Local Current Blog

Free music at the Minnesota State Fair: Something for everyone

Haley Bonar performs in The Current's studios. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

The Great Minnesota Get-Together has just announced its schedule of free music: concerts that are open to anyone with Minnesota State Fair admission. (Grandstand shows require separate tickets in addition to Fair admission.) With more than 900 live shows to choose from, there will certainly be something to please every music-loving Minnesotan. See the State Fair’s website for a complete schedule; below are ten recommendations for fans of particular genres.

For the Riverdance fan: Gaelic Storm

Gaelic Storm will perform Thursday, Aug. 27 and Friday, Aug. 28 at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. This Celtic band is influenced by traditional Irish and Scottish music as well as modern rock and folk. They have performed over 3,000 live shows and have topped the Billboard World Chart four times.

For the Top 40 devotee: Andy Grammer

Singer-songwriter Andy Grammer will perform Monday, Aug. 31 and Tuesday, Sept. 1 at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. He has performed with Taylor Swift, Train, and Colbie Caillat, and has released such hits as “Honey I’m Good” and “Keep Your Head Up.”

For the indie aficionado: Haley Bonar

Indie singer Haley Bonar will showcase her haunting voice on Wednesday, Sept. 2 and Thursday, Sept. 3 at Schell’s Stage at West End Market. Bonar has been a nonstop force in the Twin Cities music scene for years, collaborating with Justin Vernon and Andrew Bird. Her talented rotating band includes members of 12 Rods, Alpha Consumer, and Rogue Valley.

For the ska-obsessed: Reel Big Fish

This high-energy band will showcase their effervescent sounds on Friday, Sept. 4 and Saturday, Sept. 5 at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. Reel Big Fish have been playing brassy, danceable music together for 20 years, and their song “Sell Out” was on Billboard charts for 32 weeks.

For the country connoisseur: Terri Clark

The Canadian songstress will perform on Saturday, Aug. 29 and Sunday, Aug. 30 at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. Clark has released several hit singles, including “Girls Lie Too” and “I Just Wanna Be Mad.” She is the only Canadian woman to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and has toured with Brad Paisley and Reba McEntire.

For the classic rocker: Lou Gramm of Foreigner

The former Foreigner frontman is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, Sept. 2 and Thursday, Sept. 3 at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. Gramm, the voice behind Foreigner hits including “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” and “Cold as Ice,” launched a solo career in the ‘80s, releasing the hit song “Midnight Blue.”

For those passionate about polka: Steve Meisner

Polka master Steve Meisner is set to perform on Saturday, Aug. 29 and Sunday, Aug. 30 at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. He composes pieces that blend traditional polka with modern music to appeal to a wide audience.

For the Latin lover: Malamanya

This dynamic group will be on stage Sunday, Sept. 6 and Monday, Sept. 7 at the International Bazaar. Their energetic compositions highlight the lively rhythms of Latin American and Caribbean musical styles.

For the blues buff: The Bel Airs

This trio will be at Schell’s Stage at the West End Market on Friday, Sept. 4 and Saturday, Sept. 5. The Bel Airs’ music is at once blues, rock n’ roll, soul, and country, influenced by Wilson Pickett and Johnny Cash.

For the kid-conscious: The Family Fair Stage at Baldwin Park

Head to the Family Fair Stage with your kids to see jugglers, comedians, and costumed characters galore.

For the fans of themselves: Mia Dorr’s Premier Karaoke in The Garden

If you love to sing and/or make a fool of yourself, head to the Garden Stage between noon and 5:00 on any day of the fair for free karaoke, presented by Mia Dorr’s Premier Entertainment.

Allegra Wallingford, of Eden Prairie, is a rising sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. She runs a music blog called the Suburban Hipster and drinks a lot of coffee.