Free State Fair music: Andy Grammer, Reel Big Fish, Haley Bonar

Andy Grammer

Andy Grammer

With the exceptions of Meghan Trainor [Update: She pulled out due to throat issues] and Carrie Underwood, this year's Minnesota State Fair grandstand lineup skews old - Lynyrd Skynyrd, Def Leppard, A Prairie Home Companion ... it really just keeps on going like that. But there's no need to head to the Miracle of Birth Center for (slightly) younger and (absolutely) more cost-effective entertainment, because the State Fair just announced its 2015 offering of free concerts. Here are the best bets for the thrifty fairgoer in your life. For the complete list of acts, click here.

See also: Minnesota State Fair: Top 10 places to poop


For the Top 40-loving tween: Andy Grammer (Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Bandshell Tonight!) We were pretty hard on Grammer's current smash hit "Honey, I'm Good," a hokey/humblebrag-y ode to monogamy that's spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. But hey, he's got legit pop-stat cachet.

For the nostalgic mall punk: Reel Big Fish (Sept. 4-5, Bandshell Tonight!) With the "Macarena" months away, everybody in 1995 was doing the fish. Reel Big Fish - the big kahunas of the short-lived ska-punk craze - are still tootin' and up-strokin' away, and they should find plenty of Gen X and older millennial fans at the fair.

For the local music fan: Charlie Parr (Aug. 27-28, West End at Sunset), Sonny Knight & The Lakers (Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Bazzar After Dark), Haley Bonar (Sept. 2-3, West End at Sunset), the Cactus Blossoms (Sept. 6-7, West End at Sunset) Among the local favorites are blues-folk ace Charie Parr, soul dynamos Sonny Knight & The Lakers, indie-folk star Haley Bonar, and harmonizing throwback country bros the Cactus Blossoms.

For the local reality TV fan: Home Free (Sept. 6-7, Bandshell Tonight!) Minnesota viewers of NBC a capella competition The Sing-Off felt their hearts swell in 2013 when Home Free, the favorite sons of Mankato, Minnesota, took top honors. The instrument-shunning quintet gravitates toward country tunes.

For the 'I Want to Know What Love Is' obsessive: Lou Gramm (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) The voice of Foreigner just dropped a Christian-rock album, so hopefully he sticks to his lengthy catalog of perfectly cheesy '80s soft-rock jams.


The 10 Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock
The Best New Minnesota Musicians of 2014
53 things you might not know about Prince
73 things you might not know about Bob Dylan