A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
"Rock & Roll," Mpls Photo Center. Don't miss this juried photo exhibit featuring the work of talented music photographers from all over the world, as well as iconic images by juror Paul Natkin from Chicago. A huge range of musical and photographic styles are represented, with many of the prints for sale.
New Orleans Suspects, "Ouroboros." On the heels of their two-night stand at Bunker's comes this new album, which has been on repeat at my house. "Magdalena" has that "follow the story in the groove" Little Feat vibe, and "Walk of Shame" is a perfect reminder that live music can sometimes be like your "other girlfriend."
Jack Brass Band. The Twin Cities group hit it hard at local Signaturetone Recording this month, completely live tracking a more spiritual followup to its excellent "For Your Body" CD. Meanwhile, news dropped of the band's opening date with Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue at the Cabooze on June 23.
Christopher Ludtke, Minneapolis
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"Saturday Night Live" 40th anniversary special. Music has always been a key element on "SNL," so it was appropriate that this marathon featured some memorable musical performances: Miley Cyrus getting down on a funky, New Orleans-flavored "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake doing a spot-on rap tune discussing "SNL" highlights over the years and Kanye West (with Sia and Vic Mensa) offering a subdued and mesmerizing "Wolves" performed under a tent.
Sasha Allen in "Pippin," the Orpheum. A finalist on NBC's "The Voice" in 2013, she proves Broadway-worthy in this revamped road show. She has a commanding presence, a potent voice and the right dance moves to star as the Leading Player, sort of the narrator of this musical.
Irma Thomas, the Dakota Jazz Club. On the eve of Fat Tuesday, the soul queen of New Orleans celebrated her career as part of an oddly paced revue billed as Blues at the Crossroads. Thomas impressed with her Crescent City soulfulness — loved "(You Can Have My Husband But Please) Don't Mess With My Man" and "Wish Someone Would Care" — and New York newcomer Alecia Shakour did a knockout Etta James medley.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune