A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Conor Oberst, First Avenue. Although I was disappointed with the set list (no “Sausalito,” “Nikorette” or “Mother’s Child”) the energy and emotion of the first song, “Time Forgot,” was worth the price of admission.
Frankie Lee, Mike Munson and the Cactus Blossoms, Stone Arch Bridge Festival. Wonderful music and a beautiful setting for our family’s inaugural outdoor summer concert.
The Okee Dokee Brothers, Minnesota Zoo. The perfect backdrop for a band that focuses its music on the wilderness. So fun to see them play to such a large and enthusiastic crowd. Only wish they would have played for another hour.
MIKE WOHNOUTKA, Minneapolis
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“The Future of Music Is a Love Story” by Taylor Swift, the Wall Street Journal. In her essay, the super-smart pop/country goddess is hopelessly optimistic, as she points out at the get-go. She makes good points about the quality, depth and heart of albums as well as the relationship between stars and fans (“I haven’t been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera”) and the need for stars to surprise their fans. She’s right on many things, but she needs to recognize that she’s the extraordinary exception, not the rule, in today’s pop-culture landscape.
The Hold Steady, Minnesota Zoo. The overdue zoo debut for Edina native Craig Finn and his Minnesota-rooted, Brooklyn-based band was their most convincing Twin Cities effort since keyboardist Franz Nicolay left the group in 2010. The two-guitar attack and Finn’s relentless energy, giddiness and local references made the Hold Steady unstoppable.
James Hunter Six, the Dakota. Leaning heavily on material from last year’s “Minute by Minute” (his most consistent album), the British blue-eyed soul man was in good form. He may not be as exciting as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings or as showy as newcomers St. Paul & the Broken Bones. But Hunter is the real deal — he delivered vintage-sounding soul with authenticity and love.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune