Matt Reinartz of St. Paul:
1 Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, “The Nashville Sound.” With Isbell’s new album, it becomes harder to pinpoint his exact genre, but he always leaves you wanting more.
2 Music in Mears. In its 14th year, this live music series in St. Paul’s Lowertown continues to get better and better. Enjoy an eclectic mix of bands playing outside in a lush urban garden with food trucks on Thursdays.
3 The Suburbs and Summit beer. The free listening party for the band’s new album “Hey Muse!” at Summit Brewing combined two Minnesota classics. And the St. Paul brewery even bestowed a new brew, the Suburbs New Wave Ale.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band, Ames Center. Of course, the band was first-rate, but vocalists Felicia Collins and Will Lee were the true treats along with special guest Motown singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson, who added the kind of showbiz cachet Shaffer relishes.
2 Lisa Fischer, the Dakota. After several similar shows here, the magical vocalist changed things up, opening with a low-key, sexy “Satisfaction” and seducing with deconstructured treatments of “Miss You” and “Gimme Shelter.” She’ll make you rethink the Rolling Stones.
3 RIP, John Blackwell. A good soul and a great drummer for Prince and the NPG in the ’00s.