A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Jenny Lewis, Basilica Block Party. She is a compelling combination of cool and engaging. She and her terrific band played songs from her entire career, including a couple from her Rilo Kiley days. Lewis has an amazing voice, so strong and clear. But she is also quite the performer; she seemed to be having so much fun it was impossible to not do the same.
Jason Isbell, Basilica Block Party. Isbell is a different kind of cool. You’ve got to love a guy who, on a sweltering Minnesota evening, showed up in all black; eventually he had to bow to reality and discard the sport coat. He played lots of songs from his pretty great new album, which meant fewer songs from his really great previous album, “Southeastern,” although he did finish with “Super 8,” a truly fantastic rocker from that record.
The Lone Bellow, Lake Street Dive and Dawes, Cabooze Plaza. A great evening of music on a beautiful summer evening in Minneapolis. Playing with warmth and enthusiasm, the Lone Bellow didn’t act like an opening act. Lake Street Dive was a revelation, especially their charismatic lead singer, Rachael Price. She has a truly astounding voice that is both technically remarkable and emotionally fulfilling. They didn’t perform their cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” although they did slip in a snippet of Van Halen’s “Jump.” Dawes was Dawes, which is quite a compliment. Their songs are some of the most sing-along-able tunes imaginable and the crowd obliged. New guitarist Duane Betts, son of Dickey Betts, gave their sound more of an Allman Brothers feel.
- Brad Colbert, Minneapolis
Rod Stewart and James Corden. On “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” the host took Rod the Mod for a car ride during which they sang along with — what else — Rod Stewart songs. It was goofy fun — with Corden playing super fanboy and Stewart playing good sport. A$AP Rocky made a surprise cameo, popping up in the back seat. The reaction of the folks in the cars that pulled up next to them was priceless.
Jason Isbell, “Something More Than Free.” I appreciated his stellar new album even more after hearing several songs live at the Basilica Block Party, especially the lyrically potent “Children of Children” and the rocking “24 Frames.”
Dawes and Lake Street Dive do Nye’s. After rockin’ the Cabooze Plaza, these hip out-of-towners hit the forever-hip Nye’s, taking the stage with local singer Terry Walsh’s band St. Dominic’s Trio for some covers, keeping the music going till closing time.
- Jon Bream, Star Tribune