A half-dozen cool recent things in music, from two points of view:
Trevor Tinberg of St. Paul:
1 Duran Duran, "Future Past." Their 15th studio album features their classic pop-rock stylings glossed with modern production. Arriving just over 40 years since their debut album, this disc has enough bright spots to show they still belong in the current pop music conversation.
2 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. My first time attending this ceremony did not disappoint; it was a star-studded four hours of screaming fans and surprise appearances. Most of the inductees presented a nice punch in their performances (airing on HBO on Nov. 20), and I'm now convinced to buy a ticket to LL Cool J if he ever tours again.
3 "The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music" by Dave Grohl. The Foo Fighters frontman's autobiography is filled with non-chronological tales, ranging from childhood memories and the Nirvana years to his current gig of selling out stadiums. Some stories might be familiar but he tells them with such personal zest.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Marisha Wallace, the Dakota. In her Minneapolis debut, the Broadway and West End star showcased her wondrous voice with all its range, power and subtleties. With her imaginative readings of "Tomorrow," Billie Eilish's "My Future" and "Purple Rain" (in Prince's hometown) and the roaring encore of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" and "Proud Mary," Wallace asserted that she is a major voice to be reckoned with.
2 Billy Strings, Palace Theatre. The fast-fingered 29-year-old was a marvel on acoustic guitar with more effects pedals than you can find at Guitar Center. Over two nights, he and his bluegrass-y band didn't repeat a song. They covered Johnny Cash, the Stones, the Dead, Little Feat, Doc Watson and Bill Monroe and offered many originals, including the magical "Wargasm." It was jam-band heaven.
3 Jennifer Hudson, CMA Awards. Collaborating with album-of-the-year winner Chris Stapleton, she delivered the Aretha arrangement of Willie Nelson's "Night Life" with churchy fervor and segued into a gospelly "You Are My Sunshine," which she transformed into rays of soul.
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