Bill DeVille's 2017 Minnesota State Fair music roundup


The Current's Bill DeVille runs down the musical acts he's looking forward to at this year's Minnesota State Fair. (Luke Taylor | MPR)

The 2017 Minnesota State Fair is underway, and it's a tradition for Bill DeVille to provide a rundown of some music picks at the Grandstand and at the many free stages around the fairgrounds, including the MPR booth. In looking at the 2017 State Fair lineup, DeVille calls it 'a banner year' for music.

MPR Booth

Lots is happening over at the corner of Judson and Nelson, it's the Minnesota Public Radio booth, that's where we broadcast live, and I know many days at 4 o'clock, most days at 4 o'clock, Mark Wheat will have a live band or live artist, like Katy Vernon brings her ukulele to our stage on Friday, Aug. 25. The Pines will be on with Oake and Riley that Saturday the 26th, a great local band, really nice kind of atmospheric vibe. I'm a big fan of them, they have a couple albums on the Red House label. Nooky Jones, an up and coming local act, will be onstage on Monday the 28th. Mike Peters — maybe the name doesn't ring a bell, but he was in a band called The Alarm, they were kind of contemporaries of bands like U2 back in, say, the early 80s. I remember they had the kind of spiky hair, and I think they wore plaid pants if I remember right, too. But Mike will be at the stage on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Romantica on Aug. 30 with Mark Wheat. Bad Bad Hats, so local music happening on our local stage as well. JD McPherson coming by with Oake and Riley on that Saturday. JD's got a couple of shows on the free stages; we'll talk about that as we get further into the list. So that's what's going on at the Minnesota Public Radio stage.

The Grandstand

All right, why don't we move on to some of the big shows? There's lots happening at the Grandstand this year at the Minnesota State Fair. John Mellencamp will be playing the Fair with his Sad Clowns and Hillbillies tour, and he's bringing along Johnny Cash's half-daughter, Carlene Carter will be playing along with him, she'll be the opening act, so that's happening. There's of course, that set from Stevie Nicks and Vanessa Carlton happening at the big stage as well. And Garrison Keillor will be doing his Minnesota Show, that's Friday, Sept. 1. There's The Current's Music On-a-Stick show; we've got a great lineup this year: Phantogram as well as Current faves Lucius and local sounds from Now Now, that's happening Saturday, Sept. 2. There's still tickets left for that one, so we'll see you at The Current's Music On-a-Stick. Kind of a tradition with The Current. We love doing this show.

The Leinie Lodge

One of my favorite stages at the Minnesota State Fair has always been the Leinie Lodge stage. It's free, there's lots of seating, and it's got a good-sized stage; you could a big band like, say, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. They're playing on Aug. 26 and 27 there, and George I'm sure will be bringing the funk. What else is happening? Foghat —nyeah, the makers of "Slow Ride" and "Fool for the City," they will be onstage on the first and second of September at the State Fair. Hippo Campus play the Sunday and Monday on the Leinie stage, a great local band. I've seen these guys a number of times, and they're fantastic live. And I think the thing I'm most looking forward to at the Leinie Lodge stage has got to be JD McPherson. We just started playing a new tune called "Lucky Penny," it's fantastic. It's kind of fuzzed out and a bit more rocking and less rootsy than some of his other stuff, but I'm sure he'll be playing music from his other albums as well. The pride of Oklahoma, he and his fabulous band; they always bring it and they're a blast live, so there's that. And then on Monday and Tuesday, the 28th and 29th, there is Hot Club of Cowtown, kind of a rootsy outfit, and an underrated pair of brothers from down South, I believe, are the Malpass Brothers, and they have kind of an Everly Brothers-style act. I'm a big fan of them and they play as well on the 28th and 29th.

International Bazaar Stage

And on the International Bazaar stage, the Socaholix — those guys are fun, I just saw them at the Lake Harriet Bandshell a few weeks ago — everybody's dancing when these guys play! That's the 26th and 27th on that International Bazaar stage. Wayne McFarland and Dreadlock Cowboy will be playing on the first and second of September. Wayne, from Ipso Facto, and he's got his own act now, and that could be a bunch of fun, bringing the reggae sounds to the State Fair.

The Schell's Stage at West End Market

Katy Vernon, who I was talking about earlier, she'll be there the 24th and 25th for some sets. Romantica play there as well on the 30th and 31st, and locals like Dan Israel, the Pines, and Bad Bad Hats will all be playing at that Schell's Stage at West End Market. Heiruspecs play at that Schell's Stage, they play on the 3rd and 4th, great local hip hop, and Nooky Jones, too.

Ramberg Center

There's some other things, like Curtiss A has a bunch of gigs set at the Ramberg Center, along with rockabilly band Jack Knife and the Sharps, so those will be playing kind of throughout the Fair, several days. And another kind of country/alt-country outfit called Saddle Sores will be playing there as well.

So that's kind of a quick rundown of some of the stuff happening at the State Fair. We'll see you there — it's always a bunch of fun at the Fair, for everything on a stick, including music.


Minnesota State Fair - official site

MPR at the State Fair - full schedule