MANKATO — This year, the Solstice music lineup boasts a hall-of-fame act.
Mankato’s own Steve Murphy Band, which was voted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame earlier this year, anchors an all-local lineup that will help expand the outdoor festival across two days for the first time in its history.
“We’ve been playing since the beginning of Solstice,” said Steve Murphy, the eponymous frontman of the band that has its roots in the 1960s and is nearing completion on its next CD release. “Always the last concert on Saturday.”
Angry Waters, that purveyor of 101-proof rock that band members like to say is “distilled in Judson,” has played Solstice from the beginning, too. Dan Wiechert said the band treats the festival like its biggest event of the year, even playing straight through a round of tornado warnings a few years ago.
“It’s our Super Bowl,” the vocalist said. “A hell of a good time.”
Wiechert isn’t hoping to re-create that moment this year, though the Saturday and Sunday forecasts do indicate a chance for rain.
But if Angry Waters’ track record with weather is any indication, there’s nothing to worry about.
“We’ve been playing live for eight years,” he said, “and we’ve yet to get rained out.”
The annual festival has been a one-day, Sunday affair since its inception. This year, however, organizers expanded the music lineup to stretch across two days.
The venue has also changed from its traditional location at Land of Memories Park to Riverfront Park.
After Land of Memories was beset by a string of natural disasters last year, city officials relocated the campground and renovated the grounds. Those upgrades, however, changed the layout of the park and Solstice organizers said it’s not feasible to hold the concert there.
“We loved Land of Memories,” said Murphy, who handles booking for the event. “But they’ve got new roads and hookups right where we used to be at.”
One tradition that won’t change is Solstice’s allowance of outside food and beverage.
“We’re about the only (festival) where people can bring their cooler,” he said.
This year, the event will benefit the House of Hope and the ECHO Food Shelf. Event proceeds go to the House of Hope and individuals who bring a food item for the food shelf will receive a discounted ticket.