A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
John Donovan of Big Lake, Minn.:
1 Bonnie Raitt, Ledge Amphitheater. Sentimental, sassy and sensational, she can still bring it. The mournful sounds of her slide guitar mixed with the soulful sound of her blues voice made for an incredible, emotionally gratifying evening in an incredible setting.
2 Pamela McNeill, "Neon Lightning." Lyrically and musically this new album by the Twin Cities singer is as breathtaking as the title suggests. Insightful, funny and thought-provoking lyrics coupled with masterful musicianship makes this a standout CD. McNeill's vocals and songwriting shine as bright as neon lightning.
3 The Rolling Stones, U.S. Bank Stadium. The last time I saw them live was in Germany in 1995 with 78,000 attendees and it was off-the-hook. Twenty-six years later, they did not disappoint. At 78 years young, Mick Jagger looked as spry and agile as he did the last time. The band gave an amazing performance and definitely retained the title of the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Celisse, Xcel Energy Center. I'd seen her play guitar behind Lizzo and Jon Batiste. But opening for Brandi Carlile, Celisse totally crushed it with her powerhouse voice, infectious personality and guitar shredding that earned her standing ovations after two of her four songs.
2 Beyonce, "Renaissance." We've come to expect the eventful from Queen Bey and she delivers again. This overlong collection is deep, delightful and eminently danceable, sampling or referencing so much in disco and house music history.
3 Jelly Roll, "Son of a Sinner." This single jumps out on country radio. What an opening couplet: "I never get lonely / I got these ghosts to keep me company." A Nashville rapper / singer who's rough around the edges, Jelly Roll sings that he's a long-haired son of a sinner, looking for new ways to get gone. He is only one drink away from the devil, he tells us, and he guesses he's just a little right and wrong. Talk about three chords and the truth.
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