The North Dakota State Fair is returning to Minot this July for its 96th year. Listening to kids scream for dear life as they’re whisked around by the Tornado ride, becoming torpid with the onion rings and pie served by the First Lutheran Church, and applying your own considerable expertise in goats to prognosticate which goats are going to win the goat show — these are all crucial parts of celebrating any North Dakotan summer, but it’s the fair’s concerts that make the biggest memories. Here are the big, hot acts coming to this year’s North Dakota State Fair.
Friday, July 19
If you asked Joe Don Rooney for the biggest reason why Rascal Flatts has been around for almost 20 years now, he wouldn’t tell you it was because of their smash hits like “Prayin’ for Daylight,” “Bless the Broken Road,” and “I’m Movin’ On.” He wouldn’t hang it all on Gary LeVox’s soaring vocals or Jay DeMarcus’ mastery of keyboards and bass. He’d tell you it’s because of that most important thing a band needs to rise to fame — friendship. Here’s crossing our fingers that Rascal Flatts never has a Yoko Ono moment.
Justin Moore with special guest Chase Rice
Saturday, July 20
Justin Moore broke onto the scene back in 2008 with what is perhaps the greatest song ever recorded about being able to kick someone’s ass, titled “I Could Kick Your Ass.” He’s a dyed in the wool country boy, born and raised in Arkansas before moving to Tennessee where he really cut his musical teeth. Surely Justin will burn down the grandstand this year with his big hits including “Small Town USA” and “If Heaven Wasn’t so Far Away,” and hopefully he’ll play a few tracks from his new album ‘Late Nights and Longnecks’ as well.
Sunday, July 21
In the only three years since the band formed in Dripping Springs, Texas, Midland has already made a huge impact on the country music scene. Their breakout hit “Drinkin’ Problem” perfectly nails the dreary positivity that makes country so good — what other genre of music could have lyrics like “People say I got a drinkin’ problem, but I got no problem drinkin’ at all?” Midland pays tribute to country’s roots while infusing it with an exciting modern energy, and just the colorful Nudie Suits they wear when they perform make their concerts worth attending. (Look up Nudie Suit if you don’t know what it is, because it’s not remotely what it sounds like.)
Wednesday, July 24
As the son of the great Chris LeDoux, Ned LeDoux is blessed to have received both the pedigree and the upbringing that leads to superstardom. Ned began playing the drums in his father’s band in 1998, and started recording solo material a few years ago. Ned continues to honor his father with material that is inspired by the virtuoso’s ideas, but also adds his own personal flair to his art. Go to hear hits like “This Cowboy’s Hat,” “Brother Highway,” and “We Ain’t Got It All,” and you’ll see that the LeDoux name is poised to stand for country forever.
Rick Springfield presents Best in Show with Eddie Money and Greg Kihn
Thursday, July 25
What an ensemble! You’ve got Rick Springfield, the mind that brought the world “Jessie’s Girl” — the greatest song ever written about the most effective way to instantly destroy a friendship. You’ve got Eddie Money, whose “Two Tickets to Paradise” is bar none the best song about wanting to get out of this place since The Animals recorded “We Gotta Get out of This Place.” You’ve even got Greg Kihn, who recorded “The Breakup Song,” arguably the perfect thing to blast on the radio when you’re broodingly driving around at night. One of these legends alone would have made a great show, but by teaming up they’re only spoiling us.
Friday, July 26
Shop.Dine.Live. Magazine is available at grocery stores, hotels, and other busy places around town. It is not distributed under rocks, which means if you’re reading this you already know about Tim McGraw. As the most played country artist since his debut in 1992, McGraw has sold more than 50 million records worldwide, and has consistently dominated the charts with 43 number one singles over the course of his career. With an impressive oeuvre like that it’s anyone’s guess what McGraw’s going to melt the crowd with at the fair this year.
Saturday, July 27
Rolling Stone ranked Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” 499th in their list of the 500 greatest rock songs of all time. That gives the band definite bragging rights over Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, whose “Shop Around” ranked only 500. (The magazine’s list may not be infallible, though. While 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” is certainly a good song in its own right, whether it’s the 448th greatest rock song is debatable.) Weezer’s got a ton of other great songs that guarantees any set they play is going to be a barn burner, including “Pork and Beans,” “Undone – The Sweater Song,” and “Beverly Hills.” A band like Weezer could probably just sing the names out of a phone book and still floor the audience.
By David Scheller