A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” New Century Theater. A musical that could certainly offend if you are of a mind to be offended, but we found it hilarious, with strong music and acting. Our local theater scene is so strong!
Kaiser Chiefs, First Avenue. Nothing but good-time rock ’n’ roll. It was pure joy to watch my wife of almost 27 years bouncing to the beat like we were still kids.
moe., Minnesota Zoo. An amazing setting for one of my favorite live bands ever. Saw them with my music buddies. Guitars rule!
michael miller, Minneapolis
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Lauryn Hill, First Avenue. Compared with four years ago when she was inconsistent but occasionally rewarding, the missing-in-action hip-hop/soul superstar was more focused, disciplined and consistent. Now how ’bout a new album one of these years? It’s only been 16 years since her one and only solo studio album.
Branford Marsalis, Twin Cities Jazz Festival. The “Tonight Show”-propelled jazz star on a pleasant, rain-free night drew the biggest and most diverse crowd I’ve ever seen at this annual event in Mears Park in downtown St. Paul. In fact, the crowd was so overwhelming that some food trucks ran out of food even before the famous saxophonist took the stage. Still, a good time was had by all.
Mavis Staples and Taj Mahal, Minnesota Zoo. Rock Hall of Famer Staples was in great spirits and good voice. She even did “Respect Yourself,” the Staple Singers classic that’s not often in her repertoire anymore. Although Staples didn’t do as much preaching as in past shows, she did some fiery testifying during “The Weight,” unleashed a parched wail at the end of the civil rights anthem “Freedom Highway,” uplifted the crowd on “I’ll Take You There” and got downright sexy on the 1975 No. 1 hit “Let’s Do It Again.” Mahal was chatty and bluesy. He gave shout-outs to Koerner, Ray & Glover and, no matter what instrument he was playing, got real folksy and playful on the blues, especially on the long-winded “Little Red Hen,” “Queen Bee” and “Fishin’ Blues.”
Jon Bream, Star Tribune