Jason Aldean comes from Macon, Ga., home of Little Richard, Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers and Young Jeezy. Aldean is the eclectic music town's country star, thanks to the hits "Hicktown," "She's Country" and "Big Green Tractor." Like Travis Tritt, he likes to put a little drive in his country. Eli Young Band opens. (7:30 p.m. today, grandstand, $29.) (J.B.)

Whether or not you know the difference between Cajun and zydeco music, it doesn't really matter in the case of Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, who blend Louisiana's two homegrown genres boldly and beautifully -- and are the kind of party band that will entertain those who don't know much about either. Highly recommended. (3:30 & 4:30 p.m. today, Leinie's Lodge Bandshell. Free.) (C.R.)

Pop star Kelly Clarkson's fourth album, "All I Ever Wanted," has turned out to be a charm. The smash singles "My Life Would Suck Without You" and "I Don't Hook Up" have returned the luster to the career of the first "American Idol." Opening is Eric Hutchinson, who is making noise with "Rock and Roll." (7:30 p.m. Sun. grandstand, $35.) (J.B.)

Not to be confused with the omnipresent touring version of the Wailers led by Bob Marley's longtime bassist Aston (Family Man) Barrett, the Original Wailers are another group of former Marley bandmates, including guitarists Junior Marvin and Al Anderson and organist Earl (Wya) Lindo. They play all the classics, with Anderson and Marvin handling most of the vocals. (8:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun., Leinie Lodge Bandshell. Free.) (C.R.)

An evening with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne promises his classics, including "Running on Empty," as well as the political, especially material from last year's "Time the Conqueror." (8 p.m. Mon., grandstand, $38.) (J.B.)

Crooner Randy Travis has all the stage presence of a statue, but he's a smooth baritone who has been successful for 25 years with traditional country and, more recently, gospel-country. Opening is Joe Nichols, who is best known for "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" but sounds delightfully old-school on "Old Things New," the title track of his new CD. (7:30 p.m. Tue., grandstand, $32.) (J.B.)

Once a horn-accented jam-band that got its start at Ohio State University, O.A.R. finally landed on the radio with "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)" a dozen years into its career. Not only has O.A.R. become more song-oriented, but its "Love Is Worth the Fall" was featured in the movie "Twilight." Slightly Stoopid and Brett Dennen open. (6 p.m. Wed. grandstand, $27). (J.B.)

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue are a horn-driven funk/rock/R&B ensemble whose frontman, Troy (Shorty) Andrews, also toured in Lenny Kravitz's band. Not only were they a big hit at our fair last year, they've also become a mainstay at the New Orleans Jazz Fest and other marquee Louisiana events with their tireless, party-starting live set. (8:30 p.m. Wed.-Thu., Leinie Lodge Bandshell. Free.) (C.R.)

In recent years, the State Fair has turned to KTIS radio for recommendations for the contemporary Christian music audience. This year, it's Casting Crowns, one of the genre's best-selling groups. The Dove-winning Georgia band records for a label started by Mark Miller, frontman of country stalwarts Sawyer Brown. Opening is BarlowGirl, featuring the three Barlow sisters. (7:30 p.m. Thu., grandstand, $30.) (J.B.)


Only eight months since his fiery Target Center show with T-Pain, Lil' Wayne is back out trying to build up the heretofore stagnating hype behind his first-ever rock album, "Rebirth," which was delayed from June to a November release and failed to generate much sizzle off the first single, "Prom Queen." The real-life Dwayne Carter, 26, certainly shouldn't be discounted, though, after he landed the biggest album of 2008 and proved to be a capable arena headliner in January. Weezy's support acts this time includes a guy he once opened for, Young Jeezy, plus the seemingly unsquashable Soulja Boy. (7 p.m. Tue., Xcel Energy Center. $79.75-$29.75.) (C.R.)


Mezzo-soprano Janis Hardy has come out of retirement to rejoin her cohorts Molly Sue McDonald and Maria Jette for Sopranorama VIII. Part classical recital, part pop cabaret, part vaudeville romp, this year's musical bon-bons include Monteverdi and Sondheim, the Carpenters, Fauré and Noel Coward. Under the direction of the masterful Vern Sutton, there's operetta on rollerblades. With the piano, and accordion, stylings of Dan Chouinard. (8 p.m. Friday-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Ends Sept. 6. $26. Southern Theatre, 1420 Washington Av. S., 612-340-1725.) (W.R.B.)


Two powerful trios who've helped put the grime in First Ave's walls, Motörhead and the Rev. Horton Heat, kick off a six-week tour at their Minneapolis stamping ground. Metal god Lemmy Kilmeister has kept the same lineup of Motörhead going strong for 17 years now, with guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee. They have nothing new to promote, so they should be playing plenty of oldies -- and hopefully "Orgasmatron" too. Texas punkabilly king Jim (The Rev.) Heath and his rowdy gang will preview a new album, "Laughin' & Cryin'," due Tuesday. California punk band Throw Rag opens. (8:30 p.m. today, First Avenue. 18 & older. $32.50-$35.) (C.R.)

Tony-winning Broadway song-and-dance star Ben Vereen has been all over the map this year: Performing at President Obama's inaugural, appearing in "Pippin" in L.A., singing with the Nashville Symphony, lecturing in Chicago. Now the versatile veteran is coming to Minneapolis for a rare club gig that will include a tribute to his old pal, Sammy Davis Jr. Read an interview with Vereen in Sunday's Variety A+E. (7 p.m. Sun., 7 & 9:30 p.m. Mon., Dakota Jazz Club, $35-$55.) (J.B.)

Between gigs at the Andy Warhol Museum and Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival (hipster alert!), the Vivian Girls are playing club dates to preview "Everything Goes Wrong," the follow-up to their cult-adored 22-minute debut album. The all-female New Jersey trio serves up a charming albeit rough-around-the-edges blend of Ramones punk riffs, '60s girl-group harmonies and a little '90s shoegazer-rock haze. New York's retro garage band the Beets open. (9 p.m. Mon., 7th Street Entry. 18 & older. $8-$10.) (C.R.)

Here's a prediction: Runner-up Adam Lambert will steal the show during American Idols Live. With his interpretations of Led Zeppelin and David Bowie, Glambert will make concertgoers forget that middle-of-the-road show-closer Kris Allen was voted the winner on TV. We're betting on Allison Iraheta to hold her own, too, in what could be a wildly inconsistent evening. (7 p.m. Tue., Target Center, $40.50-$69.50.) (J.B.)

In 2005, on their first tour in 29 years, Loggins & Messina impressed with their camaraderie, chemistry and sheer joy. Plus, they had a first-rate band to interpret their eclectic melding of folk, bluegrass, country, rock 'n' roll, smooth jazz, blues, psychedelic rock, Dixieland jazz, jam band and Celtic folk. Expect "House on Pooh Corner" and "Your Mama Don't Dance" but not "Footloose." (7:30 p.m. Tue., State Theatre, $53-$103.50.) (J.B.)

Before it became better known as a manly metal band via hits like "Fire Woman" and "Love Removal Machine," the Cult earned a buzz among goth lovers and other alterna-rock fans with its artier, frillier 1985 album "Love," which included the still widely rotated hit "She Sells Sanctuary." Band leaders Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy revisit those mascara-stained days on their Love Live Tour, on which they're playing the album in its entirety, followed by a mini-set of other tunes. St. Louis glam-punk band Living Things opens. (8: 30 p.m. Tue., First Avenue. 18 & older. $35.) (C.R.)


On "Lay Your Burden Down," his first album since Hurricane Katrina, the usually upbeat Buckwheat Zydeco turns serious on Bruce Springsteen's "Back in Your Arms," Memphis Minnie's "When the Levee Breaks" (made famous by Led Zeppelin), Captain Beefheart's "Too Much Time" and the title track (by Gov't Mule). But the zydeco master still gets into his usual party spirit on Jimmy Cliff's buoyant "Let Your Yeah Be Yeah." (7 & 9:30 p.m. Tue., Dakota, $28 & $17.) (J.B.)


One of the world's great jazz organists, Germany's Barbara Dennerlein also plays spirit-moving jazz solo shows on mighty pipe organs in churches and cathedrals. This weekend, you can either catch her at a suburban church early, or a downtown hotspot late. (7 p.m. today, St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, 900 Stillwater Rd., Mahtomedi, 651-426-3261. $10. 10 p.m. Sat., Dakota Jazz Club. $15.) (T.S.)

Trumpeter Kelly Rossum is headed to the jazz mecca of New York City to make his mark. But not before playing two more nights of action-packed "farewell" shows. Rossum's terrific young vets (pianist Bryan Nichols, bassist Chris Bates, drummer J.T. Bates) will wind up a two-nighter by joining Dennerlein at 10 Saturday for a blast finale. (8 p.m. today-Sat., Dakota Jazz Club. $10.) (T.S.)

Five outstanding saxophonists join forces to celebrate bebop master blaster Charlie Parker's 89th birthday. Dave Karr, Gary Berg and Bob Parsons share the bandstand tonight. Karr, Brandon Wozniak and Pete Whitman will be "Chasing the Bird" Saturday. (9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Artists' Quarter. $17.) (T.S.)

"88 Grand" is a grand way to look at Jeanne Arland Peterson, Minnesota's grand dame of jazz. The first disc of this new, two-CD collection features vintage recordings from the 1930s, '40s and '50s, some live on WCCO Radio and others with the Willie Peterson Orchestra. The featured singer had a sweet, classic voice. The second disc is Peterson today, about to celebrate her 88th birthday, with her light, intuitive, often contemplative touch on the 88s. She offers 16 wonderful piano instrumentals, deftly accompanied by sons Billy on bass and Paul on drums. (7 p.m. Sun., Artists' Quarter, $10.) (J.B.)

Holland-based pianist/composer Amina Figarova makes her second visit to Minneapolis, where she wowed listeners last year at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Her well-drilled sidemen are impressive soloists, but it's her compositions, often delivering a classic 1960s Blue Note Records feel -- think Wayne Shorter or pre-electronics Herbie Hancock -- that impress the most. (7 p.m. Thu., Dakota Jazz Club. $15.) (T.S.)



Former Trick Pony singer Heidi Newfield not only released one of the best country singles of 2008, "Johnny and June," but she rocked the house with just two sidemen at the Cabooze last year. Now she's got a full band, which should prop up her version of Merle Haggard's "I'll Just Stay Here and Drink."(9 p.m. Thu., Cabooze, $18 advance, $22 door.) (J.B.)

Contributors: Staff critics Jon Bream and Chris Riemenschneider and freelancers Tom Surowicz and William Randall Beard.