Published: Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Best Bets for August

  • Kid Rock (Saturday, Target Center). His name is Kid Rock, and he rocks, kids.

  • Kenny Roby and Cary Hudson (Saturday, 400 Bar). The co-founder of Six String Drag and the guiding force behind Blue Mountain, respectively, in a showcase of ace songwriting.

  • Mary J. Blige (Aug. 9, Historic Orpheum Theater). The queen of hip-hop soul returns.

  • Justin Roberts (Aug. 12, Wild Rumpus bookstore, Minneapolis, and Aug. 13, Cleveland Avenue United Methodist Church, St. Paul). The Pimentoes for Gus founder's first concert for kids since the release of his wonderful children's music recording, ``Great Big Sun.''

  • D'Angelo (Aug. 18, Orpheum Theater). Advance reports on this three-hour soul revue have been positively drooling.

  • The New Duncan Imperials (Aug. 17, 7th St. Entry). In terms of sheer entertainment, the only rival these kooks have will come from the State Fair Midway.

  • k.d. lang and Shelby Lynne (Aug. 18, Historic Orpheum Theater). Two big voices, one small hall.

  • Fred Wesley (Aug. 17 and 18, Dakota Bar and Grill). James Brown's funk-jazz trombonist makes his first solo appearance in the Twin Cities.

  • Santana (Aug. 22, Target Center). Last year at this time, Santana played Northrop Auditorium to a couple of thousand fans. Things have changed.

  • Christina Aguilera (Aug. 28, State Fair Grandstand). What a girl wants? To be the next Mariah Carey, duh.

    Best of July

    Live shows from the North Mississippi All Stars, Green Day, Bob Dylan and Lifter Puller, records from Eva Cassidy, Maraca and Morcheeba, and a Sex Pistols biopic made for a marvy month.

    Oscar Wilde once said, ``When people agree with me, I always feel that I must be wrong.''

    Well, Oscar old boy, that's just what this rock-crit game can feel like sometimes. Still, we must forge verily ahead, come off the sidelines and indulge in the poisons/passions of our choice:

  • The North Mississippi All Stars (July 30, 400 Bar). On their debut CD, ``Shake Hands With Shorty,'' this Mississippi roots-rock-blues trio (singer/guitarist Luther Dickinson, singer/bassist Chris Drew, singer/drummer Cody Dickinson) suggests a taut, Southern boogie-fried Jon Spencer Allman Brothers Blues Explosion. But live, they're a Phish of another color.

    Jam bands are not my cup of bong water (I left after the first set, after 90 minutes of enduring noodling on such numbers as ``Skinny Woman'' and ``All Night Long''), but there were moments when the endless, colorless guitar and drum solos gave way to some power-blues that suggested a supersonic Little Feat and (perhaps) better things to come.

  • The Sex Pistols, ``The Filth and the Fury'' (June 30, Uptown Theater). The night I saw this biopic about (still) the world's most dangerous band, I came home and turned on MTV (my mistake), only to find Kurt Loder interviewing Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis, who had just finished another really big shew.

    Kurt wanted to know if this was a better Peppers outing than Woodstock. I can't remember what Anthony said, then I turned it off because it was too sad, too embarrassing, too difficult to get my head around how homogenized/forgotten/taken-for-granted the Pistols' historic insurgence has become.

    Then I relaxed. A couple of weeks later, there was a picture in the paper of the queen mum celebrating her 100th birthday. Cavorting in front of the woman who inspired the Pistols' ``God Save the Queen,'' as part of the gala's procession, were some models dressed like ``punk rockers.'' I chuckled because it was so ironic, so preposterous, to think about how assimilated, how middle-of-the road ``punk'' has become. And I hoped that somewhere, John Lydon was chuckling, too -- and that somewhere else, a kid was practicing the daylights out of his bar chords.

  • Green Day and Dave Wasierski, ``Bottom Of The Barrel'' (July 11, Vans Warped Tour, Metrodome parking lot). When the punk icons invited a 15-year-old guitarist from Olivia, Minn., to get up on stage and play, it was the most memorable moment of the day. Ask anyone who was there.

  • Bill Tuomala, ``Exiled on Main Street, Vol. 24.'' I've said it before, I won't stop: the best one-man 'zine going. And this is yet another terrific read, if only for the brilliant esss on the co-option of the peace sign by Verizon Wireless and the most compelling defense for Napster (R.I.P.) I've read yet. (

  • Eva Cassidy, ``Time After Time'' (Blix Street Records). This posthumous collection from Cassidy, the stunning Washington, D.C., singer who died in 1996, begins with a sublimely understated version of Paul Simon's ``Kathy's Song'' and goes on to wholly reinvent everything from the Box Tops' ``The Letter'' and Cyndi Lauper's ``Time After Time'' to Joni Mitchell's ``Woodstock'' and Bill Withers' ``Ain't No Sunshine'' with the same serenity that marked some of the great early '70s singer/songwriter records.

    Might sound dull on paper, but all I can say is that her tortured, captured-angel voice cripples me every time it visits.

  • Morcheeba, ``Fragments of Freedom'' (Sire). Like a massive Macy Gray attack, Morcheeba's second release is less trippy, more funky, with lots of sanguine things to say -- especially on such frothy missives as ``Love Is Rare,'' ``In The Hands of the Gods'' and ``Be Yourself.''

  • Various artists, ``The 100 Greatest Rock & Roll Moments on TV'' (today through Friday, VH1). These ``100 Greatest Whatever'' things are getting tedious, but they're like the proverbial tin of Pringles -- even though they're bad for you, you just keep munching.

    And this one, as chosen by the VH1 staff and the editors of Entertainment Weekly, is just as addicting, even though the choices are extremely boomer-centric and the omissions, off the top of my head, are outrageous: Elvis Costello doing ``Radio, Radio'' on ``Saturday Night Live,'' the Replacements doing ``Kiss Me on the Bus'' and ``Bastards of Young'' on ``Saturday Night Live,'' Trailer Trash on ``Viva and Jerry's Country Music Videos,'' Prince's buttless pants on ``The MTV Music Video Awards,'' Public Image Ltd. on ``American Bandstand,'' Michael Jordan and Public Enemy on ``Saturday Night Live,'' Lifter Puller on ``The Jenny Jones Show,'' Husker Du on ``The Today Show,'' Gear Daddies on ``Late Night With David Letterman,'' Bob Stinson on ``The Dewey Berger Show,'' C.J. tying up Fancy Ray McCloney on ``Get Down With It!,'' etc.

  • Bob Dylan, ``Things Have Changed'' (July 14, Target Center). When Dylan went into this little-known but powerful single from the ``Wonder Boys'' soundtrack, hardcore Dylanophiles and newbies alike roared as if it was one of his etched-in-the-collective-consciousness hits. And that got a fella dreaming about mounting a billboard, spray-painting ``PLAY BOB'' and staying up there until the corporate radio powers-that-be do just that.

  • Maraca, ``Descarga Total!'' (Ahi-Nama Music). The night Dylan and Phil Lesh played Target Center, Orlando ``Maraca'' Valle was at First Avenue. For all who couldn't be in two places at once, this is a scintillating solace; an organic, fresh breeze of Cuban big band jazz that makes your hips giggle.

  • Carlos Diaz, ``Colombia Herida'' (Colombia wounded) concert (July 20, Hamline University). Backed by some of the Twin Cities' most accomplished players, including bassist Enrique Toussaint, drummer Rey Rivera, guitarist Joe Cruz and pianist/keyboardist Laura Caviani, local singer/guitarist/composer Diaz fashioned a beautiful paean to his troubled homeland, Colombia.

    There was plenty of joy to be had -- especially on such numbers as ``Carnaval,'' as sung by vocalist Donna McKirdy -- but much of the evening was given to the big-hearted Diaz, a worried man singing a worried song.

  • Peter Noel, ``Bring the Noise'' (Vibe magazine, August 2000). KRS One's ``Sound of Da Police'' was the theme song for racial-profiling-happy and protester-bashing Minneapolis this month, but this excellent piece lambastes the comfortable silence of today's hip-hop community.

    ``That so few rap stars have voiced their disgust over police behavior,'' writes Noel, ``suggests to many activists that today's artists have sold out -- traded in their self-professed allegiance to the streets for a brand new Bentley.'' Ironically enough, the piece was written before Bruce Springsteen started performing his ``American Skin (41 Shots).''

  • Irwin Chusid, ``Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music'' (A Cappella Press). Chusid, a deejay at WFMU in New York, has penned a love letter that will appeal to any and all who have marveled at the marvelous minutia that makes up Radio K's ``Cosmic Slop'' show. Chusid's tome to the twisted explores the collected works of such outsiders as the Shaggs, Tiny Tim, Wesley Willis, Daniel Johnston, Captain Beefheart and Syd Barrett, with no other unifying guideline than this: ``Duke Ellington once said, `If it sounds good, it is good.' Well, sometimes if it sounds bad, it's even better.''

  • Lifter Puller (July 11, Vans Warped Tour, and July 18, Loring Park). ``Twin Cities, you're ganging up on me,'' burped Lifter Puller singer/guitarist Craig Finn at these two superb outdoor shows. Both times, he drew back from the microphone after playing the chord and singing the line, then peered out over his glasses, past the crowd, as if he were looking for something off in the distance. Turns out he was -- for a way out, and these shows, like all their shows, will remain a lasting legacy of one of Minnesota's best-ever bands.

  • Leona Naess (July 27, 400 Bar). This 23-year-old Brit singer/songwriter's fine debut, ``Comatised,'' is moody in all the right places and catchy in others. But this night, despite some promising new songs and an ability to effortlessly blend ambiences and genres, she and her nondescript rock band seemed all too willing to play the adult-contemporary star (why did I keep thinking about ``Fame'' and ``The Commitments'' during her set?). The last thing she sang was, ``I want the world to notice/I want everythiiiiing,'' which made me want her a whole lot less.

    Pop music critic Jim Walsh can be reached at (651) 228-5553.

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