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The week's best concerts: Dec. 21-27

Sounds of Blackness will be at the Pantages on Saturday.

Sounds of Blackness will be at the Pantages on Saturday. Photo courtesy of the artist

We have reached the “annual holiday concerts” time of year, but there are a couple surprises in this roundup as well.

Friday 12.21

The Jayhawks @ First Avenue
Across green grass and blue earth, Minneapolis’ own Jayhawks have endured rainy days and irregular surfacings by co-founder Mark Olson to survive more than 30 years as alt-country pioneers and Americana stalwarts. As the ’Hawks gear up for their annual year-end local gigs, the band continues to build on its strengths, including its distinctive, now more eclectic Midwestern rustic jangle and Gary Louris’ perceptive songwriting. The latter’s compositions for other artists get Jayhawks treatment on this year’s Back Roads and Abandoned Motels. Also Saturday. Openers: Chastity Brown and Tuomo & Markus Friday; Thomas Abban Saturday. 17 p.m. 8+. $35. 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis. More info here. Rick Mason

Immortal Technique @ Cedar Cultural Center
In the 2000s, the Lima-born, Harlem-bred rapper Immortal Technique became synonymous with intensely political lyricism, a style that grew out of his studies of revolutionary ideology during a prison sentence and, after his parole, his arrival as a formidable opponent in the world of battle rap. While his ambitions as a rhymer have sometimes hurt the bounce and flow of his music, songs like "Dance with the Devil" are cult classics. With support from Maria Isa, Muja Messiah, and more, Friday's concert raises funds in support of the fight against the Line 3 pipeline.8 p.m. $20/$25. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis. More info here.—Michael Madden

Complete Friday music listings here.

Saturday 12.22

Mike Dreams @ 7th St Entry
He just turned 30, but Mike Dreams has been a steady presence in Minneapolis hip-hop for nearly a decade, earning various big looks (like his music being featured on the Starz series Power) and, ultimately, a resume that justifies the name of his new album: Young Vet. Slated for release on Friday, it follows 2016's impressive, introspective Pardon My Vices, where Mike deftly maneuvered between classic hip-hop sounds and newer trap and electronic styles alongside fellow MN MCs like Muja Messiah and Destiny Roberts. With Dom Milli, Big Homie AK, and more.18+. 9 p.m. $10. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis. More info here .—Michael Madden

Sounds of Blackness @ Pantages Theatre
If you’re serious about Christmas music, an honest-to-god gospel choir is a pretty righteous way to go. Especially when ace arranger Gary Hines is guiding his triple-Grammy-winning Sounds of Blackness through this raucously theatrical, contemporary adaptation of the poemA Visit from St. Nicholas, entitled, The Night Before Christmas—A Musical Fantasy. 8 p.m. $28.50-$58.50. 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. More info here.—Britt Robson

Heiruspecs @ Turf Club
December 22 was the date the Mayor of St. Paul declared it Heiruspecs Day in the City back in 2007, abetted by memorable concerts and the limited edition release of Ten Years Strong. Now at 21 years strong, and counting, the hip-hop band that is more Roots than Doomtree is staging its “Holiday Classic” with Lady Midnight and DJ Adrian Perryman as openers. 7:30 p.m. $12 ($15 at the door). 1601 University Ave., St. Paul. More info here.—Britt Robson

John Raymond Standards Trio @ Black Dog
The second Raymond gig in as many nights finds him nestling into familiar songbooks with the sublime timekeeping of first-call local drummer Phil Hey and the versatile bassist Graydon Peterson, both of whom have released records on their own as leaders and will be worthy foils for Raymond’s innovative treatments of tried-and-true material. 7 p.m. Suggested donation $10. 308 East Prince St., St. Paul. More info here.—Britt Robson

58 Belvedere @ Icehouse
Guitarist Dean Granros received a lot of love from the NYC press when he played in Vector Families at the Winter Jazzfest in 2016. His ’58 Belvedere is more of a straight-ahead electric power trio with the occasional, thrilling, squiggling detours. This free, early evening show is a great way to tuck into your first egg nog on the Saturday before Christmas. 6:30 p.m. No cover charge. 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis. More info here.—Britt Robson

Complete Saturday music listings here.

Sunday 12.23

Complete Sunday music listings here.

Monday 12.24

Complete Monday music listings here.

Tuesday 12.25

The Bad Plus @ Dakota
As idiosyncratic, locally weaned jazz mavericks the Bad Plus settle in for their annual Christmas week residency, the most obvious change is Philadelphia pianist Orrin Evans replacing departed co-founder Ethan Iverson. Also clear is Evans’ natural synergy with drummer Dave King, bassist Reid Anderson, and the band’s quirky geometry. The new lineup’s first album, Never Stop II, is a vibrant, all-originals affair reveling in the Plus’ characteristic eccentric blend of jazz virtuosity, surrealist perspective, and punk spirit. Anderson’s emblematic leadoff “Hurricane Birds” is an incisive swirl of stormy chords, warped melodies, and angular rhythms. Through Friday. 7 & 9 p.m. $40—$45. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. More info here.—Rick Mason

Run Westy Run @ 7th St Entry
Run Westy Run's usual Christmastime shows in the Twin Cities serve as annual reminders of their slowly-but-steadily growing legend. Most of the Minneapolis rockers' music remains officially unavailable online, but fans get the occasional dose of sweet, sweet nostalgia whenever, say, old concert footage newly surfaces on YouTube, and the band remain a sharp live act with semi-regular performances at other times of year. (Sadly, founding member Kyle Johnson passed away in 2014.) With Sapphire. Also at the Turf Club on Wednesday. 18+. 7 p.m. $20/$25. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis. More info here.—Michael Madden

Complete Tuesday music listings here.

Wednesday 12.26

Will Kjeer Trio @ Vieux Carre
Kjeer is classically-trained and jazz-astute, a pianist and charter member of the precociously talented young Twin Cities quartet Hoaxer. He writes well, and plays chords with an innovative panache that can glide between the wry brevity of Monk and the cavernous thunder of Tyner. An alum of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program at Kennedy Center in DC, he usually has fellow Dakota combo graduate drummer Ben Ehrlich in his trio. 8 p.m. $7. 408 St. Peter Street, St. Paul. More info here.—Britt Robson

Complete Wednesday music listings here.

Thursday 12.27

Candid Kid @ 7th St Entry
Together since 2014, the Minneapolis indie rockers Candid Kid are calling it quits with this finale performance. Though they didn't get around to releasing a full-length album, their two EPs, 2014’s Turtleneck and last year’s decidedly more frenetic and louder (yet still colorful) Blush, amount to a short but solid discography, and their absence going forward leaves a certain hole in the local rock scene. With Wingman and Go for Retro. 18+. 7 p.m. $8/$10. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis. More info here. Michael Madden

Davu Seru, Levi Schwartzberg & JC Sanford @ Khyber Pass
One of those improvisational gigs that is pretty much guaranteed to succeed. All three musicians are aggressive players with their own style, yet also good listeners and innovative accompanists. Then throw in the enticingly rare mix of instruments for such a small ensemble—drums (and cello?!), vibes, and trombone—and you’ve got a uniquely creative evening. 9:30 p.m. $5. 1571 Grand Ave., St. Paul. More info here.—Britt Robson

Complete Thursday music listings here.