Thursday, May 19
Big Wu singer/guitarist Chris Castino finally gets the chance to celebrate his tragically overlooked debut solo LP, "Brazil," which came out right at the start of the pandemic featuring lushly arranged Americana tunes (8 p.m., Icehouse, $25-$30); Tiffany, now 50, the former mall rat of "Could've Been" fame, is promoting a new album "Shadows" (8 p.m. Turf Club, $30); jazzy organ star Joey DeFrancesco, who also plays trumpet and saxophone and occasionally sings, supports his 2021 disc "More Music" (7 & 9 p.m. Dakota, $25-$45); Lanco, the country band remembered for the 2017 smash "Greatest Love Story" (8 p.m. Varsity, $29 and up); New York ensemble IDR Italian Doc Remix blends old Italian folkloric music with New York experimental jazz and rock sounds (7:30 p.m. Cedar Cultural Center, $18-$23).
Friday, May 20
Valerie June: The Tennessee-reared, Brooklyn-based songstress is a dreamer. She can get lost in alluring celestial visions as evidenced on last year's "The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers," her third major-label album. She can get bluesy, rootsy, twangy, soulful, New Age-y and even indie-rock-y. The highlight is "Call Me a Fool," a Grammy-nominated slice of soul featuring Memphis great Carla Thomas. June also is a recently published author, presenting poems and illustrations in "Maps for the Modern World," under her full name, Valerie June Hockett. Chastity Brown opens. (8 p.m. Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Av. S. Mpls., $35-$45, ticketmaster.com)
Dua Saleh: After wrapping another season of filming in Wales for the Netflix series "Sex Education," St. Paul's lines-blending poet-turned-rapper-turned-actor is finally getting back to the rapping. Saleh took on more of a national buzz and international flavor with last year's dance-ready EP "Crossover," songs from which they will perform live for the first time in their hometown as part of series of dates scattered around the globe. Local creative force Ricki Monique opens. (9 p.m., Fine Line, 318 1st Av. N., Mpls., $20-$35, axs.com)
Steve Aoki: The superstar EDM DJ couldn't find home plate when he threw out the opening pitch this week at Boston's Fenway Park. But he'll find the beats — big, loud beats — when he returns to a more familiar venue in Minneapolis. Truly a rock star among DJs, Aoki owns a clothing line, a record label and restaurants (his father founded the Benihana chain) and he even published a 2019 memoir, "Blue, The Color of Noise." He's also collaborated with a wide range of artists including BTS, Zooey Deschanel, Wiz Khalifa, Daddy Yankee and Sting. At his shows, the Vegas-based party master is known for big gimmicks, including exploding cakes during his hit "Cake Face." (8 p.m. Armory, 500 S. 6th St., Mpls.,$45 and up, ticketmaster.com)
Pekka Kuusisto: The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has had "artistic partners" for 18 years, but none more endearing and entertaining than Finnish violinist Kuusisto. He'll close his tenure by soloing on Ralph Vaughan Williams' "The Lark Ascending" and conducting a premiere by American composer Cindy Cox and a symphony by French romantic Louise Farrenc. Underlining his popularity with SPCO audiences, all the concerts are sold out. But Saturday's concert is livestreamed. (8 p.m. Fri. also 8 p.m. Sat. & 2 p.m. Sun., Ordway Concert Hall, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, thespco.org)
Art-a-Whirl: Northeast Minneapolis' great, big studio and pub crawl is back and as sprawling as ever this year, with free live music parties spread out around the neighborhood Friday through Sunday. Some of the biggest are happening outside Indeed Brewing, which has Gully Boys booked Friday and Kiss the Tiger and LA Buckner on Saturday; the 331 Club, which landed New York hip-hop legends Sugarhill Gang and Melle Mel for Saturday and Annie Mack with Humbird on Sunday; and and Bauhaus Brew Labs, where the Alarmists reunite Friday and Happy Apple plays Sunday. Look for a more detailed round-up with all the highlights online Thursday at startribune.com. (5-10 p.m. Fri., noon-10 p.m. Sat., noon-10 p.m. Sun.)
Also: Veteran singer-songwriter Curtis Stigers treats the Elvis Costello classic "(What's So Funny Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" as a bluesy saloon song on his new album "This Life" (7 p.m., also Sat. Dakota, $35-$45); Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance, who is signed to his buddy Ed Sheeran's label (8 p.m. Cedar, $30); party outdoors with NOLA-flavored Davina & the Vagabonds (7 p.m. outside Hook & Ladder, $25-$50); longtime Twin Cities faves Lamont Cranston bring the endless boogie (7 p.m. Crooners, $25); John Darnielle and his Southern gothic folk-rock band the Mountain Goats (8:30 p.m. First Avenue, $38); outdoor triple header of '70s-flavored rock with Little Man, Heavy Sixers and Cindy Lawson (6 p.m., Palmer's Bar, $20).
