Critics' Picks: Janet Jackson, West Bank Music Festival, and more

Retribution Gospel Choir perform at the second annual West Bank Music Festival

Retribution Gospel Choir perform at the second annual West Bank Music Festival

West Bank Music Festival

various West Bank venues on Saturday 8.20

Now in its second year, the West Bank Business Association's addition to the summer block-party circuit will spill out onto Cedar Avenue when the West Bank thoroughfare is closed down to make room for a mid-street stage. Fresh out of the recording studio, where she has spent the summer helping to wrap up Doomtree's second full-length, full-crew release, No Kings, Dessa is returning to once again headline the West Bank Music Festival, along with Alan Sparhawk's driving rock vehicle Retribution Gospel Choir; Haley Bonar's visceral, lo-fi side project Gramma's Boyfriend; blissfully reckless blues-rockers the Goondas; and the return of Katie and Michael Gaughan's interactive musical project Brother and Sister, who will kick off a day of activities on the West Bank by leading fans through a multimedia scavenger hunt (see p. 27 of our A-List section for more details). Other venues getting into the mix will include the Triple Rock (which is hosting a Thin Lizzy tribute night), the Nomad, Palmer's, the Acadia Cafe, the Red Sea, Whiskey Junction, and AUX1, the new all-ages venue that is a part of Republic (formerly Sgt. Preston's). 21+. $5 until 9:30 p.m.; $10 after 9:30 p.m. Gates open at 4 p.m. 501 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; full lineup and info at —Andrea Swensson

Nashville Pussy and the Dwarves

Triple Rock Social Club on Thursday 8.18

"Vulgar" is the operative word Thursday night at the Triple Rock. Nashville Pussy and the Dwarves represent different sonic styles, but both embrace the loud, the lewd, and the brash. Trash-metal rockers Nashville Pussy have made a career of AC/DC-fueled Southern rock that takes the old-boy's club of sex, booze, and rock 'n' roll to near parody levels. The Dwarves, meanwhile, are celebrating 25 years with 2011's Born Again record. Between the debauchery spewed from Blag Dahlia, Hewhocannotbenamed, and the rest of their rotating cast, their sound has never wavered far from the shock-rock-inspired punk that has ridiculed pretty much everybody and everything by this point—including themselves. Not a show for the easily offended. 21+. $15. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Loren Green

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic

Cabooze on Thursday 8.18

At an age when most artists are winding down (or retired for good), George Clinton is still active, still hitting the road, and still bringing the funk. Younger performers have grappled with the strains of constant touring, postponing or canceling events due to fatigue and sickness, but Mr. Funkadelic has shown no visible signs of slowing down over the course of a 50-year career. Clinton's recorded output has slowed, but he's always been at his most vital in a live setting, barrelling through an extensive list of classics in day-glo dreads and showing the new generation how a legend keeps hustling. Try to keep up, kids. 18+. $26/$30 at the door. 9 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Ian Traas

Janet Jackson

Orpheum Theatre on Friday 8.19

Janet Jackson's first Twin Cities show in 10 years is a homecoming of sorts for one of the bestselling pop artists of all time: Though born in Gary, Indiana, and raised in Los Angeles, the baby sister of Michael Jackson came into her own on Nicollet Avenue in south Minneapolis, recording 28 of the 34 hits collected on 2009's Number Ones there or in Edina with longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Her transition from angular-dance independence to candid sensual mischief in the '80s and '90s mirrored and amplified the opening of the American sexual mind. And she's persisted beyond the blip of Nipplegate, with R&B hits and a film career revived in the miniature industry that is Tyler Perry. This tour brings her remarkable string of great songs to a massively choreographed production reportedly as personal as it is spectacular, with special dedications in each city—will we get a Time cover? All ages. $67.50-$97.50. 8 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Peter S. Scholtes

Hippiefest 2011

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater on Sunday 8.21

There's enough baggage with just the name of this thing for several encyclopedias, beginning with such issues as cynicism, exploitation, and stereotyping. For the record, this hodgepodge of bands probably only tangentially relates to the hippie phenomenon, and then only because they existed in the same era. The nostalgia factor is huge, of course, but so many decades have passed since these guys' heydays that what you'll get is a total crapshoot besides some version of each's hits. Keyboardist Felix Cavaliere is likely the most reliable of the bunch. He's leading a group of non-original Rascals, one of the great blue-eyed soul groups of the '60s with immortal hits like "Groovin'" and "Good Lovin'." Cavaliere has kept up his chops in the interim in part on projects with the great Memphis guitarist Steve Cropper. Worst will definitely be Mark Farner, former guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad, whose lame, sledgehammer rock was abysmal from the get-go and likely hasn't improved. Plus, Farner is literally wrapping himself in the flag these days as the "Rock Patriot" and linking himself to wacko libertarian politics and the NRA. Who-really-knows territory includes keyboardist Gary Wright, an original Spooky Tooth who later had a big solo hit with "Dream Weaver"; guitarist Rick Derringer, who had a monster hit with "Hang On Sloopy" while leading the McCoys in '65 and later issued some decent, meat-and-potatoes rock 'n' roll; and guitarist Dave Mason, a key early member of Traffic who had one great solo record in 1970's Alone Together. Best advice: Be up for Cavaliere, keep an open mind on the others, run for your life when Farner hits the stage. All ages. $52. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason

Ben Sidran and Irv Williams

Dakota Jazz Club on Monday 8.22

This surprise collaboration between two of the classiest guys around should make for an extraordinary night at the Dakota. It's only a slight exaggeration to say Sidran has done everything. He's a singer, plays keyboards and vibes, writes songs and books, hosts TV shows, produced the likes of Van Morrison and Diana Ross, played with the Stones, was a key member of the Steve Miller Band, and is equally prolific on the jazz side, favoring the type of cool swing associated with Mose Allison. Tenor saxophonist Irv Williams has been a fixture on the local jazz scene for more than six decades. Dubbed Mr. Smooth for his sublime tone and masterful subtlety, Williams has "retired" and issued his "final" album so many times it's impossible to keep track. This spring, at age 91, he put out another charmer, Duke's Mixture, featuring a handful of smart originals, covers of Irving Berlin, and his first recorded vocal on "Until the Real Thing Comes Along," which he also happened to sing in high school 75 years ago. "We'll be doing lots of cool jazz standards (that I probably will be singing for the first time)," Sidran said by email. "Hanging with Irv, who is such a gentleman and a suave entertainer, is always a jazz master class." Amen. $25. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason