A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
"Radio Heartland," Minnesota Public Radio. Mike Pengra stirs up a compelling stew of Americana, bluegrass and folk music all day long, every day for this online and digital radio station for MPR. I even bought an HD radio so that I could listen to it at work. This station has led to more music purchases than I can really afford.
KBEM's Acoustic Saturdays. Tune in to 88.5 FM and you'll roam from "Bluegrass Saturday Morning" to "String Theory" to "American Routes." The Americana programming lasts from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and then the station eases back into jazz.
Harold Tremblay's "House Party," KFAI. Starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fresh Air radio (90.3 and 106.7 FM) segues from the station to the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis for fantastic live performances. The perfect cure for the Wednesday blahs.
Erik Brandt, St. Paul
Big Star Third, First Avenue. An all-star ensemble played cult hero Big Star's obscure 1974 chamber pop "Third" album in its entirety, accompanied by a string section, horns and an oboe. What could have been an evening for music geeks turned into a shining musical triumph, thanks to memorable vocal turns by Dave Pirner, Matt Wilson, Mike Mills, Josh Grier and Skylar Gudasz and the guitar work of Audley Freed.
Jeffrey Osborne, the Dakota. His fun, freewheeling and rewarding set alternated between abbreviated versions of his old LTD funk tunes and impressive Lou Rawls-like renditions of jazz and pop classics from Osborne's 2013 album, seasoned with Patches Stewart's jazzy trumpet.
Shania Twain, Target Center. Two months after her performance here, she seemed looser and friendlier, chattier and more comfortable. Plus, her new spangly Rolling Stones and AC/DC tops helped put the rock in her Rock This Country Tour.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune