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
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.
Prince

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 • shari.gross@startribune.co

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

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.
The music camp in its 14th year goes virtual this summer, with an emphasis on what goes on behind the scenes to create songs.

Minnesota rock camp focuses on getting more girls into studio technology

The annual She Rock She Rock music camp goes virtual this year.
Former "Voice" contestants Kat Perkins and Nick Davis in the Dunsmore Jazz Room at Crooners Supper Club. Former "Voice" contestants Kat Perkins and Ni

'The Voice' contestants Kat Perkins and Nicholas David find lasting success in Minnesota

One-time national contestants have come home to build their careers.
Reid McLean

Reid McLean, organizer of Orchestra Hall's 'Day of Music,' died at 69

He had the vision, broad musical tastes and technical know-how as well as the confidence, patience and stamina to pull off a festival featuring 24…
Sounds of Blackness

This Juneteenth, listen to a powerful new protest anthem by Sounds of Blackness

Inspired by George Floyd and Fannie Lou Hamer, the Grammy-winning group drops its fiery, fierce "Sick and Tired."
Musician Bob Dylan onstage during the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards held at The Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, Calif.

On 'Rough and Rowdy Ways,' Bob Dylan shows he's still delightfully confounding

On his first record of original material since 2012, he discusses mortality, history, inspiration and pop culture.
Joyann Parker sang on an outdoor stage with her Patsy Cline tribute band during a Crooners parking lot concert drive-in movie style.

5 places to see live music in the Twin Cities this week (yes, in person!)

A few venues are plugging back in with limited capacities.
Alan Leeds at home with a couple of James Brown items from his collection.

Edina man writes part history, part memoir about soul star James Brown — his ex-boss

Edina author writes about his "wild fantasy" years working with the Godfather of Soul.
Crooners’ drive-in concert series has been a big hit, but as the weather warms the supper club is transitioning to larger tent shows.

Live music in Twin Cities will return in new formats indoors and outside

Promoters get innovative with concert settings.
Twin Cities R&B favorite Joyann Parker opened Crooners' drive-in concert series with her Patsy Cline tribute band.

They gave a sitting ovation, at Twin Cities' first drive-in concert since pandemic

A drive-in concert at Crooners Monday evening brought live concerts back to the Twin Cities.
Bob Dylan, seen here in Martin Scorsese's "Rolling Thunder Revue" documentary, has been keeping fans guessing for decades.

At 79, Bob Dylan reminds us he's still full of surprises

"Murder Most Foul" is the latest unexpected move from the birthday boy. Here are 17 more surprises from throughout his career.
Bill Pagel at Bob Dylan's former Hibbing home.

Collector owns both of Bob Dylan's childhood homes – and his highchair

Bill Pagel has more than 15,000 photos, 4,000 concert posters and 18 four-drawer file cabinets filled with manuscripts and ephemera.
6 cool things in music this week include X, Jason Isbell, Avalon Jazz Band and Fergus Falls band director

6 cool things in music this week include X, Jason Isbell, Avalon Jazz Band and Fergus Falls band director

Pick Six is a half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view. Ross Anderson of Marshall, Minn.:1 "Candide Overture" by the CNSMDL Clarinet…
Prince at the Met Center in 1982.

Prince breaks ground with new channel on SiriusXM

The new Prince Channel is SiriusXM's first devoted solely to one artist of color. And it's free this month.
Andrew Walesch

Crooners pulls plug on outdoor concerts

Plans to stage shows à la drive-in movies violate Gov. Tim Walz's latest directive.
Semisonic performed at 2019’s Basilica Block Party.

26th annual Basilica Block Party is the latest summer music festival to cancel

The popular fundraiser for the Basilica of St. Mary is called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Debbie Duncan performed in March at Crooner’s Lounge and Supper Club in Fridley.

Crooners to bring live music back with parking-lot concerts

The Fridley supper club will offer live music in a drive-in movie style format during virus pandemic.
Prince performed at the old Met Center in Bloomington on March 7, 1982, a concert that was filmed for a never-finished movie called “The Second Comi

Our Prince wish list: 12 more items we hope to unearth from his fabled vault

Here's a wish list of 12 cherished items from Prince's fabled vault.
Legendary Cuban jazz performers jam in documentary film "The Buena Vista Social Club" (1999), directed by Wim Wenders.

From Amy Winehouse to ZZ Top: 27 great music documentaries

Go behind the scenes with some of the greatest stars and those you might have just met.
After burning out on bar gigs and guitar retail, Molly Maher turned to yoga, nature and a new way of making music, which can be heard on “Follow,”

Minnesota music queen Molly Maher pivots, finding new outlets and a new album

Minnesota music hero Molly Maher pivots, finding new outlets and a new album.
Nirvana, “MTV Unplugged in New York”

Singing the concert cancellation blues? Get your live music fix with these 25 films

With no concerts in town, these movie definitely guarantee a great performance to enjoy.
Twin Cities celebrity Fancy Ray McCloney at Elsa’s House of Sleep, a client of the TV pitchman/comedian. He’ll have a listening party on his Faceb

It's Fancy Ray McCloney Day in the Twin Cities: 'His shtick is almost like a spell'

Fancy Ray McCloney celebrates his debut album, "The Best Looking Man in Comedy."
Leslie Odom Jr.

Broadway star Leslie Odom Jr. on 'Hamilton' the movie: 'I'll be seeing it with fresh eyes'

Actor/singer, who won a Tony Award for portraying Aaron Burr, has been concentrating on his musical career.
Donna Pochie wears 'Irish' glasses during the South Side Irish Parade Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2019, in Chicago.

Could you use 'the luck of the Irish'? 13 songs for St. Patrick's Day

With St. Patrick's Day approaching, we recommend these songs about luck — good, bad and hopeful.
"We will do everything they ask us to do," Crooners owner Mary Tjosvold said Monday after hearing the governor's order to close all restaurants, bars

The last concert (for now) in Twin Cities was an uplifting evening at Crooners

Sunday's show at Crooners was about uplift in uncertain times.
Terry Walsh, right, leads the Belfast Cowboys. Photo by Renee Jones Schneider • renee.jones@startribune.com

Twin Cities concerts of the week: Joe Bonamassa, Wynonna Judd & Belfast Cowboys

The big gigs for March 13-19, also including Leslie Odom Jr., Ana Popovic, Steve Aoki and good ol' REO.
Kenny Chesney has postponed his May 2 concert at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Twin Cities concerts are canceling over virus: 'This is all uncharted'

Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Rage and Lumineers called off their local concerts, but many upcoming shows are still on. For now.
As the new executive director at Paisley Park, Alan Seiffert talks about “amplifying Paisley Park as a creative sanctuary.”

Paisley Park gets a reboot: You can take cellphone pics, and even drink, too

Welcome to the post-Elvis era at Paisley Park. Four years after Prince's death, his Chanhassen studio has come alive again under a new director.
Bob Weir, Jay Lane, and Don Was, from left, of the Wolf Bros. during the first song of their show at the Palace Theatre in 2018.

Twin Cities concerts of the week: Bob Weir, Best Coast, Three 6 Mafia, Black Lips

The big gigs for March 6-12, also including Hayes Carll with Allison Moorer, Omar Sosa, Yonder Mountain String Band, Liv Warfield, Wilco in Duluth and more.