“Thanks to Garrison Keillor for taking a cruise!” So cheered 89.3 the Current’s Mark Wheat during one of the introductions in Friday’s Minnesota Music-on-a-Stick concert at the State Fair grandstand. The all-local five-band marathon replaced the slot usually held by Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” which booked a European cruise for its listeners this Labor Day weekend. As if the Mediterranean Coast is any match for Falcon Heights, Minn., this time of the year.
Here’s hoping both Keillor and an all-Minnesota music lineup will return to the grandstand, because there was certainly something special about Friday night’s concert. Never mind the hometown pride on steroids during the all-star finale of “Little Red Corvette.” I’m talking more about the story Dan Wilson told before Semisonic’s “Falling,” which was inspired by riding one of the fair’s rides (and by falling for a girl). And how about Dessa’s memories of working a face-painting booth at the fair, where one girl confided to her, “I don’t know how to be a teenager” (Dessa’s spot-on response: “Nobody does.”) You just don’t get those kind of stories when Kiss or Journey play the grandstand.
Emotional attachments and local boosterism aside, Friday night’s acts all played strong sets. Semisonic especially sounded immaculate, better than some the shows I saw when they were a full-time band – improved greatly by the lush support of the Laurel Strings Quartet on many of the songs, and tastefully spiked with just one of Wilson's many widely known recent songs from outside the band.
Click here for the full concert review. Here’s the set list from Wilson's crew and the Jayhawks.
Wichita / Cinnamon Love / Pray for Me / Two Angels / Closer to Your Side / Take Me With You When You Go / She Walks in So Many Ways / Blue / Clifton Bridge (Olson solo tune) / Angelyne / Miss Williams’ Guitar / Black Eyed Susan / I’d Run Away / Waiting for the Sun / Sister Cry / Up Above My Head / Bad Time
FNT / Across the Great Divide / Brand New Baby / In Another Day / Secret Smile / DND / Delicious / Chemistry / I Wish (with Jeremy Messersmith) / Singing in My Sleep / Closing Time / Falling / Someone Like You / Little Red Corvette (with Messersmith, Dessa, Lucy Michelle, Aby Wolf)