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Two bands that dropped out of the Minnesota State Fair last year out of COVID safety fears, Low Cut Connie and Dire Straits Legacy, will headline the biggest free stage at the fairgrounds this year along with two twangy homegrown music stars and two veteran acts with familiar names.

The Jayhawks, Caitlyn Smith, Sly Stone's bandmates the Family Stone and Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry round out the nighttime roster at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell in the State Fair's 2022 free stage roster, which was revealed Tuesday morning.

Other acts slated to perform for free across the fairgrounds Aug. 25-Sept. 5 include: rootsy music stars Kelly Willis, We Banjo 3, Deke Dickerson, Jenny and the Mexicats and Dawson Hollow (all daytime acts at the Leinie bandshell); current Twin Cities music scene buzzmakers Durry, Annie Mack, Gully Boys, Honeybutter and Turn, Turn, Turn (all nighttime headliners at the Schell's West End stage); and globally flavored local acts such as Dalmar Yare, Salsa del Soul, Irie Sol, the Chico Chavez Orchestra and the Ukrainian Village Band (all playing at the International Bazaar).

Known for rowdy live shows and AAA radio hits such as "Boozophilia," Philadelphia boogie-rockers Low Cut Connie canceled their grandstand appearance with Lake Street Dive last year as part of 89.3 the Current's Music On-a-Stick showcase after fair organizers confirmed there would be no mask mandate in 2021.

"I sympathize with the politics that [fair organizers] were dealing with, but I can't put my band and crew at risk playing a show in what felt like an unsafe environment," LCC singer Adam Weiner said before his band's First Avenue gig in January.

Dire Straits Legacy (DSL) was supposed to play the Leinie bandshell in 2021 but canceled its entire U.S. tour as COVID numbers persisted. The band is made up of musicians who toured and recorded with Straits bandleader Mark Knopfler in the "Money for Nothing" days.

As for the locally reared headliners at the bandshell, both the alt-country-pioneering '90s stars the Jayhawks and Nashville-via-Cannon Falls singer Caitlyn Smith issued well-reviewed new albums during the pandemic and have been steadily touring since lockdown ended.

More local stars will be featured Sept. 2 and 3 in "First Avenue Goes to the Fair," a two-night revue-style show that first debuted at the West End amphitheater in 2019.

Maybe the most emotional and/or meaningful performance across all the fair stages this year will be by the Twin Cities-based Ukrainian Village Band, whose members have been hard at work raising charity money and serving as ambassadors in Minnesota since Russia invaded in their families' homeland in March.

"We are all going through our own stress and grief," UVB accordionist Oleksij Khrystych said in April. "I think it's OK for us to blow off a little steam as we try to do some good."

After last week's triple announcement with the Beach Boys/Temptations concert and the Music On-a-Stick show with Portugal the Man, all but one of the performers at the fair's (not free) grandstand have already been announced for 2022, also including Counting Crows with the Wallflowers, Diana Ross, the Zac Brown Band, Pitbull, comedian Jim Gaffigan and REO Speedwagon and Styx.

See the full 2022 schedule for the Minnesota State Fair free stages at mnstatefair.org. Here's the newly announced nightly roster at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell:

  • Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry (Aug. 25-26)
  • Caitlyn Smith (Aug. 27-28)
  • DSL: Dire Straits Legacy (Aug. 29-30)
  • Low Cut Connie (Aug. 31-Sept. 1)
  • The Family Stone (Sept. 2-3)
  • The Jayhawks (Sept. 4-5)