A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Jim Meyer of Minneapolis:
1 Parkway Theater. Growing up on Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis, I dreamed of turning the local cinema into a music venue (and more). Someone better suited has nurtured the plush 365-seater into an emerging force, booking Joe Henry, Lissie, Jimmy Webb, Arooj Aftab, Marshall Crenshaw, Bebel Gilberto and others.
2 Al Stewart, Parkway Theater. I like his songs on the radio, but was unprepared for the delightful tales from his 55 years in early British folk/soft rock, and the humor and heartache behind those trademark historical songs. RIP, Gordon Lightfoot. Long live Alastair Ian Stewart (age 77).
3 "Surface Noise," KFAI-FM. Let encyclopedic Electric Fetus staffer Brad Wrolstad guide you through multilingual grooves, vintage R&B, pan-global neo-soul, golden-era folk-pop and contemporary gems in and around those veins, beginning at 8 a.m. Thursdays. This man of few words (thank you) makes impossibly wide eclecticism sound so easy and inviting. Not my only destination on Fresh Air, just my top one.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Taylor Swift, Soldier Field. What an ambitious, fan-thrilling marathon performance. In true graceful Swift fashion, she inadvertently ate a bug ("delicious"), spoke when her microphone was malfunctioning and flubbed a lyric on one of her "surprise" songs. And, at the last of her three Chicago shows, they ran out of merch, unless you wear a size XXXXL tank top. At least there won't be any flying insects when she comes to U.S. Bank Stadium June 23-24.
2 Sounds of Blackness, "Woke." In what has become a recent annual tradition of releasing a single in conjunction with Juneteenth, the Grammy-winning Twin Cities group offers the up-tempo social justice anthem "Woke." It features a spiritual vibe, commentary about mass incarceration, cultural appropriation and reparations, and the spirited chorus of "sing it loud: I'm woke and I'm proud." Right on!
3 The Rebirth of Jelly Roll, Billboard. The fast-rising country star behind the unlikely No. 1 hit "Son of a Sinner" and new album "Whitsitt Chapel" is brutally honest with writer Melinda Newman about his life of crime, incarceration and transformation into a successful singer/rapper, parent and husband. He's cleaned up his life but hasn't forgotten or denied his past. "I want to be a guidepost of hope for people to know that losers can win," he said. "That who you were isn't who you are."
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