Loud & Rich, Dark Dark Dark, and more

WEDNESDAY 4.14

Loudon Wainwright III & Richard Thompson

Fitzgerald Theater

One standard line about these balding folkies is that they've never won the success their talents merit, and thus the world isn't fair. The world isn't fair, as Thompson's and Wainwright's songs remind us, but hey, the two have paid the rent for a combined 80-odd years making sometimes transcendent, infrequently commercial music, which suggests that the world is sometimes fair-ish. Wainwright's songs have chronicled his own and other bourgeois-bohemian lives with heart, wit, and often bold candor. He'll make you laugh, cry, and squirm, sometimes in the same song—he's a master of a seemingly impossible hybrid genre: emotionally affecting novelty songs. Last year's High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project is one of his best and least characteristic albums, a double CD of world-weary but life-drunk songs either about or made popular by the great country-music pioneer. Thompson is one of history's few legit folk-rockers—that is to say, he can do both with complete conviction. You won't get to hear him lead a band through one of his slashing electric-guitar solos here, but he's just as impressive stripped down; the guy can write and sing beautifully, can make one acoustic guitar sound like two, can spout clever remarks between songs, can do four or five things extremely well whereas most of us can't do one thing half- or even quarter-assed. Oh, Christ, the world's not fair. $37/$39 at the door. 7:30 p.m. 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651.290.1220. Dylan Hicks

THURSDAY 4.15

Dark Dark Dark (CD-release show)

Dark Dark Dark unveil a new EP
Cameron Wittig
Dark Dark Dark unveil a new EP

The Cedar

Minneapolis's very own music collective, Dark Dark Dark—with members hailing from as far off as New York and New Orleans—forgo maximalism for an austere, nuanced sound. Nona Marie Invie's saccharine vocals, which mix the cooing coyness of Leslie Feist with the deep, dark tones of Victoria Legrand, are the soulful core around which Dark Dark Dark wrap their solemn cabaret tunes. Drawing on European musical traditions, they mix shades of violin, piano, and accordion into a breathy blend of woozy melodies and plaintive dirges that can build into chilling choral harmonies. The new Bright Bright Bright EP reflects the full grandeur of their music, having been recorded live in a converted church under the guidance of Low producer Tom Herbers. Hot off tour, Dark Dark Dark are returning home to give the record its official release, but it may not be long before their worldliness whisks them permanently away from our fair Cities. With Spirit of the Red City and Brett Bullion. All ages. $8/$10 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. Jeff Gage

FRIDAY 4.16

Chick Corea and Gary Burton

Dakota Jazz Club

Pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton first collaborated as a duo in 1972 at the suggestion of ECM label founder and producer Manfred Eicher. Both had substantial jazz résumés, and Corea's supergroup, Return to Forever, was flying high. But the album the pair recorded that year in Oslo, Crystal Silence, became a jazz touchstone and led to many more Corea-Burton duet projects in subsequent years, including the current tour bringing them to the Dakota. Among the album's innovations were playing jazz in a chamber-music context (along with its classical and avant-garde implications), the blossoming of Burton's pianist technique on the vibes (creating extraordinary symmetries and textures with Corea's piano), and Eicher's crystalline production. Also extraordinary to this day is the exquisite interplay between the two, spawning improvisations that anticipate one another's moves while finding fresh avenues of expression. Corea and Burton celebrated the 35th anniversary of the original album by releasing in 2008 The New Crystal Silence, which vividly revisits some of the same material on two discs, one performed with the Sydney Symphony in Australia, the other a live duo set recorded in Norway and the Canary Islands. Last year ECM re-released Crystal Silence as part of a neat four-disc box also containing the Grammy Award-winning Corea-Burton albums Duet (1978) and In Concert, Zurich (1979). $50-$90. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

The Alpha Centauri

Varsity Theater

The Alpha Centauri have looked far and wide, searching for just the right tones to craft their iconic clinks and whooshes. Singer Lance Conrad uses his warbly, soulful croon to beckon Matthew Bellamy of Muse. But just before he can be tagged and labeled, a background of electronic flourishes makes his melancholia sound like it's escaping a bluesman visiting from the future. Leaping across the spectrum, Conrad approaches his guitar solos with the mind of a mathematician, nodding to Trans Am's linear repetitiveness. But the hidden genius of the group is Evan Beaumont, whose samples and synths hold all the pieces together. Beaumont funnels his sounds into the arena of '90s psych-poppers Mercury Rev, creating atmospherics that flow from spacious to sparse, wormholing from one end to the next with hyperkinetic crescendos. Though their inspirations seem as endless as they are varied, the quartet have sewn the best of their influences into something wholly new. When the sweat hits the floor, the band members are deft, teeming with talent, and infinitely weird. Opening for Dearling Physique (see our profile on p. 47), with Xavier Marquis and No Bird Sing. 18+. 8:30 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. S.E., Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. Erin Roof

