The Fairest of Them All

Did anyone else catch Conway Twitty’s not-so-live appearances on Family Guy this year? Almost makes you glad for today’s country cheeseballs. These are the things you think about at State Fair time. If only it had a different tradition, like reggae, but we’re stuck with it–big-name country and formerly big-name rock. Get out the muscle shirt and get over it. That said, several of the free stages this year are actually looking pretty good.

The best may be Heritage Square: Charlie Parr and Pert Near Sandstone, among others, on Aug. 23. The Roe Family Singers, The Derailers, the Brass Kings, and Dale Watson following. This is the flip side of rural music–acoustic, authentic, good.

The International Bazaar, too, sports some good names, including Kico Rangel, the hardworking West Sider who’s been playing jazz and Mexican music since the ’50s. And for a look at the country that was, the fair is hosting the Honky Tonk Hall of Fame & Rock-n-Roll Roadshow, some 1,750 artifacts of artists like Elvis, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, and Dolly Parton. (Artifacts, not relics, mind you.)

Elsewhere, internationally speaking, the sixth annual Hmong Art and Music Festival takes place this Saturday at the Western Sculpture Park on Marion Street in St. Paul. Interestingly, the press release for this contained a quote from a 1974 National Geographic article in which a Hmong leader was asked “why virtually no Hmong become artists.” To which he responded, “The Hmong dream only at night…An artist must dream all day, and we don’t have time.” Times, it seems, have changed.

Photos: Pert Near Sandstone, Charlie Parr (by Peter Martin)