THURSDAY 2.4

Magic Castles

Sauce Spirits and Sound Bar

Magic Castles don't belong in this era. Much of their sound conjures Syd Barrett-helmed Pink Floyd, but undertones hark back to a more disant age, when footfalls of horses held a steady beat for echoing trail songs. In "Mountains of Snow," a lonesome cowboy's oddly Motown-style narration weaves between simple, breathy vocals and slowly trotting bass lines inching toward the ether. "Mystical Sage Warrior" is more upfront with its psych attribution. A viola ominously segues into thick, broken-record rhythms building in intensity and strangeness before Kinks-style guitar spills over into a calm, cosmic reflecting pool languidly making up the song's middle, drip-dripping until the fadeout. The band's patchwork snippets of influence form an alluring concoction that shines with the best of the cities' soothsayers and sits comfortably with the history books. With Sun and the Satellite and Come Fizzy Dolphin. 21+. $5. 9:30 p.m. 3001 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.822.6000. Erin Roof

FRIDAY 2.5

Mike Swoop

Solid Gold (pictured) and Mark Mallman co-headline our Haiti benefit this weekend
Nick Vlcek
Solid Gold (pictured) and Mark Mallman co-headline our Haiti benefit this weekend

Sauce Spirits and Sound Bar

New Love is the debut of Minneapolis's Mike Swoop, but the album's smooth, funky instrumentals are in fact the work of an artist who has been producing in the area for the past eight years. Now setting out on his own terms, Swoop—who played Last of the Record Buyers at Fifth Element last month—explores a broad reach of influences beyond hip hop that includes jazz, Afrobeat, and traces of European house music. Trained as a drummer, he builds his grooves around samples with the aid of live instrumentation, creating rich textures with an emphasis on percussion. The album also features appearances from Rhymesayers MC Toki Wright, local duo Big Quarters, and Diametrix, the group with which Swoop got his start as a teenager. Tonight's release party, hosted by Franz Diego, will be a combination listening party and live show as Swoop explains the making of New Love while performing selected songs with guests Booka B and Espada. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 3000 Lyndale Ave. S.; 612.822.6000. Jeff Gage

Kicks & Spurs

Big V's

Big V's is a Petri dish for unlikely musical matings. On any given night, the venue offers the best and worst and most diverse of what the Twin Cities has to offer. With Kicks & Spurs' self-appointed label of "experimental folk country," it's easy to raise an eyebrow and wonder on which side of the coin the band will fall. In the end, they offer more standard, but no less delightful, fare than expected. Lyrics are typical sad-sack country-and-western stories, but the band's baritone and tenor harmonies render the words their most forlorn. And with guitars expressing equal appreciation for drawling and boot-scooting, Kicks & Spurs, like Big V's, offer a little something for everyone. With Red Daughters, Total Babe, and Mondomega. 21+. $5. 10 p.m. 1567 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.645.8472. —Erin Roof

SATURDAY 2.6

Gimme Shelter: A Benefit for Haiti

First Avenue

The magnitude of the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake is hard to quantify, let alone come to terms with. And even though we are thousands of miles removed from the relief efforts, many in the local music scene are donating time and money to help after one of the most massive natural disasters of our generation. City Pages and the Gimme Noise music blog are taking part in the fundraising efforts by throwing tonight's benefit party, and we've invited some of our favorite local bands to help out. Two of last year's City Pages cover subjects, Mark Mallman and Solid Gold, will be stepping out of the pages and onto the stage to co-headline the benefit. Picked to Click runners-up Zoo Animal will open the show with their inaugural performance on the Mainroom stage, and Peter Wolf Crier will return to First Ave after blowing the audience away at last month's Best New Bands showcase. DJs Jimmy2Times and Mike 2600 will keep the party going between sets with an eclectic mix of fun and funky dance music, and an artists' marketplace will allow local vendors to sell their artwork to benefit the cause. Net proceeds from the Gimme Shelter benefit will go toward the Red Cross Haiti Relief & Development Fund and Architecture for Humanity. 18+. $12. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Andrea Swensson

Jason Castro

7th St. Entry

Last autumn, Saturday Night Live aired a fake talk-show sketch poking fun at contemporary mellow pop strummers like Jason Mraz and Dave Matthews, in which Andy Samberg—appearing as surfer-turned-bastion-of-calm Jack Johnson—punctuated dialogue with punch line non-sequiturs like "vegan brownies." Season 7 American Idol finalist Jason Castro belongs to this august lineage, whose leading lights seem like the kind of guys who take their pet iguanas everywhere, are in possession of copious Bob Marley bootlegs, and have packed and passed their fair share of peace pipes. On Idol, Castro's glassy expression, "Ras Trent" dreads, and giggly general mien left little doubt as to how he probably spends his spare time; if it hadn't been for the buttery, naturalistic warmth of his voice and savvy nature of his cover choices, it'd be easy to laugh off his manner and popularity. As postponements for his debut album—due in late March, as of press time—pile up, it's worth noting that several Season 8 Idol contenders already have product on the market, which encourages speculation that the green in Castro's garden isn't entirely decorative. But it could just as easily mean that he's polishing a humdinger of a debut. With Matt Hires and Caitlin Crosby. 18+. $8. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Ray Cummings

