Lucinda Williams, Matthew Sweet, and more

 

WEDNESDAY 10.22

Matthew Sweet

First Avenue

In the early '90s, Matthew Sweet seemed to be poised for something big, a power-pop revivalist whose albums Girlfriend and Altered Beast made him an MTV alt-rock fixture. But by the end of the decade, he'd settled into a less lucrative but more comfortable setting as a cult artist, eventually reaching big-in-Japan status (his 2003 album Kimi Ga Suki * Raifu was created for just that very audience) and trading in megastardom for creative freedom. Now that we've had high school kids who were born after "Girlfriend" came out rocking out to Sweet's biggest hit on Guitar Hero II, Sweet has the golden opportunity to connect with a new generation of fans, and his new album, Sunshine Lies (Shout Factory), should give them a good idea of where he's been all this time. The Bridges open. 18+. $20. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Nate Patrin

 

THURSDAY 10.23

The Rumble Strips

7th St. Entry

There's no better way to ward off the impending chill in our bones than listening to the Rumble Strips. The English band's rambling pack of horn players create tones so brassy and bright they could threaten to poke holes in any rain clouds, whether English or Minnesota-bred. The keyboards are appropriately woozy. The guitars are just punchy enough for dancing. And singer Charlie Waller howls in desperation like this is the last sunny day on Earth. Debut album Girls and Weather (Universal/Island) is packed with single-worthy tunes begging to be sung in the round after several frothy pints. So, skip your itchy heels to their 7th St. Entry set—then let's all bust out and race to someplace graced with palm trees and those cute ladies in coconut bras. With Birdmonster and Marvelle. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Erin Roof

Lucinda Williams

First Avenue

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 thumbing 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 the 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 (one on Nov. 5): 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+. $30. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N, Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ward Rubrecht

 

FRIDAY 10.24

Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson

Target Center

There's a lot of firepower of the old star-making machinery concentrated onstage during this unique, collaborative tour by veteran country hit-maker Reba McEntire and initial American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Both singers and both of their bands will be onstage throughout the show as each performs her hits and favorites, one singing backup for the other. Interspersed will be straight duets, including "Because of You," the Clarkson tune that was the first single from Reba's star-studded 2007 album, Duets (MCA). Recording that song and a subsequent joint appearance on CMT Crossroads reportedly revealed a spark between the two that led to the current tour. It comes at a transitional time for Clarkson, who chafed at the bit when groomed as a post-AI pop diva and subsequently released the darker, rock-oriented My December (RCA). Reba, of course, has achieved one-name celebrity as a country new traditionalist who often ventures into pop, in addition to a thriving acting career that has embraced Broadway, films, and TV. That each performer's ego could survive a shared marquee is a victory for both's legions of fans. $49.50-$59.50. 7 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900. —Rick Mason

Wayne "The Train" Hancock

Lee's Liquor Lounge

Wayne Hancock is one of the true stars of the Lone Star State. There's a popular bumper sticker in Texas that says, "I'm not from Texas but I got here as fast as I could." Well, Hancock's music kind of has the same effect. You may not like country music, you may not think you like country music, but then you hear the man's rockabilly sensibility and his Hank Williams twang, and all those years of hating on country music? Melted away. Get there as fast as you can. You'll be greasing your hair and painting flames on the side of your car any day now. If nothing else, the steel guitar will have you at "Howdy." If you can't make Friday, he's also playing Saturday night at the American Legion in Byron. With Joe Buck Yourself—country's version of Marilyn Manson—and Bitch and Brown. $15. 9 p.m. 101 Glenwood Ave., Minneapolis; 612.338.9491. Jessica Chapman

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