A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Nicholas David, the Paramount, St. Cloud. From well-crafted originals and a Hendrix cover to country-sounding acoustic and digital effects, this was one great performance. His vocals are distinctive and soulful.
Vince Gill and Paul Franklin, "Bakersfield." This CD is a tribute to the Bakersfield sound of country legends Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Also features vocals by East Grand Forks native Dawn Sears, and electric bass from Willie Weeks, who once played in the Twin Cities band Gypsy. A must listen for country fans.
Tessanne Chin, NBC's "The Voice." The Season 5 winner has a voice that transcends time and genre. Her "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" may be the definitive version of the oft-covered song. I look forward to seeing where she goes from here.
Lane Wilson, Annandale
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Kennedy Center Honors. Loved the not obvious choices of Rufus Wainwright to serenade Billy Joel, Snoop Dogg to salute Herbie Hancock and Tom Morello to toast Carlos Santana.
Alabama Shakes, "Driva Man." This selection on the soundtrack inspired by "12 Years a Slave" was a 1960 protest tune written by jazzmen Max Roach and Oscar Brown Jr. Here, Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard starts the song about the slave's boss man a cappella like a field chant before minimalist jazzy rhythms and eventually sax and trumpet solos lend a striking spookiness.
Miley Cyrus interview, New York Times. She may not be the most articulate young star but it's quite clear that she's very calculated in her strategies of being a provocateur. And she's honest about it.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune