With the 4th of July right behind us, some summer traditionalists will be looking ahead to the near future, August 11-21 and the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.
State music lineups are a mixed bag; some places—Minnesota is a notable example—really value diversity over gender and era, something old and new. Missouri tends to stick to the middle, mixing country, classic rock and a bit of Christian music.
Before you plan your visit to the show, here’s this year’s music slate divided into three tiers – from the most intriguing to the most predictable.
The top level (ZZ): ZZ Top, Charley Crockett and Stoney LaRue
August 17: ZZ Top
The clear class of this year’s fair, the Texas titans boast a full catalog of rock radio hits and dirty blues boogies. Founding bassist Dusty Hill passed away last year, but frontman Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard are keeping the well-dressed band on track. $45 to $60.
August 18: Charley Crockett and Stoney LaRue
An inspired couple sure to be, this bill features two country artists who continue to impress with their style and grit: the velvet-voiced Texan Crockett and his fellow statesman — and one of the top purveyors Red Dirt – LaRue sound. $30 to $35.
Next show: Sam Hunt, Casting Crowns
August 12 Tesla and fuel
Listen, sometimes you just have to ditch the proprieties and enjoy some rock ‘n’ roll hits. And these groups have them. Breaking up the glam-rock scene of the 1980s, Tesla delivers memorable tracks like “Love Song” and “Signs.” Longtime singer Brett Scallions is no longer in the Fuel camp, but the stars of the turn of the 2000s still boast serious hits such as “Shimmer,” “Bad Day” and “Hemorrhage (In My Hands).” $30 to $40.
August 13: Sam Hunt
Stylistically, Hunt is far from the only artist to blend pop and country tones to create smooth grooves. But the Georgia native has a distinctive charisma that pushes his work to the fore, to the tune of eight singles that have reached platinum or multi-platinum status. This charisma will undoubtedly translate from the stage to a state fair crowd. With Sean Stemaly; $45 to $60.
August 16: throwing wreaths
If you’re drawn to Christian music, this Florida-formed band remains near the top of the class, with around 10 million albums sold and more than 15 Dove Awards to their name. Leaning towards the pop side of rock, the band’s booming choruses and lyrical sentiments endear Casting Crowns to fans. With We are messengers; $25 to $30.
August 20: Justin Moore
The Arkansas native “found success in the 2000s as a good, small-town boy with a raucous heart of gold,” AllMusic notes. Moore’s music is no less smooth than that of artists like Hunt, but seems less pop-oriented, leaning into his Everyman twang. With Heath Sanders; $30 to $45.
For fan service only: Trace Adkins, KC and the Sunshine Band
August 11: Trace Adkins
To be clear, the Louisiana native has amassed a serious following in 25 years; a handful of gold and platinum albums testify to this. But for the singer behind hits such as “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” the guts almost always beat the nuance. If you cater to that kind of style, Adkins is the show for you; otherwise, there’s a lot more country music in this year’s lineup. With Lonestar; $35 to $45.
August 19: KC and the Sunshine Band with The Four Tops
Here’s the good news: In an age when traditional bands tour without key members, Harry Wayne Casey, aka KC, is still at the center of this hit-making 1970s pop group. It’s not just… And the Sunshine Band. If what you want from the fair is an evening of nostalgia, a “just the hits” approach – and understandably – these veterans of the disco era should get you there. KC and Co. will be joined by classic R&B group The Four Tops, whose stellar lineup still draws energy from original member Abdul “Duke” Fakir. $30 to $40.
Learn more about this year’s Missouri State Fair at https://www.mostatefair.com/.
Aarik Danielsen is the Features and Culture Editor for Tribune. Contact him at [email protected] or by calling 573-815-1731. Find him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen.