Pick Six is a half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view.
Don Watson of Minneapolis:
1 Kiss the Tiger's "Vicious Kid" release celebration. Four nights outside in June at Icehouse in south Minneapolis, women of color opening each show, plus guest appearances. It's not a party, it's an event.
2 Flipp Crawl. The band did nine shows in three days at different breweries. You mix beer and rock 'n' roll and you get a spontaneous all-star jam at the end.
3 Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band. I heard some amazing new music coming from this Twin Cities group. A band to watch.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Jon Batiste, "Freedom." With "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" returning in front of a live audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater, the resident piano man got wild and free with joyous dancing, a glorious gospel choir and jubilant trumpeters wearing angels wings. Even Colbert danced to Batiste's liberating music. Freeing indeed.
2 Mickey Guyton, New Yorker profile. Subtitled taking on country music's "overwhelming whiteness," Amanda Petrusich's outstanding piece not only gets inside the head of the powerful singer behind the perfect country song "Black Like Me," but she drags the Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum, Morgan Wallen and Florida Georgia Line into the discussion and gets Keith Urban, Darius Rucker and Carrie Underwood to testify on Guyton's behalf. With her debut full-length about to drop, Guyton wants to open the floodgates: "It's not enough for just one to make it here and there — it needs to be a sea of Black women, a sea of Latina women, a sea of LBGTQ artists. If we don't see that, then it's just gonna be the same white guy in a pickup truck with a ball cap, maybe some sneakers."
3 Jennifer Hudson, "Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)." Written by Carole King, Hudson and others, this new original for the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic "Respect" has an Aretha-like 105-second intro before declaring that this struggling singer is ready for her close-up. As for Hudson's vocals, wow!