Pick Six is a half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view.
Richard Darud of Eagan:
1 Ruthie Foster singing “Angel from Montgomery” on Facebook in tribute to John Prine from her yard. The world’s a better place with his music in it. He passed away this week from the coronavirus.
2 “Garth & Trisha: Live by Request!” A touching and honest night. CBS hosted this “live event” from Garth Brooks’ and Trisha Yearwood’s home studio. The couple and CBS will donate $1 million to charities to be determined, combating the COVID-19 virus.
3 Ruthie Foster, “Live at the Paramount.” This concert album comes with dynamic originals and covers from swing-era greats like Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others. “Mack the Knife” is a hit.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 “ACM Presents: Our Country.” Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the ACM Awards were postponed, so the Academy of Country Music instead offered a series of at-home mini-performances. We got to see, among other things, Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker harmonize via Zoom from Nashville and Charleston, S.C., Shania Twain sing in her barn with her horse in her face, and Carrie Underwood soar on her couch with a glass of red wine on “Drinking Alone.”
2 Holly Gleason on John Prine. She was his friend and sometimes publicist and as gifted and observant a writer as he was a songwriter. Best story she tells is how Prine signed over his rights to co-writing “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” to Steve Goodman because Goodman took the fall for penning the lyrics with a Sharpie on a fancy New York City hotel wall. hollygleason.com/essays.
3 Pearl Jam, “Gigaton.” On their first album in seven years, Seattle’s finest hits fast and furious (“Who Ever Said”), gets a little grungy (“Superblood Wolfmoon”), does a little David Byrne dance (“Dance of the Clairvoyants”), injects some politics (“Quick Escape”) and tries to soothe (“River Cross”). In sum, grunge grows up on “Gigaton” without losing spirit or purpose.