In any genre, there are artists who succeed by skillfully hewing to the rules of that genre; then there are folks whose success is built on a need to tweak, tease, or break those rules at every opportunity. In country music, these alchemists and tinkerers can be hard to find, overshadowed by Nashville's formulaic behemoth. But Lucinda Williams has never been shy about taking a stroll into blues or rock 'n' roll, or to thumb her nose at the country equation in favor of delicately crafted poetry. Nonetheless, her sound is rooted deep in Southern soil and the sad stories and sharp twang that come with it. Having cemented her place in country canon with the beautifully wistful 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Williams could easily have played a larger venue than First Ave, but has chosen instead to grace the Twin Cities with twin shows, two weeks apart: It's two chances to see a genuine country legend in a venue a little closer to a honky-tonk than Mystic Lake Casino. With Buick 6. 18+.
Thu., Oct. 23, 6 p.m.; Wed., Nov. 5, 7:30 p.m., 2008