A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
The New Standards, the State. You know it's a happy holiday when great performances by the New Standards with Dan and Matt Wilson, Haley Bonar, Jeremy Messersmith, Dessa and others turn out to be the stocking stuffers. The big present was when Elaine Harris emerged for the first Trip Shakespeare performance in 20 years. God bless us, everyone.
Tuesday nights at Nye's Polonaise Room. St. Dominic's Trio plays favorite hits on the side stage. At the piano bar, sing along with the great John Eller. Not only "Piano Man" fare, but pretty much every great song you can imagine.
Minnesota Boychoir. This first-rate boys choir blends beauty and precision into perfect holiday harmony for the whole family.
Aaron Seymour, Arden Hills
"Willie's Roadhouse" on Sirius XM honors Ray Price. Starting the afternoon of the country great's death, this station broadcast interviews with Price from over the years and lots of his music. Good tunes and good times gave a new meaning to Priceless.
Oscar Isaac in "Inside Llewyn Davis." The little-known actor plays an unlikable, self-absorbed, deadbeat folkie in Greenwich Village circa 1961, but he is flat-out mesmerizing when onstage. See the film, buy the soundtrack.
Nick Lowe, "Christmas at the Airport." This snowbound tale is the year's best holiday tune from its best yule CD, "Quality Street."
Jon Bream, Star Tribune