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

Craig Finn, Minneapolis Woman's Club. Seemed like an unusual venue for our homegrown guy, but it was soon apparent that it was perfect for his storytelling through music and banter.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Turf Club. They combined blues, soul and rock that filled the Turf with energy and sound. Their shout-alongs will likely make this the last time we see them in a room this size.

Jimi Charles Moody, "Blue Honey." This single is a stop-in-your-tracks song that makes you wonder, "Who is this?" The mystery behind this artist is eclipsed by this incredibly beautiful old-school track.

Gary Anger, Apple Valley

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Brian Setzer Orchestra, the Orpheum. The kickoff to his annual Christmas tour put the emphasis on rocking (big band and small band) and terrific guitar work (by the ever versatile Setzer). Pianist Kevin McKendree's version of "Great Balls of Fire" was a killer.

"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical," the Orpheum. The title is weak and the plot is hardly compelling. But you can't argue with the songs — one great hit after another. It ain't "Jersey Boys," but it is "Brooklyn Girl."

Suzanne Vega, the Cedar. The three songs she offered from her upcoming play with music "Unjoined" (a collaboration with Duncan Sheik, about writer Carson McCullers) were intriguing. The song "Harper Lee" was a hoot. Can't wait to hear the soundtrack and see this off-Broadway show.

Jon Bream, Star Tribune