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

– Songwriter: 1969-1982." This documentary shows, despite his drug-fueled, depressive mental collapses, he could still compose some amazing and beautiful music.

Darlene Love, "Introducing Darlene Love." Her new CD, well produced by Little Stevie Van Zandt, shows off her still amazing voice on new songs by Springsteen, Elvis Costello and others. Watch the video of "Forbidden Nights" for a sample, and some surprising cameos.

John Lennon tribute, First Avenue. The 36th annual lovefest by Curtiss A and friends showcased songs from "Magical Mystery Tour" and "The White Album" in all their intensity.

Marty Auron, Eagan

To contribute, e-mail popmusic@startribune.com.

New Standards holiday show, State Theatre. This ninth annual extravaganza put the ho-ho-ho in the holidays, thanks to such guests as Har Mar Superstar (in a sharp suit and tie and inimitable vocal form), Dan Wilson (offering two brand-new yule originals), the Flat Five (with stylish harmonies), Matt Wilson (with Vegas-worthy production) and Nellie McKay (as a German cabaret singer and a giant marijuana leaf singing "All I Want for Christmas Is Weed"). Good times, good cheer.

Regina Marie Williams in "Sister Act," Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. She has the right combination of dramatic chops and bravura voice to make you forget Whoopi Goldberg in the film version.

Mick Sterling and Jellybean Johnson with Renee Austin, the Dakota. Sterling's two vocal duets and Johnson's guitar work, especially his trading licks with Mark Arneson, elevated Austin in her comeback gig after a 10-year absence from the club scene because of a vocal injury.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune