Born and raised in Nashville, singer Craig Morgan has always opted for sincerity over cleverness. That style has served him well; he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in October. (8:30 p.m. today, Medina Entertainment Center, $30 & $37.) (J.B.)

Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker is passing himself off as country these days, thanks to the success of his "Learn to Live" CD and the chart-topping single "Don't Think I Don't Think About It." The molasses-voiced South Carolinian is pretty convincing on the Nashville stuff, and he's a compelling live performer. And, yes, he'll throw in a Hootie hit or two. (8 p.m. Sat., Treasure Island Casino, Red Wing, Minn. $35 & $45.) (J.B.)

Little Big Town's tour buses probably have "Baby on Board" signs in the window. Singers Philip Sweet and Kimberly Rhodes have their toddlers on tour, although the other two singers, Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook, are married without children. This touring style gives new meaning to the vocal quartet's most recent radio fave, "Good Lord Willing." Parenting hasn't affected the impressive and inventive harmonies of the Fleetwood Mac of country. Opening is Zac Brown Band, known for the smash "Chicken Fried." (8 p.m. Sat., Mystic Lake Casino. Sold out.) (J.B.)


While the Allman Brothers are in the midst of their annual March Madness run in New York City, their estranged ex-guitarist Dickey Betts is touring with his son, Duane Betts, sharing guitar duties in Great Southern. (8:30 p.m. Sat., Medina Entertainment Center, $20-$28.) (J.B.)

Mama Digdown's Brass Band tunes up for its trip to New Orleans' Jazzfest with a West Bank groove and grub fest that includes free jambalaya and French bread between sets of sassy, funky blastin.' (9 p.m. Sat., Nomad World Pub. $7.) (T.S.)

With Ozzfest on hold, Ozzy's longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde is hitting the road with his own hard-throttling Black Label Society, which has a greatest-hits CD/DVD ("Skullage") due April 21. It has ace support in the form of Sevendust, plus Dope and Infinite Staircase. (7 p.m. Sun., Myth. All ages. $35.) (C.R.)

At 70, Canadian troubadour Gordon Lightfoot may not hit all his high notes but reviews indicate that Gord's been gold on this tour, performing a generous 28 tunes including "Sundown" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." (7 p.m. Sun., State Theatre, $42-$52.) (J.B.)

Just who is Lady GaGa? Britney Spears with a brain? A pop culture commentator with a beat you can dance to? A dance-floor diva who takes herself too seriously? Oh, just shut up and dance to her irresistibly mindless hits "Just Dance" and "Poker Face." Opening are White Tie Affair, Chester French and Cinema Bizarre. Read an interview with GaGa in Sunday's Variety A+E. (9 p.m. Mon., Fine Line, sold out.) (J.B.)

Los Angeles' poppy folk-rock quartet Eulogies is going into the April 7 release of its debut, "Here Anonymous," with a little buzz thanks to frontman Peter Walker's solo track featured in Mickey Rourke's "The Wrestler." It's on tour with jaggedy D.C. indie-pop band Middle Distance Runner. (9 p.m. Mon., 7th Street Entry. 18 and older. $6.) (C.R.)

For more than 35 years, Leon Redbone has pulled off this bit: He's a mysterious character (the son of Paganini and Jenny Lind, he claims) who performs music from the 1920s and earlier with a captivating combination of reverence and irreverence. Like a true vaudevillian, he's serious fun. (7 p.m. Tue., Dakota, $38.) (J.B.)

North Carolina's Squirrel Nut Zippers reunited in 2007 to continue the retro revival that made them popular in the 1990s. Swing was their big thing but they also embraced calypso, country blues and klezmer -- basically any ol' style that made for a dance party. They are preparing to release a live CD, "You Are My Radio." (8 p.m. Tue., Varsity, $21-$23.) (J.B.)

Katy Perry fans who don't have school the morning after her First Ave show might want to cross over to the Entry for Stereo Total, a campy, Berlin-based, boy/girl pop-punk duo that plays short, snarly, high-energy tunes that are part Cramps and part Velvet Underground, sung in French, German and English. (9:30 p.m. Tue., 7th Street Entry. 18 and older. $15.) (C.R.)

New Pornographers frontman A.C. (Carl) Newman is out on the road behind his second solo album, "Get Guilty," offering more stylish, Kinks-y power-pop but a little more psychedelic experimentation. It's actually a tad more impressive than the last Pornos record, and more proof the guy crafts hooks like nobody's business. (9 p.m. Tue., 400 Bar. 18 and older. $12-$14.) (C.R.)

Just what got into Rachael Yamagata? The piano popster gained attention for 2004's "Happenstance" and the compelling radio hit "Worn Me Down." Then she spent nearly three years making her 2008 followup, "Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart," which is as surprising as its title is quirky. It's really two albums, one slow and melancholy and the other edgy and guitar-dominated. (9 p.m. Wed., Varsity, $13-$15.) (J.B.)

Amid all the hubbub over the years about Brian Jonestown Massacre's druggy reputation and frontman Anton Newcombe's erratic behavior (all true), one detail often gets lost: It can be one heckuva mighty band. The San Francisco psychedelic ensemble is on its alluringly titled Committee to Keep Music Evil Tour with local haze-rockers the Flavor Crystals as openers. (9 p.m. Thu., Fine Line. 18 and older. $16.50-$18.50.) (C.R.)

If it seems like Nashville's adventurous, twangy indie-folk band Clem Snide plays in town a lot, it's partly because frontman Eef Barzelay is married to a Minnesota girl. It's also because he's a pretty prolific guy, having just followed up a couple solo discs with CS' first record after a two-year hiatus, "Hungry Bird." (9 p.m. Wed., 400 Bar. $10.) (C.R.)

Montreal indie-rocker Dan Boeckner continues to split his time between Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, his poppy, sexy synth-punk duo with wife Alexei Perry. Their second disc, "Face Control," is earning raves from music bloggers. (9 p.m. Thu., 7th Street Entry. 18 & older. $10.) (C.R.)


A taste of what to expect inside and outside the Cabooze in July, organizers of the Deep Blues Festival have put together a mini-fest to announce their '09 lineup and kick the winter doldrums with some sweltering Delta heat. The headliners actually hail from Bologna, Italy: the Black Smokers, a punky, brawny duo that was a hit at last year's fest and has a lot of feminine-leaning songs, such as "Kickboxer Girl," "Cheap Women" and "Little Nasty Girl." They're supported by local gospel-stompers A Night in the Box, Memphis' Les Paul-cranking howler Ray Cashman and Chicago's Mississippi Gabe Carter. And for those of you who really have the economic blues, this one's on the house. (7:45 p.m. today, Cabooze. 18 and older. Free.) (C.R.)

Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi get all the attention, but Rory Block is not only a gifted guitarist -- she's one of the finest living practitioners of the Delta blues. For proof, check out "The Lady and Mr. Johnson" (her 2006 tribute to Robert Johnson) or "Blues Walkin' Like a Man" (her 2008 tribute to Son House). Opening are the Bitter Spills, the local duo of Baby Grant Johnson and Rich Mattson. (8 p.m. Sat., Cedar Cultural Center, $18-$20.) (J.B.)


A fiery alto saxophonist and prolific composer, Colorado-based Aakash Mittal taps into his East Indian heritage often, and comes up with far-flung post-bop, bracing fusion and entrancing world jazz that's full of intensity and rhythmic challenge. His savvy quartet impresses with its ambition and cohesion on the debut CD, "Possible Beginnings." If these guys were in Manhattan instead of the Rockies, they'd be generating a sizable buzz. (11:30 p.m. Sat., Dakota Jazz Club. $5.) (T.S.)

A tireless champion of trad jazz for 35 years as editor of the Mississippi Rag, Leslie Johnson succumbed to cancer earlier this year. Sunday, myriad musician friends will give her a swingin' memorial salute, with sets by local legend Butch Thompson, Bill Evans' New Orleans Jazz Band, the Pigs Eye Jass Band, Doug Haining & the Twin Cities 7 and the Mouldy Figs. (4-8 p.m. Sun., Mainstreet Bar & Grill, Hopkins.) (T.S.)

On her fine new disc, "Desire," Milwaukee-bred vocalist Tierney Sutton goes up-tempo on "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," meditatively mystical on "It's Only a Paper Moon" and bittersweet on Dave Frishberg's "Long Daddy Green." (7 & 9:30 p.m. Wed.-Thu. Dakota, $15-$25.) (J.B.)


Chango Spasiuk's new CD, "Pynandi, Los Descalzos -- Memories From a Barefoot Childhood," is a delicious exotic feast for accordion lovers. Spasiuk is a squeezebox wizard from Argentina, whose polyglot style of music might be termed chamber world, since it heavily features European string instruments (violin, cello) and African diasporic rhythms. (7:30 p.m. Thu., Cedar Cultural Center. $18-$20.) (T.S.)


"Chiara" is Italian for clear, and the zest of the Chiara String Quartet could hardly be clearer. Resident at Harvard and the University of Nebraska, this Juilliard-mentored foursome visits for two family concerts ("Mole Music Live!"), an evening at the Dakota Jazz Club, and an inviting program of Bartok, Korngold and Pierre Jalbert in the Music in the Park Series. (Family concerts: 6:15 and 7:30 p.m. today, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 2136 Carter Av., St. Paul, $6. Dakota: 7:30 p.m. Sat., $10. Bartok, et al.: 4 p.m. Sun., St. Anthony Park Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Av., St. Paul. $15-$22. 651-645-5699 or (L.F.)

Contributors: Staff critics Jon Bream and Chris Riemenschneider and freelancers Tom Surowicz and Larry Fuchsberg.