JJ Grey & Mofro / JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound / Daryl Hance

Varsity Theater on Wednesday 1.18

A masterful storyteller in the grand southern tradition, JJ Grey gets his raw material from the piney woods and blackwater swamps of rural north Florida and delivers it with the demonic fire of a Pentecostal preacher. On their first live album (and accompanying DVD), Brighter Days (Alligator), recorded a year ago in Atlanta, Grey and a horn-stoked Mofro tear through their distinctive blend of Skynyrdesque southern rock, swamp blues, backwoods funk, Memphis soul, and Deep South R&B. Grey sighs wistfully about mosquitoes, rattlers, and gators on the quintessential "Lochloosa" before ripping into developers with both his gritty howl and ferocious electric guitar. Opening with a solo set will be former Mofro guitarist (and co-founder) Daryl Hance, who displays a similar array of influences (albeit with a harder rock edge) on his solo debut, Hallowed Ground. Presiding between the Floridians will be Chicago's JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, a neo-soul outfit that evokes vintage soul stirrers like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding thanks to Brooks's fine falsetto, but also adds a punkish impertinence to its horn-slathered R&B arrangements. $20-$22. 7:30 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rick Mason

Twin Cities Hip Hop Awards

Cry Culture Wolf help honor the local hip-hop and R&B scene
courtesy of the artist
Cry Culture Wolf help honor the local hip-hop and R&B scene

First Avenue on Friday 1.20

The Twin Cities Hip Hop Awards are now in their sixth year, and they have grown to reflect the ever-expanding local scene. This time there is a wide array of energetic acts performing (including Auburn, Mod Sun, Mac Irv, Nakia Marie, and Culture Cry Wolf) plus 27 hotly contested award categories to be presented. The event, hosted by Chris Styles, will not only celebrate the vibrant hip-hop and R&B community, it will remember Twin Cities luminaries Quincy "B.C" Blue, David "TC" Ellis, and Ryan "DJ Stage One" Dillard Sr. 18+. $10-$12. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. Erik Thompson

David Bromberg Quartet / Tom Feldmann

Cedar Cultural Center on Friday 1.20

A graduate of the '60s Greenwich Village folk scene, David Bromberg mastered guitar and a slew of other stringed instruments, becoming a highly regarded session musician on hundreds of albums by many of the era's heavy hitters. Extensively eclectic, Bromberg's string of '70s albums spanned everything from rock to jazz and blues to bluegrass. Bromberg has been out and about in recent years after a two-decade hiatus from performing. On last summer's Use Me (Appleseed), Bromberg collaborated with a wide array of pals, many of whom wrote new songs for the occasion, including a Vince Gill country ramble, a John Hiatt gospel-rock ballad, a Tim O'Brien bluegrass piece, and a characteristic quirky dose of New Orleans funk from Dr. John. It was obviously a labor of love for all involved: The picking is exemplary, the spirit is infectious, and Bromberg's dry, charismatically creaking vocals are in fine form. Opening will be Tom Feldmann, a superb picker in his own right. The Montrose-based self-taught guitarist is a fingerpicker and bottleneck ace who favors Reso-Phonics and specializes in vintage country blues and gospel. Tribute, his latest album with the Get-Rites, covers such key influences as Fred McDowell, Charley Patton, and Son House. $30-$40. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Father You See Queen

7th St. Entry on Friday 1.20

Out of the dissolution of To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie rises Father You See Queen, a brooding new project from Makr (Mark McGee) and Mona (Nicole Tollefson). The haunting, evocative songs the band has made available so far bode well for the future of this edgy, experimental new sonic enterprise. There are plenty of moments of beauty amid their morose, electro-tinged melodies, mainly due to Tollefson's hypnotic, textured vocals. This is a pre-release show for their forthcoming EP, 47 (due out in April), with music boxes created by artists Danielle Voight and Jason Wasyk available for fans. With the Cloak Ox, Marijuana Deathsquads, and Robust Worlds. 18+. $7. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Erik Thompson

Garland Jeffreys

Ritz Theater on Friday 1.20

Garland Jeffreys is a New York singer-songwriter of exceptional depth and range, a bookish romantic who can write a self-critical song about Malcolm X ("I Was Afraid of Malcolm"), scat like Dion, boogie about John Lee Hooker, and somehow pull off references to Edmund Spenser over a reggae beat. He's been making often outstanding, generally slow-selling records since Ford was president—for an early one, pick up Ghost Writer, featuring the incendiary near-hit "Wild in the Streets." Last year's The King of In Between was his first album in over a decade and one of his best. Coproduced by former Dylan sideman Larry Campbell and featuring guests such as Jeffreys's college chum Lou Reed, the album is very forceful old-guy rock 'n' roll, intellectual as always but also keen to cut to the bone and chase. One chorus simply goes, "I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive—not dead." Indeed! No band this time, alas, but Gabriel Gordon will join Jeffreys on guitar. $27-$30. 7 p.m. 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.436.1129. Dylan Hicks

Black Church Service (CD-release show)

7th St. Entry on Saturday 1.21

There are a myriad of influences at work within the gritty rock 'n' roll of Black Church Service. Their sound has a bluesy, boozy swagger that is both infectious and invigorating, and it just seems to sound better the later in the evening it gets. The high-octane local quartet are celebrating their CD release Saturday at the Entry, which should add to the boisterous, festive nature of the night. It should be a raucous affair that is bound to get both the band and their fans moving, with everyone knowing they can sleep it all off the following day. With Poverty Hash, L'Assassins. 18+. $5. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Erik Thompson

Meshell Ndegeocello

Dakota Jazz Club on Sunday 1.22 and Monday 1.23

A metaphoric shift to relatively serene high barometric pressure profoundly affects Weather (Naïve), Meshell Ndegeocello's latest, surprisingly hushed and intimate album. Rather than grappling with the world or lashing out at it with anger and bitterness as she often has in the past, Ndegeocello is far more contemplative as she muses about personal relationships while crafting a subtly alluring fusion of pop, jazz, soul, and folk. It all floats in the fathomless depths of Joe Henry's exquisite production, a warmly organic medium alive with textural intrigues notably including Ndegeocello's versatile voice, which sometimes gently ventures into higher octaves, and the ripe pulse of her bass. Despite the dearth of storm clouds on Weather and its essentially spare sound (particularly the cover of Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel"), most of the tracks have the multifaceted complexity of finely cut jewels, while Ndegeocello's lyrics probe equally complicated emotions. She's reportedly touring with a four-piece band that includes drums, guitar, keyboards, and cello. $40. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

Keb Mo / Anders Osborne

Guthrie Theater on Monday 1.23

Although often considered a blues revivalist, Keb Mo (a.k.a. L.A.-bred Kevin Moore) long has had wider interests, which fully emerge on The Reflection, his first release on his own label, Yolabelle. The title track is a sleek, easygoing slice of lightweight pop-soul, whose predictably tasteful mellowness generally prevails throughout collaborations with India.Arie and Vince Gill, and scattered contributions from jazz musicians Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, and Dave Koz. The outstanding track is the opening "The Whole Enchilada," a slyly funky nugget of classic soul that would well serve Al Green. Most regrettable is a flaccid cover of the Eagles' "One of These Nights" that practically succumbs mid-tune to an apparent lack of interest by all involved. Also on this bill is guitarist/singer/songwriter Anders Osborne, a native of Sweden whose two-plus-decade stay in New Orleans has infiltrated his music and his soul. His tunes have a distinct Crescent City slant, particularly with standout NOLA drummer Stanton Moore laying down the grooves on last year's American Patchwork (Alligator). But wider rock, blues, jazz, and R&B crop up, especially coloring his wicked slide guitar work (which particularly shines on the searing, off-kilter "Darkness at the Bottom"), while vocally (and sometimes lyrically) he suggests a grittier Jackson Browne. $46-$48. 7:30 p.m. 818 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612.377.2224. —Rick Mason

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