One possible upside to this whole down-economy thing: It might break you Minnesota music fans out of following the same-old-same-old when it comes to summer concert options.
You may be looking for cheaper alternatives to the usual wallet-emptying blowouts. You may have grown tired of the norm. Or you may just be wondering which hot new acts are playing here over the summer. With all that in mind, here are our picks of the music events you need to know about heading into the season.
Instead of We Fest, try ...
Apple River Country Splash (June 18-20, Float-Rite Amphitheater, Somerset, Wis.): It's only an hour or so from the metro, and two out of three nights at this second annual camping-on-the-Apple-River fest sound like the Detroit Lakes festival redux: Kenny Chesney (with Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum) and Rascal Flatts (with Darius Rucker).
Instead of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood, try ...
Derek Trucks Band (June 12, Minnesota Zoo): A member of the Allman Brothers, Trucks also toured as a sideman to Clapton, sparking Ol' Slowhand. Trucks is simply America's best blues-rock guitarist under the age of 35.
Instead of Duluth's Bayfront Blues Fest, try ...
Deep Blues Festival (July 15-19, Cabooze): This third annual homegrown, volunteer-run bash offers rawer, rough and rustic blues and blues-spiked rock. The show moves into Minneapolis from Lake Elmo with an indoor/outdoor setup featuring 74 acts, ranging from old Delta vet T-Model Ford to young punks Black Diamond Heavies.
$100 for four days, $20-$50 daily. DeepBluesFestival.com.
Instead of Macy's Day of Music ...
State Fair free stages (Aug. 27-Sept. 7, State Fairgrounds): Unlike Orchestra Hall's daylong bash (sadly sidelined for budgetary reasons), this isn't 24 hours of music but 12 days, with an eclectic menu featuring reggae pioneers the Wailers, New Orleans hero Trombone Shorty, alt-country aces Joey + Rory and Sunny Sweeney, Cajun faves Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, and the new Bazaar After Dark with music by White Iron Band, Rocket Club and others.
$11 gate admission. MNstatefair.org
Instead of the Jonas Brothers ...
Demi Lovato and David Archuleta (Aug. 8, Target Center): The JoBros' sidekick teaming up with last year's forever-cute "American Idol" runner-up just might be the bubblegum/puppy love ticket for tween girls who didn't get tickets for the Jonas Brothers.
Instead of Rock the Garden ...
Basilica Block Party (July 10-11, Basilica of St. Mary, Mpls.): If the Garden party's June 20 lineup with the Decemberists, Calexico and Yeasayer is too far on the arty/wussy side for you, the Basilica bash has a hipper/heavier schedule than normal with the Hold Steady, Tapes 'N Tapes, the must-see local reunion of the year by the Jayhawks (with Mark Olson), plus the Black Crowes, who've been relit by new guitarist Luther Dickinson. Oh, yeah, Counting Crows will also play.
$60 for two days, $35 daily. BasilicaBlockParty.org.
Instead of the Basilica party ...
Try: St. John's Block Party (July 11, downtown Rochester): It's still outside a church but has less drunkenness and more underground acts, headlined this year by '90s rockers Cracker with Cloud Cult, the Meat Puppets, Jeremy Messersmith, Chris Koza, Six Mile Grove and more.
$15. SJBlockParty.org.Concerts on the cheap
Twin Cities Jazz Festival (June 18-20, Mears Park, St. Paul): This 11th annual affair will showcase legendary New Orleans pianist/songwriter/producer Allen Toussaint, heralded jazz bassist-singer Esperanza Spalding and the Twin Cities' hippest cover band, the New Standards, among others. Outdoor concerts are free; indoor gigs have cover charges.
Stone Arch Festival (June 20-21, SE. Main Street in Minneapolis): The only block party with a river running through it has an eclectic lineup of local club favorites -- all for free -- including Roma di Luna, Idle Hands, Spaghetti Western String Co., the Wars of 1812, Caroline Smith and Me & My Arrow.
Taste of Minnesota (July 2-5, Harriet Island, St. Paul): The event's new owners didn't bust out of the old-white-guy-rock formula, with Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Poison's Bret Michaels and even Elvis Costello. But they also won't break your bank with the new $10 entrance fee, which is essentially a wash with the $10 food/drink voucher it gets you.
Green Day (July 11, Target Center): Their new rock opera, "21st Century Breakdown," is quite a visceral yet brainy affair, but no matter. The Bay Area punk trio has been consistent on tour ever since it stole the Lollapalooza shows in 1994, and its prices are still relatively punk-ish.
Beyoncé (July 16, Target Center): Put your hands up if you think she's the premier female pop star of the '00s. Hit recording artist, movie star, video diva -- no wonder Jay-Z put a ring on it.
10,000 Lakes Festival (July 22-25, Detroit Lakes): Besides Dave Matthews, the four-day jamfest has Wilco, Widespread Panic, Atmosphere and plenty more.
We Fest (Aug. 6-8, Detroit Lakes): This 27th annual camping-and-country hoedown is always good bang for the buck, this year with Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Toby Keith, Brooks & Dunn, Big & Rich, Kellie Pickler, Trace Adkins and others.
$130-$600, WeFest.comBuzz of summer
Avett Brothers (June 27, Minnesota Zoo): This nine-year-old harmonizing, North Carolina-reared neo-bluegrass/folk quartet is about to get a big boost with its Rick Rubin-produced debut on Columbia Records.
Phoenix (June 23, Varsity Theater): The French synth-pop band has two high-energy singles in line to be feel-good summer hits: "Lisztomania" and "1901," both played on "Saturday Night Live" last month.
Solid Gold (June 7, Grand Old Day, St. Paul; June 20, Rock the Garden, Minneapolis; and July 31, Minnesota Zoo): Minneapolis' hazy and melodic dance-rock quintet is sticking close to home this summer, absorbing the blogger- and U.K.-centric buzz around its debut CD, "Bodies of Water."
The Dead Weather (July 27, First Avenue): Yet another Jack White project, with a CD due July 13, this one features Kills frontwoman Alison Mosshart, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fartita and Racounteurs bassist "Little" Jack Lawrence. Big Jack mostly plays drums (!).
$30. First-Avenue.comOur personal can't-miss shows
Bream: King Sunny Ade and Femi Kuti at Minnesota Zoo (June 30); the Roots at First Avenue (July 2); Elvis Costello at Taste of Minnesota (July 4); Rosanne Cash at the Dakota (July 5-6); Green Day (July 11); Beyoncé at Target Center (July 16); Jamie Foxx at Target Center (July 23); Fleet Foxes at First Avenue (Aug. 9); Kid Rock at State Fair (Aug. 29).
Riemenschneider: Yeah Yeah Yeahs at First Avenue (Saturday); Calexico at Rock the Garden (June 20); Shellac at Varsity Theater (June 25); Nas and Damian Marley at First Ave (June 30); Jayhawks at Basilica (July 10); Green Day (July 11); Deep Blues Fest (July 15-19); the National at First Ave (July 16); Wilco at 10,000 Lakes Fest (July 23); Orchestra Baobab at the Dakota (Aug. 5); Alejandro Escovedo at Minnesota Zoo (Aug. 8).