Randy Preuss of Minneapolis:
1 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, live at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J., Sept. 19, 1978. If you’ve wondered what all the fanatical fuss is about, this newly remastered recording holds the answer. Originally broadcast on FM radio on the East Coast, this show is considered the best live rock recording of all time. Available at live.brucespringsteen.net.
2 Bob Dylan, Mankato Civic Center. He sang like a bird and, as usual, his band burned all night like a hot cinder. Bringing Donnie Herron’s fiddle to the forefront lent a true organic Minnesota rural country sound to Dylan’s material. Truly inspiring for humans of all ages.
3 Bob Dylan, “Travelin’ Thru, 1967-1969.” The latest in his “Bootleg Series” features previously unavailable recordings with Johnny Cash. Do you need any other reason to listen to it?
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 “David Byrne’s American Utopia,” Broadway. His 2018 show at the Orpheum in Minneapolis was my top concert of the year. This was even better — more intimate, human, political and humorous. A terrifically artful experience in the 970-seat Hudson Theatre.
2 Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi, the Dakota. After educating the audience with spoken histories of minstrel music, Ethel Waters, tambourines and other topics, they offered virtuosic instrumental and vocal performances of a variety of historic sounds.
3 Rickie Lee Jones, the Cedar. The night before she left for Europe, she gave a giddy and casual (her words) and delightful and generous (my words) 130-minute performance with her organic and flexible combo. Her originality as a singer-songwriter, storyteller and interpreter (she did songs associated with Bad Company, Johnnie Ray, Elton John and Dean Martin) were on full display.