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Summer in the Cities: Music & Concerts


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Basilica Block Party

By Daniel Brakke

There's no shortage of entertainment in the Twin Cities, no matter the time of year, but it does seem to be at its peak during the warmer months. And what would a summer be without some great music? Whether you want to catch one act or a series of performers, here are some concerts to add to your calendar. 

Music in the Zoo (through Aug. 23): There are plenty of great places to see live music around town, but few more unique than at the Minnesota Zoo, where you’ll listen alongside monkeys, penguins and tigers. The annual summer music series takes place in the 1,450-seat Weesner Family Amphitheater, with this year’s acts including Big Head Todd and The Monsters (June 27), Taj Mahal and Mavis Staples (June 29), Railroad Earth (July 2), Bela Fleck with Brooklyn Rider Quartet (July 3), The Hold Steady (July 5), Gillian Welch (July 7), Gov't Mule (July 18), Marc Cohn (July 29), BoDeans (July 25), Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (Aug. 3), Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue (Aug. 6), Ziggy Marley (Aug. 12), Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (Aug. 13), Nicholas David (Aug. 15), Jamey Johnson (Aug. 18), and Josh Turner (Aug. 23). As a plus, your concert ticket includes admission to the zoo, so you can hang with the animals pre-show. Tickets: $32-$80.50.

Taste of Minnesota (July 3-6): After a three-year hiatus, Taste of Minnesota—formally the state’s largest free festival—is back. Classic rockers like Starship, Badfinger, and Soul Asylum, plus 26 others, will perform, and you’ll have the chance to sample local food, visit the beer dabbler garden, Kemps “Moooseum,” KidsZone stage and midway, or take a break and hop on a Padelford Riverboat cruise. Free 11 a.m.-3 p.m., $10 after 3 p.m., includes $5 in food and drink tickets.

Midtown Global Music Festival (July 19): Happening at the market, the fourth annual festival will feature three stages and performers as diverse as the market itself. Enjoy South American, West African, blues, jazz, country, Scandinavian-folk, pop and salsa music, Native American drumming, Aztec dancing, a Zumba class, Middle Eastern dance and belly dancing lessons, and a salsa class, plus activities and crafts for kids as well as access to the market's more than 40 shops and restaurants. Free.

Basilica Block Party (July 11 & 12): Now in its 20th year, this two-night music bash began as a way to raise funds for the structural restoration of the Basilica of Saint Mary. Today big name artists come in to play across three outdoor stages, with the stunning Beaux Arts basilica serving as a backdrop. A total of 21 acts will perform, including Train, Eric Hutchinson, Ingrid Michaelson and Ben Harper. Tickets: $60 (one night), $100 (two nights), $20 ages 5-12, ages 5 and younger free.

Music & Movies (Mondays, Aug. 4-25): Taking place in Minneapolis’ Loring Park and the Walker Art Center’s Open Field, this event is hosted by the center and features music performances followed by DJs before film screenings at dusk. In honor of the Walker’s exhibit Christian Marclay: The Clock, the first three films all deal with time: High Noon (Aug. 4), D.O.A. (Aug. 11), and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Aug. 18), closing with Marclay’s Graffiti Composition and Screen Play (Aug. 25), complete with a live score. The music that accompanies includes The Cloak Ox (Aug. 4), ZuluZuluu (Aug. 11), and The Handsome Family (Aug. 18). Free.

Skyline Music Festival (Aug. 8 & 9): Two nights of music will take place at Target Field, which will be converted to an ampitheater-like concert venue, but still offer amazing views of the Minneapolis skyline. Night one includes performances by Andrew Bird, The New Pornographers, Thao and The Get Down Stay Down, S. Carey, and Martin Dosh. On night two, catch Melissa Etheridge, O.A.R., The Rembrandts, Gear Daddies, and The Honeydogs. Tickets: $29-$79.   

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Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

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