Pick Six: "The Voice,” "The Sound of Music,” Zac Brown with Dave Grohl, New Standards, Drake, Tower of Power

  • Updated: December 14, 2013 - 2:00 PM

An undated handout photo of Carrie Underwood as Maria and Stephen Moyer as Captain Von Trapp in NBC's live musical, "The Sound of Music," which aired on Dec. 5, 2013. The performance generated 18.5 million viewers, the network's largest non-sports Thursday night audience since 2009.(Will Hart/NBC via The New York Times) -- NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH STORY SLUGGED TV MUSIC RATINGS BY BILL CARTER. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED.

A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:

“The Sound of Music Live.” Proof that an excellent vocalist (Carrie Underwood) does not an actress make. However, it’s called “The Sound of Music” so if you didn’t watch and just listened, it was an awesome production.

NBC’s “The Voice,” Season 5. After the performances, Tessanne Chin appeared to remain a frontrunner. Adam Levine called her performance “flawless and graceful” and after the results —validation.

Zac Brown Band, “The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1.” Nirvana, Foo Fighters, now Zac Brown Band. Dave Grohl has a new collaboration and ZBB has an awesome, rockin’ new sound.

Mary Kay Sander, Mound

to contribute: popmusic@startribune.com

New Standards holiday show, the State. With help from rapper/singer Dessa, soul man Maurice Jacox and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman on bagpipes, the plaid-clad trio raised the standard for this annual yule romp. The hard-to-top move was a triumphant two-song reunion by Trip Shakespeare, making its first live appearance in 20 years after ceaseless pestering by New Standards/Trip Shakespeare bassist John Munson.

Tower of Power, the Dakota. Vocalist Larry Braggs made the most of his last Twin Cities appearance before he pursues a solo career. He was on fire — both as a nimbly soulful singer and a charming chatterbox. He joked about the Vikings, the Petersons musical family and a clubgoer who was holding a book. And, backed by one of the tightest, funkiest horn bands of all time, he soared on “Me and Mrs. Jones,” a James Brown medley and the ironic “So Very Hard to Go.”

Drake, Target Center. As far as staging goes, this was the second best hip-hop arena production seen in the Twin Cities, behind only Kanye West’s 2008 Glow in the Dark Tour. Drake had coolly lit circles on and over the stage — as well as suspended over the crowd on a catwalk. He pandered too much with shout-outs to fans based on their outfits, but it was a more impressive debut than expected.

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