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ArtWorks starting something positive with summer concert

Published 6:10pm Saturday, May 24, 2014
Keyboardist Sarah Elhardt plays during Cloud Cult’s opening song of their set last year at Marcusen Park. Herald file photo
Keyboardist Sarah Elhardt plays during Cloud Cult’s opening song of their set last year at Marcusen Park. Herald file photo

Austin is on the cusp of what I hope becomes a grand community tradition.

For the second straight year, a concert is planned on the first night of the Austin ArtWorks Festival on Aug. 23. Last year, the first concert was held featuring Martin Zellar and Nick Ciola — formerly of 1990s band the Gear Daddies — and Cloud Cult, two Minnesota groups with Austin ties.

Cloud Cult is set to return to the festival this year, this time with Pert Near Sandstone.

Last year’s show did exactly what organizers hoped: Draw in fans from out of town and in town alike.

Year two will pair two different bands through the bluegrass of Pert Near Sandstone and the lush instrumental indie rock of Cloud Cult. What a way to cap the summer.

Austin doesn’t have to look far for an example of an annual event known for attracting big-named talent.

In neighboring Freeborn County, the fair has become an annual staple, attracting big names in music. Each year, residents wait in the fall for the announcement of who is coming.

The Freeborn County model: Bring in up-and-coming acts — most of them county — and some established acts. They’ve brought in names like The Beach Boys (minus Brian Wilson), Kenny Rogers and many others. A few of my relatives still tell stories about seeing Alabama at the Freeborn County Fair right after they hit it big.

But concert organizers are carving their own niche in Austin. They’ve focused on attracting Minnesota talent with a local and regional draw.

Two years doesn’t make a trend, let alone a tradition, but you’ve got to start somewhere. At the Herald, we hope that we’re still talking about this annual event many years from now.

Other Listens:

“Unplug” By Cloud Cult

Most Americans may remember Blur’s 1997 self-titled album for “Song 2” — the “woohoo” song.

Frankly, that’s selling the rest of the album short. In my opinion, this is Damon Albarn’s best work with Blur, and it’s a great spring album to listen to on a drive with windows rolled down. It’s also refreshing to go back and listen to Albarn’s rock albums after he’s infused recent albums with hip-hop and club sounds.

Key tracks: “Beetlebum,” “M.O.R.,” “On Your Own,” “Strange News from Another Star” and “Essex Dogs.”

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