Fresh off playing a few European festivals this spring, the Blind Shake is back home to kick off the Stone Arch Bridge Festival's free concerts Wednesday. / Aaron LAvinsky, Star Tribune

Fresh off playing a few European festivals this spring, the Blind Shake is back home to kick off the Stone Arch Bridge Festival's free concerts Wednesday. / Aaron LAvinsky, Star Tribune

Always one of the best free music and art fests in town – and probably the most picturesque – the Stone Arch Bridge Festival on Minneapolis’ historic downtown riverfront is happening again Friday-Sunday leading up to Father’s Day, as it does every year. However, the music portion of the festival is actually kicking off in the middle of the week this year for the first time ever.

Organizers tacked on two extra nights of concerts Wednesday and Thursday in Water Power Park with popular local bands including the Blind Shake, Actual Wolf, Fury Things, Southwire and Pocket Genius. Much like with this weekend’s other big to-do, Rock the Garden – which expanded to two days last year – the Stone Arch crew decided to make the most of the temporary stage and concession set-up in Water Power Park and use it an extraday or two.

“The idea really came from the experience of standing out on Water Power Park, with the bands playing and the Minneapolis skyline as the backdrop,” Stone Arch manager Sara Collins explained. “We just wanted more.”

Collins said the Minneapolis Park Board and Xcel Energy -- which operates and owns the park, respectively – readily agreed to the plan as part of the broader vision of promoting life along the riverfront. This is another in a series of new ideas pushed forth by the new Stone Arch fest team. Somerset Amphitheater owner Matt Mithun took over the festival in 2012 after the passing of its founder, Ira Heilicher.

All of the weeknight concerts in Water Power Park run from 7-10 p.m. and are free and all ages. Beer and food will be for sale. Here’s the full schedule for the nightly shows:

The  Stone  Arch  Bridge  Festival  Riverfront  Concerts presented  by  Xcel  Energy

Wednesday, June  17

  • Pocket Genius (7 p.m.)
  • Fury Things (8) 9:00  pm  
  • The Blind Shake (9)

Thursday, June  18

  • Southwire (7:30 p.m.)
  • Actual Wolf (9) 

Friday, June  19

  • Stereo Confession (7 p.m. 
  • Tiny Deaths (8)
  • Greg Grease (9)

Saturday, June  20

  • Mississippi Hot  Club (7:45  pm) 
  • The Sweet Colleens (9)

 

When the rest of the festival is up and running Saturday and Sunday, the music lineup expands to feature four more stages and 50-some Minnesota performers, including (to name just a few) Two Harbors, American Scarecrows, Reina del Cid, Pennyroyal, Alex Rossi & New Roots, Katy Vernon, Brianna Lane, Dan Israel, Hustle Rose, the Ronnie Buxtons, Mother Banjo and the Lowland Lakers. See the full lineup here.

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