My Morning Jacket and more

In the secret garden with Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric



Liam Finn

7th St. Entry

New Zealander Liam Finn undeniably has inherited the art of crafting insidiously clever pop tunes from his dad, Neil Finn of Crowded House and Split Enz fame. Liam's solo debut, I'll Be Lightning (Yep Roc), released last January, is in fact packed with loads of sly hooks and littered with Beatlesesque elements. But he's hardly a clone of his father or the Liverpudlians, favoring arrangements full of surprising twists and turns, and an occasional tendency to drift into relatively spare introspection, as on the wistful "Remember When." There's a lot of effervescent stuff, too, such as the playful, infectious "Lead Balloon" and the seductively Fab Four-like title track. Finn did virtually everything on Lightning, earning favorable comparisons to Paul McCartney's early solo recordings. On this, his first headlining tour, Finn will be an almost one-man band, using tape loops and playing all the instruments, with only the assistance of backup singer/autoharpist Eliza-Jane Barnes. Opening will be London's the Veils, led by Finn Andrews, who also grew up in New Zealand. His growly, unsettled voice stretches archly over pop-rock conceits darker and more haunted than the other Finn's. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason



My Morning Jacket

Orpheum Theatre

Louisville's My Morning Jacket has had an extraordinary journey in the decade since it was launched with a predominantly alt-country sound with lashings of Southern rock. By the time Evil Urges (ATO) was released this year, MMJ had become not only one of the most eclectic bands of the moment, but also among the most accomplished and satisfyingly experimental. Picking up where 2005's wide-ranging Z left off, Urges squeezes a peculiarly signature sound out of a cauldron writhing with dozens of musical threads, fusing the group's initial inclinations with pure pop, electro-funk, spacey synthesizer clouds, country, classic soul, and seemingly everything in between. There are spooky psychedelic melodies ("Touch Me I'm Going to Scream"), bristling rock 'n' roll ("Aluminum Park"), raging funk with Princely overtones ("Highly Suspicious," including Jim James's amazing falsetto). Still, MMJ's sound has a surprising overall unity—in the band's relentless quest for fashioning unique configurations out of familiar elements, as well as in the earthy, common-sense philosophical thrust of James's lyrics. $36. 8 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason



Ani DiFranco

State Theatre

More a movement than an actual person, Ani DiFranco is many things to many people: a spearhead of the modern feminist revolution, an unassuming cultural icon, an unwavering and supportive voice for those seeking release from political frustration and/or heartbreak. She's a cutesy jazz singer in cargo pants, an accomplished guitar picker who commands audiences with a blush and a scoff. And though she has so much to be proud of—two decades of relentless touring and recording behind her ever-evolving folk image, her own successful independent label, her own music venue, and the release of her 20th studio album, Red Letter Year, out this week—there isn't much that you'll find this righteous babe bragging about. It's that kind of everywoman attitude that can make entire rooms full of DiFranco fans feel like they are hanging out on a friend's back porch swilling wine and singing along to favorite oldies—and it's a good reason to catch this little folk-singer-that-could as she sweeps through town this weekend. With local hip-hop and spoken word phenom Dessa. $36-$39. 8 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Andrea Swensson

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby

7th St. Entry

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby have released a new, self-titled album, featuring a cute little single called "Here Comes My Ship." In this already packed-to-the-gills night of stellar music in the Twin Cities (see Weezer, Ani DiFranco, and even the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers) some finely-tuned music lovers will gladly pass up all that righteous glory to hear Wreckless Eric sing "Whole Wide World," one of the greatest rock songs of all time, live. Amy Rigby, legendary in her own right, has had a long career crafting songs full of funny, clever lyrics and a certain knowing whimsy. In a way, it's no surprise that this pair ran off to France last year and got married. The meld of both artists' quirky and unique bodies of work on the new record, combined with their large separate bodies of work, makes it just that much more compelling to go. Beyond, of course, that one amazingly perfect rock song. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jen Paulson



