Lucinda Williams, Matthew Sweet, and more

Mysterious warbler Jolie Holland
Scott Irvine



Matthew Sweet

First Avenue

In the early '90s, Matthew Sweet seemed to be poised for something big, a power-pop revivalist whose albums Girlfriend and Altered Beast made him an MTV alt-rock fixture. But by the end of the decade, he'd settled into a less lucrative but more comfortable setting as a cult artist, eventually reaching big-in-Japan status (his 2003 album Kimi Ga Suki * Raifu was created for just that very audience) and trading in megastardom for creative freedom. Now that we've had high school kids who were born after "Girlfriend" came out rocking out to Sweet's biggest hit on Guitar Hero II, Sweet has the golden opportunity to connect with a new generation of fans, and his new album, Sunshine Lies (Shout Factory), should give them a good idea of where he's been all this time. The Bridges open. 18+. $20. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Nate Patrin



The Rumble Strips

7th St. Entry

There's no better way to ward off the impending chill in our bones than listening to the Rumble Strips. The English band's rambling pack of horn players create tones so brassy and bright they could threaten to poke holes in any rain clouds, whether English or Minnesota-bred. The keyboards are appropriately woozy. The guitars are just punchy enough for dancing. And singer Charlie Waller howls in desperation like this is the last sunny day on Earth. Debut album Girls and Weather (Universal/Island) is packed with single-worthy tunes begging to be sung in the round after several frothy pints. So, skip your itchy heels to their 7th St. Entry set—then let's all bust out and race to someplace graced with palm trees and those cute ladies in coconut bras. With Birdmonster and Marvelle. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Erin Roof

Lucinda Williams

First Avenue

In any genre, there are artists who succeed by skillfully hewing to the rules of that genre; then there are folks whose success is built on a need to tweak, tease, or break those rules at every opportunity. In country music, these alchemists and tinkerers can be hard to find, overshadowed by Nashville's formulaic behemoth. But Lucinda Williams has never been shy about taking a stroll into blues or rock 'n' roll, or thumbing her nose at the country equation in favor of delicately crafted poetry. Nonetheless, her sound is rooted deep in Southern soil and the sad stories and sharp twang that come with it. Having cemented her place in the country canon with the beautifully wistful 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Williams could easily have played a larger venue than First Ave, but has chosen instead to grace the Twin Cities with twin shows, two weeks apart (one on Nov. 5): It's two chances to see a genuine country legend in a venue a little closer to a honky-tonk than Mystic Lake Casino. With Buick 6. 18+. $30. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N, Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ward Rubrecht


FRIDAY 10.24

Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson

Target Center

There's a lot of firepower of the old star-making machinery concentrated onstage during this unique, collaborative tour by veteran country hit-maker Reba McEntire and initial American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Both singers and both of their bands will be onstage throughout the show as each performs her hits and favorites, one singing backup for the other. Interspersed will be straight duets, including "Because of You," the Clarkson tune that was the first single from Reba's star-studded 2007 album, Duets (MCA). Recording that song and a subsequent joint appearance on CMT Crossroads reportedly revealed a spark between the two that led to the current tour. It comes at a transitional time for Clarkson, who chafed at the bit when groomed as a post-AI pop diva and subsequently released the darker, rock-oriented My December (RCA). Reba, of course, has achieved one-name celebrity as a country new traditionalist who often ventures into pop, in addition to a thriving acting career that has embraced Broadway, films, and TV. That each performer's ego could survive a shared marquee is a victory for both's legions of fans. $49.50-$59.50. 7 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900. —Rick Mason

Wayne "The Train" Hancock

Lee's Liquor Lounge

Wayne Hancock is one of the true stars of the Lone Star State. There's a popular bumper sticker in Texas that says, "I'm not from Texas but I got here as fast as I could." Well, Hancock's music kind of has the same effect. You may not like country music, you may not think you like country music, but then you hear the man's rockabilly sensibility and his Hank Williams twang, and all those years of hating on country music? Melted away. Get there as fast as you can. You'll be greasing your hair and painting flames on the side of your car any day now. If nothing else, the steel guitar will have you at "Howdy." If you can't make Friday, he's also playing Saturday night at the American Legion in Byron. With Joe Buck Yourself—country's version of Marilyn Manson—and Bitch and Brown. $15. 9 p.m. 101 Glenwood Ave., Minneapolis; 612.338.9491. —Jessica Chapman



Jolie Holland

Cedar Cultural Center

Jolie Holland's whippoorwill voice sounds even more striking and unusual in the relatively conventional setting of an alt-country rock album, her new The Living and the Dead (Anti-), than it did on three previous solo works of ghost-world folk and jazz. The former Be Good Tanyas member doesn't just warble, she wobbles and whirls, curling in around each note and sending out a decaying gravity-radio pulse when she lands on one. This constant falter lent her an air of found mystery on her 2003 debut, a cultivated cool on her weaker follow-up, and nostalgic pop promise on 2006's Springtime Can Kill You. One hopes the local freak-folk/hip-hop nexus around Roma di Luna and Kill the Vultures took note of Holland's collaboration last year with rapper Sage Francis. But The Living and the Dead is much more effective and startling just by vaguely rocking, her husky Texas mush-mouth so sexy and clear amid guitars that you wonder what she'd do in a band like Heartless Bastards—maybe become the next Elvis (never mind Norah Jones), if she had the slightest inclination to do so. With Herman Dune. $18/$20 at the door. 8 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Peter S. Scholtes


MONDAY 10.27

Jazz Implosion in the Clown Lounge

Turf Club

Every Monday night, troves of jazz aficionados and music geeks descend to the basement of the Turf Club for an event lovingly referred to as Jazz Implosion. Usually featuring the three members of Fat Kid Wednesdays (saxophonist Michael Lewis, bassist Adam Linz, and drummer JT Bates) and occasionally adding a few surprise guests, this weekly series is a low-key and intimate way to catch some of the Twin Cities' finest experimental jazz musicians. And given Fat Kid Wednesdays' tendency to overlap with a variety of revered local acts (Lewis tours with Dosh; Bates plays with James Buckley Trio, Alpha Consumer, Face Candy, and about a million others), you never know who might show up on any given Monday. Recommended for those looking for a new excuse to stay out late on a school night and rub elbows with the best of the best. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Andrea Swensson

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