It’s that glorious time of year when the ground has thawed, the roads are no longer ice slicks, and the birds have returned to found their new nests.  The Twin Cities are roiling with outdoor activities, so it’s time to dust off the calendar and fit as much fun in as possible before the time to hibernate comes again.  It may be daunting for music fans to figure out just where to begin, but fear not!  I’ve immersed myself in the Twin Cities’ outdoor music scene and I’m here to guide you to what’s coming in June.


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The Minnesota State Fairgrounds don’t lay dormant outside of the State Fair.  They’re a busy venue for summertime tunes too!  Add a beer expo into the mix and you’ve got everything you need.  The St. Paul Summer Beer Fest is held on June 10th from 2 – 5 PM.  There the Goose Island Stage will feature versatile singer/songwriter Chap Wilton, bluegrass from Black River Revue, and the improvisational stylings of Mark Joseph and the American Soul.  The event will host food (these are the fairgrounds after all) and samplings from over 100 breweries.  Beer, music, and sunshine — what could be better?

For those of you who don’t have plans for Father’s Day yet, why not spend the weekend at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival on Minneapolis’ waterfront?  This popular festival has graced the city for 23 consecutive years with an immense amount of food, even more beer, and a wide range of talent.  Two hundred and fifty artists will exhibit their craft in booths at the festival from June 16th to June 18th.  While the musical lineup has not yet been confirmed at the time of this writing, that acts like Soul Asylum, The Social Disaster, and the poetically gifted Dan Israel have performed there in the past sets the bar high for this year’s performances.  The Art of the Car Show is also coming to the festival this year, making it perfect one-stop fun for gearhead dads on Father’s Day.

Perhaps my favorite of the upcoming outdoor music festivals is the 19th annual Twin Cities Hot Summer Jazz Festival.  Held in gorgeous Mears Park in St. Paul, this festival celebrates the musical genre that Vonnegut defined as “Safe sex of the highest order.”  From June 22nd to June 24th the Lowertown neighborhood will boom with the vibrant sounds of supergroups like Jazz Central All Stars, Dr. John and the Night Trippers (who recently covered The Bare Necessities for the remake of The Jungle Book), the great Sonny Knight & The Lakers, and dozens of other talented acts.  The myriad restaurants and shops that dot Lowertown offer even more fun during this three-day shindig.

These festivals cement the Twin Cities’ place as one of the Midwest’s top destinations for live music.  Be sure to take advantage of that and this weather at the same time by enjoying lots of outdoor live performances this summer!

By Chris Bertrand