Martin Devaney, Prairie Fire Lady Choir, SPCO and more take the stage at Mears Park for Concrete and Grass this week

Arts / Article

Halloween, Alaska closing out the 2013 iteration of the festival in Mears Park. Photo courtesy of Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival

After the record-breaking crowds at the Minnesota State Fair and the crush at Walker Art Center’s popular Internet Cat Video Festival, Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival in Mears Park later this week is going to feel downright intimate. The atmosphere at this three-day St. Paul festival is neighborly – it’s the sort of event where, going year after year, you’re liable to run into old friends and family.

Concrete and Grass (a Knight Arts grantee) heralds the opening of the performance season for Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), the Ordway, Shubert Club and Minnesota Opera (many of which are also Knight Arts grantees). A chamber ensemble from SPCO will play from Beethoven’s septet in E-flat; Ordway is bringing in Salsa del Sol; Ancia Saxophone Quartet will represent the Shubert Club, and Minnesota Opera’s vocalists and orchestra will perform excerpts from the coming months’ productions.

Martin Devaney. Photo courtesy of Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival.

Martin Devaney. Photo courtesy of Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival

In addition, the mainstage will feature accomplished singer/songwriter (and unofficial Mayor of St. Paul) Martin Devaney, Joey Molland’s Badfinger and the always charming Prairie Fire Lady Choir, as well as instrumental jazz played by Adam Meckler Orchestra and New Mexico brass quintet Breaking Brass.

Prairie Fire Lady Choir. Photo courtesy of Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival.

Prairie Fire Lady Choir. Photo courtesy of Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival

With its mix of classical, jazz and world music, the Concrete and Grass vibe is relatively genteel. Folks come and go through the afternoon, and it’s an especially convivial atmosphere for families, as Mears Park has generous stretches of green space, ample for kids itching to burn off some steam.

Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival runs from Thursday through Saturday, September 4 through 6, in Mears Park, 221 East Fifth Street, St. Paul. Find a full schedule of performances and more on this year’s participating artists online at www.concreteandgrass.com