Early this week, soul/roots singer Chastity Brown was just rolling back into Minneapolis after her first week touring since the pandemic hit — a full 17 months after the U.S. shutdown.
Now that she’s back in the swing of things, she’s all about joy.
“I don’t want to let go of this brand-new feeling,” she said.
Brown and Twin Cities blues band Bluedog are the acts for Down by the Riverside’s “Minnesota Music” night — a title that Brown, with six full albums under her belt, a 2020 single (“Golden”) written after George Floyd’s murder, and a recent McKnight Fellowship Grant, embodies easily.
As a Minneapolis resident, Brown considers Prince the epitome of “Minnesota music” — she sees musicians “whose careers and lives were changed by playing in his band for a week.”
But part of the allure of Minnesota’s scene is the number of styles that thrive here, she said: like Hüsker Dü and the Replacements, several of Janet Jackson’s albums (recorded in-state), and many more.
“When I think of Minnesota music, I think of all these wonderful jewels,” she said. “Like there being a bouquet of talent.”
Brown has been working on new music, set to release in January 2022. A number of the songs Rochester will hear on Sunday are new. But more importantly, she’s focusing on putting on a show. That means leaning into the caliber of her band — some of the best players in the state, she said — and allowing for a good deal of levity.
“I need as much joy in my life as possible, as a human being,” she said. “And I realized I want my concerts to be joyful. … I’m dancing on stage, and I’ve never done that before. It’s just out of, ‘Holy crap, this band is so good.’ ”
Those who know Brown’s music are aware that she writes about “serious social topics.” She might cry — she is a Gemini, after all. But she wants to laugh.
“Things have been serious for so long,” Brown said. “I just want to dance."
If you go
What: Down by the Riverside’s “Minnesota Music” night, featuring Chastity Brown and Bluedog
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 18
Where: Mayo Park, 30 Civic Center Drive SE, Rochester
Info: Admission is free. Lawn chairs, blankets and coolers are welcome. On-site concessions will also be available.