A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Kari Hedlund, music director at KAXE in Grand Rapids, Minn.:
1 Jason Isbell, "Running With Our Eyes Closed." Sneak peeks of this documentary have shown incredible vulnerability and an honest representation of Isbell's life, career and process. Premieres April 7 on HBO.
2 Rural Happenings. This is not a band name, rather a shoutout to the rural places in Minnesota that are striving to make things happen, communities working hard to foster, value and support a live music scene. From Grand Rapids to Aitkin to Bemidji, I've seen a large shift over the years of living in northern Minnesota that brings joy and even more music to my life.
3 Rosalía. Music moves beyond language. The Spanish singer-songwriter turned my daughter into a serious fan with her 2022 album, "Motomami," which has continued to be on repeat in our house. "I love her songs. I love her voice. I love 'Chicken Teriyaki,'" says Signe, age 5.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Children of the Light, the Dakota, and Snarky Puppy, Palace Theatre. It was a jazz doubleheader of contrasting styles, moods and skills. The intimate trio of pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade featured masterful compositions, virtuoso musicianship, special chemistry and a magical performance in tribute to the late saxophone giant Wayne Shorter (including anecdotes about him). By contrast, Snarky Puppy felt like a horn-punctuated, 10-man big band jazz ensemble for the jam-band crowd that took a little too long to get cooking.
2 "Air" soundtrack. The enjoyable Matt Damon/Ben Affleck movie of the true story of Nike courting Michael Jordan takes place in 1984, and this soundtrack helps set the mood even if the apt "My Adidas," "Money for Nothing" and "All I Need Is a Miracle" came out a year or two later. Too bad there are no hits from Michael Jackson, Madonna or Prince, all of whom had big years in '84.
3 Shemekia Copeland, the Dakota. The powerhouse vocalist crushed it with a well-rounded, entertaining and meaningful array of blues and Americana originals, covers of tunes by dad Johnny Copeland and John Prine, and the hilarious country romp "Fell in Love with a Honky."
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