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

The Whitesidewalls, McLeod County Fair. They played an incredible and entertaining three-set, rain-shortened show. This oldies band has been around for 50 years with various members. They always put on a great show.

Ron E. Cash, Biscay Days. From Virginia, Minn., he's a one-man Johnny Cash tribute performer. In addition to singing all the Cash songs, he covers classic country ballads from the 1950s to 2000.

Takin' It to the Limit, Minnesota State Fair. It was standing room only for this Minnesota Eagles tribute band featuring members of the Fabulous Armadillos and the Collective Unconscious. Their covers of Eagles hits were spot on. At times, I thought I was hearing the original Eagles band.


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"Rondo '56," Crooners. Using music, words and vintage photographs, piano man Dan Chouinard has created an enlightening and rewarding revue about St. Paul's Black neighborhood being displaced by Interstate 94. Songs by Nat King Cole, Ruth Brown, Mahalia Jackson and others are delivered by Charmin Michelle, T. Mychael Rambo and the delightfully emotive Thomasina Petrus.

"My Time With Kurt Cobain" by Michael Azerrad, the New Yorker. Thirty years after Nirvana's landmark "Nevermind," he writes about being a music journalist who befriends a rock star, writes a biography and still struggles with the heroin-addicted star's suicide 27 years later. "I thought that I was prepared for Kurt's death, although I didn't know whether it would come in days or decades. Then, suddenly, it happened. That's when I found out that you never really can be prepared for such a thing. I could outwardly function, but inside I felt catatonic and remained grief-stricken for several years."

Orla Gartland, "You're Not Special, Babe." With its minimalist verses and bubbly bop choruses, the Dublin singer-songwriter's single is a reassuring rejoinder to people who frequently post self-pitying tweets. She's saying you're not alone.

JON BREAM, Star Tribune