SATURDAY 4.17

Storyhill (CD-release show)

Guthrie Theater

The origins of the classic-sounding folk-pop duo Storyhill stretch back more than two decades to Bozeman, Montana, the hometown of Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson. They haven't always been together since those early high school years, but often enough to have built a cult following thanks to their striking, close-harmony vocals, warmly engaging acoustic guitar work, and songs that make profound points with artful, economic use of language tied to strong melodies. Cunningham lives back in Bozeman, while Hermanson settled in the Twin Cities, also playing with the Hopefuls and Alva Star. This Guthrie show will celebrate the release of Shade of the Trees, the pair's second album on Red House, a spare but eloquent collection produced by Dan Wilson, who crafted a timeless ambiance using only the guitars and a single mic shared by both singers. Thus hints abound of the Everly Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, early Jayhawks. The new songs, meanwhile, tackle grand themes of life and death, love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, war and salvation, but always on an intimate scale, their metaphors as earthy as their music. $20. 7:30 p.m. 818 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612.377.2224. —Rick Mason

King Sunny Ade and the African Beats

The Cedar

Not only does Nigerian guitarist, singer, and bandleader Sunny Ade have genuine royal blood flowing in his veins, he's the undisputed king of juju, whose joyful, simmering grooves are so infectious it seems entire continents could pick up on its delicious sway. Juju marries traditional Yoruban elements—particularly talking drums and lyrical concerns—with western instruments, most prominently guitars. Ade plays his electric with a distinctly percussive, chattering style whose sinuous, scintillating lines wind their way among effervescent clouds of polyrhythms, bubbling keyboards, and multiple vocalists engaging in sharp call-and-response exchanges—all just part of the teeming activity within his typically large ensembles. When the concept of world music was still a novelty in the late '70s and early '80s, Ade and his Beats were among the first bands to make a significant stateside impression. They still sound fresh and intoxicating. $35/$37 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

MONDAY 4.19

Baby Dee

The Cedar

Baby Dee's biography is about as colorful as it gets. A transgender songstress, she has served as a music director for a Catholic church in the Bronx, joined the circus as a bilateral hermaphrodite at Coney Island, and traveled to Europe as part of the Kamikaze Freak Show. Yet Dee, for all her bawdy backstory, is above all a uniquely gifted musician, a classically trained harpist who is equally adept at playing tunes on an accordion. Most distinctive is her voice, an aching, supernatural instrument that quivers and bellows with a fragile beauty reminiscent of Antony Hegarty. Such talents have brought Dee into collaboration with artists as far-ranging as Will Oldham and Andrew W.K., but when she opened for the Books last fall her performance was something of a shock. While her name may be a little more familiar this time around, the overall effect is unlikely to be much changed. With Dreamland Faces. All ages. $12/$15 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Jeff Gage

TUESDAY 4.20

The Anoushka Shankar Project

Dakota Jazz Club

The daughter of sitar icon and global superstar Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar has followed her father's lead in more ways than one. She studied at the master's knee since she was nine and established herself as a virtuoso in Indian classical music well before her 20th birthday in 1991. She performed mainly as a soloist, while also dabbling in acting. But she really asserted her own musical identity on her 2005 album, Rise, assembling a band and writing original music that fused Indian music with western pop, folk, funk, and contemporary dance rhythms. She further upped the ante on the follow-up, 2007's Breathing Under Water, with starkly modern electronica flirting with classical Indian bits, and such high profile guests as Ravi, Sting, and half-sister Norah Jones. It's music that flows from contemplative to atmospheric to jazzy improvisation to whiplash solos that burn with rock-like energy to steamy stuff that'll pack the dance floor. The Project features a mix of acoustic and electric, eastern and western instruments, and includes fabulous flautist Ravichandra Kulur and tabla ace Tanmoy Bose. $45 at 7 p.m.; $35 at 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

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