The Jayhawks, Best New Bands, Lyrics Born, and more

The Jayhawks return to First Avenue for a two-night stand
Steve Cohen

The Jayhawks

Saturday 1.29 and Sunday 1.30 at First Avenue

With a new album mostly finished, and the recent release of expanded (and remastered) reissues of their beloved records Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass, the Jayhawks have managed to captivate the music world once again. With the reconciliation of longtime collaborators Gary Louris and Mark Olson, the band members are newly inspired and rejuvenated, and they obviously have an eager audience waiting for them, as evidenced by how quickly their small U.S. tour has sold out (the opening night at First Ave is sold out as well, but there are still tickets available for the recently added second show). Fans can expect a thorough examination of both those classic albums spread over the course of the two-night stand, as well as plenty of new songs sprinkled in, which the group feels really positive about. These sets of shows, and the release of the new record (which should be out sometime this summer), should cause both fans and critics alike to shift their focus back to the stately, elegant music that the Jayhawks make, instead of their tempestuous history. Twin Cities music fans have patiently dreamed of this full-fledged reunion for quite a while now, and these shows will hopefully be just the start of a long, prolific period for a band receiving a truly deserved extended moment in the sun. With Rogue Valley. 21+ Saturday; 18+ Sunday. $30. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Erik Thompson

Best New Bands of 2010

Wednesday 1.26 at First Avenue

Like the Goondas' Brenden Green, the best new bands of 2010 are all over the map. They range from wildly theatrical to mesmerizingly melancholic and psychedelic. The Goondas are the wildest, most raucous live band the Twin Cities have seen in years, reminiscent of early Iggy or the Stones. Their entertaining shows are rife with unpredictability—varying amounts of breakage, loss of clothing, the occasional missing lead singer—as they perform great, stompin' swamp-blues punk-rock songs. Pink Mink, fronted by punk-rock veterans Christy Hunt and Arzu Gokcen, hit the ground running like an "Earthquake on the Loose" the moment Hunt decided not to hang up her rock 'n' roll shoes. Hastings 3000 is an amazing one-man-band who mixes out-of-this-world guitar skills with blood-boiling heavy stomping rhythms. Phantom Tails are an indescribably fun, weird post-punk amalgam, their catchy songs mixing light and dark vibes in mysterious ways. BNLX duo Ed and Ashley Ackerson (plus a ghost drummer) provide extremely satisfying noise-rock compositions complete with mesmerizing visual elements. BadNraD, a.k.a. the keytar-playing, shredding genre-bender Jake Sullivan, brings the best of the '80s and the future, providing auralgasms via his funky, bad-ass music and live dance shows. And Grant Cutler and the Gorgeous Lords draw listeners in with Cutler's rich vocals and dark, sonorous drone-pop-scapes. Be prepared to dance, and watch out for flying Goondas! 18+. $7. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Cyn Collins

Freedy Johnston and Darden Smith

Thursday 1.27 at Turf Club

This is a smart pairing of superb songwriters, both closing in on 50, who eschew flash for richly nuanced material as astute and clever in observations as deeply insinuating music. Freedy Johnston, whose "Bad Reputation" floated on the pop airwaves in the early '90s, came back last year with a gem, Rain on the City, his first album of new material since 2001. His sometimes languid, unaffected Midwestern voice closely inhabits melancholic tales tempered with glimmers of sunlight, like the title track, while riding luminous melodies in eclectic contexts ranging from folk/pop to samba to crackling power pop. Darden Smith vividly evokes the windswept grandeur of the West Texas desert on another diamond in the rough, Marathon, which like that country is as lean and hard as the lives he depicts. Smith's exquisitely spare, sculpted arrangements are flecked with steel guitar, Tex-Mex accordion, mariachi horns, and wiry guitar as piercing as the wind. 21+. $15. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Rick Mason

John Hammond

Thursday 1.27 at Dakota Jazz Club

Although John Hammond is a New York City native, Mississippi Delta mud runs through his veins. For just about a half-century, Hammond, the son of famed producer John Hammond Sr., has been playing country blues with the gritty conviction of someone raised in the cotton fields, his soulful, hair-raising howls accompanied by wonderfully prickly guitar work and the piercing whine of his harmonica. After several years concentrating on an electric blues band, Hammond recorded a solo acoustic set of mostly blues classics amid the refined acoustics of a Manhattan church. The resulting Rough & Tough was nominated for a Grammy last year, while Hammond is currently up for the 2011 Blues Music Awards' Acoustic Artist of the Year. $25. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

5th Annual TC Hip Hop Awards

Friday 1.28 at First Avenue

Respect the underground—or at least enjoy it. Previous TC Hip Hop Awards have been great showbiz as well as great hip hop, showcasing hot street talent you might not notice otherwise in short-attention-span doses. Last year's was good right up until host Boima Freeman got in a fight, thus ending the ceremonies early, but First Avenue invited the event back, and we trust hosts Tee Moore and will keep their cool. With Maria Isa, I Self Devine, No Bird Sing, Paris Bennett, Chrishan, Young Rocky, Illuminous 3, Sick, Anchormen, and many more, plus Special Dark on the ones and twos. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Peter S. Scholtes


Friday 1.28 at State Theatre

The two-decade evolution of Guster has seen them go from Tufts undergrads playing robust folk on acoustic guitars and bongos to the polished, pure-pop prestidigitation of the quartet's new Easy Wonderful. The group's unabashed populism permeates every pore of EW: gushing lush harmonies, gaudy hooks infused with sonic sunshine, plus sweeping, multi-tiered production. Overflowing with infectiousness, Guster's sound borrows elements from '50s and '60s folk and pop, including a massive dose from the Beach Boys, especially in the vocals and spacious production. Guster's most distinctive trait, however, is the ambiguous quality of their songs, which are often laced with dark suggestions of grim forces at work, belying the radiant music. All ages. $25.50-$31. 8 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

Lyrics Born

Friday 1.28 at Cabooze

With his wife Joyo Velarde, Bay Area rapper Tom Shimura has recorded some of the more memorable rap songs that craft original funk from scratch rather than sample the classics, and he's proven one of the more commanding live-band acts in hip hop. He's also a great voice, warmly scratchy yet sure, and so exact in his rhythms and ambitious in his rhymes that his best music might be what he makes while seeming to take his ease—a rap performed as a phone conversation between him and the Gift of Gab, for instance. Last year's As U Were was a misfire—a concept album reaching for the '80s that seemed unaware Top 40 beat him to it. But live, he's a legend. With Keys N Krates and Shoeless Revolution. 18+. $14/$17 at the door. 8:30 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. — Peter S. Scholtes

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First Avenue

701 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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