Unlike the past two summers, it's relatively safe to attend indoor concerts again.
More than any other summer, though, where's the fun in that?
Outdoor summer concerts are treasured by Minnesota music fans just a little bit more than the rest of the world, it seems. That's not the only reason there's a bounty of them around the state this summer.
The new $15 million Ledge amphitheater near St. Cloud has upped the offerings, with Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt (with Mavis Staples!) and Jackson Browne all on its 2022 calendar. Festivals around the state are rebounding, too, including country mainstays We Fest and Winstock.
The Twin Cities is seeing a new swell of outdoor concert series at venues including Canterbury Park, the Hook & Ladder and Surly Brewing — the latter of which is hosting a record number of 11 concerts this year with First Avenue.
Here's a list of the standout options for getting outside to jam this summer.
Winstock: The 28th country fest in Winsted, Minn., features big-timer Tim McGraw and "I Was Jack (You Were Diane)" hitmaker Jake Owen with such opening acts as CMA best new artist Jimmie Allen, Brothers Osborne, Gary Allan, Neal McCoy, and promising newcomers MacKenzie Porter and Casi Joy. (June 17-18 Winsted Airport, Winsted, Minn., $155 and up, Winstockfestival.com)
Afropunk Festival: Started in 2005 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the gathering for Black "alternative" culture finally picked Minneapolis for one of its satellite events. J. Cole's protégée Ari Lennox, Chicago rap wizard Noname and Atlanta singer/rapper Mereba will perform with Twin Cities buzz makers EVV, Miloe, Papa Mbye, Ricki Monique and more. (June 19, Sheridan Memorial Park, Mpls., $65 weekend pass, afropunk.com)
Trampled by Turtles & Jenny Lewis: After trekking all over America and Europe this year, Duluth's homegrown string pickers finally return to the "pretty little city built by the hillside" for their first big post-lockdown gig there with their longtime pal Lewis opening. ( July 9, Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth, $45, axs.com)
The Black Crowes: After reuniting for shows in 2019, brothers Chris and Rich Robinson have tested their relationship with a new covers EP, "1972." These Southern rockers always shake their moneymakers live. (July 11, Mystic Lake Casino Amphitheater, Prior Lake, $49 and up, ticketmaster.com)
Mitski: Around summer dates at Pitchfork and Glastonbury festivals, the Japan-born, New York-rooted art-pop singer of "Nobody" radio fame follows up her enchanting Palace set in March to kick off the Surly concert lineup, later featuring Billy Strings, Fleet Foxes, Decemberists and more. (July 14, Surly Brewing Festival Field, all ages, $50, axs.com)
Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Fest: The 11th annual punk and roots-music mash-up will use the Hook's excellent Under the Canopy series set-up and more stages to showcase all-star punk band UltraBomb with Greg Norton, Left Lane Cruiser, Kent Burnside, Cornbread Harris, Jaedyn James and many more. (July 14-16, the Hook & Ladder, Mpls., $20/day, thehookmpls.com).
Twin Cities Summer Jam: This ambitious fest tapped two country stars who in are the moment when they perform — the surging and sensitive Kane Brown and "The Voice's" resident quipster Blake Shelton. Also appearing are Trace Adkins, Nelly, Elvis Shane, .38 Special and others. (July 21-23 Canterbury Park, Shakopee, $84 and up, tcsummerjam.com)
Bonnie Raitt/Mavis Staples: Always spirited in Minnesota, Raitt has some moving new tunes about mortality from this year's "Just Like That." And, at age 82, Staples mixes spirituals, social commentary and soul music with an undying fervor. (July 29, Ledge Amphitheater, Waite Park, Minn., $60 and up, ticketmaster.com)
Party in the Park: Plymouth's underused Hilde Performance Center will present a big weekend of varied sounds, starting with Grammy-winning blues-rock guitar star Gary Clark Jr., and openers Cold War Kids, Suzanne Santo and Kiss the Tiger on July 29. Nashville star Kelsea Ballerini tops a country bill on July 30 with the Band Perry and impressive newcomer Brittney Spencer. (July 29-30, $60-$150, suemclean.com)
We Fest: The granddaddy of Upper Midwest country-and-camping hoedowns celebrates its 39th year with headliners Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan, plus Riley Green, Lee Brice, Blanco Brown and the still great Tanya Tucker. (Aug. 4-6 Soo Pass Ranch, Detroit Lakes, Minn., $109 and up, wefest.com)
Khalid: The Grammy-nominated Texas electro-crooner of "Talk" radio spins is playing the first big concert in the Commons park outside U.S. Bank Stadium in conjunction with the MLS All-Star Game, but the show isn't just for soccer fans. (Aug. 8, the Commons, Mpls., $25, seatgeek.com)
Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen & Julien Baker: These kindred indie-rock songwriting powerhouses are likely to make it a collaborative and fun outing. Van Etten's new album, "We've Been Going About This All Wrong," is so compelling she could be out with Vanilla Ice and we'd still show up. (Aug. 9, Surly Brewing Festival Field, Mpls., $50, axs.com)
Cloud Cult: After turning Orchestra Hall into a mystical playground for three nights this spring, the Minne-Sconnie chamber-rock group will help amp up the Canterbury Park Concert series, also featuring Melissa Etheridge, Yonder Mountain String Band, Trombone Shorty and more. (Aug. 19, Shakopee, $30 & up, tickets.canterburypark.com)
Duran Duran: The veteran British band has three things to celebrate when it kicks off its tour in Minnesota — its recent election into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the 40th anniversary of the smash "Rio" album and new material from last year's "Future Past." (Aug. 19 Treasure Island Casino Amphitheater, Red Wing, $39 and up, ticketmaster.com)
Tedeschi Trucks Band and Los Lobos: Truck up to Moorhead for this unbeatable double bill with one of America's finest jam bands, featuring illustrious guitarist Derek Trucks and formidable vocalist Susan Tedeschi, and America's brilliantly enduring roots band from East Los Angeles. (Sept. 3 Bluestem Amphitheater, Moorhead, Minn., $39.50-$125, etix.com)
And 5 excellent free concert series
Rhythm on the Rails: The Gear Daddies' June 29 appearance falls between tribute bands Free Fallin', Fabulous Armadillos and Crown Jewels. (Wednesdays, June 22 & 29, July 13-27, Lewis Street, downtown Shakopee, downtownshakopee.org)
Twin Cities Jazz Festival: Matthew Whitaker, Treme Brass Band, Emmet Cohen with Bruce Harris and many others. (June 24-25, Mears Park, St. Paul, twincitiesjazzfestival.com)
Lowertown Sounds: Monica LaPlante kicks off the near-weekly series, followed by Matt Wilson & His Orchestra, the New Standards, Heiruspecs, Flamin' Oh's, Malamanya and more. (Thursdays, June 9-June 23, July 14-Aug. 25, Mears Park, St. Paul, lowertownsounds.com)
Down by the Riverside: A July 24 date with Mavis Staples is the highlight of Rochester's downtown series, kicking off July 10 with Nur-D and later featuring John Waite, En Vogue and Jason Bonham. (Sundays, July 10-Aug. 14, Mayo Park in Rochester, rochestermn.gov)
Minnesota State Fair: The Leinie Lodge bandshell and other free stages are not to be overlooked, especially this year with the Family Stone, Jayhawks, Low Cut Connie, Gully Boys, Caitlyn Smith, Annie Mack, Durry and dozens more. (Aug. 25-Sept. 5, mnstatefair.org)