What a roller-coaster year it was for Atmosphere's ever-rocky frontman Slug. The 38-year-old indie-rap hero welcomed a new son in the spring, a lifestyle change commemorated by the baby-bottle bumping up cheers-style with his bandmates' highball glasses in the cover photo for the new, decidedly congenial "double-EP" collection "To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy." Then came two well-received, high-profile headlining sets at Soundset and Taste of Minnesota. The year would have wrapped up in familiar fashion with these two immediately-sold-out First Ave gigs, but then the unthinkable happened with the passing of Slug's former bandmate and virtual kid-bro Eyedea last month. The music must go on. Seriously, it's a must. The "special guest" openers are under wraps. (7 p.m. Sat., 9 p.m. Sun., First Avenue. Sold out.) (C.R.)


If it's anything like last year's, the second annual day-after-Thanksgiving Tribute to the Replacements will range in quality from tight and heartfelt to drunk and disorderly. In other words, folks around here sure do remember the band well. The centerpiece will be a live re-creation of the "Tim" album for its 25th anniversary (so much for "Bastards of Young"), featuring singers from Motion City Soundtrack, Communist Daughter, Pink Mink, Tapes 'N Tapes and Romantica, plus a house band with Terry Eason and members of the Melismatics and Heiruspecs. 'Mats mini-sets will also be played by the Honeydogs, Story of the Sea, the Goondas, Sex Rays, Sons of Gloria and many more in both the main room and Entry. The participants skew young, but you old-school fans will still feel at home. (7:30 p.m. Fri., First Avenue. 18 & older. $6-$8.) (C.R.)

New-age pianist Jim Brickman figured out how to position himself as a ready-for-PBS and pop-radio star: Enlist vocalists to sing romantic music with him. Among his collaborators: Martina McBride, Michael W. Smith, Anne Cochran, "American Idol" finalist Matt Giraud, Jane Krakowski and Lady Antebellum (he gave the trio its first recording experience and radio exposure). Cochran, violinist Tracy Silverman and the Minnesota Orchestra will join Brickman for this holiday program. (8 p.m. Fri., Orchestra Hall, $22-$60.) (J.B.)

After a relatively quiet year -- quiet professionally, that is, not just musically -- Low kicked back into high gear this fall starting with recording sessions for its next album for Sub Pop. The Duluth trio then literally crisscrossed the globe over the past month, playing dates in Australia and New Zealand followed by Europe. Adding fuel to their slow-burning fire, Robert Plant is about to hit the road with two Low songs in tow, which he recorded on his new "Band of Joy" album. Maybe Alan and Mimi should work up "Black Dog" in return. Jeremy Messersmith opens. (8 p.m. Sat., Cedar Cultural Center. All ages. $20.) (C.R.)

The always hip Mavis Staples teamed with indie-rock hipster Jeff Tweedy of Wilco on her new album, "You Are Not Alone." He doesn't obliterate the Rock Hall of Famer's gritty passion as she gets a bit gospel and a bit soulful on traditional tunes ("Wonderful Savior," "Creep Along Moses") and pieces by Randy Newman, the Rev. Gary Davis, Allen Toussaint, John Fogerty, her father Pop Staples and Tweedy himself. These new selections fit perfectly with her classic "Respect Yourself," "I'll Take You There" and "Have a Little Faith." Roma di Luna open. (8 p.m. Sun., Cedar, $35.) (J.B.)

This will be guitar god Leo Kottke's 25th year of post-Thanksgiving concerts in his adopted Twin Cities -- and his first performance at the Guthrie Theater in decades. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a mainstay at the old Guthrie. In fact, he recorded his first live album, "My Feet Are Smiling," there in 1973. Next year, the Minneapolis acoustic guitarist will be releasing an album on his own label. As always, Kottke has chosen a special opening act: San Diego-born, Germany-based lutenist Robert Barto, who has won international competitions as well as a Fulbright scholarship. (7:30 p.m. Mon., Guthrie, $38-$43.) (J.B.)

For his new gospel collection, "I Know I've Been Changed," Grammy-winning soul star Aaron Neville collaborated with Joe Henry, the producer who has recently revived the careers of cool but overlooked veteran stars (Solomon Burke, Bettye LaVette, Mose Allison), and pianist extraordinaire Allen Toussaint, who produced Neville's first recording session in 1960. Some of the low-key, mournful spirituals on "Changed" might fit into Neville's Christmas program, which will draw from his elegant "Christmas Prayer" (2005) and "Soulful Christmas" (1993). His fluttery sweet tenor will be supported by a quintet featuring brother Charles Neville on saxophone. (7 p.m. Tue.-Wed., Dakota Jazz Club, $55-$90.) (J.B.)

