By virtually any measure, Allen Toussaint is a giant of American music and has been among a key handful of indispensable forces on the tumultuous New Orleans music scene over the past half-century. Toussaint's post-Katrina collaboration with Elvis Costello, The River in Reverse, and subsequent tour garnered considerable attention, but it was really just an extension of what he's been doing since his teens. As a pianist, singer, songwriter, producer, and arranger, Toussaint is essentially the standard to which everyone else aspires. The staggering number of songs he's written and/or produced (usually both) for New Orleans's finest are synonymous with the city: Irma Thomas's "Ruler of My Heart," Lee Dorsey's "Working in a Coal Mine," Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-in-Law," Chris Kenner's "I Like It Like That," the Meters' "Cissy Strut." Meanwhile, a steady stream of international musicians sought him out for recording at his Sea-Saint Studios (Paul McCartney, Paul Simon), for horn arrangements (the Band), for hits (Labelle's "Lady Marmalade"), and for classic songs to cover (everyone from Three Dog Night to the Yardbirds). And he managed to squeeze in a few of his own albums along the way, most notably 1975's elegiac Southern Nights. A month past his 70th birthday, the always elegant, boundlessly resourceful Toussaint follows the Mississippi in reverse to the heart of Minneapolis. $50 at 7 p.m.; $40 at 9:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 13, 7 & 9:30 p.m., 2008