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

Lou Barlow, the Turf Club. Dropping into the club for two opening sets while visiting his girlfriend's family in St Paul, he gave us a traditional Barlow show: a bit disjointed and filled with fun stories. At the core it was the songs that have kept his fan base following him for decades.

Juliana Hatfield Three, "Whatever, My Love." Their recent crowd-funded album shows that the band can make strong music even after a 20-plus-year gap. I'm looking forward to their March 8 Turf Club show in St. Paul.

Willie Nile, the Dakota. A lesser known great rocker who came out of New York in the 1970s, he brought only a bass player. Still, he showed why Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and many others shared the stage with him. He ended with "One Guitar," his song that's becoming a staple at rock benefits.

Jeff holland, St. Paul

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Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, the O'Shaughnessy. The first couple of the banjo were a delight. Loved the repartee, Edina jokes and wig for a bluegrassy reading of the 1980s hair-band hit "The Final Countdown."

Lady Gaga, the Oscars. Her trills, her tattoos, her tinted hair. That's the sound of music in 2015. Who knew she could sing like that? Her tribute to Julie Andrews was trill-rific.

Kacey Musgraves, the State. With only one high-profile album of medium-tempo and ballad material to her name, the smart and smart-alecky country star resourcefully relied on covers of Nancy Sinatra and TLC to spice up her set. But it was her quick wit that was as memorable as her endlessly clever, message-filled tunes.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune