A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Tim Brackett of Minneapolis:
1 A Country Music Showcase, Icehouse. We have a lot of fantastic local country acts in the cities that sometimes get overshadowed by their folk and Americana peers. This showcase gave three of these acts — GoatRoper, Clare Doyle and Molly Brandt — a night to shine.
2 Plains, First Avenue. Indie folk stars Jess Williamson and Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) collaborated this year on this side project, an homage to Texas country music. This show featured covers of Lone Star State legends Terry Allen ("Amarillo Highway") and the Chicks ("Goodbye Earl").
3 New renderings of the proposed amphitheater at Upper Harbor Terminal. While some of the cool exterior features from the first rendering were eliminated because of site constraints, the new versions are promising. Shows at the First Avenue amphitheater should afford a spectacular view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline as a backdrop.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 "George & Tammy," Showtime. This miniseries about George Jones and Tammy Wynette, the first couple of country music in the 1970s, may be a little corny and cliched. But Jessica Chastain is the perfect mix of vulnerability and resilience as Wynette, and she has a credible Nashville singing voice. She definitely has chemistry with Michael Shannon, though he's too burly and lumbering to play the slight Jones.
2 Leo Kottke, Guthrie Theater. While his voice was croakier than usual, his guitar playing was as expressive and nuanced as ever. His stories were often LOL funny, though he never finished the one about Pete Seeger. As a bonus, pianist Billy Barber joined Kottke for a few numbers, and virtuoso guitarist Tim Sparks, a master of many ethnic styles, and bassist Gary Raynor wowed in a too-brief opening set.
3 RIP Peter Cooper. The Nashville singer-turned-music journalist died this week at age 52 after a fall. When variety.com published his obituary, editors attached a speech Cooper gave at a features writing convention this summer in which he explained how songwriting tips from Tom T. Hall and Jack Clement fueled his journalism.
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