Music on the midway is as native to the Ohio State Fair as the butter cow and deep-fried Twinkies. From Christian- and classic-rock stylings to country, a flavor exists to suit every sonic taste. Unlike the nosebleed seats in an arena or a distant perch at an outdoor festival, the Celeste Center setup offers decent stage views - and tempting proximity to ring-toss games and air-brushed T-shirts.
Music on the midway is as native to the Ohio State Fair as the butter cow and deep-fried Twinkies. From Christian- and classic-rock stylings to country, a flavor exists to suit every sonic taste.
Unlike the nosebleed seats in an arena or a distant perch at an outdoor festival, the Celeste Center setup offers decent stage views — and tempting proximity to ring-toss games and air-brushed T-shirts. • And remember: Concert tickets purchased in advance include free admission to the fair.
Here’s a look at the notable acts set to play this year.
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Boyz II Men
7 Thursday; $23
Sweater vests, R&B harmonies and classy romantic overtures are the longtime hallmarks of the Philadelphia vocalists best-known for the 1990s slow jams I’ll Make Love to You and On Bended Knee.
But the Boyz — a threesome since Michael McCary left the group a decade ago — have a new object of affection: the pretzel-bun sandwich at Wendy’s.
No, seriously. The Motownphilly crooners made a tongue-in-cheek cameo this month in a new ad campaign for the Columbus fast-food chain in which Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris (no relation) and Shawn Stockman sing customer tweets pining for the bun (says one: “The closest thing I had to the love of my life.”)
“It’s funny as hell,” Wanya Morris recently told New York’s Power 105.1 FM. “I haven’t even tasted the sandwich, but I heard it’s good.”
The 20-million-plus-record-selling gents, however, have a bigger item on the menu: An 11th studio album, Collide, is due in September.
7 p.m. Friday; $45
The country-pop trio — whose 2009 chart-topping Need You Now crossover ballad spawned a perfect soundtrack for those teary, tipsy nights — is hotter than ever.
Four previous studio albums all hit No. 1 on the country charts; a new single, Bartender, arrived in May — offering an upbeat breakup anthem/drinking song and the precursor to a forthcoming Lady Antebellum album, 747.
“There’s something empowering about not going for the rebound or just moping around over a guy,” co-vocalist Hillary Scott told Country Music Television. “This song is all about hitting the dance floor with your girlfriends and just forgetting him.”
Easy on the eyes and ears, the stylish Just a Kiss players, who also include Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, are backed by a full band onstage.
Expect a few new tunes from the bunch, who hinted in a post on their website that they’re experimenting with new harmonies and sounds.
The Beach Boys, America
7:30 p.m. Tuesday; $30
Although the California surf-rockers reunited for a 50th anniversary tour in 2012 — with founding members Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love on board — the wave was short-lived.
Love, the only original member of the present lineup, is joined by singer-bassist Bruce Johnston (1965-72 and 1978-present). Rounding out the ensemble is guitarist Jeffrey Foskett, a longtime Beach Boys contributor.
Doo-wop melodies that in later efforts morphed into psychedelic tunes helped the Good Vibrations harmonists become big.
“It’s been a great source of inspiration to see the happiness our music has brought to multiple generations,” Love said in a statement.
Wilson, 72, last year returned to recording solo material.
Fun, Fun, Fun fans, meanwhile, might spot a familiar face: Actor John Stamos, whose stint on the ABC sitcom Full House featured a Beach Boys storyline and cameo, will serve as their drummer in concert. He has joined them on previous touring and session go-rounds.
America, which was formed in London, will open the show with ’70s folk-rock hits such as A Horse With No Name and Ventura Highway.
Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
7 p.m. Wednesday; $36
The sisterly bonds strong, the muscular melodies of power-ballad powerhouses Ann and Nancy Wilson and their band, Heart, still have the ability to get our blood pumping.
C’mon, do the choruses These Dreams or Alone not make you a little emotional?
Perhaps the hard-charging riffs of Barracuda — written in 1976 as an angry retort to their record label’s made-up rumor that the siblings were having a lesbian affair — better fit the mood.
Rounding out the double-bill is another firebrand female rocker: the 55-year-old Jett, whose Bad Reputation remains a rebel anthem.
(We witnessed her dominance firsthand when the mascara-clad butt-kicker headlined the Obetz Zucchini Festival in 2012.)
Both Heart and Jett aren’t entirely nostalgia acts; each has offered recent albums of original music.
7 p.m. next Thursday; $35
Consider this a rare opportunity to see the Queen of Soul hold court.
The legendary Motor City singer, whose 1967 hit Respect is considered a musical cornerstone of the civil-rights and women’s-rights movements, has dealt with a number of undisclosed medical conditions and surgeries in recent years.
But the (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman diva — whose summer tour schedule is purposely light as she works to regain her throne — isn’t ready for the curtain call.
“I’m doing a lot of singing right now,” Franklin, 72, told reporters at a news conference in Detroit in May, “just getting my voice back to where it was.”
Her last record released independently in 2011, Franklin said she plans to record a new album with veteran producers Don Was and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. The album will also mark her return to working with Clive Davis.
A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who has sung at the inaugurations of presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Franklin was named the “No. 1 singer of all time” by Rolling Stone magazine.
Major Ohio State Fair concerts will take place in the Celeste Center at the Ohio Expo Center, I-71 and E. 17th Avenue. Call 614-644-3247 or 1-888-646-3976, or visit www.ohiostatefair.com.
The remainder of the Celeste Center schedule:
Bachman & Turner, Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat (7 p.m. Saturday, $28): Yes, it’s fine to make a “takin’ care of business” or “more cowbell!” pun. The throwback rockers aren’t likely to tread new turf.
All-Ohio State Fair Band & Youth Choir (1 p.m. Sunday, free): See the hard work pay off for the young musicians — who live in dormitories at the fair and perform multiple times each day on the grounds.
Scotty McCreery (7:30 p.m. Sunday, $20): Could a tinier man have a deeper baritone? Who’s to say, but the 2011 American Idol winner will certainly balance that booming voice with boyish charm.
Jesus Culture (7 p.m. Monday, $20): Musicians from the California-based youth ministry of the same name offer a spiritual message — and pop-rock tunes suggestive of melodies on Top 40 radio.
“Sinatra Forever” featuring Rick Michel (1 p.m. Tuesday, free): Evoke memories of Ol’ Blue Eyes with the longtime impressionist, who will offer Rat Pack-era tunes with the aid of a seven-piece backing band.
McClain (7 p.m. Aug. 1, $12): Making music for a decade, the trio of Atlanta sisters touts family-friendly pop fare and ties to various Disney Channel projects.