Metric, PJ Harvey, Tower of Power, and more


The Levon Helm Band

Fitzgerald Theater

Levon Helm once sang and played drums and mandolin for a certain quintet that was so formidable it was simply dubbed the Band. It created rock for the ages, and lo these many ages later, Helm is still creating improbable, incandescent music, last year winning a Grammy for Dirt Farmer, his first solo album in a quarter-century—improbable because he had seemingly forever lost his voice to throat cancer. His Arkansas yowl miraculously restored, Helm is on a roll, and rolls into town with his superb band just ahead of the release of a new album, Electric Dirt. Like its predecessor, this earthy collection taps country, blues, folk, gospel, and good old rock 'n' roll, mixing originals with apt, critical covers, including the Dead's "Tennessee Jed" (a song Helm was seemingly born to sing), Muddy Waters's "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had," Carter Stanley's "White Dove," and the Staple Singers' "Move Along Train." The horns on two songs were arranged by Allen Toussaint, who also did the horns for the Band's "Life Is a Carnival" and live Rock of Ages album. Helm's current band includes several members of Ollabelle (daughter Amy Helm, bassist Byron Isaacs), plus multi-instrumentalist (and former Bob Dylan associate) Larry Campbell, Brian Mitchell on keyboards, and singer Teresa Williams (Campbell's wife). $55-$57. 7:30 p.m. 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651.290.1220. —Rick Mason


Bettye LaVette

Dakota Jazz Club

Although her résumé runs through four decades and includes numerous recordings (including some for big-timers like Atlantic and Motown) and even a few odd minor hits, Bettye LaVette's career flew under the radar for so long that even her cult status was minor league—undeservedly so, as it turned out. Avalanches of praise, including acknowledgment as one of the finest soul singers of her time, were heaped on LaVette when she finally achieved widespread recognition after Anti- released I've Got My Own Hell to Raise in 2005. She's a wonderful singer who wrings the emotion out of a lyric with smoldering intensity, essentially putting on a soul clinic during every performance. Although her repertoire widely embraces pop, rock, and country, she douses them all with soul power. The second album of her comeback was 2007's The Scene of the Crime, symbolically recorded with the Drive-By Truckers in Muscle Shoals, where she had cut an album in 1972 that went unreleased for 34 years. Recently she sang at President Obama's inauguration and jammed with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. At the Dakota she'll be backed by her four-piece band. $40 at 7:30 p.m.; $30 at 10 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason


Iris Dement

Cedar Cultural Center

Reclusive and anything but prolific, Iris Dement still ranks among the most remarkable singer-songwriters of her generation. Her splendid, timeless voice draws on some distinct combination of country, folk, and gospel. It's brittle yet resilient, conveying rare emotional qualities that embrace both naiveté and world-weariness in equal measures, adding up to something endearingly unique. Her writing evokes similar strains, displaying particular intimacy in her early work and later dealing with broader social and political issues. But there have only been four Dement albums in 17 years. The last was 2005's Lifeline, offering only one original among a collection of country-gospel tunes from her childhood. She'll perform solo at this rare appearance. Opening will be the Pines, the fine duo of Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt, who play an evocative blend of country, folk, and blues, and who originally hail from the same Iowa territory as Dement's husband, Greg Brown. All ages. $25/$28 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason



First Avenue

For Toronto's Metric, the road to this year's Glastonbury festival in the U.K. leads right through the Twin Cities. Touring in support of their fourth album, this year's Fantasies, Metric are receiving some of their greatest accolades as they continue across the U.S. Having gone gold in its native Canada, Fantasies has already spawned four singles, including the recently released fuzzy post-wave track, "Sick Muse." While the video for the song is fairly basic—it depicts the band playing in front of a white screen—it captures the charisma of lead singer Emily Haines. The bare-bones nature of the video goes a long way toward representing the creation of the album as well. The record was initially scrapped after the songs were tested in a live setting, but then they were rebuilt from the ground up. Though Haines and guitarist James Shaw are also members of the brilliant Broken Social Scene, Metric has served as their main outlet for over a decade. The band has received numerous honors in the past, including multiple Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) nominations, and its 2005 album, Live It Out, was nominated for the esteemed Polaris Music Prize. Sebastien Granger will open. 18+. $15/$17 at the door. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Chris DeLine

The Orange Mighty Trio (CD-Release)


