A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Elvis Presley, "Prince From Another Planet." The design of this boxed set is beautiful, but it's the music at his rousing 1972 Madison Square Garden shows that gets your heart pumping. He never sounded better. The DVD of fan footage demonstrates why Elvis was indeed the King.
Mick Jagger's Top 10 List, "Late Show With David Letterman." Prancing onto the Ed Sullivan Theater stage (one he hasn't been on since 1964), the charismatic Sir Mick looked like a man two-thirds his age. He delivered the list with a huge smile and a bit of self-deprecating humor.
El Vez, First Avenue. With costume changes, splits and high kicks, this high-energy Merry Mex-mas production could make even the most cold-hearted Grinch smile. Bolstered by the Elvettes dancers and his Memphis Mariachis musicians, El Vez rocked originals and holiday covers redone with Latino flair.
MATT REINARTZ, ST. PAUL
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Graham Parker and the Rumour, Fitzgerald Theater. After 30 years, these 1970s pub-rock stalwarts have reunited. Most of the nearly two-hour set was more nostalgic than meaningful, but the impassioned encores reminded fans why Parker was deservedly mentioned in the same sentence as Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello back in the day.
Elizabeth Cook, Lee's. Even though her Florida accent was "Deliverance" thick, her sass, smarts and skills shone through. Vocally, she evoked a nasally Dolly Parton. Backed by a bassist and her husband on guitar, this country outlier convinced on gospelly tunes and classic-sounding country.
Okee Dokee Brothers, Cedar Cultural Center. This Grammy-nominated Twin Cities bluegrass-folk duo was the best live children's act I've seen since Raffi (in my recent college grad son's era). The music and the humor connected with kids and adults without condescending or pandering to either constituency. Good times for all.
JON BREAM, STAR TRIBUNE