Saturday, May 21
Lucius: Between backup gigs with Roger Waters, Harry Styles and their new album's co-producer Brandi Carlile, uncannily well-matched vocal partners Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe have been delivering hair-raising performances as Lucius going back to an unforgettable 7th St. Entry gig in 2013. The New York duo deal dramatically with divorce and the pandemic on the new one, "Second Nature," but they should still give fans plenty to smile about on tour, especially with Sister Rosetta-like opener Celisse. (8 p.m. Sat., Palace Theatre, 17 W. 7th Place, St. Paul, $35-$50, axs.com)
Becky Kapell: After not taking up guitar and songwriting until first raising her kids, this late-bloomer singer has generated buzz in the Twin Cities alt-twang/Americana scene with her ruggedly bittersweet songs and ace band the Fat 6, anchored by guitar wiz Paul Bergen. She and the fellas struck thick, dusty groove and a hazy-cool vibe on their new seven-song mini album, "In It to Win It," which includes a heart-tugging Nick Lowe cover and an instant road-trip classic called "Idle Down." Turn Turn Turn will preview their own new album to open Kapell's release party. (7:30 p.m. Sat., Turf Club, 1601 University Av. W., St. Paul, $15, axs.com)
Also: "Crisis Fest"-singing New York rock quartet Sunflower Bean tout their new record "Headful of Sugar" (9 p.m. Fine Line, $18-$35); Amy Grant, who brought contemporary Christian music into the mainstream in the 1980s, dropped a new single, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," for her 2022 tour (7:30 p.m. State Theatre, $69-$79); Van Morrison-channeling Twin Cities rockers the Belfast Cowboys celebrate their 20th anniversary (7 p.m. outside Hook & Ladder, $15-$25); legendary Nirvana and PJ Harvey producer Steve Albini returns with Shellac (9 p.m. First Avenue, $18); neon-colored psychedelic troupe Wookiefoot are back (8 p.m. Cabooze, $20-$25).
Sunday, May 22
PaviElle French: The powerhouse St. Paul singer will premiere her Sovereign Suite, a commission from the Schubert Club. Inspired by her experiences growing up in the historically Black Rondo neighborhood, the piece is an extension of her 2021 album, "Sovereign," which featured songs about racism and oppression. Having received commissions to compose for St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and other organizations, French is figuring out how to integrate the worlds of classical and popular music. Read an interview with French at startribune.com/variety (7:30 p.m. Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul, $27.50-$32.50).
Also: Twin Cities rock scene vet Cindy Lawson, formerly of the Clams, celebrates the release of her new album "New Tricks" with a free outdoor bash in the alley off Loring Park with Whiskey Rock and Roll Club Mpls and Tragic Hands (2-6 p.m., HiFi Hair & Records); Benny Benack III, a frontman for Postmodern Jukebox, does his own gig showcasing his voice and trumpet (5:30 p.m. Crooners, $25); soothing-fied Minneapolis neo-soul singer Mayyadda with the Black Velvet Punks (7 p.m. the Dakota, $15).
Monday, May 23
Jeff Perry, Dean Magraw, Tim Sparks and Joel Shapira perform as the Minnesota Guitar Summit (7 p.m. the Dakota, $15-$25).
Tuesday, May 24
Lisa Fischer: After a winter visit to the Hopkins Center for the Arts, the wondrous vocalist returns to her familiar Twin Cities haunt. Having earned respect as a backup singer for Luther Vandross, the Rolling Stones and others (she starred in the Oscar-winning doc "20 Feet from Stardom"), Fischer now sparkles front and center, imaginatively and organically interpreting classic songs with the simpatico combo, Grand Baton. You'll completely rethink "Wild Horses," "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Immigrant Song" when you hear Fischer's riveting readings. (7 p.m., also Wed. the Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls, $50-$70, dakotacooks.com)
Also: Bob Dylan 81st Birthday Bash with all-star Minnesota lineup including Erik Koskinen, Curtiss A, Dan Israel, Lynval Jackson and Courtney Yasmineh (8 p.m. Turf Club, $20-$30); frazzled, funky and just plain fun Twin Cities rockers Lazy Scorsese are calling it quits after a decade with this one farewell show also featuring Red Daughters (8 p.m. 7th St. Entry, $10-$12); buzzy London singer-songwriter Bakar, who mixes hip-hop and indie-rock instincts, is touring the States behind his full-length debut "Nobody's Home" (7 p.m. Varsity, $25-$82); Montreal's psychedelic strummer/looper Pete Sagar, aka Homeshake (7 p.m. Cedar Cultural Center, $22).
Wednesday, May 25
Kurt Vile & the Violators: Philadelphia's psychedelic strummer switched labels to the storied jazz imprint Verve Records for his coyly titled new album "(watch my moves)." While he certainly didn't turned in a jazz LP, he did instill it with a more lush and laid-back vibe after being forced to take a rare break from touring due to COVID. It could make for a mighty lovely show at Vile's frequent Twin Cities haunt, where Chicago's ambient experimental act National Information Society opens. (8 p.m., First Avenue, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls., $30, axs.com)
Also: Japanese electronic experimentalist Chihei Hatakeyama is on a rare U.S. trek and will be joined by local cult hero Paul Metzger (7:30 p.m. Parkway Theater, $15-$25); Chicago drummer/producer Makaya McCraven excels at loopy, jazzy, crescendoing instrumental jams akin to his local opener Dosh (8:30 p.m. Fine Line, $20-$25); Norwegian electro-pop singer Aurora (7:30 p.m. the Fillmore, $57).