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

Lucinda Williams, First Avenue. She played well over two hours each night, only a half-dozen or so songs repeated, covering her entire songbook as well as a nod to Robert Johnson. She has a great musical sensibility and one hot band.

The Lone Bellow, "Cold As It Is." Great three-part harmonies, terrific melody and lyrics, and the way it was around here a couple weeks back, very timely. Can't wait for the gig March 3 at Turf Club.

Trailer Trash, Lee's. Saw them twice in December and try never to miss their annual "Trashy Little Xmas" treat. From "Santa Do the Mambo" to "Daddy's Drinkin' Up Our Christmas," those three sets rock Lee's like no other. Much dancing, plenty of bad holiday sweaters and many ho-ho-ho's to be had by all.

Esa Katajamaki, Mpls.

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Jose James, the Dakota. The Brooklyn-based Minneapolis native reinvented himself once again as a terrific impressionistic, hip-hop influenced interpreter of tunes associated with Billie Holiday. His performance was as inspired as his respect for his musicians was admirable.

Kate McKinnon as Justin Bieber, "Saturday Night Live." She did a video sendup of the Bieb's Calvin Klein undies ad that went on and on with priceless, spot-on absurdities.

Jeremy Messersmith, Dan Wilson, Caroline Smith, Bryant-Lake Bowl. With her pluck, personality and presence, the spunky Smith stole the acoustic song-swapping evening from her more experienced partners. Her singing and songs were impressive, too.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune