[Featured photo by Jason Smith – Aerial Imagery Media – Festival Solstice in Land of Memories Park]

“Good mornin’ everyone, gather ’round, grab a chair.” From Let It All Go Man by Rayland Baxter 2019 Festival Solstice headliner from Nashville, Tennessee.

Tucked between the beautiful Blue Earth and mighty Minnesota Rivers is a place of green that will play host to some of the first memories of summer of 2019. Festival Solstice is on at Land of Memories just outside of Mankato this weekend!

The grounds are serene and green for festival weekend camping. New festival co-owner, Adam Steinke, an avid festival-goer, said, “You can’t find better camping at a festival than at Solstice!”

“Good mornin’ everyone, gather ’round, grab a chair.” From Let It All Go Man by Rayland Baxter 2019 Festival Solstice headliner from Nashville Tennessee

With local comedian Trevor Lee as MC, the Fest kicks off Friday afternoon with gates and food trucks opening at 4 pm. Two stages will feature continuous local, regional, and national acts starting at 5 pm Friday until Saturday 11 pm. “It’s really important to us to put on a festival that not only showcases what the original Mankato music scene has to offer, but also showcases original music from throughout the Midwest and national touring bands,” said Steinke.


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One of the missions of Festival Solstice is to be on the lookout for bands who are actively touring and growing their reputation. Steinke joked, “The bands booked at this festival will be too expensive to book next year.”

As a music fan, I love this! Who doesn’t love to see a band during their rise to fame? I did a little research and found that every band playing the Festival has released new material in the past year and are constantly on tour. I like to think this gives us at least a few “cool” points — queue Mario racking up a bunch of coins sound effect here.

I’ve heard on numerous occasions from Dain Fisher, the other co-owner, that he hopes this festival becomes a regional draw for Mankato. Full disclosure, since I live with Mr. Fisher, I know firsthand how very passionate he is about sharing what Mankato Area arts and culture have to offer. In fact, this year all festival proceeds go to Twin Rivers Council for the Arts. So, if you buy a ticket, pat yourself on the back for contributing to the arts in Mankato!

Who doesn’t love to see a band during their rise to fame?

While the festival is certainly about supporting music, it’s also about the sun, water, and that sense of summer dreaming. Speaking of summer dreams come true, let’s talk about Paddle Jam!

Paddle Jam

Bent River’s Paddle Jam is a majorly cool and unique perk particular to this festival. The concept is simple, roll down the Blue Earth River while enjoying the scenery, the river, nature, free Fulton Beer, and music from a live band which is also rolling down the river right beside you.

This year’s band is Tinder Box, featuring banjo, horn, bass and drums from Sioux Falls. Their site tells us to “Keep it on the Sunny Side,” which I’m thinking will be easily achieved this weekend.

Here’s the scoop on Paddle Jam.

The concept is simple, roll down the Blue Earth River while enjoying the scenery, the river, nature, free Fulton Beer, and music from a live band which is also rolling down the river right beside you.

Boats are available from Bent River until they’re sold out – which they are pretty close to being. Don’t fret, you can also bring your own boat and Bent River will still hook you up with  free shuttle service if you have a Solstice pass. If you don’t have a pass it’s a $15 shuttle ride on or off the river.

You have two options for getting to the Jam. Meet in the morning at Festival Solstice and catch an outbound shuttle starting at 9 a.m. or drive out to the east side of the Blue Earth River where it’s crossed by the Highway 90 Bridge and when the jam is done, catch a shuttle back to your car. The float starts at 11 am.

More Perks

Morning yoga is on for Saturday at 9 am led by professional instructors with live impromptu music by yours truly joined by Johnathan Mueller. Turns out Solstice is also International Yoga Day!

A local favorite, Lola’s Food Truck, will be providing breakfast and coffee for the early risers.

Instead of a talent contest held in previous years, this year’s festival is featuring a young up-and-coming performer! Kato Music presents singer-songwriter Hannah Chiet from Mankato. Her set kicks off Saturday’s music at 11:30 am.

The festival’s big stage fires up again at half past noon and roars throughout the day until 11pm at night!

Photo by Jason Smith - Aerial Imagery Media - Festival Solstice in Land of Memories Park - Mankato, MN - Getting read for Paddle Jam!
Photo by Jason Smith – Aerial Imagery Media – Festival Solstice in Land of Memories Park – Mankato, MN – Getting ready for Paddle Jam!

Awesome Perk Alert!

This year local Mankato brewery LocAle made a special beer just for Festival called Two Mile Hike. They’re having a Beer Release Party on Thursday, June 20th at their location. You can drink it all day at the festival alongside Bent Paddle and Fulton Beer.

By the way, coolers are not allowed inside the music gates, but you can have them at your campsite. Same goes for pets. Children 14 and under, on the other hand, are allowed (LOL) and get in free with an adult.

Wow, that was really good stuff, but here’s what you’ve been waiting for! The Music Schedule!

Friday

  • 4 pm Gates open
  • 5 pm Beige Interior — A new band from Mankato
  • 5:30 pm Dead Horses — A folk band with soulful roots sensibility from Wisconsin with female lead, upright bass, acoustic. New single Mighty Storm in 2019.
  • 6:45 pm Good Night Gold Dust — Local fav indie band from Mankato who likes dance parties, moody synth, and cats. The duo lead vox also play duo leads in their personal lives as a married couple. Awww!
  • 7:30 pm The Last Revel — Major roots in Mankato as their band used to rehearse in the Bent River basement. This bluegrass band recently had a change over with a new female lead singer and new 2019 album Fools Spring.
  • 9 pm Bee Balm Fields — Local fav alt country band led by female singer-songwriter, Laura Karels. They’re constantly playing and dropping a new album this summer.
  • 9:30 pm Kind Country — This folk-bluegrass-jam-based band just had a huge CD release party at First Ave in Minneapolis for their 2019 release, Hard Times.

Saturday

  • 9 am Yoga + Lola coffee, breakfast
  • 9 am Paddle Jam shuttle begins
  • 11 am Paddle Jam starts
  • 11:30 Kato Music Presents: Hannah Chiet
  • 12:30 pm Poor Lemuel — 5 piece indie rockers currently recording a double album. They printed off some new tees just for Solstice at Mankato’s Makerspace and they look sweet!
  • 1:30 Kaleb Braun-Shulz — Often seen at the Coffee Hag, Mankato singer-songwriter is hitting it with a full band.
  • 2:15 pm Lena Elizabeth — Minneapolis based songwriter, ukulele playing with full band, voice rooted in blues and soul. Just released music video for single, Nobody Wants You.
  • 3:15 pm Good Morning Bedlam — Minneapolis based band, constantly touring. Male lead vox, surrounded by female harmonies with energetic/charismatic upright female bass player, female fiddle player and a guy who plays a banjo that’s mounted on a stand. Just released a new album in 2018, Like Kings.
  • 4:15 pm Cottonwood Special — Mankato favorite and highly respected, smart musicians who “play music we like while having a swell time.”
  • 5 pm Haley — Minneapolis based singer-songwriter formally known as Haley Bonar comes in with her full band of highly respected badass musicians. Recent new album Pleasureland in 2018 marks her 9th album and her side project Gramma’s Boyfriend releasing new music in 2019.
  • 6 pm: Dan Rodriquez — His website says, “Hi, I’m Dan. I’m a whiskey & beer drinking, fishing & hunting loving, motorcycle riding, quality food eating, hippie sympathizing, people loving, husband & father who lives in Minneapolis and shares a life with my amazing wife and adorable son.” Released a new album in 2018 called 25 Years.
  • 7 pm Rayland Baxter — As one of the hardest-touring artists on the road today, Rayland’s music holds up a mirror, offering a sober reflection of the times thoughtfully bundled in bright, infectious hooks. Rayland is Nashville based, he and his band are flying in, and my sweet mom-van is picking them up. New album and videos in 2018, adding to his already 4-album discography.
  • 8:30 pm Fuzz Talk Hip Hop Hour — The best hip-hop in the region.
  • 9:30 pm The Werks — An American rock band originating from Dayton, Ohio and noted for its musical improvisation and exploration of music across multiple genres. Released a new album Sonder in 2019. Break out your glow sticks.

After that, let the summer begin!

Festival Solstice 2019 Map - Mankato, MN
Festival Solstice 2019 Map – Mankato, MN