Grande Salle of the Alliance Française

The auto mechanic for whom this benefit was organized remembers dance parties in his village in Guinea in which Tabu Ley Rochereau records played on a hand-cranked turntable—whoever had the job of powering it could still hold a beer in the other hand. Coup-torn Guinea has seen better days. Now Jean Akoy Beavogui is trying to bring his wife and children over, and pianist Jim Reilly has put together a unique matinee event to raise the needed plane fare from among Akoy's friends (I'm one), community (he drums in the African mass at St. Olaf Catholic Church), and the music-loving public. Performers include Genevieve Rangel, soprano of the storied and musical Rangel family, who will sing songs in Spanish by Mexican and Spanish composers; Eeva Savolainen, a Finnish soprano; Ibe Kaba, a Twin Cities poet from Guinea; and the Choir of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, singing in Latvian. There will also be an open mic for others performing in their native or family tongue, with a reception to follow. Free with donation. 3 p.m. 113 North First St., Minneapolis; 612.332.0436. —Peter S. Scholtes

James Cotton Blues Band

Cedar Cultural Center

Blues-rock aficionados North Mississippi Allstars
Blues-rock aficionados North Mississippi Allstars

James Cotton ranks among the few living legends of the harmonica. He learned from the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson, who took in Cotton as a homeless nine-year-old and taught him to blow with the power of a hurricane and the soul of the blues. Early on he played with Howlin' Wolf, hosted his own radio show, recorded with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios, and finally landed a highly coveted spot in Muddy Waters's band. He stayed with Waters for a dozen years, then established his own band, which soared on the blues-rock wave of the '60s. Cotton has accumulated legions of accolades and awards from Grammys on down over the decades, and at 73 still blows with a passionate spirit rare in performers a fraction of his age. But the ravages of time and throat problems have impaired his once fine vocals. The Minneapolis quartet A Night in the Box will open with its punkish, hard-stomping blend of blues, rock, bluegrass, and gospel. All ages. 7 p.m. $20/$25 at the door. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

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