Jeff Larson of Rochester:
1 “Echo in the Canyon.” Jakob Dylan’s loving doc on the music of L.A.’s Laurel Canyon circa 1965-67. He wisely lets artists such as David Crosby and Michelle Phillips speak for themselves while using great archival footage and a 2015 tribute concert. These sounds still stir the soul and spark California dreaming.
2 Rolling Stones, Chicago. At my fifth Stones show ever, all the players were in fine form for all songs, as Mick Jagger carried on with unbridled joy and abandon. It’s hard to believe he just had heart surgery.
3 “Yesterday.” The movie’s whimsical premise involves a struggling singer, waking up after a global blackout, to discover he can sing all the Beatles songs (to ever increasing adulation) without giving credit because the momentary disaster erased all memory of the Fab Four’s music. A fun love story and feel-good romp through some of the best songs ever.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 Billie Eilish, Milwaukee. In front of 22,000 adoring fans at Summerfest, this 17-year-old was laser focused, darkly emo, scary in content and confidence, and ultimately liberating. The strobe-fueled minimalism of her staging smartly complemented her pop-meets-trap sound. Clearly, the rookie of the year.
2 Summerfest, Milwaukee. So many stages with good acts and so much good (ethnic) food to choose from, on lovely Lake Michigan at the Midwest’s best multiday music fest. Not only did I get a Minnesota fix with Atmosphere and Semisonic but some serious New Orleans funk with Dumpstaphunk. Plus, when my Eilish ticket was for a seat number that didn’t exist, I got upgraded to the second row. That’s customer service.
3 John Sebastian, the Dakota. The Lovin’ Spoonful vet was an engaging, animated and funny storyteller and versatile blues-oriented guitarist. Surprisingly, no mention of Woodstock and no harmonica.