From gridiron to grandstand
Sam Hunt, the former college quarterback, combined small-town sensibilities with his love for country music and R&B and took it to Nashville. His 2014 debut album led to three No. 1 country songs, including “Leave the Night On,” and he’s scored a fourth, with “Body Like a Back Road,” from his forthcoming sophomore CD. That song has also become a Top 10 pop hit, which helps explain why hunky Hunt is the hottest grandstand attraction at this year’s State Fair. Opening are Lanco and Ryan Follese.JON BREAM
7 p.m. Mon. State Fair grandstand, Falcon Heights, $58-$68, limited availability, etix.com
Our favorite new band at this year’s South by Southwest fest, young Aussie rockers Middle Kids are finally making it to our town in support of their debut EP. Singer Hannah Joy’s charmingly aloof yet dramatic-sounding voice anchors the coolly crescendoing single “Edge of Town” and other Pretenders-meets-Breeders tunes. Nothing too innovative, just really good.
7 p.m. Thu., $15, 18-plus, 7th Street Entry, Mpls., first-avenue.com
Crop art is a must-see at the State Fair. Each year brings a new crop of creativity with seeds, but there are always famous faces (George Clooney, Buster Keaton), political themes (Trump and Putin), fair-related memories (a Sweet Martha’s bucket of cookies, George Clinton), Minnesota icons (Prince, Psycho Suzi’s) and artful exotica (a remarkable tiger, a queen of spades playing card).
Closes Mon. Agriculture Horticulture building, State Fair, Falcon Heights, free with gate admission
With all the troubles from natural and man-made disasters, we could use a dose of the blues. Keb Mo is the happiest bluesman around, always delivering uplift. A well-traveled musicologist, Taj Mahal is liable to take listeners to the islands or fishin’ in a Minnesota lake. They’ve just released their first album together, “TajMo,” featuring plenty of Mo-penned blues, cool covers (the Who, John Mayer) and great guests (Bonnie Raitt, Sheila E., Joe Walsh).
7:30 p.m. Wed. State Theatre, Mpls., $48.50-$58.50, ticketmaster.com
Kaki King is an original thinker whose upcoming record adapts her solo guitar compositions for chamber orchestra. At the Dakota, she’ll team up with another fleet-fingered picker, Derek Gripper, a fan of Indian Carnatic and Brazilian music who has adapted the guitar to pieces for African kora. It should be a fascinating duo, brimming with bold scholarship and idiosyncratic taste and innovation.
7 p.m. Tue., Dakota, Mpls., $35-$45, dakotacooks.com
St. Paul’s Luis Castillo has the look and the costumes (12, to be exact). He’s got the dance moves, too. He’s got the backup dancers (eight of them) and a flashy light show. He doesn’t sing, and the music is recorded. But his “Legacy: A Tribute to the King of Pop” is an energetic and entertaining salute to Michael Jackson. Fittingly, this theatrical dance performance is being staged in a theater.
7:30 p.m. Thu.-Fr, 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. next Sun. SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul, $15-$40, brownpapertickets.com
Karen Savage and Jonathan Thunder present their first duel exhibition of paintings, aptly titled “Savage/Thunder.” Thematically, their work charts landscapes, personal journeys, dreams, the Lake Superior region and their own heritage, and also speaks to the connections between the Twin Cities and northern Minnesota. Savage and Thunder are Anishinaabe/Ojibwe artists.
Ends Sept. 26, All My Relations Gallery, Mpls., allmyrelationsarts.com
Frolic through the grass and wildflowers and discover what’s growing on the rolling hills of the prairie. Spend the day playing games and making crafts. Gather materials to make a small braided rug to take home. Bees produce honey on the grounds for guests to bake and eat cornbread, topped with local honey.
2:30-4:30 p.m. Sat. Lowry Nature Center, Victoria, $5, threeriversparkdistrict.org.
The late Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” can appear a deceptively simple play — just four people, a bed, a chair and 70 minutes of dysfunctional family drama. Dark & Stormy Productions’ new staging reminds us the dark heart of this twisted 1983 work is elusive. Starring James Rodríguez and Sara Marsh, director Mel Day’s production has strong performances, although it lacks that tinge of unmoored insanity Shepard poured into his characters.
8 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Ends Sept. 16. Grain Belt Brewery, Mpls., $15-$39, darkstormy.org