Even after going on extended hiatus in 2001, North Carolina rock heroes Superchunk managed to bridge the gap between '90s alt-rock and '00s indie-rock -- thanks largely to co-leaders Mac McCaughan's and Laura Ballance's once-little record label, Merge (now home to Arcade Fire and Spoon). Credit also can go to the quartet's relatively timeless sound: youthful, vocal-cord-scraping pop/punk that sounds like 1992 only if you want it to on their first album in nine years, "Majesty Shredding." Times New Viking of Ohio is back after opening for GBV last month. (8:30 p.m. Wed., First Avenue. 18 & older. $18.) (C.R.)

Last year at this time Andrew Bird played three memorable gigs in a local church to wrap up touring behind his immaculate album "Noble Beast." The Illinois-based multi-instrumental maestro is returning to a more typical house of worship to finish off 2010, much of which he spent working on a new album. Minneapolis gets his one and only show with his band this year. For more reasons than this, it's entirely our good fortune that his bandmates all live here, including drummer/keyboardist Martin Dosh, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker and bassist/saxophonist Mike Lewis. You can also catch the latter two guys in the obtusely rocking opening band Alpha Consumer.(7 p.m. Thu., First Avenue. 18 & older. $30.) (C.R.)


Since "Let Your Love Flow" in 1976, the Bellamy Brothers have been cranking out albums (29) and country hits (11 chart-toppers). Despite their Nashville success, Howard and David Bellamy have never played it straight, adding elements of rock, reggae, rap and levity. Their song titles tell you all you need to know about their sense of humor: "Lord Help Me Be the Kind of Person My Dog Thinks I Am" and "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me)." (8:30 p.m. Fri., Medina Entertainment Center, $24-$32.) (J.B.)

Of all the annual Twin Cities holiday music gigs, Trailer Trash's "Trashy Little X-mas" shows might be the most unchanged and predictable from year to year. That's to be expected from a band that excels at playing old-school country classics (and plays them year-round at Lee's, by the way). It's also a sign of how well their own novelty holiday tunes and fun antics have evolved into a pretty good shtick over the years. And anyway, many attendees forget what happens at the shows by the next morning. (9 p.m. every Sat. through Christmas, plus Dec. 17, Lee's Liquor Lounge. $12.) (C.R.)

Oprah Winfrey thinks enough of the Judds' first reunion tour in 10 years to make it into a reality series on her new OWN network, starting in January. Mother Naomi and daughter Wynonna Judd will embark on the Last Encore Tour Friday in Green Bay, Wis., to perform many of their 14 No. 1 country hits from the 1980s and '90s as well as four new numbers. While the Grammy-winning duo is playing mostly in arenas, Mystic Lake is one of four casinos on the 18-city tour. (7:30 p.m. Tue., Mystic Lake, $89-$169.) (J.B.)


Ricky Peterson and the Brothers were a hit earlier this year on an Australian tour with special guest Sheila E. When these "brothers" -- Ricky, Billy, Paul and nephew Jason Peterson DeLaire -- perform locally, they rope in singing star sister Patty Peterson. It's a funky family affair -- check out the YouTube video evidence from Oz. (9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Artists' Quarter. $17.) (T.S.)

Violinist Jenny Scheinman is an artist of formidable intelligence and ham-on-wry humor, a frequent cohort of Bill Frisell and Jason Moran, among many others. Her quartet Mischief and Mayhem features shred-and-strum experimental guitarist Nels Cline (of Wilco) plus riotous yet intimate drummer Jim Black (of Dave Douglas' Tiny Bell Trio) and the bassist who ladles warm, funky-jazz rhythms into Ani DiFranco's recent work, Todd Sickafoose. Expect whirlpools, geysers and serpentine rivulets of music that are beyond genre definition, performed by serious artists who don't take themselves too seriously. (8 p.m. Thu., Walker Art Center. $22.) (B.R.)


Last year's Swamp Pop Extravaganza was a bluesy blast, offering loads of infectious Louisiana dance music for a great cause: Food and cash donations go to Second Harvest Heartland. Once again, the Swamp Poppas will rule the night, their all-star ranks including Dan (Daddy Squeeze) Newton, Dan Rowles, Wallets and Suburbs saxist Max Ray, guitar wizard Scott Yoho and organizer/bassist Karl Smelker. Their guest vocalists are just as illustrious, including Rich Lewis, Becky Thompson, Tom Lieberman (of Rio Nido renown) and Jon Rodine, who can be counted on to unearth some of the coolest and most obscure Bayou-rockin' cover tunes extant. (8 p.m. Sat., Minneapolis Eagles Club. Admission with donation of cash or nonperishable food.) (T.S.)


Funkateers Jay Bee and the Routine start an every-Thursday residency at the new Wilebski's next week. There's no cover, and the seven-piece band includes Jellybean Johnson of the Time on guitar, singer Jay Bee (who's also in the Casablanca Orchestra), and saxophonist Pat Mackin and bassist David Gonzalez of the contemporary jazz group North Coast. (9 p.m. Thu.) (T.S.)

Contributors: Staff critics Jon Bream and Chris Riemenschneider and freelancers Tom Surowicz and Britt Robson.