A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Brian McMahon of Stillwater:
1 Mark Wood, Edina High School. Joined by 700 student string musicians he was mentoring, Wood gave a high energy concert in front of more than 3,000 people. An Emmy-winning composer, he invented and manufactures a solid body electric violin. His performance was part of a national educational tour he dubs "Electrify Your Strings."
2. Seo Linn. The Irish folk/indie group sings in its historic Gaelic language breathing new life to Ireland's rich poetic tradition. The rousing hit song "Óró Sé do Bheatha Bhaile" has amassed more than 6 million views. The group just released its eagerly awaited new album, "Anuas."
3 Marek Grechuta. Another artist who sings in a language I don't understand, but whose sentiments are clearly understood, is this Polish songwriter, whose gentle cabaret style evokes the emotions of everyday life. He also composed for theater and cinema and has left behind a musical and literary artistry that endures.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Cory Wong, Palace Theatre. It's rare to see a largely instrumental concert as entertaining and musical as this 2 ¼-hour funky, jazzy and rockin' treat featuring guest bassist Victor Wooten. Wong's resourceful creativity was even more remarkable than his stellar guitar work. Loved the band playing with small, carry-on-a-plane instruments, the press conference parody and the encore of "Dean Town" with four bassists.
2 Black Opry Revue, Cedar Cultural Center. All four Black country/folk/Americana performers had keepers: Tae Lewis' "Nowhere," Julie Williams' "Wrong Mr. Right," Nikki Morgan's "30 Something" and everything by Tylar Bryant, especially "That Ain't Me" and "Outside the Box of Wine," which would be perfect for Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Dan + Shay or Bryant himself.
3 "Journey's Neal Schon v. Everyone," billboard.com. In an exhaustive story, Steve Knopper reports on the intra-band squabbles and litigation between guitarist/co-founder Schon and other members of Journey, which performs concerts nonetheless. Singer Steve Perry, who left in 1997, still made $400,000 from last year's tour. Schon apparently manages the band after cycling through Irving Azoff, Peter Mensch and some of the industry's biggest managers.
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