A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:

The Loft (Channel 30) on SiriusXM. Where else can you hear tracks from Tom Waits’ “Nighthawks at the Diner” followed by new songs from Afghan Whigs and Justin Currie?

Three nights with Dan Wilson, the Cedar. “Words and Music” kicked off the run with stories and background for this tunesmith who has written with the best. My highlight was the Neil Young cover “Out on the Weekend” in the encore, with Jacob Slichter of Semisonic on electric keyboard.

Grumpy’s Northeast Benefit for St. Jude’s. The fourth annual shindig put on by Vince Murray, who raises money through a foot race from Peoria to Memphis. Featured musicians included Ben Nichols (Lucero) and Joey & Kelly (Glossary). Great benefit, great cause.

Kyle Heino, Concert Marketing Solutions, Mpls.

to contribute: popmusic@startribune.com


St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the Varsity. Paul Janeway of Birmingham, Ala., is the modern-day star of blue-eyed soul. A terrific showman who comes across like a reincarnation of Otis Redding, St. Paul has perfected the pleading, the pain and the passion of great Southern soul singing. One of the best club shows of 2014.

Peter Asher, the Dakota. For the Forrest Gump of rock, the third time through with his multimedia memoir was still charming. New wrinkles included the Webb Sisters as backup and featured vocalists, plus reports on Asher’s recent productions with Steve Martin & Edie Brickell and Ed Sheeran, the Band Perry and others on an Elton John tribute disc.

Tim Sparks, “Chasin’ the Boogie.” While Leo Kottke is Minnesota’s most celebrated acoustic guitarist, Sparks is the most adventurous picker in the Land of 10,000 Licks. Known for ethnic music, Sparks here interprets pop hits (“Both Sides Now,” “Blue Bayou”) and traditional tunes (“Wayfaring Stranger,” “I’ll Fly Away”) with warmth, passion and a remarkable sense of harmony and rhythm. His originals showcase both his virtuosity and creativity.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune