A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Jennifer Koep-Tallari of Hastings:
1 Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot, State Theatre. Fans from as far as Japan and the UK gathered in downtown Minneapolis to take in all the rockabilly goodness. Brian's guitar prowess never disappoints, and his rapport with the crowd is always great. We are so lucky that he calls the Twin Cities home.
2 "How Christian Nesmith Got the Monkee Off His Back," Rolling Stone. This is not your typical "nepo baby" story. Writer Andy Greene peels back the layers to Christian's roller coaster ride in the music industry and how the son of Michael Nesmith made his own path.
3 Tumblin' Dice, Rotary Pavilion. I was fortunate to catch this Rolling Stones tribute band in downtown Hastings. Their sound is tight, they get the crowd hyped and insert some cheeky British humor for good measure.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Taylor Swift is Time magazine's Person of the Year. Was there any question? She is the most monocultural phenomenon since Michael Jackson's "Thriller" era. Her cultural impact borders on Beatlesque for modern times. In what was her first major interview in four years, Sam Lansky, a Time editor, calls Swift "a maestro of self-determination, of writing her own story." It is arguably the most insightful and revealing profile ever of Swift, at a pivotal moment in her career and life, no less. Lansky makes an unimpeachable argument why she deserves to be the first figure from the entertainment world to be named Time's Person of the Year.
2 Joshua Ray Walker performing "Cuz I Love You." With the Texas singer and his band dressed in Barbie pink on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," he added a twangy touch to the Lizzo hit before unleashing his otherworldly wail. Check out Walker's album, "What Is It Even?," featuring covers of songs by Cher, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé and other women.
3 Marcus M. Martin in "Aladdin," Orpheum Theatre. The actors portraying Aladdin and Jasmine disappoint with their timidity, but Martin should add a fourth "M" to his name, as in Marvelous. His Genie saves "Aladdin," both the character and the show. Only three years out of college, Martin has a bravura baritenor voice, commanding presence, splendid comic timing, the requisite stamina and a magical vibe. The show's fourth wish should be to find lead actors who are as magnetic as Martin.
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