Toby Keith meet-and-greet, Trailer Choir, and Marty Stuart this weekend

Many of us, our friends over at Hot Dish not excluded, have buzzed about Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, which opened earlier this summer in St. Louis Park. "I hear they have a mechanical bull!" "Mechanical bull?!?" "Down-home Southern comfort food? Say what?" "Will Toby really put a boot in my ass? Is putting a boot in one's ass really the American way?" I'm not in any way joking; this is the buzz I've heard. But have any of us actually ventured west to check out this beloved Bar & Grill? Not to the West - the capitalized, mythologized West, Old, featuring boots and spurs, latigo, etc. - but west, like, the direction one goes to ride not a bucking bronc, but a more sensible Corolla down 169 to Mystic? West to St. Louis Park? Furthermore, has Toby Keith been yet to his beloved Bar & Grill, to St. Louis Park?

Since its opening, Toby Keith's St. Louis Park location has been host to a number of local acts, and more recently to an increasing number of bigger new national acts, many touring in support of albums that are quickly climbing the charts, others playing elsewhere in the Cities and swinging by the Bar & Grill for an additional performance - drawn perhaps by that alleged mechanical bull. Alleged, I say, because I myself have not yet been to Toby Keith's. I've been on a mechanical bull, sure, but it was at a county fair and I was too inebriated to remember it until a full 24 hours later when I saw the bull and thought to myself, "Hmmmm, I can imagine riding that thing while drunk wouldn't be all that challenging if only one allowed oneself to loosen up sufficienHEY WAIT, I JUST DID THAT, AND THAT'S TOTALLY WHAT IT'S LIKE!"

For those curious but who've not yet visited, this Friday may be the perfect time to do so. On the 17th, Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill (which I'll henceforth refer to as "The west, Lowercase,") is holding its grand opening, featuring Trailer Choir (with openers Keith Anderson and Troy Olsen, 5:00, $25). And if he hasn't already, Toby Keith will have a chance to ride that mythical bull on Friday when he makes an appearance earlier in the afternoon. Keith will be attending a private ceremony and meet-and-greet inside The west, Lowercase, which will only be open to invited guests, media, and fans who win tickets through outlets including radio station K102 and locally-syndicated television program Twin Cities Live. No word on whether Keith will perform, though he does have a concert later Friday night in Omaha.

Trailer Choir
Trailer Choir

The evening show with Trailer Choir is of course open to the ticket-buying public. In case you haven't yet heard of Trailer Choir, my assessment, shared on Gimme Noise earlier this year:

Their stage names are Big Vinny, Crystal and Butter. They're signed to Toby Keith's record label. They also have a song called "Off the Hillbilly Hook," recorded for the soundtrack to Keith's film Beer for My Horses. They sound to me like Weird Al singing with Smash Mouth. Sweet Jesus. Well, maybe their show at The Cabooze would be an interesting place to pick up dudes. I'm always up for "interesting" experiences.

Much as Keith is maligned by fans of the kind of country music that doesn't fall within the contemporary Top 40, the guy does have a pretty phenomenal voice, I will admit. But seeing as how his meet-and-greet and (maybe but probably not?) performance at The west, Lowercase is not open to the public, I'd say that if your country music dollars for the weekend are running slim, eschew the hillbilly Smash Mouth and save your money for Marty Stuart's Sunday night acoustic appearance at the Dakota Jazz Club (9/16, 7:00, $45).

Long revered in a variety of musical circles, Stuart began his career at the age of 13 as a mandolin player in Lester Flatt's band, later collaborated with Johnny Cash, and then went on to enjoy a successful career by his own right before marrying the country artist Connie Smith, whom he'd fallen in love with by way of her album cover when he was just a boy. As deep as my love for Marty's music runs, my allegiance to the Flaming Lips (playing the same night at Roy Wilkins) is strong as ever, and if I'm gonna drive all the way to Oklahoma City to see them like some dirty deadhead (as I once did), I sure as hell ain't gonna miss 'em when they're playing just across the river.

So sadly, I will be missing Stuart's Dakota appearance. If you're able to check it out (or if you take in Trailer Choir, meet Toby Keith, or ride that bull), be sure to dish in the comments below - we'd love to hear all about it. Especially anything involving Toby Keith and the bull. Make it happen, Minnesota!

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