Chris Steller of Minneapolis:
1 “First Avenue: Stories of Minnesota’s Mainroom,” Minnesota History Center. It’s like a Minnesota edition of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, minus the ZZ Top outfits. Kudos to the collectors and packrats who lent a staggering trove of great stuff for this exhibit, and to those like Soul Asylum who’d already given items that are now on display.
2 Courtney Marie Andrews, Fine Line. I always get “Main Street” stuck in my head for weeks after seeing Deer Tick, but this time the revelation (for me) was the opener and her band, whose forceful tunes and joshing interplay with the headliners made the night.
3 “Lemon Jail: On the Road With the Replacements” by Bill Sullivan. Glad I finally gulped down this fun 2018 roadie memoir, which earns a spot on that subgenre’s shelf next to Johnny Green’s “A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day With the Clash.”
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune
1 “Billie Eilish: Rebel With a Plan,” Billboard magazine. The cover story explores how this 17-year-old used streaming to reach the top of the charts and a Coachella headline slot. Marketing strategy, yes, but also it was her attitude and vision. Great quote: “I don’t want anybody to know [my goals], because then they’ll try and help me. I want to do this [bleep] by myself.”
2 Fred Armisen, First Avenue. With his guitar and drum kit, he told nerdy musician jokes (about Kansas, Joe Walsh, the history of punk rock drumming) and, in a comedy bit, uncannily demonstrated accents from around the United States.
3 Joan Osborne, the Dakota. Backed by standout keyboardist Keith Cotton and guitarist Jack Petruzzelli, she appealingly re-imagined Bob Dylan songs with either a bluesy or Southern soul vibe.