Dallas Orbiter, Sam Keenan, and more

Saddle up to the bar with Americana sweethearts Romantica

Saddle up to the bar with Americana sweethearts Romantica



Sam Keenan

331 Club

Following a late-November date in Dubuque, Iowa, Minneapolis's Sam Keenan is returning home to play the 331 Club Wednesday night. Since releasing All the Dark Colored Markers Went Dry (Draw Fire) this spring, Keenan has played a diverse selection of shows in support of the album, including this Summer's Stone Arch Festival, Draw Fire Records' CMJ showcase in New York, and the Zombie Pub Crawl on the West Bank in October. Keenan recently challenged himself to the daunting task of writing and recording a new song each day throughout the entire month of November—an mp3 and accompanying lyrics for each song are available via Keenan's blog at, and those looking to hear more from this prolific, quirky indie rocker would do well to check it out. Offsetting Keenan's unusual bounce will be the unassuming acoustic melodies of local singer Molly Dean. The innocence of her sound reflects something of a bluesy neo-crooner, a perfect style for the acoustic Northeast club. 21+. Free. 9:30 p.m. 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.331.1746. —Chris DeLine


Dallas Orbiter

Hexagon Bar

Local reviewers have described Dallas Orbiter as a psychedelic, spaced-out group of retrogazers. And while there is certainly some degree of substance to those labels, the quintet can't be defined by hippie banter alone. There's a wealth of tracks from this year's Motorcycle Diagrams that condense those comparative labels and overshadow them with ingenuity. Throughout the band's album is a balance of old and new; pulsing keyboards offset gripping guitars, colliding with tasteful pop arrangements. All of which will be on display when the band hits up the Hexagon Bar Thursday night, playing with local instrumental band Build My Gallows High and Dante & the Lobster. 21+. Free. 10 p.m. 2600 27th Ave. S, Minneapolis; 612.722.3454. —Chris DeLine

FRIDAY 12.05

Gretchen Wilson


Contemporary, radio-friendly country has become a whole lot sunnier and well, let's face it, blonder all over again since Gretchen Wilson crossed critics' lines and became a redneck darling and breakout star with her album Here for the Party (Sony) in 2004, a time when the genre needed her perspective most. It's no real secret that her single "Don't Do Me No Good" failed to chart in the top 40 over the summer, and her newest album isn't even slated to be released until January, but with her gorgeous drawl and other-side-of-the-tracks savvy, she still belts it out with an undeniable talent and authenticity. No matter what the charts say, Wilson is a viable artist with the hope of a long career ahead of her—but in the upcoming months before her new release, I've got my fingers crossed for a rally, because there ain't nothin' more satisfying than a big-time comeback. With openers the Killer Hayseeds. 18+. $43. 7 p.m. 3090 Southlawn Dr., Maplewood; 651.779.6984. —Jen Paulson

Sissy Wish & Mystery Palace

Varsity Theater

Sissy Wish look like Crystal Castles with more fabric stretched across their bones and sound like the Sounds with a lower disco factor. The Norwegian duo, at times consumed with glitchy bliss, will moments later pop beats begging to be an indie hip-hop winter slammer. Sharing the bill are locals Mystery Palace. The two meet on the point of poppy vocals, but diverge in their willingness to explore surrounding space via circuit-bent idolatry and cobweb atmospherics. Sissy Wish may storm the veins of dance pop with their "reeeewoooo" synth noises, but Mystery Palace tread on more experimental scales. If this isn't a true dichotomy, it's at least a lovely pairing. With Zibra Zibra and Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. 18+. $8. 8:30 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. — Erin Roof


Triple Rock Social Club

This might be an affront, but there is something very Goo Goo Dolls about the Memphis band Lucero, who are playing two nights this weekend in celebration of the Triple Rock's 10th anniversary. Now, look, there's nothing wrong with that. Remember that song "Iris"? Maybe not, but you definitely liked it. Sure, there's also the slam-dunk Springsteen comparison, even a bit of Craig Finn and Uncle Tupelo thrown in there. But it's that underlying Goo Goo Dolls vibe that powers Lucero's mass appeal. Hey, isn't grunge on its way back anyway? The band is teaming up both nights with Minneapolis's palatable and popular Evening Rig in addition to fellow country-rock acts Prairie Sons on Friday and Rockford Mules on Saturday. 21+. $13/$15 at the door. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. Also Saturday —Jessica Chapman



Fine Line Music Cafe

In this economic climate, it's an especially fine testament to a band's appreciation for its fans that it puts on a free show, or, scratch that, free shows. Romantica doesn't need to have free shows. People will and do pay to see them. Yet for the second time in recent memory the local lovelies will be playing gratis at the Fine Line. So if you missed them the first time around, you have a pass. Not bad. Ben Kyle's tempered vocals win him rightful comparisons to Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams. The music is a rootsier Dan Wilson, a happier Damien Rice, with delicate bells and almost mariachi-sounding horns thrown in now and then. With Carrie Rodriguez. 21+. Free. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Jessica Chapman

MONDAY 12.08

John Lennon Tribute with Curtiss A

First Avenue

For the 29th time, the prodigious spirit of John Lennon will command the stage at First Avenue as alter-ego Curtiss A offers this year's installment of an extraordinary series of tributes reaching all the way back to that bleak night the former Beatle was gunned down outside his New York apartment. It's not that Curt is trying to impersonate Lennon in any way. It's just that they share a certain renegade rocker streak that flows through Mr. Almsted's interpretations of Beatles classics and nuggets from Lennon's solo career. As always, it will be a multi-hour magical mystery tour likely covering upward of 50 songs. And of course, like Henry the Horse, Curt will receive a little help from his friends, including his own band, the Jerks of Fate, and a revolving cast of local characters including many of those who were on hand in 1980. With Lennon also gracing the cover of the latest Rolling Stone, it'll be a confluence of yesterday...and today. 18+. $12. 6:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason


Aunt Dracula

Turf Club

More like Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde than any kind of vampire, Aunt Dracula play a monster mash of genres. The Philadelphians quickly melt from discordant pop, sounding like evangelicals bouncing notes off a funhouse mirror, into spazzy noise freak-outs, complete with werewolf howls only listenable after the midnight hour. They attack vocals with Les Savy Fav-style urgency, but back it up with loops and layers of pure musical adventurism. Even though Halloween has come and gone, Aunt Dracula is good any day of the year. Now if only we could find our ripped-up, booze-soaked Sarah Palin masks.... With Unicorn Basement and Chikadee Mountain Martyrs. 21+. $4. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Erin Roof