A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Frightened Rabbit, Woman's Club. This Scottish cult band performed a knockout show at a venue traditionally used for lectures, meetings and recitals. I'm not sure what I enjoyed more: seeing this energetic group for the first time, or seeing it at the Woman's Club.
"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" by Tony Fletcher. The Smiths' relatively short life span of just over four years produced a copious number of original songs. The reasons behind the group's enduring legacy are captured in this exhaustive 700-page biography, written 25 years after the split. For those who cannot wait until the book's December U.S. release, there's always Amazon U.K.
Mankato's Riverfront Park amphitheater. Mankato's newest outdoor venue, on the banks of the Minnesota River, seats up to 12,000 people. Several big names played in September, including the Indigo Girls, Trampled by Turtles and Willie Nelson. I look forward to seeing what next year will bring.
RACHAEL HANEL, MADISON LAKE, MINN.
TO CONTRIBUTE: POPMUSIC@STARTRIBUNE.COM
Taylor Swift, "Begin Again" video. This French-kissed clip is her full-color answer to Adele's black-and-white video for "Someone Like You," complete with red lipstick to promote her new "Red" album. Unlike the pop-obsessed tunes on the new CD, this alluringly gauzy ballad about finding a new guy after a breakup is kissed with some pedal-steel guitar. It's as country as Swift gets nowadays.
Bela Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio, the Dakota. The interplay between the world's most adventurous banjo player and the stellar jazz trio was spellbinding, creating new genres such as bluegrass bossa nova and flamenco grass pointillism. A special evening.
Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch, the Cedar. Banjoist/singer Washburn, an Edina High grad and Bela Fleck's wife, and guitarist/singer Welch had a fertile vocal blend on mostly sad songs. Her patter lightened the load and provided insight into such standout numbers as "Dreams of Nectar," "Burn Thru" and "Bring Me My Queen."
JON BREAM, STAR TRIBUNE