Saturday 2.19 at First Avenue

The last time Josh Ritter was in town, the Idaho-born singer-songwriter played the swanky digs at Orchestra Hall, melding wry Americana with the backing of the Minnesota Orchestra. It was a unique and remarkable performance, one that kept even the man himself grinning throughout at the rich layers of sound a constellation of musicians added to his hyperliterate folk-rock. Ritter's sound is textured and unpretentious, but his lyrics sharply articulate a vast range of emotions and insights. If you've heard the heartbreaking "The Curse" from his latest album, So Runs the World Away, you won't be surprised to hear that the bandleader is also prepping to release his first novel, Bright's Passage, from Random House this summer. But just because Ritter works in the capital-A Arts doesn't mean he can't put on a compelling rock show, as evidenced by the rollicking, jaunty tunes on 2007's The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. Look for a little of both at his First Ave show this week, where he and his Royal City Band will be joined by Scott Hutchison of the Scottish indie-rock outfit Frightened Rabbit. 18+. $20. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Bryan Miller

Old 97's

Sunday 2.20 at First Avenue

Sims breaks out with Bad Time Zoo
courtesy of the artist
Sims breaks out with Bad Time Zoo

Location Info


Fine Line Music Cafe

318 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Having suggested, on 2004's "Won't Be Home," that the unquenchable longing souring so many relationships goes back to a person's exit from the womb, Old 97's singer Rhett Miller keeps working the same theme of separation and distance regardless, across a bright career spanning indies and majors, solo and band albums, Dallas alt-country and what now sounds like U.K. garage pop (on last year's The Grand Theatre Volume One). Does it help that he sounds not much older than Justin Bieber? Opening are Those Darlins, who have Kirsty MacColl's attitude and the Soviettes' attack, which makes them sound like the girl group Patsy Cline never joined, plus raunch. 18+. $20. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Peter S. Scholtes

Randy Newman

Monday 2.21 at Guthrie Theater

Although he's an L.A. kinda guy, to the point of writing film soundtracks and being responsible for the city's unofficial anthem (thanks to widespread misinterpretation of its irony) "I Love L.A.," Randy Newman spent many of his formative years in New Orleans—which goes a long way toward explaining his rampaging quirkiness, along with the persistent Crescent City traits in his piano work. He's a satirist with an amiably sardonic world view, his songs usually amounting to comic adventures in misanthropy. All ages. $43-$45. 7:30 p.m. 818 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612.377.2224. —Rick Mason

Vinicius Cantuária & Bill Frisell

Tuesday 2.22 at Cedar Cultural Center

Although Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuária have played together in various configurations for more than two decades, their new album, Lágrimas Mexicanas, is their first one-on-one collaboration. And it's a beaut, a sophisticated, finely textured summit of Frisell's eclectic, experimental guitar work and Cantuária's contemporary bossa nova sorties spiced with additional Latin roots. Acoustic guitarist Cantuária lives in Brooklyn but sings with the sultry melodic intrigue of his native Brazil. Frisell, the idiosyncratic guitar visionary steeped in a wide array of Americana roots and jazz, creates a complementary tapestry of conspiratorial pulses, tones, loops, and rhythms that give the material sublime and unique dimension. All ages. $35-$45. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

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