With the exception of the amateur talent contest and our own Garrison Keillor, it's all national acts playing the Grandstand at the State Fair this year. But there are plenty of opportunities to catch local music at the fair. And if you don't count the cost of admission to the fairgrounds, they're all free!
There are too many local bands playing to list them all. So here are some highlights.
Heritage Square has lots of local bands playing throughout the fair. Rogue Valley will play their second show tonight.
The Twilight Hours, a post-Trip Shakespeare collaboration between Jon Munson and Matt Wilson, have two nights scheduled. Other local acts at Heritage include Alison Scott, The White Iron Band and a bluegrass group called The Barley Jacks.
The International Bazaar stage has some local groups playing, too, including the 11-piece band The Brass Messengers and the traditional Irish music of the Laura MacKenzie Trio.
On the last two nights of the fair, local indie rockers Tapes 'n Tapes play the Leinie Lodge Bandshell at 8:30.
Let's see if they can top the act playing there tonight. Morris Day and the Time are legendary purveyors of first-class funk. They were contributing architects to the Minneapolis sound, Prince proteges who never missed a chance to show up The Purple One.
The Time even have their own dance called "The Bird." I'm sure they'll have half the Fair doing it tonight!
Now for a shameless plug. The best place to catch local music is at the fair is the Minnesota Public Radio booth.
The Local Show will be live the next two Sundays. We've got a couple live bands playing, and they both have new records out.
This Sunday night at 6 I'll be joined by Peter Wolf Crier. You wouldn't guess from the recordings, but the band is just two guys.
Namesake Peter Pisano is a terrific writer and soulful singer, who could just as easily whip out album after of album of traditional folk music.
But when he joins forces with Brian Moen, you get slashing rhythms, layered loops and enough effects pedals to frighten you -- in a good way.
This is the new folk. The forthcoming record is called "Garden of Arms," and it's out in a week and a half on the mega-hip Jagjaguwar label.
Next Sunday, Sept. 4, Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps take to The Local Show stage at the fair.
They're another example of the "new folk." This genre is perfect for those of us who have grown tired of the whole guy or girl with a guitar thing.
Smith incorporates elements from the traditional folk and roots with creative modern production. It yields a sound that would have Pete Seeger jumping to cut the power cord. The rest of us are jumping for joy.
Smith hails from the Detroit Lakes area and has a charmingly affected vocal delivery. The new album is called Little Wind, and she's launching it with a big show at the First Avenue Mainroom on Sept. 16. But first she'll preview it live from the Minnesota Public Radio Booth at the State Fair.