GZA and more

 

WEDNESDAY 9.03

Dale Watson

Lee's Liquor Lounge

Unsung country-music heavyweight Dale Watson is in town tonight, and no better place to have him than Lee's. Watson even has a song about the place: One more reason you should stop being an RNC shut-in and go see him. Plus, hello? Fiddle and steel guitar! Besides, our Midwestern spirits could benefit from listening to more country music. Many write it off, but there's just something so timeless and inviting and unpretentious about it. Would you be more won over by the idea if it were referred to as "honky tonk" instead? Some of you are fickle like that. Watson is old-school, for those of you who are swayed by such things. Ladies, he's kind of foxy, too. Plus you get FREE dance lessons with admission! Get ready to be asked to dance by a stranger. With Becky Thompson and Old School. $15. 10:15 p.m. 101 N. Glenwood, Minneapolis; 612.338.9491. Jessica Chapman

 

THURSDAY 9.04

GZA

Cabooze

Let it stew in the subconscious, where the real Wu-Tang decoding begins, but to my ears GZA's new Pro Tools (Babygrande) sounds like one of the more delirious and imaginative Wu-Tang-related releases since GZA's own Wu-fan-favorite Liquid Swords (from 1995), a classic he's been performing live in toto this year. At least "Life Is a Movie" deserves the Gnarls Barkley-sized crossover it won't get, from its Gary Numan-esque synth whack to a funny born-loser chorus ("sometimes I feel like my life's a movie/I don't like to film/I don't like the film") warbled by Irfane Khan-Acito of the Parisian electronic group Outlines. "I contracted lung cancer from third-hand smoke," quips the Genius. "The man who hit lotto and lost his ticket/In a rainstorm, and struck by lightning trying to get it." With devilish local hero Muja Messiah, and special guests to be announced. $28/$30 at the door. 8 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. Peter S. Scholtes

 

FRIDAY 9.05

Punch Brothers

Cedar Cultural Center

Virtuoso mandolin player Chris Thile was a child prodigy who gained fame, fortune, and widespread acclaim with Nickel Creek. Not only a supreme picker, Thile also became an innovator who explored music far beyond his bluegrass roots, which he has continued in myriad projects after the Creek dried up. He assembled a virtual dream team of young acoustic musicians—fiddler Gabe Witcher, guitarist Chris Eldridge, banjoist Noam Pikelny, bassist Greg Garrison—for what was nominally a solo project (2006's How to Grow a Woman from the Ground). The quintet quickly became a full-fledged band with a moniker swiped from a Mark Twain short story and a dazzling album—Punch (Nonesuch), released last winter—boasting a sophisticated blend of bluegrass, jazz, and classical. The quintet, playing as a kind of bluegrass chamber group, shines through on complex, challenging compositions highly structured but critically fleshed out via improvisation. The centerpiece, however, is Thile's four-movement suite "The Blind Leaving the Blind," a stunning musical roller coaster about the severe sense of betrayal Thile experienced when his marriage fell apart. Thile, by the way, will soon be back on the road with double bass maestro Edgar Meyer. Their new duo album will be out on Nonesuch in late September. $20/$23 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Lookbook

331 Club

Attention Republicans: After four long days of the RNC, I'm sure your lungs are tired from spewing rhetorical hot air, your hands are limp from giving your egos endless deep-tissue massages, and your eyes might very well be bleary from late nights at the strip joints. You need a break. Why not tie one on at the 331 Club and relax to the soothing tones of Lookbook? The local popsmiths are sure to please both sides of the party line. In songs like "Oh I Fear You, My Darkness," synth blossoms over mellow beats, creating a placid counterpoint to Maggie Morrison's airy vocals. "King of Con" is reminiscent of the pop ballads of the Reagan era with retro drum machine beats and unabashed crooning. That should trickle down some good memories for you. Let Grant Cutler's electronica soar over you like a mighty eagle, Republicans. Let Morrison's smooth alto tickle your heartstrings. You do still have hearts, don't you? With To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie and Brutal Becomings. 9 p.m. 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.331.1746. Erin Roof

 

SATURDAY 9.06

Damien Dempsey

Cedar Cultural Center

Although he's collected a slew of awards in Irish folk and traditional categories in recent years, Dublin native Damien Dempsey is a renegade who not only flirts with the punk ethos of bands like the Pogues but also has freely dabbled in hip hop and electronica. Dempsey's latest, The Rocky Road (United for Opportunity), is a strictly traditional affair packed with ballads culled from the tumultuous history of the Emerald Isle, ranging from 200-year-old accounts of rebellions to Shane McGowan's uncharacteristically gentle love song "A Rainy Night in Soho." Dempsey even recruited Dubliners John Sheahan and Barney McKenna, along with button accordionist Sharon Shannon, for a rootsy feel. Nevertheless, Dempsey sings with such unbridled passion and barbed ferocity that his contemporary leanings haunt these songs in a curious reversal of common practice. Even on an ancient a capella piece like "The Twang Man," the modernist ghosts in Dempsey's voice imbue fresh urgency. And the vividly dramatic title tune, "The Rocky Road to Dublin," picks up a driving intensity from Dempsey's rhythmic phrasing that transcends folkie formulas. $12/$15 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

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