Forget all the tailoring, accessorizing and hair-spraying that goes with Voltage: Fashion Amplified. You always wind up with a pretty cool cross-section of local buzz bands at the annual runway show -- wherein each musical act is made up by a hometown designer of equally rising talent. This year's models include cranking fuzz-pop duo the Red Pens, warbly alt-twang charmers Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps, juniors-sized electro-rocker Mayda, Astronaut Wife co-leader Christian Erickson's new, classically Brit-poppy band Blue Sky Blackout, plus headliner Ruby Isle, the synth-pop trio led by Mark Mallman that has been working on an electronic remake of GNR's "Appetite for Destruction." Oh, the fashion possibilities there. (8:30 p.m. Fri., First Avenue. $25-$30. 21 & older.) (C.R.)

Rowdy Charlottesville, Va., bluegrass/country pickers the Hackensaw Boys have enough cred among twang purists to have toured as Charlie Louvin's backing band and opened Del McCoury's New Year's Eve show at the Ryman Auditorium. But they also have a following among rock hipsters, since Modest Mouse recruited co-leader Tom Peloso as a part-time member. The Gypsy Lumberjacks open. (9:30 p.m. Fri., Cabooze. $12. 18 & older.) (C.R.)

In person, Paul Cebar is a polyrhythmic groove merchant, fronting one of the sweatiest R&B/dance bands you'll find outside New Orleans. But on his new solo CD, "One Little Light On," he shows off his moodier singer-songwriter side. The CD is largely one man with one deft acoustic guitar, commendable taste and lots of wordplay. Although Cebar can get plenty funky without a band -- check out "It Done Fell Off" -- most of the disc is tender, reflective and indigo-hued. (9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Wilebski's Blues Saloon.) (T.S.)

Philly's cult-adored hippie-pop soul quintet Dr. Dog is slowly gaining more mainstream attention -- and coincidentally or not, it's also getting better. Its sixth disc, "Shame, Shame," came out last week via a new deal with Anti- Records, and the new single "Stranger" sounds like an early summer anthem on the Current and elsewhere. In the past these guys have been quirky and hippie-retro to a fault, but their live sets at South by Southwest last month underlined their growing accessibility, sounding more like "Being There"-era Wilco than Wilco does these days. (9 p.m. Sat., Fine Line. Sold out.) (C.R.)

After impressing as a Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits acolyte on his first few albums, Nashville singer-songer Matthew Ryan sounds like an unplugged, somber Bono doing Leonard Cohen on last year's "Dear Lover," written (he says) in a hospital emergency room. Ryan plays the middle set between Brandon Sampson and the Bitter Spills. (9 p.m. Fri., Sauce, $5.) (J.B.)

It's time to "Shake It Out" once again with estimable jazz saxophonist turned old-school groover Karl Denson and his chameleonic, funky band Tiny Universe. His catchy original songs are often judiciously laced with echoes of departed heroes: Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Fela, Curtis Mayfield, et al. (9 p.m. Fri., Fine Line. $18.50-$78.50.) (T.S.)

Although it sounds like a tribute to Yanni, the fourth annual It Whispers So Listen and Overcome concert is actually a hip and hard-rocking fundraiser for ovarian cancer research. Headlining this year is shoegazey boy/girl indie-pop band Now, Now Every Children, who toured with Paramore this winter. Innovative rap acts Big Quarters and No Bird Sing also perform, plus alt-rock favorites the Melismatics, metallic rockers Fall From Falling and Drift Effect, plus Sarah Pray, Fragile and Attention (5 p.m. Sat., First Avenue. $12. 18 & older.) (C.R.)

Pat DiNizio wears many caps -- frontman for Smithereens, author ("Confessions of a Rock Star"), reality star (ESPN2's "7th Inning Stretch"), aspiring senator (see the 2001 documentary "Mr. Smithereen Goes to Washington") and solo artist. It's in that capacity that the baseball-loving, power-pop purveyor will appear in the Twin Cities, no doubt doing material from two 2009 tribute discs -- the solo "Buddy Holly" and "The Smithereens Play Tommy." (7 p.m. Sun., 7th Street Entry, $10.) (J.B.)

Named after a Marx Brothers movie, Horse Feathers offer up a pretty serious and serene brand of psychedelic, violin- and cello-laden indie-folk that fans of JoAnna Newsom, Iron & Wine and/or Bon Iver might eat up. The Portland, Ore., quartet's second album for the Kill Rock Stars label, "Thistle Springs," is due Tuesday. Caroline Smith opens. (7:30 p.m. Tue., Cedar Cultural Center. $10-$12. All ages.) (C.R.)

