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

Hayes Carll, the Cedar. This country-rocker, whose lyrics are modern and smart, had a new band with a classically trained fiddler. Though Carll was more toned down than in past gigs, his compelling voice and duets with Emily Gimble made this highly enjoyable.

Elizabeth Cook. She performs a wild brand of country/rock, but she’s lively with tongue-in-cheek humor. She does a daily show (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country, playing the gamut from the Replacements to Hank Williams.

Erik Koskinen. Not only is his writing superb, his sweetly honeyed voice matches in intensity and quality the craft of his fine Twin Cities band. He plays Wednesdays at Aster Café in Minneapolis.

Mark Horgen, Minneapolis

To contribute: popmusic@startribune.com


The Mavericks, Pantages. This reunited Nashville group proved to be America’s greatest dance band, mashing up pre-Beatles rock, swing and Latin sounds, melded by Raul Malo’s poperatic voice.

Lianne La Havas, the Varsity. The Brit pop star was more impressive than her encouraging debut CD. Confident and friendly, she evoked Sade, Alicia Keys and Corinne Bailey Rae — only she’s stronger and more versatile vocally than those stars.

Madeleine Peyroux and Mika, Tuesday. My doubleheader went from the sublime intimacy of Peyroux’s Ray Charles-inspired, string-bathed country-jazz-blues at the Dakota to the ridiculously over-the-top piano pop of the super-talented Mika, who came across as a one-man Queen, at the Varsity. Two special shows.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune