Staff Directory 6370499

Jon Bream

Reporter and critic | Pop music
Phone: 612-673-1719

Jon Bream has been a music critic at the Star Tribune since 1975, making him the longest tenured pop critic at a U.S. daily newspaper. He has attended more than 8,000 concerts and written four books (on Prince, Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond and Bob Dylan). Thus far, he has ignored readers’ suggestions that he take a music-appreciation class.

Bream has interviewed such music royalty as the King of Pop (Michael Jackson), the Queen of Soul (Aretha Franklin) and Prince as well as Bob Dylan, U2, three Beatles, four Rolling Stones and all of Maroon 5. He has performed with Alice Cooper, jogged with Willie Nelson and walked the streets of New York with Bruce Springsteen. A longtime voter for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bream has also written for the Los Angeles Times, Billboard, Vibe and other publications. He has a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota, where he established the Jon Bream Scholarship for Arts Criticism.
Recent content from Jon Bream
Prince estate is partnering with Urban Decay on new makeup collection

Prince estate is partnering with Urban Decay on new makeup collection

The 'Live Loud in Color' collection will include his purple hue.
Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber pushes Twin Cities show to next spring but Old Dominion sets a fall date

After postponing shows the last two years, Biebs is slated for May 6, 2022 while Old Dominion heads to Mystic Lake in October.
Aidy Bryant in "Shrill."Hulu

10 best things our critics are watching this week

From Aidy Bryant in "Shrill" to Saturday's "Vax Live" concert special, here's what we're tuning into.
Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams plans her comeback after a stroke: 'The main thing is I can still sing'

Still rehabbing, she can't play guitar but she can sing.
The Jayhawks in 2019 at the Basilica Block Party, which is being pushed to the fall as only a few big summer concerts remain on tap for summer.

Minnesota concert scene remains rocky as another quiet summer approaches

Country bashes like We Fest and Twin Cities Summer Jam are still on for now, but many big concerts are being pushed again.
Jamecia Bennett was led to the stage in the Belvedere tent before performing Friday night at Crooners Supper Club.

It was an over-the-top debut for the new big top at Crooners in Fridley

REVIEW: Wondrous Jamecia Bennett explored jazz and blues in a showy performance.
The Minnesota Zoo amphitheater was packed for Willie Nelson’s Music in the Zoo concert in 2013 — maybe too packed by 2021 standards.

Trading tigers for horses: Minnesota Zoo concerts move to Canterbury Park

Because of COVID concerns, the musical miniseries will temporarily relocate in late summer.
A balloon floated in the breeze on a remembrance fence outside Paisley Park Wednesday as Diane Maus of Lino Lakes put up a poem she wrote to Prince.

Prince fans mark fifth anniversary of his death: 'My soul said I need to be here'

The Minnesota superstar's ashes were on display at Paisley Park.
Michael Howe is a former record-label executive and Prince colleague, who last year volunteered to oversee the excavation and preservation of Prince�

From unheard songs to cat doodles, this man catalogs the contents of Prince's vault

An unreleased album is one of many discoveries made by the man in charge of Prince's archives.
John Stamos in "Big Shot."Disney Plus

10 best things our critics are watching this week

From John Stamos' new Disney series to a Dolly Parton tribute, here's what we're tuning into.
Selection from a Dan Lacey painting of the memento-covered fence outside Prince’s Paisley Park.

Prince: 5 years after his death, how the Purple One lives on

His overstuffed vault continues to yield treasures. His superfans keep his legacy alive. And critic Jon Bream reflects on how his own opinion has changed over the years.
Melody Hurd and Deborah Ayorinde in “Them,” the new horror anthology series streaming on Amazon Prime.

10 best things our critics are watching this week

From Amazon's new horror anthology to a "Bad Trip" on Netflix, here's what we're tuning into.
Prince during his “21 Nite Stand” at the Forum in Los Angeles. The deluxe edition of “Welcome 2 America” will include a DVD of one of those sh

Prince estate is finally releasing his politically charged 2010 album 'Welcome 2 America'

Previously unreleased, the album is due July 30 and will include a deluxe version with DVD.
Mick Sterling/ Star Tribune photo by Aaron Lavinksy

Relief Sessions 2021, drive-in concert series returns to Burnsville this summer

A determined Mick Sterling is back presenting pandemic shows by more than 80 acts.
Rickie Lee Jones

'It's a great adventure story,' says singer Rickie Lee Jones of her new memoir

A colorful cast of characters populates the hipster pop star's new memoir.
Employment coach Stevenson Morgan, center, talked with members of the Ujamaa Music Group as they gathered for a virtual leadership conference.

A group of Twin Cities Black men turn their passion for music into power

Despite life struggles, St. Paul's Ujamaa Music Group makes tunes with some Princely help.
Luke Combs

Winstock, usually the summer's first country festival, is rescheduled for Aug. 20-21

Delayed from June because of COVID, the fest in Winsted, Minn., will feature Luke Combs and Sam Hunt.
Aaron Lavinsky / Star Tribune The memorial fence in front of Paisley Park in April 2018.

Paisley Park will display Prince's ashes on fifth anniversary of his death

Up to 1,400 fans can reserve a free visit on April 21.
Jamecia Bennett

Crooners will kick off tent concerts April 23 with Jamecia Bennett

For its second pandemic outdoor series, the Fridley supper club plans some upgrades.
Aretha Franklin performed at the swearing-in ceremony for President Barack Obama in 2009..

7 must-see videos of Aretha Franklin performing live

Sorry, Cynthia Erivo, ain't no way you're a substitute for the real thing. Here are seven unforgettable performances by Aretha Franklin on YouTube. (See this…
At 64, Minnesota music hero Jellybean Johnson makes his solo guitar debut

At 64, Minnesota music hero Jellybean Johnson makes his solo guitar debut

Thanks to the pandemic, the drummer for the Time got a chance to finish something he's wanted to do for a long time.
In this video grab provided by CBS and the Recording Academy, Billie Eilish performs at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards at the Los Angeles Convention Ce

Grammys put spotlight on young hitmakers – and a record-setting Beyoncé

Showcasing young performers, this year's Grammys was a virtual hit parade.
Judith Hill Photo by Jeremy Jackson

Five years after Prince's death, his protégée Judith Hill is a 'Newborn Woman'

Prince's pal Judith Hill confronts racism and depression on a standout album.
Country singer Ingrid Andress

Grammy's new faces: Meet country singer Ingrid Andress and four other rising stars

Meet Ingrid Andress and four other budding stars who are contending at Sunday's Grammy Awards.
FILE -- Taylor Swift performs at the Time 100 Gala at Lincoln Center in New York, April 23, 2019. The firm the Carlyle Group, a part owner of her cata

Grammy predictions: Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift once again

Critic's best bets for Grammy winners.
Michelle Obama in “Waffles + Mochi” Netflix

10 best things our critics are watching this week

From the "Bachelor" finale to Michelle Obama's new Netflix series for kids, here's what we're tuning into right now.
Kellie Pickler with her talk show co-host Ben Aaron at the 2019 Daytime Emmy Awards.

Country star Kellie Pickler will emcee when Minnesota's We Fest returns in August

Opening acts Lanco, Russell Dickerson, Eli Young Band and Ingrid Andress were announced for the August hoedown.
Delilah (played by Maahra Hill) with kids in “Delilah.” OWN

10 best things our critics are watching this week

From Oprah's 'Delilah' to Aubrey Plaza's 'Black Bear,' here's what we're tuning into right now.
Sonny Knight

30 essential Black musicians who defined Minnesota's sound

The groundbreaking acts who became Minnesota's ambassadors to the rest of the world, or reshaped things here at home.
Peter Ostroushko played for more than 250 episodes of “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Peter Ostroushko, virtuoso musician who played with Bob Dylan, Minnesota Orchestra, dies

The Minnesota fiddler/mandolinist suffered a stroke in 2018, derailing his long and celebrated career.
Chris Weber in 1975.