Four Bitchin' Babes carry on like the women of "The View," except in song. In "Hormonal Imbalance: A Mood Swinging Musical Revue," the humor-obsessed, harmony-loving quartet of Debi Smith, Deirdre Flint, Nancy Moran and Sally Fingerett might sing about motherhood, Botox and men who cook. (7 p.m. Tue., Hopkins Center for the Arts, $29.) (J.B.)

L.A.-based, Irish-blooded Celt-punk band Flogging Molly makes another welcome tour stop that's not timed to either St. Paddy's Day or Irish Fair -- which means this one's for rabid diehards only. Boston area ska-pop band Big D & the Kids Table opens. (7 p.m. Thu., First Avenue. $30-$35. 18 & older.) (C.R.)

Much like the solar and wind power that will no doubt be touted, Cloud Cult's noontime campus concert to celebrate Earth Day stands out for its economic potential and unlimited availability. In other words, it's free and open to everyone, and it carries a little extra meaning since this is one band that treats its Mother with care every day. The performance coincides with the psychedelic chamber-folk-rockers' new four-song EP, "Running With the Wolves," a precursor to the heavily anticipated full-length "Light Chasers," due Aug. 17. (Noon Thu., Coffman Union grounds, University of Minnesota East Bank campus. Free.) (C.R.)


After being acquitted of child porn charges in 2008, R. Kelly, the biggest R&B star of the 1990s, made 2009's uneventful "Untitled." He's still a lover man. In his new party-on single "Be My #2," he's looking for a newbie on the side because his "No. 1 is no beginner." Sounds like the same old bad boy. (10 p.m. Fri., Epic, $35-$70.) (J.B.)


Even though he's traveled the arena circuit opening for Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, Texas party boy Pat Green is more at home in a bar. He's got a frat-boy spirit, a honky-tonk swagger and a smart-aleck attitude. Take the rollicking "Country Star" (from last year's album "What I'm For"), where he sings tongue-in-cheek about getting free drinks, having his pick of fancy women and riding shotgun with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. (9 p.m. Thu., Fine Line, $25-$28.) (J.B.)

Progressive bluegrass band the Infamous Stringdusters uncork a few surprises on their new CD, "Things That Fly," including a bluegrass U2 cover ("In God's Country") and some arresting FM soft-rock flourishes in the fine original "Masquerade." Better pickers than songwriters, the Stringdusters have a great dobro player in Andy Hall, while mandolinist Jesse Cobb gets to dazzle on the instrumental "Magic #9." (7 p.m. Thu., Cedar Cultural Center. $15-$18.) (T.S.)


On her 2002 visit to Minneapolis, Anoushka Shankar performed with her father, sitar god Ravi Shankar. This time the 28-year-old sitarist, who splits her time between San Diego and India, will be on her own, offering a progressive blend of traditional Indian music with such Western elements as piano, cello and drums. (7 & 9:30 p.m. Tue., Dakota Jazz Club, $35-$45.) (J.B.)

One of Brazil's hot young singers, Céu created a worldwide splash in 2006 with her self-titled debut CD, combining the most Afro-centric sounds of Sao Paulo with modern electronic motifs, including dub reggae, subtle hip-hop scratching and sampling, and novo-lounge jazz. The result was world-class chill-out music, loaded with delicious distractions, though Ceu's endearing and elastic vocals still carried the day. (7 p.m. Wed.-Thu., Dakota, $45.) (T.S.)


Making his first Minnesota appearance in more than a decade, Scottish folksinging great Archie Fisher nevertheless has a strong local bond. His past two CDs, including 2009's "Windward Away," came out on Twin Cities label Red House. A BBC radio host known for his long-running show "Travelling Folk," Fisher is so revered back home that the queen awarded him an MBE in 2006 -- not bad for a storytelling singer-songwriter whose art is poetic, understated and gentle. With the warmest of baritones, he'll quietly charm you. (7 p.m. Sun., Celtic Junction. $15-$18.) (T.S.)


You may not think of string-quartet playing as a contact sport, but Saturday's finals in the St. Paul String Quartet Competition could change that. High-school-age quartets from around the country converge on Hamline University's Sundin Hall for this fifth annual event, the brainchild of St. Paul violinist Ray Shows. (1 p.m. Sat., 1531 Hewitt Av., St. Paul. Free. 651-587-7595.) This year's jurors are the Cavani String Quartet, who will play a Szymanowski-Mendelssohn-Dvorak program in the Music in the Park Series. (4 p.m. Sun., St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Av. St. Paul. Limited availability. 651-645-5699 or www.musicintheparkseries.org.) (L.F.)

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