Cedar Cultural Center

"Bluegrassical" is the fantasy term coined by the locally based Orange Mighty Trio for their particularly distinctive brand of music, which sure enough mashes up classical and bluegrass, as well as jazz and stray bits of world music. With references to Appalachia, Bach, Stephane Grappelli, and maybe Sun Ra skittering about, the OMT's all-instrumental stuff kind of sounds like the crew from Cold Mountain repaired to the parlor to play chamber music conceived on Mars. Violinist Zack Kline (who also plays in the Celtic-folk band Piper's Crow and spends a good bit of time in Chicago), pianist Mike Vasich, and bassist Nick Gaudette are all top-notch musicians who seem in particular sync to one another's quirks and are versatile enough to handle whatever their fervid imaginations come up with. For their first full-length CD, Infrastucture (whose release will be celebrated with this gig), those imaginations apparently were fired by expansion joints and transportation, suggesting either too much time on the road or overexposure to DOT news conferences. Regardless, it's spirited, evocative music that's far from pedestrian, ranging from the meditative, somewhat ominous "Point A" and lyrical "Waltz of the Traffic Patterns" to the darkly frenetic "Driving with Your Eyes Open" and outer limits hoedown of "Orange Line." Opening will be Mississippi Peace, a new band featuring local music vets Christopher Cunningham (guitar, vocals), Michelle Kinney (cello), Melissa Matthews (violin), and Graham O'Brien (drums). All ages. $12/$15 at the door. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

PJ Harvey and John Parish

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

These thick-as-thieves Brits—chameleonic firebrand Polly Jean Harvey and producer/multi-instrumentalist John Parish—may have a blast together in the studio, but the results of their collaborative unions are spotty at best. 1996's Dance Hall at Louse Point brought us rollicking Harvey lite at a time when that was the last thing Harveyheads wanted or needed; we were still zooming on '93's brute Rid of Me and '95's muted, wicked To Bring You My Love. Yet on the heels of '07's theatrical, restrained White Chalk, nasty, uncompromising A Woman a Man Walked By finds the pair making hard and cruel with the Harvey we've been craving for quite some time now. Go figure, right? Maybe these two wandering spirits were meant for each other. And they're wandering into your back yard, so don't miss 'em—you might not have another go at 'em until, like, 2020. All ages. $33. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Ray Cummings


The Aggrolites

Varsity Theater

Like a Dap-Kings for late-'60s reggae with some Meters-style funk thrown in, L.A.'s organ-pumping Aggrolites have been mastering a musical moment for many years longer than that moment actually lasted—namely, the raw and jumpy period of Black Power awakening between rock-steady's last sigh in '68 and the roots deceleration of '71. This is "skinhead reggae" to Trojan Records buyers, named for the Jamaican sound's most fervent U.K. audience at the time. But few if any paleface short-hairs have picked up instruments and made it their own before now, or at any rate reached the obsessive apogee of "The Sufferer," an uncanny tribute to that era's sonics complete with Lynn Taitt-style guitar, and the most persuasive track off the band's beautifully recorded The Aggrolites IV. Formed in 2001 to back ska legend Derrick Morgan in the studio, the former Rhythm Doctors and friends have since collaborated with Prince Buster, the late Phyllis Dillon, and Rancid's Tim Armstrong. If Toots Hibbert's touring band catches the flu, he knows whom to call. For now, here's a great live show for fans of any reggae vintage. 18+. $13/$15 at the door. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Peter S. Scholtes


Tower of Power

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

For some 40 years, Tower of Power's wickedly tight horns have been churning out classic R&B and soul, both on the group's own albums and backing up a virtual who's-who of A-list artists stretched over those decades, from Elton John and Bonnie Raitt to Aerosmith and Michelle Shocked. Founding saxophonists Emilio Castillo and Doc Kupka still head up a 10-piece outfit that also includes long-time members Francis Rocco Prestia on bass and drummer David Garibaldi, as well as the latest in a succession of singers, Larry Braggs, who can more than hold his own in comparison to '60s- and '70s-era classic soul voices. That was the then-Oakland-based TOP's most productive hit-making period, when a series of accomplished albums yielded such enduring nuggets as "You're Still a Young Man," "So Very Hard to Go," and "What Is Hip?" TOP's new, self-released Great American Soulbook tackles covers for the first time: a dozen soul classics from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Sam & Dave, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett, done up with the horns bristling and vocal guest shots from Sam Moore, Tom Jones, Joss Stone, and Huey Lewis. With Stephanie Devine. All ages. $31. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason

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