A half dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:

Roz Kronfeld-Wilbanks of St. Louis Park:

1 The Struts and Paris Jackson, "Low Key in Love." I found the video on YouTube one day by accident. The song has a great melody and hooked me right away.

2 "George Michael: A Life" by James Gavin. This is one of my favorite biographies ever. It's very well written and researched. George Michael went from being a shy boy to a great pop star.

3 I love hearing familiar songs in new shows and movies. Like the Monkees' "Tapioca Tundra" and Blondie's "The Tide Is High" in "Better Call Saul" and "Free Ride" by the Edgar Winter Group in "The Black Phone."

Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:

1 Kamasi Washington, the Dakota. What an invigorating and enlightening celebration of jazz funk. Powerhouse drumming, electrified upright bass, jazzy horns, jokes by the bandleader, an enthralling "Final Thought" and striking, yearning vocals by Patrice Quinn on "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." Kamasi always surprises and always rewards.

2 "Willie Nelson's Long Encore," New York Times magazine. Journalist Jody Rosen embeds himself in Willie World to paint an artful portrait of the elusive, ever-evolving, 89-year-old American music treasure. As always, Willie delivers some pithy lines, but Rosen's writing is as exquisite and unfussy as Willie's songs: "His gift is to make that art seem artless, camouflaging technique with naturalism. His unruffled vocal tone is unmistakable and unchanging; songs roll out as natural as speech, as if he were not singing so much as thinking out loud."

3 Low Cut Connie, Minnesota State Fair. Part Bruce Springsteen, part Meat Loaf and part Jerry Lee Lewis, frontman Adam Weiner was a passionate, sweaty showman who believes in old-time rock 'n' roll. With his animated, energetic band, he excited the crowd at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell with originals (loved "Dirty Water") and covers of Prince, INXS and T-Rex.

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