Out of the woods

In their continuing pursuit of the ultimate garage-rock sound, Greg (GD) Mills and his band, the Fuck Knights, got out of the garage and headed deep into the woods north of Bemidji, Minn. They even stayed in an RV camper.

"It was more like a weekend getaway than a recording session," recounted Mills, singer and drummer for the band.

Stranger yet, the guy who helmed the sessions, a 67-year-old former G.I. named Gary Burger who was the guitarist for the proto-punk quintet the Monks, also happened to be the mayor of the small city nearest to the sessions, Turtle River, population 75.

"I told a few people I was working with a band called 'The Knights,' and left it at that," he said.

The end results of this quizzical equation is a blasting, deliciously dirty-sounding four-song collection called "The Recorded by Gary Burger From the Monks EP." A howling, hard-thumping, scrappy punk trio with one of the best drummers in town (never mind that he's also the main singer), the Knights have been tearing it up around the scene over the past year and a half. They take over the Hexagon Bar Thursday to tout the "Gary Burger EP" and kick off a tour.

The band name was essentially a bad joke, but it turned out to have a useful quality. Said Mills, "We've sort of learned that any venue that rejects us because of it is a place we wouldn't want to play anyway."

The Fuck Knights met Burger by chance last year at Lee's Liquor Lounge, where Knights bassist Joe Holland is the booker and sometimes-soundman. Burger, whose own hard-thumping band has been cited by the White Stripes, Beastie Boys and the Fall as an influence, said he's not one for nostalgia, but "I think it's righteous for the Monks to have bands like these guys trying to prove what we couldn't prove in the '60s. I'm all for it."

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Library state of mind

We all know Jay-Z the legendary rapper, but Shawn Carter's other hats include "founder" (label and clothing line), "owner" (nightclub and NBA team) and now "author" -- on Tuesday Hova is releasing "Decoded," a memoir-ish journey of rhymes and stories told through the lens of 36 Jay-Z songs. The Grammy winner will be interviewed at 6 p.m. Monday by philosopher/activist Cornel West in a free live telecast being shown in Minneapolis Central Library's Pohlad Theater.

"We've never done an author telecast like this before," said Rachel Fulkerson, public awareness director of the Library Foundation of Hennepin County. "Everyone's excited. It'll be a new experience." The best part? You can reserve an autographed copy of "Decoded" at Supporthclib.org or Magersandquinn.com for $37 and it saves you a seat at the event to boot. A portion of all book sales go to support the Library Foundation of Hennepin County.

  • Jay Boller

Unsung Haley

It might seem a bit like ordering an ice cream cone without the ice cream -- her voice and lyrics are mainly why folks buy her records -- but Haley Bonar is boldly offering up a new flavor: a limited-edition EP of instrumental tracks. The six-track collection, "LeO" -- timed to her show Saturday at the Music Box Theater -- features reimagined versions of two songs Bonar recorded for her upcoming full-length album, "Daddy," plus four more that those inspired. She actually does sing ("vocal effects"). Her main accomplice on the EP was guitar whiz Jeremy Ylvisaker, who will open the Music Box gig with his own flavorful band, Alpha Consumer.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Tribute to Eyedea: Tears, rhymes and positive vibes

How can a benefit show for a dead 28-year-old render itself not depressive, but inspiring? A tough task, to be sure, but one resoundingly accomplished by the tribute celebration for recently deceased rapper Micheal (Eyedea) Larsen at First Avenue Tuesday night.

"We are here to celebrate the beautiful life of a beautiful person," said Slug, the evening's MC. As TVs scrolled baby photos, graffiti tributes and videos of Larsen, a slew of local acts dropped in for mini sets. Among them: Carnage, No Bird Sing and Kristoff Krane.

One of the more emotional moments came via a gut-wrenching acoustic cover of the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize??" by Alexei and Channy Moon Casselle of Roma Di Luna. "Last time I was with Mikey he picked up a guitar and started playing this song," a choked-up Alexei said. "I thought it was appropriate in more ways than one."

Eyedea's best friend and longtime partner, DJ Abilities, was somber yet purposeful as he blared E&A tunes, culminating with a crowd-pleasing spin of "Smile."

The evening's biggest surprise came when anti-folk hero Kimya Dawson took the stage. She and Larsen had only met in passing, Slug explained, but the late rapper was an avid fan. The Moldy Peaches' star played old favorites and a new song, with the chilling line "People my age are not supposed to die like that" in "Walk Like Thunder" -- a song that saw indie hip-hop stalwart Aesop Rock join her onstage.

At evening's end, Larsen's mother, Kathy Averill, poignantly read a piece her son had written years ago and implored the crowd to do one thing in her son's memory: "Improve who we are as people." Fittingly, a massive freestyle session concluded the show. "This dude pushed everybody he loved to do everything better," Slug said before exiting the stage alone.

  • Jay Boller

'Songbook' and story

Looking over the list of musicians for Sunday's "Lush Life: Interpretations of the American Jazz Canon" -- the first installment in the Southern Theater's performance/discussion series "Southern Songbook" -- you might be surprised to see so many names from the rock and hip-hop scenes. That's exactly what co-organizer Adam Levy had in mind.

"I wanted it to be songwriters and musicians from outside the box who I know can knock it out of the park when it comes to reinterpreting this material," the Honeydogs frontman said. Levy will co-host with DJ Jake Rudh alongside a house band with members of Heiruspecs and guests Mayda, Ill Chemistry, Steve Roehm, Toki Wright, Janey Winterbauer, Omaur Bliss, Ashleigh Still and Bethany Larson.

Among the songs planned for reexamination are "Stardust," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "My Funny Valentine" and "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." Levy has long been dismayed that more modern musicians don't take advantage of the classic American Songbook. "These songs are our free lunch," he said.

Future "Southern Songbook" shows will include "Desire and Death" on Valentine's Day and "The Rites of String" on April 14. Tickets are on sale at the Southern box office for Sunday's show. Levy is also the guest at Thursday's "Making Music" series at the Whole in Coffman Union.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Stanley's says 'Shhh'

After only a month of trying to commingle a cozy new dining space with loud rock 'n' roll, Stanley's Northeast Bar Room has decided to drop the latter element -- but only until it can bring the noise upstairs. The reborn northeast Minneapolis nightspot (formerly Stasiu's) canceled its band bookings for the month after some diners complained, and both sides of the room seemed to agree the new layout wasn't working. Instead, the second-floor party room is being refurbished to cater to rock patrons. "They are going to make the upstairs look a little more vintage and rock 'n' roll, and really give it that Nordeast edge," said booker Christy Hunt. That'll take a few months, though. In the meantime, look for quieter acts downstairs, while the noisemakers are moving elsewhere, such as Friday's show with the Funeral & the Twilight and Citizens of the Empire, now at Nick & Eddie.

  • Chris Riemenschneider