A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Cruise to the Edge: Music Festival at Sea. A cruise with some of the greatest musicians in rock. Yes, Steve Hackett, UK (Eddie Jobson, John Wetton, Terry Bozzio), Carl Palmer Band, Tangerine Dream, Saga, Nectar, Glass Hammer, Zebra. Each group playing twice in one week and doing a Q & A session. Prog-rock heaven!
Steven Wilson, the Fine Line. The master of surround sound finally makes it to the Twin Cities. With a stellar group of musicians, the musical talent level was blow-away. Video screens surrounding the stage and surround sound in a small venue — incredible.
Todd Rundgren, Varsity Theater. Always a surprise with him. This time a Rundgren rave. Electro pop/dance, or whatever you want to label it but in the Rundgren style. And he was dancing through the whole two-hour set.
James Sorby, Brooklyn Center
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Larry Graham, the Dakota. The bass master not only put on a clinic but he mashed up the rock 'n' soul of Oakland (his original hometown) with the Minneapolis Sound (his current hometown). Singer Ashling "Biscuit" Cole can wail (her highlight: "I Can't Stand the Rain"), and the unbeatable Sly & the Family Stone medley had everyone dancing to the music. A funky, funky good time.
Soundset, Canterbury Park. The weather sucked, the music was hit-and-miss but the event ruled. A record crowd of 28,000 was probably the most racially diverse audience at a Minnesota music event. This long affair had a vibe like the early touring Lollapalooza. Good times.
Curtiss A's Hank Williams tribute, the Dakota. This may be blasphemy but his tribute to Hank Sr. was more authentic than his annual Dec. 8 salute to John Lennon. His Lennon show features too many sidemen, cluttering the simple early Beatles sound. Thanks to thoughtful study, Curt Almsted suggested Hank's drawling phrasing and lonesome voice. Randy Broughten added pedal steel teardrops and Dave Boquist supplied mournful fiddle. Curt tossed in a little George Jones drunken, drawn-out enunciation and some Elvis Presley hammy lushness. Curtiss A's terrific honky-tonking Hank tribute should be presented at least a couple of times a year.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune