Jeff Lovich of St. Louis Park:
1 Maria Muldaur, the Dakota. Boy, did she cook with guitarist John Jorgenson. They took ’30s and ’40s Christmas songs by jazz greats and made them sound fresh and soulful.
2 David Byrne, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” I’ve been a fan ever since his brilliant Talking Heads concert movie “Stop Making Sense.” With his Broadway cast of “American Utopia,” he proved he hasn’t lost a step when it comes to creating original and funky music.
3 Nachito Herrera and the Habana Social Club, the Dakota. The Cuban American pianist tore the roof off the place. He arranged a dynamic set of Cuban classics, and you could see on the faces of the players how truly impressed they were with his musicianship.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 Beyoncé interview, Elle magazine. She answers questions from fans, including how she feels about losing at awards, dealing with stress, going out without security and not recording everything. “I asked Prince to record my rehearsal with him for our Grammys performance. He said, ‘You don’t need to record that. You own that in your mind.’ Haaaaaaa! Prince always knew best!”
2 J.S. Ondara, First Avenue. In his first high-profile local gig, Minneapolis’ new Grammy nominee justified the accolades with his insightful smarts, dry humor, compelling songs and molasses-rich voice.
3 “The Band’s Visit,” the Orpheum. This Tony-winning musical — more like a play with lovely Middle Eastern music — is a sweet lesson about the need for communication in so many different situations.