Justin Townes Earle, Dale Watson and Oak Ridge Boys this weekend

My favorite illegal fireworks
The Fourth of July, or Independence Day as I began calling it once I hit adolescence and wanted to say things not in rural colloquialisms but with an air of sophistication - think "Febrooary" not "Febyaray," "Attacks on the World Trade Center," not "NineEleven," and of course, "soda" not "pop" - has long been my favorite holiday. When I moved to Minnesota, one of the greatest tragedies I felt, greater perhaps even than "naihnuhlevun," was learning that y'all don't get to blow shit up on the 4th.

I exaggerate of course, but it was pretty damned close. Sparklers are legal in the state, as are small fountains, but the screaming "Banshees" that pert'near blow your eardrums out? The hanging lanterns that occasionally come unfixed from your garage, sending burning bits of powder-coated cardboard flying at your forehead and barely missing your eyeball? Rockets for surreptitiously shooting at your brother's ass as he very delicately lights the short fuse attached to an eighty-dollar monstrosity that 50/50 will either light up the neighborhood with octopus legs of sparkly red, white and blue, or litter your parents' yard with brother's extremities?

Jeez, no wonder I've never seen a Minnesotan inspired enough by the holiday to stand at the end of their driveway, hollering Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" while lighting off rockets to compete with the show the richest doctors in town have sponsored at the speedway across the field from their house.

This was my childhood.

Sadly, I won't be blowing anything up with my kinfolk this weekend. I'm stuck here in Minnesota with y'all. The bright side? Well, rural South Dakota doesn't enjoy regular visits from national touring musicians. Urban Minnesota does. For that, I'll stand in my back yard with my pitiful little sparkler after checking out the following shows over the holiday weekend.

Justin Townes Earle at Taste of Minnesota (Harriet Island) Friday 7/2, 2:00 $20 for festival admission prior to 4PM In the City Pages Big Music Tent

Dale Watson at Lee's Liquor Lounge Saturday 7/3, 9:00 $15

Oak Ridge Boys at Mystic Lake Casino Sunday 7/4, 8:30 Free In the parking lot, and with fireworks show to follow

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