Lowertown Blues & Funk Fest starts tomorrow


St. Paul is doing its best to stake its claim as music capital of Minnesota.

Jazzfest was, in a word, insane: The music, the turnout, the city on blast.

And now it’s the Lowertown Blues & Funk Fest’s turn to get things getting for the fourth year in a row.

The Average White Band and Tommy Castro and the Painkillers are headlining the event, starting on July 21 and 22 in St. Paul’s Mears Park.

Expect a similar setup to Jazzfest, just with a different sound. General admission is free; just show up and find a spot (where you can). VIP tickets are also available for those less than enthusiastic about bringing a lawn chair: $60 for a night, or $100 if you want to hit both Friday and Saturday will get you reserved seating and some schmooze-time with the musicians.

(Better hurry: There are only 100 tickets available. Go here: lowertownbluesfestival.com)

In true St. Paul fashion, locals will kick off the music. Mick Sterling and the Stud Brothers will start things July 21, and then Prince tribute act Chase and Ovation, and the Average White Band.

Of course, as these festivals go, Saturday is the biggest day. Music starts at noon, with more local musicians, of course, Colin Campbell and the Shackletons.

Renee Austin, visiting the North all the way from Texas, The Jimmys from Wisconsin, and Shannon Curfman, a North Dakotan who has been making a name for herself beyond the Midwest region in which she plays the most, will fill Lowertown with music.

And then, to top it off, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers. Music enthusiasts will be familiar with the veteran Castro, who has been well-known in the Bay Area for decades, and has a resume that includes stints with B.B. King and national tours.

Check them out:

But, also in true St. Paul fashion, it’s about more than just headliners and who is onstage. Anyone who has frequented Music in Mears over the last decade, or attended events like Concrete and Grass, the aforementioned Jazzfest, and a burgeoning number of music-based festivals in the capital city, knows that it’s more about the community; coming together to drink, dance, and dally outside in the few warm months we have. Getting together, waiting longer than we should at food trucks, and supporting a city that knows that in order to be dynamic, the landscape has to be, well, dynamic.