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

Kevin Dillon of Minneapolis:

1 Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall, Chicago Auditorium. Rundgren opened up with a "bouquet of ear-catching melodies" from his amazing string of older hits. Nobody was disappointed as he also included a few deeper cuts. Hall focused on songs from his solo albums, showcasing his songwriting skills and still amazing vocal range.

2 Golden Smog, First Avenue. If the definition of a great concert is amazing musicianship, full engagement with the audience, and the players having fun, then this show over-delivered. It was a treat to see Jeff Tweedy, Gary Louris and others really enjoying themselves. Great selection of songs, giving all the contributors a chance to shine. Also, a great vocal spot for Sammy Tweedy (Jeff's son) on Neil Young's "Helpless."

3 David Bromberg, the Dakota. If he wanted to be a standup comedian, he would do quite well. His acerbic delivery about how his "hit" "Sharon" made it big in the Twin Cities was educational and hilarious. All joking aside, Bromberg and his excellent band (especially guitarist Mark Cosgrove) treated the audience to a diverse selection of songs in this intimate setting.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:

1 DakhaBrakha, the Dakota. With their otherworldly singing and self-described ethno-chaos sounds, this Ukrainian quartet mesmerized for a magical 90 minutes, while adding messages of peace and solidarity. A truly remarkable experience.

2 Jon Batiste, "Austin City Limits." After the TV talk-show bandleader won five Grammys including album of the year, his performance from October was rebroadcast. The dynamic, joyful New Orleans piano man proved his live bona fides accompanied by 18 top-notch musicians and special guest guitarist Gary Clark Jr. A crowning performance.

3 LP Music, Paisley Park. Longtime Prince associates and pals Eric Leeds on sax and Paul Peterson on bass teamed up with Billy Carrothers on keys and Stokley Williams in a rare appearance on drums for an evening that was a little funky, very jazzy and punctuated with beautiful ballads.

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