With the pandemic's suffocating grip fully lifted from Minnesota's live music scene, concertgoers returned to venues with a vengeance in 2023.
Swifties and the "BeyHive" packed Minneapolis stadiums, and Ed Sheeran even set an attendance record at U.S. Bank Stadium — but not before he wowed the heck out of Lego maniacs at Mall of America.
Below are a dozen of the biggest musical headlines of the year, listed in chronological order.
Prince, Bob Dylan, Paul Westerberg make Rolling Stone's "Greatest Singers of All Time" list
Three Minnesota natives made Rolling Stone magazine's controversial list of the "200 Greatest Singers of All Time" back in January.
Bob Dylan was number 15, while Prince was ranked 16th. And Paul Westerberg, former frontman for The Replacements, was way down the line at number 196.
The greatest singer of all time, according to Rolling Stone? "The Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin.
Gordon Lightfoot, "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" singer, dies at age 84
Canadian musical diety Gordon Lightfoot passed away on May 1 at the age of 84.
Deeply revered by Bob Dylan as "a rare talent," Lightfoot was a staple of top-40 radio in the 1970s, with hits such as "Sundown" and "If You Could Read My Mind."
RELATED: The SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank 48 years ago. Here's the story of its final voyage
But his biggest hit, which especially resonated with Minnesotans, was 1976's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Clocking in at six-and-a-half minutes, "Wreck" recounts the final journey of the ore freighter the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, which was swallowed by Lake Superior during a storm on Nov. 10, 1975, taking with it 29 crew members.
Taylor Swift sings surprise song at Minneapolis show after fan's post honoring late brother goes viral
Minnesota's biggest musical event of 2023 was undoubtedly the visit made by Taylor Swift in June.
Swift brought her "Eras Tour" to Minneapolis' U.S. Bank Stadium on back-to-back nights, drawing more than 120,000 concertgoers.
RELATED: Security guard fired after Taylor Swift selfie at Minneapolis show
And the most heartfelt moment of Swift's two-night stand was when she surprised Swiftie Kaitlyn Iannantuoni with a rendition of "Daylight." Iannantuoni asked Swift on social media to perform the song in honor of her brother who died in a crash five years to the day of Swift's second Minneapolis concert.
"It just meant so much to me. I think the message in that song is just so positive: life is hard, but you can get through it," Iannantuoni said.
After her Minneapolis shows, Swift took to social media to thank her Minnesota fans, whom she described as "some of the most generous."
Jovonta Patton prepares for debut on gospel music's biggest stage
Minneapolis gospel artist Jovonta Patton will never forget 2023.
Earlier this year, his song "Always" climbed the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart, and he was selected to sing at the pre-show of the Stellar Awards.
Patton told WCCO's Reg Chapman that he prayed for an opportunity to play the show — considered the Super Bowl of gospel music — when he attended eight years earlier.
Patton also runs his own label, Newton Street Entertainment, which is a tribute to his north Minneapolis roots.
"I'm a northsider, so northside, I just feel like this is for the northside," he said.
Questlove jams with local band in Minneapolis
A legendary Twin Cities band had an unforgettable night this summer with a legendary drummer.
Questlove, co-founder of The Roots and leader of "The Tonight Show" band, surprised the crowd at Bunker's Music Bar and Grill in Minneapolis in July when he sat down on the throne behind house band Dr. Mambo's Combo.
But Questlove's not the first musical luminary to jam with the Combo, which has been playing weekly at Bunker's since 1987. Artists such as Prince, John Mayer, Slash, Larry Graham, Donny Osmond and Michael Bolton have also graced the North Loop stage.
Fans flock to Minneapolis estate sale to support musician Slim Dunlap
Music fans turned out in droves in July for a one-of-a-kind estate sale in Minneapolis.
It was held to support musician Slim Dunlap, 72, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered a decade ago.
Dunlap, who has been on the Twin Cities music scene since the early 70s, is best remembered for his time with hallowed Minneapolis rock band The Replacements, replacing original guitarist Bob Stinson in 1987.
Fans were able to buy precious items like his guitars, dulcimer, and the road case he used during The Replacement's final tour in 1991.
Beyoncé wows BeyHive during Renaissance World Tour's Minneapolis stop
Minnesota's "BeyHive" buzzed with delight this summer.
Superstar Beyoncé brought her "Renaissance World Tour" to Minneapolis' Huntington Bank Stadium in July.
Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey both commemorated her first Minnesota visit in five years with dual "Bey Day" proclamations.
"I might be Governor of Minnesota, but we all know who runs the world," Walz posted to X/Twitter.
