Liars, Widespread Panic, and more: Critics' Picks


A Tribute to Bill Hinkley

Nicollet Island Pavilion

It's tempting to say the heart and soul of the Twin Cities folk scene, forever centered on Minneapolis's West Bank, died along with master musician and raconteur Bill Hinkley, who succumbed to a blood disorder at age 67 on May 25. But it wouldn't be true, because the indefatigable spirit of Hinkley—along with his wit, wisdom, and encyclopedic knowledge of music in general and picking in particular—lives on among his many friends, colleagues, students, and fans encountered over some four decades here. It is no exaggeration that he could play virtually anything on guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo. He and Judy Larson, his wife and musical partner, were regulars in the early days of A Prairie Home Companion, and played countless gigs in clubs and backyards, as well as on many of their friends' recordings. Their masterpiece was Out in Our Meadow, a double album released by Red House in 1987. At the time, Judy compared its issuance to giving birth. This tribute concert will likely feature scores of musicians who were Bill's friends. An early list just begins with Paul Metsa, Dan Newton, Marya Hart, Becky Thompson, Willie Murphy, Mary Dushane, and Cal Hand. Donations will cover costs, with any extra going to fund scholarships at the West Bank School of Music and Homestead Pickin' Parlor, where Hinkley taught. All ages. 5 p.m. 40 Power St., Minneapolis; 612.253.0255. —Rick Mason

Widespread Panic

The late Bill Hinkley, with his longtime partner Judy Larson
Eve MacLeish
The late Bill Hinkley, with his longtime partner Judy Larson

Location Info


Nicollet Island Pavilion

40 Power St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Category: Community Venues

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Orpheum Theatre

Renowned as a great live band and among the leading lights of the jam-band circuit throughout their near quarter-century, Athens, Georgia's Widespread Panic concentrate on old-fashioned songcraft on their new album, Dirty Side Down—all the better as a solid launching pad for WP's free-flowing live escapades. There is, of course, evidence of Panic's improvisational prowess on Dirty, most prominently on the instrumental "St. Louis," a terser version of a concert staple that still manages to ramble deep into jazz and blues terrain via Jerry Garcia-like guitar work. That the rest of the tracks work nicely as songs is a tribute to WP's dual strengths, as well their eclecticism. Over the course of the hour-plus album, the mood shifts from the haunting, plaintive cover of the late Vic Chesnutt's "This Cruel Thing" to exuberant boogie-fueled Southern rockers like "Cotton Was King." Elsewhere there's an amiable country rocker ("Clinic Cynic"), muscular blues-rock ("North"), a New Orleans-style shuffle ("When You Coming Home"), and an ambitious, mercurial tribute to Le Petit Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that wends its way from gossamer surrealism to gritty rock with an undercurrent of Latin rhythms, just the stuff for a prime Panic attack. $35. 7:30 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason


Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

Nearly 20 years into his career, Troy Andrews is suddenly a phenomenon. His hotly anticipated major-label debut album, Backatown, was greeted with ecstatic reviews when it was released in April. He has a prominent role in Treme, the HBO series based in his New Orleans neighborhood. And he and his crack band, Orleans Avenue, have been all over the festival circuit as well as touring Europe this spring. Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty (a nickname he long ago outgrew), is all of 24, but has been well-known on the Crescent City music scene since he was barely taller than his trombone. Spectacularly eclectic, Backatown (named for a tough part of town where early jazz developed) brings together everything Andrews absorbed in New Orleans (funky brass bands, second line, Mardi Gras Indians, trad and contemporary jazz) and elsewhere (funk, pop, soul, hip hop), and whips it back out with a flourish, from blistering brass band and funk workouts to a blazing jazz foray led by Andrews's soaring trumpet, and a shimmering, jazzy, funky cover of Allen Toussaint's "On Your Way Down" (sporting Andrews's charismatic vocals and Toussaint on piano). Opener Tab Benoit was a crusader for protecting Louisiana's ravaged wetlands even before the current gulf oil disaster's epicenter erupted near his hometown of Houma. His electric blues are spiced with a variety of south Louisiana elements—New Orleans, Cajun, Creole. He'll be backed by the veteran Crescent City outfit Louisiana's Leroux. $28. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason


Greg Brown

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

As poetic as William Blake, as raw as some old blues guy scratching away at a hand-built guitar somewhere in the Delta, Greg Brown easily ranks among the essential songwriters of this era. Certainly a folkie, perhaps the quintessential Iowa troubadour, but also someone whose music reflects a deep understanding of real country, rootsy rock 'n' roll, blues, and even soul, Brown stands almost alone in his ability and willingness to cut to the heart of things without being maudlin, condescending, contrived, or any number of other deadly songwriting sins. Yet Brown, as distinctly tied to the Midwestern cultural and physical terrain as Springsteen is to New Jersey, can be blissfully sentimental (paeans to Iowa's tiny towns and his grandma's canned goods), shamelessly romantic, downright rhapsodic about such minutiae as the aroma of coffee, unapologetically nostalgic ("The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home"). He can be a little silly, too. As he's gotten older, he hasn't shied from maturity, especially in his love songs ("Milk of the Moon"), his characters have struggled with more intractable moral dilemmas, and his anger over the indignities foisted on the modern world has only reached sharper pique. Expect Brown to reach deep into his rich catalogue. Also on hand will be longtime Brown collaborator Bo Ramsey, a superb guitarist (especially on slide), producer (for the likes of Lucinda Williams), and himself a performer of roots-oriented material. $30. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason


Kendra Shank

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