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

Matt Wells, St. Paul

Great Big Sea, Minnesota Zoo. On their 20th anniversary tour, they showed they’ve done it all before. When the drum amp went bad, they stepped to the front of the stage and sang “Old Brown’s Daughter” a cappella without mics and without hesitation.

Americanarama, Midway Stadium. Perfect weather, mellow audience and bands — Richard Thompson, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and Bob Dylan — that were having fun. The collaboration between Trampled by Turtles and MMJ was my highlight, especially their Louvin Brothers cover.

Fall concerts. I love living in the Twin Cities for any number of reasons, but the fact that I can look forward to Herbert Grönemeyer, Dom Flemons and Jason Isbell all visiting this fall is really cool. Yes, I’ll probably be the only person going to all three.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune

Lorde, “Royals.” This single by a 16-year-old New Zealand singer/songwriter is mesmerizing pop minimalism. She sounds like Lana Del Ray with a pulse, riffing like Adele about how “we’ll never be royals.” Well-timed for the royal birth. Lorde had four tunes in the New Zealand Top 20 in one week this year.

Mavis Staples, Minnesota Zoo. Never seen her in better spirits. She didn’t preach much between songs, but her rumbling, raspy voice raised spirits with her readings of rock classics, spirituals and soulful originals.

Beyoncé’s hair gets caught in a wind fan. It happened in Montreal last week during her encore of “Halo,” but she kept singing. A security guard tried to help her free her golden locks, but those fans are as powerful as her voice.


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