should be a slam-dunk, or whatever comparable sports analogy a soccer fan might use. (8:30 p.m. Fri., First Avenue, sold out.) Riemenschneider

POP/ROCK

Looks as if Walker Art Center and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series are in the record business now. The two arts institutions commissioned an album by Sufjan Stevens’ latest electronic music project: Sisyphus, a collaboration by Stevens, New York electronic composer Son Lux and Chicago rapper Serengeti. The odd bunch first came together on a 2012 EP and will issue their self-titled full-length next month via Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty label. Twin Cities fans get the first crack, though, as the songs were inspired by the visual works of Jim Hodges, the subject of a Walker exhibit opening this weekend alongside a short and rare Sisyphus performance. Even farther removed from Stevens’ folky hits than his 2010 techno turn “The Age of Adz,” at least “Sisyphus” is more fun than it is cutesy, and it’s really more of a star vehicle for Serengeti’s sly, Spank Rock-like talent. (9 p.m. Fri., Walker Art Center, $20-$30; also Opening Day Dialogue, 2 p.m. Sat., $12.) Chris Riemenschneider

 

Being a single mother of 3-year-old twins will change your life. It has also changed veteran Los Angeles singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell’s music. “Let’s Fly a Kite,” her ninth studio album, is a focused collection of light parlor music about the joy of children and afternoon delights (with your kids). It was recorded with Nick Lowe’s touring band and his producer, Nick Brockbank. The vibe is dramatically different from Mandell’s earlier efforts, which have ranged from torchy jazz-pop to classic country. From “Little Joy” to “Put My Baby to Bed,” you couldn’t find a sweeter reflection on parenthood. Opening is Vikesh Kapoor, a graduate of the Woody Guthrie school of folk music. (9 p.m. Fri., Turf Club, $10-$12. ) Jon Bream

 

Rap/rock has gone out of fashion, but Christian rock is still going strong, and TobyMac remains one of its biggest names. The singer/rapper formerly of DC Talk fame — remember their 1995 crossover hit “Just Between You and Me”? — landed at No. 1 in Billboard last year with his solo album “Eye on It,” which just won the Grammy for best contemporary Christian album. He’s on tour with Brandon Heath, Mandisa, Matthew West and Matt Maher. (7 p.m. Fri., Xcel Energy Center, $22-$42.) Riemenschneider

 

Next month, singer-songwriter John Gorka of Marine on St. Croix will release his 12th studio album, “Bright Side of Down,” on St. Paul’s Red House label. It’s another fine collection of well-etched folk-pop that travels from “Holed Up in Mason City” (with Buddy Holly salute) to “Really Spring” (about those prolonged Minnesota winters). Claudia Schmidt offers a haunting vocal coda on “Procrastination Blues.” Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky and Michael Johnson also contribute to the disc. (8 p.m. Sat., Hopkins Center for the Arts, $24.) Bream

 

Like father, like son, Dweezil Zappa is back with Zappa Plays Zappa. This time the featured album is “Roxy & Elsewhere” (RIP, George Duke). Previous tours have included cool guest artists from Dad’s past, but the six-piece band is apparently going it alone this time — unless you count that “Penguin in Bondage” spotted in the back of their van. (7 p.m. Sun., First Avenue, $30.) Tom Surowicz

 

Are you into “instrumental psychedelic space-funk”? Then check out Matt Owen and the Eclectic Tuba, from Birmingham, Ala. They deliver extraterrestrial synth licks, tuba sound loops, funky sax, dynamic drumming and a trippy light show. Owen has worked a bit with the Polyphonic Spree and Amanda Palmer, and his group’s soon-to-be-released album, “Intergalactic Domination,” features Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Just stay away from the brown acid. (8 p.m. Sun., Turf Club, $8-$10.) Surowicz

A classic, Heartbreakers/Band-style Americana rock group based in Nashville with Texas roots, Wild Feathers made a strong impression opening for Gary Clark Jr. at First Ave in November. Their self-titled debut boasts a lot of sweet, BoDeans-like radio hooks, but it’s a tad overproduced and only hints at their spirited, rambunctious live show. This time the quintet is bringing their own promising opening acts: Head and the Heart-like heartland rockers Saints of Valory and the folkier, harmony-strewn Jamestown Revival, both from Austin, Texas. (8 p.m. Tue., Turf Club, $12.) Riemenschneider

 

Still the only guy in indie-rock wily and witty enough to pull off lines like, “We lived on venison and Tennyson” — from the new single “Lariat” — Stephen Malkmus is back with his second Jicks record since the 2010 reunion by his old band, Pavement. Titled “Wig Out at Jagbags,” it’s a rather standard outing for the ’90s vet, stacked with idiosyncratic but jangly guitar parts and more fun wordplay. Scrappy Detroit noise-punk band Tyvek opens. (7:30 p.m. Tue., Cedar Cultural Center, all ages, $20.) Riemenschneider

 

The best country songwriter in Minnesota, Erik Koskinen doesn’t talk about tailgating, partying with babes and driving down dirt roads. He’s more old school, with a focus on working-class themes, whether it’s about the effects of oil in “Boomtown,” the calling of a musician in “Six Pack of Beer and a Pack of Cigarettes,” or the challenges of being unemployed on Independence Day in “Slow Burn.” Those tunes are on his splendid second album, “America Theatre,” which will be celebrated at this month’s Real Phonic Radio Hour. Koskinen, an ace guitarist with a dry, low-key voice, leads the show’s house band. Also appearing is the Chastity Brown Duo. (8 p.m. Thu., J.J. Hill Library, 80 W. 4th St., St. Paul, $20) Bream

 

Performing at the Entry in October right after releasing their full-length debut, Lucius charmed an audience of local tastemakers who knew of the Brooklyn quintet mainly through the company they keep: They were signed to Tony Margherita Management (Wilco’s team) and then to Mom + Pop Records (Metric, Poliça). The band is led by two vocalists, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, who dress alike and sing and sway in unison next to an energetic stand-up drummer, Dan Molad. Sounds gimmicky, but their record “Wildewoman” is proof of their serious ’60s girl-group cool and Carole King-like pop sophistication. (8 p.m. Thu., Cedar Cultural Center, sold out.) Riemenschneider

COUNTRY

It’s been 10 years since Big & Rich burst onto the scene with “Horse of a Different Color” and the classic “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).” The on-again duo is self-releasing its forthcoming fifth album, “Gravity,” which promises to be a return to the vibe of their debut. The new single, “Look at You,” sounds sweet and romantic, but it’s about a regretful guy gazing at his ex — as is everyone else in the bar. With Cowboy Troy. (8 p.m. Sat., Mystic Lake, $55-$69.) Bream

HIP-HOP

There’s a growing Canadian First Nation hip-hop scene that blends rap music with indigenous roots and issues, and A Tribe Called Red is one of its biggest purveyors. The Ottawa trio incorporates pow-wow-style drums and chants in their hard-banging rap songs just as cleverly as it co-opted the name of a certain legendary ’90s rap trio. It’s performing with two Minnesota American Indian hip-hop acts: Red Lake Reservation crew Rez Rap and Dave Chappelle favorite Tall Paul. Read a profile of Tall Paul and fellow native rapper Chase Manhattan in Sunday’s Variety section. (9 p.m. Sat., Triple Rock, $12-$14.) Riemenschneider

BLUES

Now based in Tennessee and soon to release another terrific album, “Memphis Grease,” John Nemeth makes new soul and blues that sound like rare gems unearthed from a 1960s or 1970s vault. He’s an excellent songwriter and prodigious harp soloist, but it’s his vocal command that sets Nemeth apart. On the forthcoming disc, backed by the Bo-Keys featuring Al Green’s old drummer, Howard Grimes, he even tackles Roy Orbison’s tour de force, “Crying,” and gets every ounce of its pathos and power. (9 p.m. Sat., Famous Dave’s Uptown, $5.) Surowicz

 

Acoustic blues charmer Eric Bibb and Texas “roots” all-pro Ruthie Foster have been collaborating for quite a while. She was a guest on Bibb’s 2004 album, “Friends,” and co-wrote the signature song (“Troubadour”) from his follow-up, “A Ship Called Love.” Foster might have sore arms from carrying home trophies in 2013, including best female blues artist at the Living Blues Awards, best female vocalist at the Austin Music Awards, and the Koko Taylor Award at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. (7 & 9:30 p.m. Mon., Dakota Jazz Club, $30-$42.) Surowicz

JAZZ

If you want to check out the cream of the younger generation of jazz players in the Twin Cities, Saturday’s Shifting Paradigm Records “launch party” is the place to be. The new co-op label, specializing in music downloads but also promising new CDs as well as some impressive old ones, gathers the Zacc Harris Group (5 p.m. Sat.); Bryan Nichols Quintet (6 p.m.); Atlantis Quartet (7 p.m.); Fat Kid Wednesdays (8 p.m); and the Graydon Peterson Quartet (9 p.m., Studio Z, 275 E. 4th St., St. Paul, $10, 651-755-1600.) Tom Surowicz

 

Gregory Porter’s first record for the legendary Blue Note label, “Liquid Spirit,” just won the Grammy for best jazz vocal album, but at heart this singer/songwriter is a deep-voiced, thoughtful soul man who recalls Bill Withers. His Minneapolis debut Sunday is a don’t-miss gig. Read an interview with him in Saturday’s Variety section. (7 p.m. Sun., Dakota Jazz Club, $37-$42.) Tim Campbell

 

“Guitar Passions” was a 2011 album by former Twin Citian Sharon Isbin, one of the more esteemed players on the international classical scene, and now it’s a mini-fest featuring Isbin and two of her guest stars on that disc: tapping technique pioneer Stanley Jordan, who’s never less than amazing, and Brazilian standout Romero Lubambo, who’s recorded with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Yo-Yo Ma, and is equally skilled at sambas or straight-ahead jazz. (7 p.m. Wed.-Thu., Dakota Jazz Club, $45-$65.) Surowicz

CLASSICAL

After a powerful performance of Schumann’s Cello Concerto last spring with the SPCO, cellist Steven Isserlis is back to help celebrate the return of the Minnesota Orchestra. He plays Elgar’s final major work, his elegiac and contemplative Cello Concerto (1919). The other work on the program is Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” featuring the Women of the Minnesota Chorale (in the Holst). Yan Pascal Tortelier conducts. (8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., $20-$80, 612-371-5656, or www.minnesotaorchestra.org) William Randall Beard

 

Violinist Jennifer Frautschi, a two-time Grammy nominee, makes her St. Paul Chamber Orchestra debut with Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto, premiered in 1935. This is more conventional music than much of his output, the melodies based on traditional Russian folk music. Conductor Paul McCreesh also leads selections from Schubert’s “Rosamunde” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8. (10:30 a.m. & 8 p.m. Fri., 8 p.m. Sat., Ordway Center, $12-$42.) Beard





 

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