Mark Mallman, the Hold Steady, and more

Mark Mallman rallies the troops for his annual NYE bash
Nate Reiman

WED. 12.29

The Hold Steady

First Avenue

Meticulously detailed songs about addicts and liars have been Craig Finn's calling card since the Hold Steady first formed, but the slacker side of life that he's singing (or talking) about hasn't rubbed off on him. The band's album-a-year recording schedule and relentless touring bespeak a work ethic that borders on the compulsive, with new material expanding their already considerable popularity while keeping established fans satisfied. The unlikely pairing of hyper-literate lyrics with blue-collar bar-rock pushed the Hold Steady to the top of the indie world, and their sold-out First Ave show is testament that their hard work continues to pay off. With the Meat Puppets and Retribution Gospel Choir. 18+. $25. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

Michael Johnson

Dakota Jazz Club

"Bluer Than Blue" is fondly remembered locally for his many years living here before shuffling off to Nashville and scoring a slew of hits on the country charts through the 1980s. A onetime bandmate of John Denver in the Chad Mitchell Trio, Johnson is a superb guitarist, having studied with Spanish classical master Graciano Tarrego, as well as being an intelligent songwriter, fine singer, and adept song interpreter. His mellow, laid-back style belies sometimes surprising depth, as he roams among folk, pop, blues, and country. His annual holiday return to Minnesota will be a solo performance, likely touching on hits like "The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder" and "Almost Like Being in Love." Local jazz chanteuse Maud Hixson may drop by to lend an occasional hand. 7 p.m., $25. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

THU. 12.30

Los Straightjackets

Turf Club

Just in time to nurse that holiday hangover by catching a wave of vintage surf-rock, Los Straitjackets rocket in from sunny California, likely packing the Thinsulate versions of their trademark Mexican wrestling masks. The all-instrumental quartet fire up their guitars in the grand style of the Ventures and Dick Dale, romping through genre standards and originals with the ferocity of a twangy, tumultuous tsunami. Their latest, 2009's The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets, tends a bit more toward the garage than the surf, but the fuzzed-out guitars sound great whether doused in grease or salt water. And since it's only a few days after Christmas, the boys may dive into their extensive trick bag of holiday fare, perhaps lacing into "Groovy Old Saint Nick" and certainly "Soul'd Lang Syne." With the 99ers. 21+. $15. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Rick Mason

FRI. 12.31

All-Inclusive New Year's Eve with Tina & the B-Sides

Fine Line Music Café

Though based in Santa Barbara, soul-rocker Tina Schlieske has kept the home fires burning in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where she's returned more frequently in recent years to headline pride festivals, play holiday shows, and perform her amazing Elvis revue (with dancers and Trailer Trash backing), as well as reunite with her '90s band Tina & the B-Sides. Last year she released a best-of, The A-Sides, and a blues album, Evil Gal Blues (both on her own Movement Records). But her go-for-broke approach to singing is best experienced live, where both her legend and catalog of offbeat covers (e.g. a perfect "Billie Jean") continue to grow. With the Melismatics. 21+. $71/$76 at the door (includes all beverages). 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Peter S. Scholtes

New Year's Eve with Mark Mallman

Varsity Theater

With his 78-hour performance, Marathon 3, topping year-end lists as one of the most awe-inspiring (and downright inspiring) live concert experiences of 2010, Mark Mallman's annual New Year's Eve bash at the Varsity should make for one hell of a victory lap. As in years past, Mallman has curated a stellar lineup of local talent to help him ring in the new year: 2009 Picked to Click champions Red Pens will open along with folk-rock warbler Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps and high-energy dance-partiers Koo Koo Kangaroo. Mallman's sure to have a trick or two up his sleeve for this grand extravaganza (he drove a motor scooter over his keyboard one year and dangled upside down over the keys clad in a Hannibal Lecter-style mask another), and don't be surprised if everyone piles onstage at midnight to help with the final countdown into 2011. 18+. $14. 8 p.m. 1308 Fouth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Andrea Swensson

SAT. 1.1

Charles Neville Quartet

Dakota Jazz Club

Charles is the saxophone-wielding sibling of the Neville Brothers, New Orleans's First Family of second-line funk. He was in town a month ago leading bro Aaron's quintet, and returns with his own bop-oriented quartet, including singer Jessica Freeman and others based near his current Massachusetts digs. Charles was in New Orleans's '50s-era Dew Drop Inn house band, then hit the road with the likes of Little Walter, James Brown, and Ray Charles. His tenor is renowned for threading wickedly undulating lines through the Nevilles' stuff, but he's marvelously versatile: A fine jazz improvisor, grounded in funk and R&B, he's explored jazz-classical fusion as well as klezmer and Greek music, and lately collaborated with Senegalese kora player Youssoupha Sidibe. His quartet's repertoire will likely range from Monk to Gershwin, Jobim, and Charlie Parker. 7 p.m., $20. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Also Sunday —Rick Mason

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First Avenue

701 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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