The Ponys

Turf Club

Despite their geographical separation, Chicago's the Ponys and Minneapolis's France Has the Bomb have more in common than their gleefully frantic noise rock. Not only do both bands proudly wear their garage-rock roots and post-punk influences on their sleeves, but their primary songwriters—Jered Gummere and Srini Radhakrishna—grew up in Bloomington, Illinois, and played together in the Guilty Pleasures. Later on, it was as an opener for the Ponys (then a hot property appearing with the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and Spoon) that Radhakrishna's act got its start at the Entry. Gummere and his band, which includes wife Melissa Elias on bass, took a break from performing the past couple of years, but when they decided to get back together last fall they chose to do so on a bill with none other than FHTB. Tonight, these two old friends will add yet another chapter to their ongoing, if unlikely, history. With Bombay Sweets and the Chambermaids. 21+. 9 p.m. $8. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Jeff Gage

Bill Frisell, Rahim AlHaj, and Eyvind Kang

Walker Art Center

Innovative guitarist and music visionary Bill Frisell returns to the Walker, one of his favorite playgrounds, bringing along his insatiable curiosity and two equally unusual musicians to perform the world premiere of the Walker-commissioned Baghdad/Seattle Suite. The Walker describes the composition as an East-meets-West piece combining traditional Iraqi maqams (classical Arabic scales), Americana, and jazz. Indeed, the trio not only spans the globe with each member's interests and trajectory; far-flung genres, ideas, and cultures are bridged, fused, and spun in unique directions by each on a regular basis. On dozens of singular projects, Seattle resident Frisell has found fresh expression by entangling jazz, country, classical, blues, and more exotic threads into dazzling, cutting-edge pastiches. Baghdad-born composer and oud virtuoso Rahim AlHaj was forced to leave Iraq in 1991 and eventually made his way to New Mexico, where he's been living for a decade. His music is exquisite and beguiling. Oregon native and Seattle resident Eyvind Kang is a violinist who principally studied with Sun Ra associate Michael White and Indian virtuoso Dr. N. Rajam in Bombay. A longtime Frisell collaborator, Kang has also performed with Robin Holcomb, Laurie Anderson, and Sun City Girls, as well as created original music spanning a vast spectrum from shards of Americana to free improv and minimalism. $29 ($25 for Walker members). 9:30 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Rick Mason

MONDAY 2.8

Rosanne Cash

Guthrie Theater

One of 2009's best albums, Rosanne Cash's The List features striking versions of 12 of the 100 classic country songs her father told her she should know when he was concerned his 18-year-old daughter was skimping on her roots education. You couldn't ask for a better authority on country music than Johnny Cash, and Rosanne used that list of essential songs to great effect in pursuing her own career. Actually the songs have a remarkably wide scope, encompassing gospel, folk, blues, and swing, and ranging from the Carter Family and Merle Haggard to Bob Dylan. Although the album has been greeted with great acclaim, it wasn't eligible for this year's Grammys due to its October release date. But the first single was, a duet with Bruce Springsteen on the Don Gibson vehicle "Sea of Heartbreak," and it was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Rosanne and her husband, guitarist and producer John Leventhal, previewed the album last summer with an intimate performance at the Dakota. Their return, this time at the Guthrie, should be just as engaging. And they may even preview some of the material for the already-planned next volume of nuggets from the Man in Black's list. $45-$65. 7:30 p.m. 818 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612.377.2224. —Rick Mason

TUESDAY 2.9

Rhymesayers Presents: A Benefit for Haiti

First Avenue

There are benefit shows, and then there are benefit shows. One can hardly be called more noble than another, but in the wake of a tragedy like the earthquake that devastated Haiti last month, the best and brightest of our best and brightest are pitching in to curry relief funds for one of the most sorely needed rescue efforts of the new millennium. Rhymesayers Entertainment has a decade-strong reputation for hard work, clean consciences, and social awareness, and tonight's First Avenue show may be the grandest expression yet of its well-earned reputation. Brother Ali, Slug, Sage Francis & B. Dolan, Toki Wright, and many more have risen to the gargantuan challenge of putting their skills where they're needed the most. It's a blindingly bright show for a pitch-black premise, a sound and selfless investment for fans of local hip hop. With Freeway & Jake One, I Self Devine, and Sims. Hosted by Slug. Proceeds benefit Oxfam America, Doctors Without Borders, and Yele Haiti. 18+. $20. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. David Hansen

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