Matt and Kim, Joan Baez, and more

 

THURSDAY 11.13

Joan Baez

State Theatre

Iconic folk singer Joan Baez is celebrating the 50th anniversary of her career's start with her first album on the Billboard charts in 29 years. Day After Tomorrow (Bobolink/Razor & Tie) was produced by Steve Earle, with an array of smart touches that allow Baez to shine. Her exquisite voice doesn't soar quite like it once did, but has acquired a golden authority imparting an even deeper sense of wisdom. And Earle matched her classic voice with an accomplished acoustic ensemble including himself, bassist Viktor Krauss, mandolinist Tim O'Brien, and drummer Kenny Malone. Baez and Earle also selected an astute assortment of contemporary songs reflecting her classic repertoire of traditional, folk, and protest songs, which made her an icon of the peace and justice movements stretching over multiple decades. There are three Earle tunes, including a spiritual a capella version of "Jericho Road," plus warm, striking readings of Eliza Gilkyson's "Rose of Sharon," Patty Griffin's "Mary," and "Scarlet Tide," written by Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett and sung by Alison Krauss on the Cold Mountain soundtrack. Baez, accompanied only by her own guitar, also does a stunning interpretation of Tom Waits's title track about the personal ravages of war. 7:30 p.m., $39-$50. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

Toumani Diabaté

Cedar Cultural Center

The last couple of times through town, Malian kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté introduced his fabulous Symmetric Orchestra to U.S. audiences. This time around he arrives for a solo performance on the heels of his tour de force solo album The Mandé Variations (Nonesuch), a shimmering mix of traditional and startling experimental pieces played with the exquisite touch and resolute soulfulness that are his trademarks. The scion of 71 generations of griots and master musicians, Diabaté is dedicated both to preservation and to expanding the repertoire of the kora, a signature West African instrument with its distinctive gourd resonator and 21 strings. On Variations, he plays both a traditional and slightly modernized, machine-head kora; invents new tunings; stirs subtle western motifs (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly theme, a melody inspired by UB40) into his original compositions; and essentially establishes his own avant-garde path with a pair of entirely improvised, jazz-like pieces. It's richly evocative music, whether skittering along on lightning runs or delving into enthralling melodies. 7 p.m. $25/$30 at the door. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

 

FRIDAY 11.14

Matt and Kim

Triple Rock Social Club

When we first met Matt and Kim, they were writing odes to our early twenties. They played bubbly electropop soundtracks to nights and early mornings of drifting from club party to loft party, loft party to cab, cab to bed (repeat seven times a week). The synth kept us bouncing despite our three hours of sleep. The scratchy, caffeine-infused vocals kept our fists pumping in the air till dawn. But with "Daylight," the Brooklyn duo woke up, realized they lost their student IDs years ago, and penned a poignant coming-of-age tribute. The keyboards make room for hooky piano lines. The vocals may be a shade less bombastic. Still, they prove that even if we are entrenched in our 9 to 5-ers, we can still make room for a good time. With Best Fwends and the God Damn Doo Wop Band. 18+. $12. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. Erin Roof

Coldplay

Xcel Center

It's easy to despise Chris Martin. He's handsome. He's British. He's married to Gwyneth Paltrow. He fronts Coldplay, a milquetoast rock band that's somehow become a multimillion-selling behemoth. His constant self-effacement smacks of wanton disingenuousness; his quasi-political posturing suggests brand-polishing à la Wal-Mart's goodwill-securing charitable donations. But here's the thing: Coldplay actually make gloriously unobtrusive background music that's tough to actively hate. They're like soothing wallpaper, all surge and drift and interchangeable emotions; even the new, Brian Eno-produced Viva La Vida (Capitol) passes by every listen like a humid summer breeze, apparently dissolving from memory—until some future, random time when the strains of one tune or another resurface, driving you to mild distraction. Damn you, Coldplay, you purveyors of modernist pop pap! $47.50-$97.50. 7:30 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.959.5151. Ray Cummings

 

SATURDAY 11.15

Brian Wilson

State Theatre

It's sometimes hard to remember, in the delirious broad sunlight of Brian Wilson's eternally hopeful and exquisitely ornate pop music, that the man's life is as harrowing as a Gothic horror novel. Few artists of the previous and present centuries have done more to beautify the rooms we all inhabit, and to enable the fundamental wildness of musical imaginings. Fewer still have worked from a place of such abject darkness, and certainly no one has wrought from such personal torments an extract so divinely sweet to the taste. The passage of the decades has been a devastation to Wilson, who narrowly escaped his own drug addiction and mental illness with his life, and yet more narrowly escaped the pharmaceutical brainwashing of Dr. Eugene Landys to finally complete SmiLE and, most recently, That Lucky Ol' Sun (Capitol). When it comes to Brian Wilson, hyperbole must be forgiven. Few have lived a more hyperbolic life. 8 p.m. $39.50-$89.50. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. David Hansen

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