Thursday, Sept. 21
1. Minnesota Orchestra: This week, Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård takes the podium as the 11th music director in the Minnesota Orchestra's 120-year history. And he'll do so with a thunderous bang, leading the orchestra in two evocative examples of musical storytelling, Richard Strauss' "Don Juan" and "An Alpine Symphony." As a between-booms palate cleanser, the orchestra's so-far-quite-impressive new principal oboist, Nathan Hughes, will be the soloist for Mozart's lone Oboe Concerto. (11 a.m., also 8 p.m. Fri., 7 p.m. Sat., Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., $31-$106, minnesotaorchestra.org)
2. David Kushner: There's quite a buzz for the baritone singer from Barrington, Ill. Kushner's TikTok-boosted tune "Daylight" — 198 million views — has become a big hit abroad, and it's been making noise in the States, too. It's currently in KDWB's top 5 tunes. With lyrics suggesting a predilection for darkness, the downbeat piano ballad with a gospely chorus suggests Bon Iver-meets-Hozier. In fact, Rob Kirwan, who produced Hozier, produced the cut, and he'll work on Kushner's forthcoming debut album. (7 p.m. Varsity Theater, 1308 4th St. SE, Mpls., $85 and up, ticketmaster.com)
3. Tom Paxton: He is a giant in the world of folk music. He's penned so many classic tunes, including "The Last Thing on My Mind," "Bottle of Wine" and "Ramblin' Boy." His songs have been recorded by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins and countless others. A recipient of a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2009, Paxton, 85, is still active. Last year, he released his 66th album, and this spring he dropped a new single, "Geese Fly North." (7:30 p.m. Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., $35-$40, thecedar.org)
Also: Music lovers are still raving about buzzing Louisiana retro-soul singer Durand Jones' 2021 Fine Line show as he returns to play the Amsterdam Bar & Hall (8 p.m., $25); the revamped Uptown Theater is giving country a try with Jake Owen of "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" renown (7 p.m. Uptown Theater, $57 and up); dramatic California metal band Atreyu is out supporting its new album, "The Moment You Find Your Flame," and out to prove Myth megaclub in Maplewood is still rocking with openers Memphis May Fire and more (6 p.m., $33.50 & up); from Texas' Rio Grande Valley comes goth synth-punk duo Twin Tribes (8 p.m. Icehouse, $20); after two major-label albums, soulful singer ZZ Ward just dropped her first indie effort, "Dirty Shine" (8 p.m. Fine Line, $30-$50); the local all-star tribute band Who Are They? pairs up with Little Man's T. Rex cover act outdoors (7 p.m. Hook & Ladder, $15-$25); James Loney's rootsy Southern hybrid Lolo's Ghost plays every Thursday at the Schooner Tavern (8 p.m., free).
Friday, Sept. 22
4. Veronica Swift: As the daughter of a jazz pianist and his singer/educator wife, this jazz chanteuse recorded her debut album at age 9. Swift went on to place second in the 2015 Thelonious Monk jazz vocals competition, earn a degree in jazz voice from the University of Miami and tour with Wynton Marsalis' Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. This month, the 29-year-old vocalist dropped her third album for Mack Avenue Music, simply titled "Veronica Swift," and it's not exactly a jazz record. Eclectic and adventurous, she injects funk and scat into her reading of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer," recasts Queen's "The Show Must Go On" with some Afro-Cuban mystery and puts the punk into the standard "Don't Rain on My Parade." (6:30 & 8:30 p.m. the Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., $30-$45, dakotacooks.com)
Also: After dropping four EPs, Georgia soul man Teddy Swims has been building so much momentum behind his debut full-length, "I've Tried Everything But Therapy (Part 1)," that this gig was moved from First Avenue to the bigger Palace Theatre (8 p.m. $55-$85); Dutch mega-DJ Tiesto delivered his 2023 album "Drive" featuring a parade of guests including Black Eyed Peas, Ava Max, Tate McRae, Charli XCX and Karol G (8 p.m. Armory, $130 and up); country star Billy Currington, the hitmaker of "People Are Crazy" and "Do I Make You Wanna," makes two weekend performances in Minnesota (7 p.m. Fri. Ledge Amphitheater, Waite Park, $45 and up, and 7 p.m. Sat. Vetter Stone Amphitheater, Mankato, $53 and up); Boston's prolific alt-country band Clem Snide is back (8 p.m. Icehouse, $17); outside Hook & Ladder, Van Morrison-blooded big band the Belfast Cowboys return to the Under the Canopy series (7 p.m., $15-$30).
Saturday, Sept. 23
5. Explosions in the Sky: Best-known for its film and TV work for "Friday Night Lights," "Lone Survivor" and PBS, this all-instrumental band of West Texas-reared guitar noodlers should actually be famous for its hypnotizing and reverberating live shows. The quintet is touring for its first album in seven years, "End," loaded with mood-setting epics that don't require any visual elements to sound widescreen-cinematic. Fellow instrumental wiz Dosh was booked as a special local opener. (8 p.m. First Avenue, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls., $35, axs.com)
6. Musiq Soulchild: Minnesota R&B lovers must have an enduring fondness for the silky-smooth Philly crooner's run of '00s hits including "Halfcrazy," "B.U.D.D.Y." and "Teach Me." He's added a third night at the Dakota by popular demand as he returns to the road behind his new album "Victims & Villains." His first album in six years was produced by Hit-Boy, who helmed Nas' "King's Disease" series. It's a chill collection reflecting on love that seduces ("Your Love Is Life") and separates (the kiss-off dismiss "We Were Just Binging"). (6:30 & 9 p.m. Sat.-Mon, the Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., $65-$75, dakotacooks.com)
Also: As part of his annual low-key Farm Tour, country superstar/ "American Idol" judge Luke Bryan is singing at Gar-Lin Dairy in Eyota, Minn., three weeks before he does a St. Paul arena show (6 p.m., $65 and up); Louisiana's dopey, hard-rocking underground rap duo $uicideboy$ are teetering on the mainstream with an arena tour featuring Ghostmane and more (6:30 p.m. Target Center, $46-$146); local indie-rock vets Run Westy Run are having a blast playing shows behind their first album in 28 years (8 p.m. Hook & Ladder Theater, $20-$30); the Shabby Road Orchestra, with Twin Cities vets Adam Levy, John Eller and others, are playing "Abbey Road" in full again (8 p.m. Parkway Theater, $25-$45).
Sunday, Sept. 24
7. Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service: Somebody give Ben Gibbard a trophy after this tour. The Death Cab frontman is playing double-duty to mark the 20th anniversary of two of the biggest albums of his career, starting with a full performance of DCFC's "Transatlanticism," featuring the standards "The New Year" and "The Sound of Settling." Then comes a live staging of "Give Up," the highly influential electro-pop LP by his side project the Postal Service, on tour for the first time since 2003 and featuring twang-pop alt-queen Jenny Lewis in tow as co-vocalist. (7:30 p.m. the Armory, 500 S. 6th St., Mpls., resale or platinum tickets only, armorymn.com)
Also: The Frederic Chopin Society always serves Twin Cities classical music lovers well with its series of recitals by outstanding pianists, and its 2023-24 season is among the best it's ever offered, kicking off with excellent Korean pianist Minsoo Sohn (3 p.m. Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, $20-$40); Bishop Briggs, the British-American electropop artist who made a splash in 2016 with "River" and won this month on "The Masked Singer," is back touting her new EP "When Everything Went Dark" (7 p.m. First Avenue, $37.50); St. Paul singer Pat Donohue will add some fancy pickin' and well-timed humor to the dance-inducing Western swing of Honky Tonk Jump (4 p.m. Crooners, $25-$35); Art Alexakis and his post-grunge rock hitmaking band Everclear of "Santa Monica" fame are celebrating a 30th anniversary and touting a new Whisky-a-Go-Go live album with fun openers the Ataris (7 p.m. Uptown Theater, $36-$61).
Monday, Sept. 25
8. Claud: This 24-year-old Chicago bedroom-pop specialist has been garnering fun tabloid press after writing a song named "Paul Rudd" and then getting the actor to star in a video — but for another song, "A Good Thing." After going viral with the 2019 ditty "Wish You Were Gay," the non-binary singer/songwriter born Claud Mintz was the first artist signed to Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory Records. They made good on that boost with their second album, "Supermodels," full of wryly lovelorn and book-smart fuzz-pop. (7 p.m. 7th St. Entry, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls., $20, axs.com)
9. Global Roots Festival: A tradition that dates back 13 years and has spanned dozens of nations, the Cedar's annual festival is a great way to sample the international music bookings offered year-round at Minneapolis' beloved nonprofit venue — in part because the shows are free! Night One will features neo-classical and Balkan folk singer Ana Everling from the Republic of Moldova along with West Africa- and India-inspired hammered dulcimer duo House of Waters. Night Two has Malawi street-buskers the Madalitso Band with traditional Ethiopian music makers Ethiocolor. (7:30 p.m. Mon. & Tue., Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., all ages, free, thecedar.org)
Also: Omaha's mellow-groovy rock vets 311 are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their ambitiously titled debut album "Music" with Blame My Youth (7 p.m. Mystic Lake Showroom, $49-$59); a fun pairing of novelty metal acts finds Japanese cuties Babymetal touring with animated heavy hitters Dethklok (7 p.m. Fillmore, $70).
Tuesday, Sept. 26
With her gospel-informed jazz-folk, emotional vocalist Lizz Wright creates spellbinding moments (7 p.m. the Dakota, $60-$75); fun, retro fuzz-pop U.K. rockers the Wombats are coming back around behind last year's well-received LP "Fix Yourself, Not the World (7 p.m. First Avenue, $30-$35); with Mike Palm still out front, cult-loved Los Angeles band Agent Orange play to the old-school punks again at the Uptown VFW with local surf-rocky openers the Black Widows (7 p.m., $20).
Wednesday, Sept. 27
10. Squeeze and Psychedelic Furs: Two U.K. bands that skirted the edge of the '80s alternative music scene with pop sensibilities that made them a little more mainstream and ageless, they each still boast their core members and remain solid live acts. Squeeze partners Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook are marking the band's 50th anniversary this year and playing lots of the classics, including "Tempted" and "Pulling Mussels from a Shell." The Furs' sibling leaders Richard and Tim Butler haven't been at it quite that long but have an equally deep canon with "Pretty in Pink," "The Ghost in You" and more. (7:30 p.m. Uptown Theater, 2900 Hennepin Av., Mpls., $64-$247, ticketmaster.com)
Also: Veteran lefty blues guitarist Coco Montoya, who did stints with Albert Collins and John Mayall, returns (7 p.m. the Dakota, $30-$35); now the second most famous rock band from Kingston, Ontario — R.I.P. Gordon Downie — the Glorious Sons take on the Mainroom (8 p.m. First Ave, $20-$25).
Classical music critic Rob Hubbard contributed to this column.