Taste of Minnesota, Devo, Santana

This week's Critics' Picks

WEDNESDAY 6.30

Carlos Santana/

Steve Winwood

Xcel Energy Center

Rock veterans Carlos Santana and Steve Winwood kick off this summer's "Universal Tone Tour" with this gig at the capital city hockey palace. Fans will be able to count on four-plus decades of hits from this formidable pair, dating back to Santana's "Evil Ways" in 1969 and Winwood's teenaged workouts on "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm a Man" in 1965 with the Spencer Davis Group. Santana's distinctive, fluid guitar style is one of the signature sounds of the rock era, while Winwood's soulful voice, percolating organ, and adept guitar work were key components of Traffic, Blind Faith, and a succession of solo albums. Santana, who is reportedly putting finishing touches on a new album, has periodically reinvented himself throughout his career, venturing far from his Latin-rock origins while retaining his iconic guitar sound. His albums in recent years have featured a wide variety of guest vocalists, although there's no word on what the new one will be like. There's likely to be some collaboration between the two, adding to what should be a treat for fans of both. $25.50-$125.50. 7:30 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. —Rick Mason

FRIDAY 7.2

Taste of Minnesota

Harriet Island

Providing a few crave-worthy treats to Twin Cities residents who can't wait for the fair, the Taste of Minnesota fest has gotten more music-savvy over the past couple of years, but the update has come at a price. The new entry fee may be a turn-off for some, but consider that four local radio stations have each been given a night to book the main-stage lineup, providing a little something for everyone. The Current has turned in the most compelling roster (unless you're really into Sammy Hagar), featuring New York outfit the Walkmen, technical indiephiles Minus the Bear, and local firebrands P.O.S and Atmosphere. Each of those acts could handily pack local clubs all on their own, and combined they make it well worth the $20 price tag. There will doubtlessly be enough food of every sort to satisfy whatever craving you might have, but it's the appetite for live music that's going to bring in the crowds in droves. All ages. 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. $20 advance or before 4 p.m./$30 after 4 p.m. 200 Dr. Justus Ohage Blvd., St. Paul; 651.772.9980. Through Monday Ian Traas

SATURDAY 7.3

Devo

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

Devo: The name alone conjures up strange images of flowerpot headgear, plastic hair, and yellow radiation jackets (and spuds!). To the casual observer the style comes across as silly, but to fans it has always been part of the charm. The band came out of Akron in the early '70s, in a region of the Buckeye State that would also produce Pere Ubu, the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, and eventually Nine Inch Nails. Devo predated the punk movement but found their greatest success in the heyday of the new-wave movement of the early '80s. Like many bands of that era, they sent a good song ("Whip It") into the top 20, while their greatest songs ("Beautiful World," "Through Being Cool," "That's Good," etc.) were severely underappreciated. And like many of their new-wave contemporaries, they found themselves out of favor by the dawn of the '90s. Undeterred, several of the band's members got together to produce music for video games and TV shows. The group even helped create a kid version of the band for Disney called Devo 2.0. A few weeks ago, the band released Something for Everyone, their first new album in 19 years, and they've been touring in support of it since spring. The "classic" lineup of Gerald Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh, and Bob Casale is back (with Josh Freese drumming). Maintaining the trademark sound, the music still sounds oddly modern. Indeed, Devo may not have lived up to the theory of de-evolution that inspired their name, and "that's good." $56-$101. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. P.F. Wilson

SATURDAY 7.3

Dale Watson

Lee's Liquor Lounge

Dale Watson is fervently dedicated to real country music, the stuff with rugged vocals, chugging rhythms, and major doses of fiddle and pedal steel—definitely not that slick, pop-soaked pap mainstream Nashville so often covets. A prolific and excellent songwriter, Watson's natural milieu (a word he'd probably never dream of using) is a 1950s or '60s honky tonk, his ace band spinning out driving songs about the road, or waxing philosophic in his rumbling baritone about the nature of good and evil in the spirit of Johnny Cash. Watson's latest, The Truckin' Sessions Vol. 2, is a collection of classic-sounding, all-original trucker tunes that easily slip in among the best of the genre. There's a tear-jerker ("Let This Trucker Go"), western swing ("Texas Boogie"), the Bakersfield sound ("Truck Stop in LaGrange"), even a bit of comic relief in "Truckin' Queen," in which the title character offsets his scruffy beard with "a negligee with red lamé." So if you got a hankerin' for gen-u-wine hard country, get it in gear and truck on down to Lee's. With Chris Brooks and the Silver City Boys. 21+. $15. 8 p.m. 101 Glenwood Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.9491. —Rick Mason

SATURDAY 7.3

Levon Helm Band/John Hiatt & the Combo

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