A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
“A Celebration of Blues & Soul: The 1989 Inaugural Concert.” This “not about politics” event was an enigma back in the day. PBS’ newfound footage is thankfully Lee Atwater-free and showcases dazzling performances by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Sam Moore, Carla Thomas and others.
Pink on the Academy Awards. Passion trumped perfection during a 75th-anniversary salute to “The Wizard of Oz” when Pink sang “Over the Rainbow” from the very bottom of her heart.
“Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration” on PBS. This TV remix is not your daddy’s Bobfest. All the glorious camaraderie, exuberance and messiness of the 1992 show remain. But skimpy on womenfolk and the Clancy Brothers, it’s been whittled to guitar mastery and best-known tunes. It’s more of a wonderful tease.
Teri Lawson, Minneapolis
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Arcade Fire, Target Center. Arty, sweaty, disco-y and superior to the “Reflektor” album that it’s promoting, this ambitious but unpretentious show was an unqualified triumph. Loved the nods to Prince (reverent and humorous) and Michele Bachmann (irreverent). Second best concert of the year, after Pink’s.
Cecile McLorin Salvant, the Dakota. Backed by a splendid trio, this terrific newcomer showed control, taste and imagination in interpreting familiar tunes. Her ability to go from a high girlish voice to a deep tough-mama sound in the same sentence was uncanny.
The Mavericks, the Pantages. For the second consecutive year, Raul Malo’s reunited crew convinced me that they are America’s greatest dance band. Don’t know if they do weddings, but imagine Roy Orbison & the E Street Band produced by Phil Spector in Texas.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune