The State Fair, opening Sept. 30, is rolling out its best live music lineup in years. Headline performers like Kacey Musgraves, Jazmine Sullivan, and Nelly are names big enough to fit an event obsessed with size — giant cowboys, inflated waistlines, large livestock. Outside of the main stage, occupied with regional acts as well as the headliners, performances will happen throughout Fair Park on a daily basis.
Even if you’re pinching pennies until they degrade into misshapen copper, a trip to the fair can be expensive. Once you’ve made it through the Fair Park gates, however, all the live music is free. There remains the issue of deciding who to see, and where and when to see them. Thus, here we are.
The fair’s theme this year is “Celebrating Texas Agriculture,” which has nothing to do with this, but we just thought that we should mention it.
At the Chevrolet Main Stage
Our picks from the headliners: Kacey Musgraves, performing on opening day (Sept. 30), is a country singer-songwriter with a voice — whip-smart, funny, playfully subverting country cliches — that’s one-of-a-kind. A Texas native, Musgraves’ cowgirl glamour makes her a great fit for the fair. Jazmine Sullivan, performing Oct. 1, is an R&B artist whose 2015 album, the soulful Reality Show, was one of the best records of the year. Nelly, of “Hot In Herre” fame, is at least a decade past his popular peak, but we still turn up “Country Grammar” to full volume whenever it comes on. La Energia Nortena, performing Oct. 23, is Texas’ biggest norteno — a lively blend of European accordions and Mexican music genres — group for good reason.
Our picks from the regional acts: Mike Williams and Hammer Down, performing Oct. 4, are from Oklahoma, but we’re willing to overlook it on the strength of their Red Dirt country songs. Brave Combo, performing Oct. 6, seems to be contractually obligated to play any family-friendly festival in North Texas, but we’re not complaining — the Denton polka act never tires. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, performing Oct. 19, has found a hell of a gimmick, and for that, we salute them.
The full main stage schedule can be found over this way, but if you’d rather stay right here:
Here’s the main stage schedule for regional acts:
At the Bud Light Sound Stage (Cotton Bowl Plaza)
Our pick: Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, a fantastic Louisiana zydeco act, are the must-see residency at this year’s fair. The stage is theirs from Oct. 16 until they put Big Tex back in the box.
- 9.30-10.6 – Coffey Anderson
- 10.7-10.15 – Tejas Brothers
- 10.16-10.23 – Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band
At the Coca-Cola Stage (Near the Midway)
For the duration of the fair, it’s the un-Googleable Honey Bears, likely some kind of noxious cutesy cover act that your children may enjoy.
At the Dr Pepper Stage (Near the Creative Arts Building)
Our pick: Light Crust Doughboys, taking the stage from Oct. 16 through fair’s end, are a fun Western swing band with legacy — the original lineup formed in the 1930s — and the kind of carefree, corny Texas attitude the fair was practically built for.
- 9.30-10.7 – The Killdares
- 10.8-10.15 – Six Appeal
- 10.16-10.23 – Light Crust Doughboys
At Marine Corps Square
The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps performs daily throughout the fair.