Amy Jarrard of Minneapolis:
1 Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Fitzgerald. Always a joyful, danceable show and even being seated at the Fitz couldn’t prevent that. Their latest “A Tuba to Cuba” album paired perfectly with New Orleans classics and some incredible solos by ridiculously talented musicians.
2 “The Apollo,” HBO. This documentary surveys the 85-year history of the world-famous theater with incredible footage and interviews over the years, including plenty about Amateur Night. The film is mind-blowing in its thorough look at the performers who’ve played at the Apollo, but also really hits on the importance of the theater to Harlem and African-American arts and culture.
3 The Waterboys, the Varsity. Mike Scott and the boys still have it. Great mix of the new album and all their Muscle Shoals love with the old classics. Hard to beat an enduring, brilliant lyricist and a fiddle.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” lands at No. 1 on New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. Ahead of the ever-popular Elton John’s chatty memoir “Me.” Maybe less is more, especially when you were so mysterious anyway.
2 CMA Awards. While country radio plays too few women, this show stepped up with lots of female singers, past and present, as performers and presenters. Too few won awards but the performers ruled, especially Reba McEntire, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves, who gave a succinct impassioned speech: “Female energy and spirit is needed right now.” Amen.
3 Tyler Childers, First Avenue. Hampered by a thick Kentucky drawl but helped by a first-rate band, he wowed for two nights. He’s the real deal in country music old-school style.