Chris Weber, 'unsung hero' of Dylan's 'Blood on the Tracks' and former owner of the Podium, dies at 73

Musician Kevin Odegard's mission was to find a small acoustic guitar — one like the kind Joan Baez played — for an unnamed player who…
Joyann Parker stood for a portrait at Crooners Supper Club .

At midlife, self-schooled Twin Cities singer comes 'Out of the Dark' with a triumphant album

Joyann Parker triumphs with a liberating, proudly eclectic album.
The Weeknd performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 20

Review: The Weeknd puts on lavish, but niche halftime show

Was it too soon for this hitmaking Toronto star to headline the Big Game?
Star Tribune file  The Surf Ballroom’s annual Winter Dance Party, pictured here in 1999, pays tribute to Buddy Holly’s death.

The ballroom that held Buddy Holly's last concert becomes a historic landmark

But the Surf is historic for more than that fateful concert on a frigid night in 1959.
Guitar star Cory Wong at home last month.

Think you're busy? Minnesota guitarist Cory Wong just released his 12th album in 13 months

Grammy-nominated Twin Cities guitar star Cory Wong releases his 12th album in 13 months.
When doves die: Prince's longtime pet Divinity passes at Paisley Park

When doves die: Prince's longtime pet Divinity passes at Paisley Park

The dove was 28, beyond average life expectancy. She will be replaced.
Sallie Steele Birdsong

Four Minnesota Black elders tell their stories in a film about racism by singer J.D. Steele

He interviewed three civil rights veterans as well as his own mother.
Debbie Duncan

A who's who of Minnesota music will celebrate the life of singer Debbie Duncan

A memorial service for Minnesota's First Lady of Song will be livestreamed on Saturday.
From left, saxophonist Sophia Kickhofel, vocalist Eycis Maxon, rapper Pablo Giebink Valbuena and guitarist Julen Manzur.

Twin Cities teens make a noteworthy album at Experience Jazz program

Twin Cities teens make a top-notch album on weekends in Experience Jazz program.
The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Iowa's Surf Ballroom, site of Buddy Holly's last concert, named National Historic Landmark

Don McLean immortalized "the day the music died" at the Surf in his classic song "American Pie."
In this image from video, Katy Perry performed during the Celebrating America event on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, following the inauguration of Preside

Review: Music stars echo Biden's call for unity

The themes were sounded earlier at the inauguration by the combination of Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks and Jennifer Lopez.
Jonny Lang

Jonny Lang calls off future concerts due to ongoing voice problems

The Minnesota-launched guitar hero's manager says promoters will issue refunds, including the Fillmore Minneapolis.
At 74, Barry Gibb says, “I don’t mind being my age.” 

Bee Gees fever: Barry Gibb explains why he's gone country but won't watch the acclaimed documentary

Barry Gibb redefines trio's legacy with all-star country album and documentary.
Gully Boys recorded their New Year’s Eve gig at Mortimer’s. Emily Utne

For Gully Boys and Davina, New Year's Eve is a time for streaming, not streamers

Gully Boys and Davina & the Vagabonds will say goodbye to 2020 with virtual concerts.
Fiona Apple, top. Clockwise from left:  Taylor Swift’s “Evermore”; Anderson.Paak; Run the Jewels’ RTJ4”; Lucinda Williams’ “Good Souls B

Best music of the worst year: Our music critics' favorite albums and songs of 2020

Our critics agreed on Fiona Apple's sonic opus and the bolt-cutting value of 2020's other great albums and songs.
Pianist Phil Thompson organizes “A Minnesota Holiday,” a compilation of musicians playing seasonal songs, which raises money for charity. This yea

How a little known pianist landed Bob Dylan on his 'Minnesota Holiday' charity CD

Woodbury pianist/producer bagged a Bob Dylan track for his annual charity CD "A Minnesota Holiday."
Just released 1970 Bob Dylan album features his sessions with George Harrison

Just released 1970 Bob Dylan album features his sessions with George Harrison

Under a European copyright law, the oft-bootlegged recordings were issued in a limited three-disc collection.
Musician Bob Dylan performs with the Band at the Forum in Los Angeles on Feb. 15, 1974.