Liz Phair

First Avenue

In 1993, she exploded onto the still-burgeoning alternative scene with Exile in Guyville, an album full of songs about sex, a woman's right to be a sexual object, and the ability to have many bedroom partners and not be referred to as a slut, and generally resembling your friend's ultra-hip older sister with whom you had no shot at a date, no matter how many times you asked. It was a sexually charged album, to say the least, but she played it off beautifully. She never looked especially sexy in public, which created a strange dichotomy: How can this fairly frumpy-looking girl (in a hot-librarian sort of way) be so frank about all of this? Are these stories as real as she claims? There was a bit of a backlash, fans came and went with her subsequent releases, and then when 2003's self-titled album was released she made the "mistake" of fully embracing her sexuality, appearing half-dressed in a couple of lad mags while fully alienating much of her core fan base. Which was unfair, considering her fans had encouraged the move for years—what's that saying about the grass being greener? This tour shouldn't be about her redeeming herself as much as it should be about giving her fans a shot at redemption. 18+. $25. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Pat O'Brien



Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

The brainchild of three brothers from Mexico City, Sacbé is an ever-evolving trio whose sound is as varied as the life experiences of each of its members. Pianist Eugenio Toussaint is an accomplished composer who has worked with musicians like Herb Alpert and Paul Anka and has spent significant time in Mexico City, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis; brother Enrique, a world traveler rooted in White Bear Lake, is a self-taught bassist who cites Jaco Pastorius as a major influence; and drummer Fernando lives in Mexico City, where he performs with his own jazz/funk groups, most recently Aguamala. The brothers have performed together as Sacbé for over 30 years, combining a mutual love of Latin-American music and rock 'n' roll with influences as far-reaching as African, Asian, and Brazilian music, but what makes their performances so unforgettable is the seeming effortlessness with which each performer plays off one another. It's the kind of unity that comes from a lifetime of camaraderie and real-life brotherhood, and it's the reason why this rare local performance by one of Mexico's finest jazz combos shouldn't be missed. $15. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Andrea Swensson



The NOWnet

Minnesota Opera Center

Conceived as a forward-looking ensemble concentrating on the original compositions of its illustrious members, the NOWnet is a flexible group featuring some of the finest and most adventurous jazz musicians in the Twin Cities. This performance marks the formal resurrection of the group previously called Jazz Is NOW!, which went on hiatus in 2005 due to bandleader Jeremy Walker's health problems. On hand will be the band's core unit: pianist Walker, renowned bassist Anthony Cox, trumpeter par excellence Kelly Rossum, drummer Kevin Washington, and saxophonists Scott Fultz and Chris Thomson. The same crew gave a sneak preview of things to come last March, offering restless, probing, thoroughly contemporary material that often swung mightily, eddied in thoughtful reveries, and tapped a wide array of jazz (and sometimes blues and country) roots. The contexts were invariably fresh, often challenging, and laced with subtleties that maneuvered their way around intriguing twists and tangents. The Jazz Is NOW! organization has big plans for both the ensemble and myriad local jazz endeavors, and it seems to be off to an impressive (re-)start. $10-$15. 8 p.m. 620 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612.333.2700. —Rick Mason

Robert Pollard's Boston Spaceships

Turf Club

If you expected Robert Pollard to ride quietly into the sunset after the dissolution of Guided By Voices in 2004, you were sorely mistaken. After more than two decades, one of the world's most prolific songwriters must have such a quantity of material in storage, it would keep his grandchildren busy if it were to all be recorded. After approximately 4,791 GBV albums and roughly half that amount in solo releases, Pollard, with his new band—which includes former GBVer Chris Slusarenko and the Decemberists' John Moen—offers up Brown Submarine. Much of the album is new but, according to Pollard, includes older songs that just didn't fit into his other projects, which, when you listen to the album, seems strange. It's much like what you would expect: lo-fi weirdness, resembling the Who's Who's Next recorded on a shoestring budget—in short, it sounds like much of the work Pollard has been releasing for his entire career. Ultimately, you're never exceptionally surprised by any of it, but that's the fun: It never crosses the line into wholesale rip-off and still has the power to amaze even though you know what to expect. There's an undeniable magic in that. With the High Strung. 21+. $16. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Pat O'Brien

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