Dolly Parton, Handsome Furs, Journey, and more

Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly!

Dolly Parton

Mystic Lake Casino on Wednesday 7.27

Would you believe, one of the albums of the year from Dolly Parton? Her sharp, down-home presence was ill-served by movies, yet working on a 2009 Broadway adaptation of 1980's 9 to 5 apparently reinvigorated her songwriting. Better Day combines her bluegrass and mainstream-country revivals of the past decade into a pop album of all-originals as consistent as Taylor Swift, at least until dipping into gooey run-off from the musical. The expressive clarity of her voice is undimmed (compared even to the feast of her 2009 box set, Dolly). And her Beatles-sized optimism, with "In the Meantime" offering an ultimate answer to end-timers, is as earned and wry as you'd expect coming from a plastic-surgery-enhanced 65-year-old whose actual "coat of many colors," from a childhood in the Tennessee mountains, hangs in Dollywood. Sold out. 7:30 p.m. 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake; 800.262.7799. —Peter S. Scholtes

Cass McCombs

7th St. Entry on Wednesday 7.27

Cass McCombs could very well be brilliant. A quote to that effect from the late, great John Peel gets bandied often within McCombs's airspace, and it's no chore to see why. For nine-odd years, the songwriter has been parrying easy description, making music whose connective tissue is more emotional intuition than empirical instrumentation or easily cited influence; not soft or hard-sounding, not folk or alt-country or pop, but sideways, somewhere. The one constant would be McCombs's voice: a warm, reedy coo that forms abstract shapes from perfectly comprehensible words, not particularly spectacular-sounding, but as useful as can be. McCombs is touring in support of his newest record, this year's Wit's End; you should go if only to hear the year's best song, "County Line," with your own two eyes. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Andrew Flanagan

Handsome Furs

Triple Rock Social Club on Wednesday 7.27

Now that Wolf Parade's march toward indie-rock deification has been brought to a halt by the band's announcement of an indefinite hiatus (read: breakup), member Dan Boeckner has found more time to devote to Handsome Furs. It's been time well spent. Wolf Parade's trend toward the opaque is in direct contrast to the Furs' relative directness, which aims for the gut level with big notions about art and freedom delivered in bursts of hyperactive drum machines and keyboards firing strings of laser-beam hooks. Boeckner's duo is politically minded, but you can forget a soapbox; they're shouting about their revolution from the dance floor. With Parlovr. 18+. $12/$15 at the door. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Ian Traas

Journey, Foreigner, and Night Ranger

Xcel Energy Center on Thursday 7.28

Controversially, the bands on this '80s-arena-rock triple-bill have decided to tour without playing a single one of their hits—just kidding! Though the groups keep recording and selling, the water-cooler appeal of their event lies in Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" threatening to become our national anthem after rising from dormancy, and the recognition that all matters of pop taste are ultimately settled in karaoke. So bring your car voice for Night Ranger's masterful "Sister Christian," Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" (what Dave Marsh called "the Sistine Chapel of cock rock"), and Journey's all-hook "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," but don't expect the original lead singers: Only Night Ranger still has theirs. All ages. $29.50-$127. 7 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. —Peter S. Scholtes

Big Business

Triple Rock Social Club on Friday 7.29

Fresh off playing with the Melvins on their recent retrospective tour, sludge-rock heavyweights Big Business return to Minneapolis on a co-headlining tour with the mighty Torche in what should be one of the heaviest shows to hit the West Bank all year. Big Business have evolved quite a bit over the years, swelling both their incendiary sound and also their lineup, recently adding another guitarist (Scott Martin of 400 Blows) to partner with Toshi Kasai, who joined the group a few years back. They've also formed their own record label, Gold Medal, which just released the Biz's Quadruple Single 12-inch, featuring four thunderous songs that are as blistering as anything in the band's stellar catalog. And while there are rumors that Kasai might not join them on this tour, you can trust that drummer Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren will bring enough rock on their own to more than make up for his absence. 18+. $14. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Erik Thompson

Lowertown Roots Music Festival

Mears Park on Saturday 7.30

The annual jazz extravaganza amid the leafy splendor of St. Paul's Mears Park now has a companion roots fest. What's being proclaimed as the first annual Lowertown Roots Festival will take a note from the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and feature a full day and evening of quality free music in Mears Saturday, plus related events in downtown clubs Friday. The artists in the roots fest's impressive inaugural lineup all have local connections and represent a broad array of rootsy genres. They include the traditional Mexican band Mariachi Flor Y Canto, silver-throated gospel singer Tonia Hughes (who also is lead singer of the Excelsior Chorale Ensemble), the veteran local bluegrass outfit Monroe Crossing, iconic blues duo Spider John Koerner and Tony Glover, and multiple-genre spanning violin master Randy Sabien (who ranges from jazz to classical while covering most stops in between). Saturday's headliner will be Iowa troubadour Greg Brown, one of the sharpest songwriters in the biz. Full lineup at All ages. Free. 1 to 10 p.m. 221 E. Fifth St., St. Paul; 651.632.5111. —Rick Mason

Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers Band

Dakota Jazz Club on Saturday 7.30

Ray Manzarek founded the Doors with Jim Morrison, and his keyboards were arguably the glue that held the band together. Many of his keys phrases themselves reached icon status, such as the intro to "Light My Fire." Roy Rogers is a respected veteran blues bandleader, producer, and killer slide guitarist, whose credits include working with John Lee Hooker. Their new collaborative album, Translucent Blues, is very nearly a masterpiece that emphasizes Doors-like driving roadhouse blues-rock tinged with noirish overtones. The interplay between Manzarek's instantly recognizable keyboards and Rogers's slide is particularly delicious, and the addition of George Brooks's filthy tenor sax on wicked tunes like the addiction-shedding epic "Kick" is just gravy. Numerous allusions to Doors songs surface throughout, and Manzarek's deep, messianic vocals suggest Morrison in phrasing and tone, as well as a few actual Doors classics. $35. 8 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

Johnny Winter

Famous Dave's BBQ on Sunday 7.31

Pretty much the prototype for the heroic, Texas blues-rock guitar slinger, Johnny Winter caused a sensation with his fleet fingers when he emerged from Beaumont in the late '60s, and his rep was solidified with a sizzling performance at Woodstock. His early success was complicated by a vicious heroin addiction, but he has endured over the decades, his artistry intact, periodically resurfacing with a higher profile. That's likely to happen again in September with the release of Roots, his second studio album in some 15 years. It will focus on nuggets from blues icons who initially inspired Winter, including Robert Johnson, T-Bone Walker, and Elmore James, and will feature a slew of guests, such as Sonny Landreth, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, and brother Edgar. Winter is reportedly healthier than he's been in decades and should lead a fire-breathing quartet. With Moses Oakland. $25. 6 p.m. 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.822.9900. —Rick Mason