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


The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s 2013-14 schedule. The SPCO is back and up and running with a full schedule of inviting artists and programs. Now, what’s to become of the Minnesota Orchestra? We need our best civic-minded financial brains from public and private sectors to solve this and prevent the unthinkable. Isn’t it time to use public money to ensure the future of this irreplaceable cultural asset?

The 15th annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival. This was the best-attended fest yet, and it breathed new life into downtown St. Paul. And if a new ballpark nearby for a minor-league team owned by three millionaires can command millions of tax dollars, shouldn’t some public money be allocated each year from the state, county and city coffers to make sure the major-league Twin Cities Jazz Festival lives on?

Star Tribune coverage of Jeanne Arland Peterson. The paper published an excellent obituary story and op-ed piece, by musician Paul Metsa, chronicling the lifetime achievement of Peterson, who long will be remembered for her major contributions to our music scene.

Willard Shapira, Roseville



Janelle Monáe on the BET Awards. The soul siren closed the show with “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring her dynamic dancing, funky vocals, patented black-and-white style and an assist from Erykah Badu and a mysterious white poodle.

Lucinda Williams, “Everything But the Truth.” On the collection “The Lone Ranger Wanted: Music Inspired by the Film,” her gritty, smoldering rocker stands out with her typical lyrical and musical bite.

Club-hopping in Cambridge, Mass. In a few nights, I witnessed some top-notch local talent: Lori McKenna, a mother of five who writes deeply penetrating country songs; soulful Christian McNeill, who sounds like the Raul Malo of Ireland; roots-rocker Tim Gearan, who with his stellar sidemen keeps the dance floor packed; the eclectic Baker Thomas Band, which squeezes 11 players in a 65-capacity bar to create nonstop fun; Danielle M, a Stevie Nicks look-alike who sings with a beguiling country rasp; ace guitarists Duke Levine and Stu Kimball (on break from Bob Dylan); the stunning Nicole Nelson, “The Voice” contestant who is the best and most controlled young female rock-soul-gospel vocalist I’ve heard in ages, and stalwart Americana singer Dennis Brennan, who had his buddy Peter Wolf, of J. Geils Band fame, join him for a chorus of “Sugar Falls” and do his whammer-jammer Wolf thing in front of only 15 people.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune