Various Artists

Live at the Cedar: Visionaries

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The Cedar Cultural Center has long been one of Minneapolis' main music venues, and this CD celebrates live performances spanning 13 years with figures from folk, blues, and world music. There are some stellar performances, like Baaba Maal's stunning "Baayo" and "The Pipe on the Hob" from Liam O'Flynn and Arty McGlynn. But there's nothing bad, or even average here -- the nearest is Martin Sexton's "Love Keep Us Together" as an audience singalong. Doc Watson is his usual brilliant self, while local hero Greg Brown mesmerizes with his intense reading of "Down at the Mill." It's interesting in retrospect to hear a very young Ani DiFranco with her talent still in embryonic form in 1993, full of energy and fire, a punk with an acoustic guitar. Ali Farka Toure's guitar is majestic -- a reminder of what listeners have lost in his passing -- on "Amandrai," showing just how close the desert blues of Mali is to the Delta, or even to Chicago. It all finishes off with the glowing fretwork of Bill Frisell. The entire disc is a catalog of wonderful music played in a place that deserves its iconic status.

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