A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Lydia Loveless, Festival Palomino and Turf Club. Hailed as a country music prodigy in her midteens, she is instead making a name for herself as a full-on rocker. With powerhouse vocals, a growing catalog of top-notch original tunes and a take-no-prisoners approach to live performance, Loveless now evokes Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith and Joan Jett.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Minnesota Zoo. Their blistering rock jams with his unique style of pedal steel guitar closed this year's concert series with a roar. Impressive opening act the Ben Miller Band utilized unusual instrumentation, including a cigar box guitar and an old-time corded telephone handset as a microphone to conjure a sound suggesting a poor man's ZZ Top.
Foo Fighters, Xcel Energy Center. His broken leg kept him mostly seated, but Dave Grohl and company delivered a three-hour extravaganza for delighted fans.
Andrew Calkins, Roseville
Lizz Wright, the Dakota. The gospel/soul/jazz/blues marvel and her band finally grooved on tunes from this month's album, "Freedom & Surrender," and she encored with an amazing "Amazing Grace."
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, the State. These friends since 1974 made a simpatico duo, offering career retrospectives plus duets from their two recent collaborative albums. Very rewarding.
John Prine, the Orpheum. He charmed with his humorous conversation and long-lived first-rate songs about everyday people and simple truths, seasoned with some gentle twang.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune