Everyone is talking about it. The State Fair of Texas, and Big Tex, are back for 2021. Mark your calendars for September 24 through October 17.

When I first went to the State Fair's website, I had to do a double take. I easily recognized Jack Ingram, but the guy next to him looked a lot like Mark McGrath. Sure enough, the biggest surprise this year on the lineup is Sugar Ray.

Here are my picks for this year for must see concerts:

Sugar Ray

It's going to feel weird admitting this, but the allure here is pure nostalgia. I can go without the bedpost song. In fact there are a lot of their songs that I can miss and not worry about it. Nothing against Sugar Ray, they're just not my cup of sweet tea.

That being said, I will do damage to all eardrums in my immediate vicinity the moment they go into "Fly."

Black Pumas

Soul music at its finest. Their body of work is peak craftsmanship. The vocals are amazing. Instrumentally, they are experts when it comes to groove. This one is high up on my list of must see shows at the Fair this year.

The 40 Acre Mule

Blues and Rock 'n' Roll; you can't lose. This live show is going to be a party from beginning to end.

1100 Springs

When it comes to country music, I love 1100 Springs (Eleven Hundred Springs). This is where you'll find me when it comes time for my wife and I to take in a two-step.

Charley Crockett

I've been a fan of Charley from the first time I heard his version of "That's How I Got To Memphis." Then I heard his take on "Good Time Charley's Got The Blues." I've been hooked since. Charley is the embodiment of old-school country cool. If you haven't checked out his catalog, spend some time treating yourself before you go see him live at the Fair.

Shinyribs

If you have never been, or watched videos of, a Shinyribs concert then you need to be at this one. Calling it a concert is a bit misleading. It's more of a funky party that leaves you feeling like you just stuck your hand in your pocket and found a twenty that you forgot you had. I can't recommend it enough. You'll laugh. You'll dance (or at least want to). Most of all, the music is fantastic.

Grand Funk Railroad

Yes. Grand Funk Railroad will be there. Yes, you will sing along. Yes, you will enjoy it. It's freaking Grand Funk Railroad. What do you expect?

Also, Bill Engvall will be there handing out signs as he is prone to do. There's also a guy that looks a lot like Elvis, but isn't Elvis. His name is Kraig Parker. He pretends to be Elvis. They call that being an "impersonator." He calls it being a tribute artist.

I don't know that I would recommend skipping any concert at the State Fair this year. We went a whole damn year without a single one, so skipping one seems a bit wasteful to me. Also, these artists work hard to create something you might enjoy. Show them some love by taking in a free concert (with admission, of course).

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