Was Bob Dylan's bar mitzvah rehearsal tape discovered in a Hibbing church?

A U.K. Dylan fan website claims a Hibbing pastor unearthed this 1954 recording, but here is the real story.
First Avenue mask

15 holiday gifts for music lovers: Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan and more

The lack of concerts in 2020 only adds to the appetite for music-related presents.
Dr. Carolyn Borow has gone virtual, doing appointments about pregnancy complications, sore throats and COVID fears via computer and FaceTime.

Mendota Heights doctor finds renewed purpose in virtual medicine

Dr. Carolyn Borow has delivered more than 3,500 babies in her 41 years as a family doctor. But she hasn't delivered one since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The BlendersPhoto provided

COVID didn't steal Christmas concerts: Streaming shows in the Twin Cities

Minnesota musicians have planned streamed performances and some treats.
Garth Brooks’ new album “Fun” drops Friday. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Promoting 'Fun,' Garth Brooks talks politics, pandemic and George Floyd

With his new album, the country megastar offers comfort food during the pandemic.
Leo Kottke’s latest album, “Noon” with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, “woke up the recording appetite in me.”

At age 75, Minnesota guitar hero Leo Kottke releases a new album with Phish bassist

Minneapolis guitar hero Leo Kottke is missing his 40th annual Thanksgiving concert, but celebrating his first album in 15 years.
Smokey Robinson performed at the BET Awards in 2015.

Smokey Robinson talks Bob Dylan, 'My Girl,' his Twin Cities benefit concert

The Motown legend is performing only one concert — Saturday in a virtual gala for the PACER Center, a Bloomington nonprofit.
Eric Church performed in February, 2019 at Target Center.

What was missing at CMA Awards? Any mention of the word COVID-19

The K102 morning country crew Chris Carr & Company won major market radio personalities of the year.
Carrie Underwood arrived at the CMT Music Awards in 2019. This year, she’ll be watching the CMA Awards instead of hosting.

Carrie Underwood talks CMA Awards, Twin Cities Summer Jam and a little bit of hockey

Country queen is scheduled to headline Twin Cities Summer Jam 2021 in July.
Andrea DeGaetano, of Household Cleaning Services, is a one-woman cleaning company. While COVID has complicated her work, she forges ahead with the att

Twin Cities house cleaners in pandemic: 'I'm busy sanitizing everything!'

Professional house cleaners have had to change routines to keep clients and themselves safe.
A 1963 photo of Bob Dylan from Tony Glover’s personal collection, shot by Don Hunstein in Dylan’s New York apartment, (Courtesy RR Auction.)

12 things we learned from this unpublished 1971 Bob Dylan interview

In a rare straightforward chat, he told Tony Glover why he changed his name and what song he wrote for Barbra Streisand.
Bruce Springsteen performs during the closing ceremonies of the Invictus Games in Toronto on Sept. 30, 2017. Springsteen's latest album, "Letter To Yo

Review: In latest release, Bruce Springsteen sends a vibrant 'Letter' about mortality

The 12-song disc ends up being both something of a retrospective and perhaps a valediction, Jon Bream says.
Local piano institution Butch Thompson, who is celebrating the release of his new album with the Southside Aces at Crooners.

Minnesota jazz piano hero Butch Thompson celebrates a new album while battling memory loss and hand disease

Pianist Butch Thompson touts a new album while fighting memory loss and a disease that affects his hands.
Joey Molland headed home from the Villa recording studio in Savage.

Badfinger's Joey Molland makes a solo album with a little help from his Beatle-y friends

"Be True to Yourself," his sixth solo album and the first in seven years, has echoes of John, Paul, George and sometimes even Ringo.
Marilyn Maye, 92-year-old queen of cabaret, performed in first of four nights in a newly heated outdoor tent at Crooners in Fridley on Wednesday. Nico

At a big top in Fridley, 92-year-old singer shows her musical and comic mastery

The 92-year-old cabaret queen beguiled with music and humor in a big tent at Crooners.

Massive reissue of Prince's best album shows he had 'no time for self-pity' in 1987

The super-deluxe reissue of "Sign o' the Times" shows the masterwork still holds up — and then some.
Krysta Ruiz took a picture of a waterfall as she and Ryan Sanchez visited the Japanese Gardens at Como Conservatory.

Pandemic is perfect time to savor the gardens at St. Paul's Como Park

St. Paul attraction offers some Zen and a little paradise, too.
COVID survivor Nachito Herrera will livestream a performance at the Dakota later this month.

No concerts? Even so, there's no lack of options for music fans

Chris Riemenschneider and Jon Bream Star Tribune Just when music fans finally started getting out again, the weather is pulling them back in. COVID-era…
BrownMark performs with The Revolution during Rock the Garden outside Walker Art Center in 2017. Star Tribune file

Bassist BrownMark's life with Prince & the Revolution detailed in new memoir

Bandmate BrownMark: 'He left me in a hotel room for three days'
Pepe Willie outside the Capri Theater, where he helped put together Prince's first professional concert. Shari L. Gross •

Prince's early mentor Pepe Willie tells his rock 'n' roll tale in new memoir

Early mentor Pepé Willie: 'We used to call him the Lonely Guy'
Nachito Herrera says a melody came into his head when he awoke from a coma, which he turned into a piece called “Hope.”

Minnesota pianist on surviving COVID-19: 'This is the worst thing I've had in 54 years of my life'

After a nearly fatal case of COVID-19, Minnesota pianist Nachito Herrera will play a mini-grandstand concert.
Lucinda Williams performs at the Fitzgerald Theater on Saturday, April 13, 2019.

Watch: Lucinda Williams plays an exclusive set for our Mini-Grandstand series

The Americana queen plays a special set drawing on her new album "Good Souls Better Angels," which echoes our troubled era.
Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams sounds off: 'I haven't lost my idealism and my spirit'

Three-time Grammy winner Lucinda Williams will kick off the Star Tribune State Fair's virtual grandstand, a 12-day online concert series, on Thursday.
Guitarist Pat Donohue of “Praire Home Companion” plays a show at Dick Cohn’s home in St. Paul.

Tiny porch concerts are lifesavers for Twin Cities musicians, fans

Pat Donohue is perched at the top of the front steps with his acoustic guitar. At the bottom of the steps sits a…
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on police use of force and community relations on on Capitol Hill, Tu

Klobuchar explains her new bill to Rolling Stone: 'I don't want to lose music in America'

In an op-ed article, she argues that Congress should provide financial aid to independent music venues like First Avenue.
Maria Schneider

Grammy-winning Maria Schneider takes on Big Data in latest work

The Minnesota native releases a riveting double album, "Data Lords."
Josh Countryman, a choir teacher at Henry Sibley High School, worked from his garage studio. Countryman taught himself how to do virtual choirs and pu

From Minnesota high schools to Children's Theatre, virtual choirs catch on

Choirs overcome these pandemic times by blending technology and solo singing into virtual performances, some of which are included.
Jimmy Page’s guitar in Willie’s American Guitars in St Paul.

How Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page lost his prized guitar in Minneapolis and got it back 45 years later

This is the story of Black Beauty. Not the horse, but a legendary guitar. And the people who possessed it. Or were possessed by it.