Bret Michaels, James Cotton Blues Band, and more

Blues-rock aficionados North Mississippi Allstars


The Vignettes

Big V's

Like the hardy mammals that, through pluck and heart alone, survived the ice ages of past eons, rock 'n' roll seems to be stripping itself to its nude essentials in an environment ever-threatened by usurping genres. Is it a matter of aesthetics or survival that sees our stages and boomboxes populated by threes and twos where fives and fours once stood? Fuck Knights, Knife World, Birthday Suits: Across the board, our best and brightest seem to be those essential light travelers who would only be encumbered by extraneous pieces. And the Vignettes keep that company. Like the above-mentioned acts, the Vignettes pack light and fast, with no motion wasted. Loud, rough, and inexact, they are a most urgent spectacle to behold, be it in a ratty basement or a three-foot-high stage. With Small White on the bill, this show is an exquisitely simple, inspiring recipe. Go get a taste. With Toxic Shrews and Burger Thirst. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 1567 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.645.8472. —David Hansen



North Mississippi Allstars


A wonderfully raw, gritty, and incendiary trio fueled by the dual fires of rock 'n' roll and the spectacularly rich blues heritage of Mississippi hill country, the North Mississippi Allstars have a blistering sound that's probably what the Rolling Stones aspired to in their early days. Guitarist Luther Dickinson, drummer Cody Dickinson—sons of famed Memphis producer Jim Dickinson—and bassist Chris Chew absorbed the rare hill country elixir that spawned the likes of Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Othar Turner. The Allstars' new Do It Like We Used to Do is a two-CD treasury of live performances spanning the band's twelve-year history, plus a DVD documentary with more performances. Compositions by the aforementioned foursome dominate, and highlights are numerous, including a blazing Hendrix-tinged dual-guitar assault by Luther and erstwhile member Duwayne Burnside on McDowell's "Crazy Bout You," the seemingly haunted boogie of R.L.'s "Jumper on the Line" (with the author himself supplying vocals and Luther's stinging slide howling like a tempest), and a deliciously greasy version of J. B. Lenoir's "Down in Mississippi" sparked by Jim Dickinson's phlegmy lead vocals. Opener Hill Country Revue is a side project of Cody Dickinson and Chew with more of a Southern rock vibe. The band also features drummer Ed Cleveland, harmonica player Daniel Coburn, guitarist Kirk Smithhart, and occasionally guitarist Garry Burnside, one of R.L.'s sons. 18+. $16/$19 at the door. 8:30 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Rick Mason

Joe January

400 Bar

Head down to the 400 Bar any Thursday in February to check out the new solo project by Planes for Spaces lead singer Joe January, an inventive and talented young musician. In contrast to Planes for Spaces' hyper, atmospheric mood-rock, January's solo music is bluesy and sparse, leaving plenty of room for his reflective lyrics to shine through. January is holding down the weekly residence at the 400 as he gears up for the release of his forthcoming album, Broken Record, which he anticipates will be released this spring. A rotating cast of local musicians will join him during his residency, with Jimmy Peterson of Bellwether on the bill for the all but the first week in February. 18+. $5. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Andrea Swensson



Dearling Physique

Uptown Bar & Cafe

Formerly the moniker of solo electronic artist Dominique Davis, Dearling Physique has now expanded into a unique musical hybrid with the addition of a supporting cast of diverse band members. In recent years Davis has shifted his sound away from simplistic loop-driven electronics to music that emphasizes his soulful voice, while creatively balancing its pervasive nature with his panoramic electronic palette. Friday night Dearling Physique will be performing at the Uptown Bar as a part of a bill that blends a unique cross section of electronic artists. The event, which also features the Hunting Club and Prozac Rat, is being headlined by dance/party duo Koo Koo Kanga Roo. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 3018 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.823.4719. —Chris DeLine



Me and My Arrow

7th St. Entry

With a name straight out of an early-'70s children's cartoon and songs that carry a distinct air of whimsy and reckless abandon, Me and My Arrow have a good chance of leaving audience members at their show Saturday night smiling and shaking their heads. The mammoth nine-piece band, including guitars, accordions, synths, and strings, will cram onto the tiny stage at the Entry to pummel the audience with their overwhelming, orchestral rock—think a slightly smaller, less cultish version of the Polyphonic Spree. The band have been gaining steam regionally and are planning on taking their unique act down to Austin in March for South by Southwest, so it's a good time to catch them while they are still flying under the radar locally. With Ice Palace, Fort Wilson Riot, and Speed's the Name. 18+. $6. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Andrea Swensson

Bret Michaels

Grand Casino Hinckley

Every rose has its thorn, and Bret Michaels would know—he's done a lot of public rose-picking. The frontman for the '80s glam-rock outfit Poison is at least as well-known for his mating as for his music. During the band's heyday, Michaels famously sent roadies with video cameras into the crowd to interview groupies vying to be his conquest of the night. Two decades later, Michaels, looking increasingly (and distressingly) similar to Desperate Housewives actress Nicolette Sheridan, regained fame by lady-shopping on the VH1 reality show Rock of Love, now in its third season. These romantic antics make gushy ballads such as "All I Ever Needed"particularly hard to swallow. But Poison-less Michaels, who will play his solo tunes with a full backing band at the Grand Casino Hinckley, can still crank out the metaphorically challenged, vaguely sexual rock anthems that made his nut in the days of eyeliner and hairspray. While you're there, ask him what the hell an "Unskinny Bop" is, anyway. 18+. 8 p.m. 777 Lady Luck Dr., Hinckley; 800.472.6321. —Bryan Miller



A Celebration of Immigration to the Twin Cities

Grande Salle of the Alliance Française

The auto mechanic for whom this benefit was organized remembers dance parties in his village in Guinea in which Tabu Ley Rochereau records played on a hand-cranked turntable—whoever had the job of powering it could still hold a beer in the other hand. Coup-torn Guinea has seen better days. Now Jean Akoy Beavogui is trying to bring his wife and children over, and pianist Jim Reilly has put together a unique matinee event to raise the needed plane fare from among Akoy's friends (I'm one), community (he drums in the African mass at St. Olaf Catholic Church), and the music-loving public. Performers include Genevieve Rangel, soprano of the storied and musical Rangel family, who will sing songs in Spanish by Mexican and Spanish composers; Eeva Savolainen, a Finnish soprano; Ibe Kaba, a Twin Cities poet from Guinea; and the Choir of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, singing in Latvian. There will also be an open mic for others performing in their native or family tongue, with a reception to follow. Free with donation. 3 p.m. 113 North First St., Minneapolis; 612.332.0436. —Peter S. Scholtes

James Cotton Blues Band

Cedar Cultural Center

James Cotton ranks among the few living legends of the harmonica. He learned from the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson, who took in Cotton as a homeless nine-year-old and taught him to blow with the power of a hurricane and the soul of the blues. Early on he played with Howlin' Wolf, hosted his own radio show, recorded with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios, and finally landed a highly coveted spot in Muddy Waters's band. He stayed with Waters for a dozen years, then established his own band, which soared on the blues-rock wave of the '60s. Cotton has accumulated legions of accolades and awards from Grammys on down over the decades, and at 73 still blows with a passionate spirit rare in performers a fraction of his age. But the ravages of time and throat problems have impaired his once fine vocals. The Minneapolis quartet A Night in the Box will open with its punkish, hard-stomping blend of blues, rock, bluegrass, and gospel. All ages. 7 p.m. $20/$25 at the door. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

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