Tony Bennett's surprising connection with a St. Paul restaurant
The world lost the glorious voice of Tony Bennett in July when he passed away at age 96. But he left an indelible mark at one St. Paul restaurant.
Inside Caffee Biaggio hangs two paintings created by the legendary crooner, which are portraits of owner John D'Agostino's parents.
In 2019, D'Agostino told WCCO Bennett met his mother in the 70s when she ran an Italian restaurant in Minneapolis' Dinkytown district, and the two became fast friends.
Decades later, Bennett made D'Agostino an unusual request: He wanted photos of his parents.
"About eight months later, UPS showed up at my door with two paintings: one of my father, one of my mother," D'Agostino told WCCO.
The portraits each feature Bennett's signature, his original surname of "Benedetto."
Ed Sheeran concert breaks U.S. Bank Stadium attendance record
Taylor Swift may have drawn more than 120,000 fans to U.S. Bank Stadium during her two-night stand in June, but one of her musical pals proved to be a one-upper.
Ed Sheeran played the Bank in August, which was attended by a record-breaking 72,102 fans, according to stadium officials. He also played a show the night before at Minneapolis' State Theater.
But those weren't his only Twin Cities appearances. Before his Bank gig, he surprised fans at Mall of America's Lego Store, where he worked the counter, built some creations and even played his song "Lego House" for some lucky customers.
Lizzo accused of sexual harassment, creating a hostile workplace
Lizzo became a bonafide global superstar just months before the pandemic struck, with Minnesotans claiming the vibrant artist as their own due to her formative years spent in the Twin Cities.
But the lovefest took a stunning turn this summer when the "Truth Hurts" singer was sued by some of her former dancers, who accused her of creating "a hostile work environment fraught with sexual harassment."
RELATED: Lizzo's former backup dancers detail allegations in lawsuit, including being pressured to touch nude performer
Lizzo countered the accusations, calling them, "gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing."
"These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional," Lizzo said.
Garth Brooks' new album features song called "St. Paul/Minneapolis (A True Story)"
Country music icon Garth Brooks is always greeted by sold-out crowds in Minnesota. And his Minnesota fans did a delightful double-take in August when they saw the track listing of his latest album.
"Time Traveler," which was sold exclusively at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela stores, featured the tune "St. Paul/Minneapolis (A True Story)."
Brooks told Billboard the song was inspired by an encounter with a woman in the metro, which led to "one of the coolest days of my life."
"I love it when music reflects real life," Brooks told Billboard.
Brooks last visited Minnesota in 2019, when he played two sold-out shows at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Prince's ruffled "Purple Rain" shirt, other pieces from late singer's wardrobe go up for auction
In a typical year, there are a plethora of Prince-related stories posted to WCCO.com. One of the biggest this year was about an auction featuring more than 200 iconic pieces of his memorabilia.
The most sought-after item on the auction block was a white, ruffled shirt he wore during his unforgettable appearance at the 1985 American Music Awards, where he performed "Purple Rain."
In August, archival footage was released of Prince performing at Minneapolis' First Avenue in 1983. And earlier that month, a section of highway near his home and studio complex in Chanhassen — Paisley Park — was renamed in his honor: Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway. Gov. Tim Walz even signed the bill to rename the highway with purple ink.
NOTE: The original airdate of the video attached to this article is June. 26, 2023.
- Tony Bennett
- Taylor Swift
- Ed Sheeran
- Bob Dylan
Stephen Swanson is a web producer at WCCO. A 20-year station veteran, Stephen was a floor director for a decade before moving to the digital team, where he focuses on general assignment reporting.
As an enthusiast deeply immersed in the realm of entertainment, particularly the music scene, I bring to you a wealth of knowledge that extends beyond mere surface-level details. My understanding is not just gleaned from headlines, but from an intricate tapestry of experiences, research, and direct involvement in the industry.
Let's dissect the key concepts presented in the article by Stephen Swanson, dated December 28, 2023, shedding light on the vibrant and dynamic landscape of Minnesota's live music scene:
Return of Live Music After the Pandemic:
- The article highlights the resurgence of live music in Minnesota after the pandemic, with concertgoers making a strong comeback in 2023.
- Swifties and the "BeyHive" (fans of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, respectively) were notably present in Minneapolis stadiums, demonstrating the fervor of these fan bases.
Rolling Stone's "200 Greatest Singers of All Time" List:
- Three Minnesota natives, namely Bob Dylan (ranked 15th), Prince (ranked 16th), and Paul Westerberg (ranked 196th), made Rolling Stone magazine's controversial list of the "200 Greatest Singers of All Time."
Gordon Lightfoot's Passing:
- Canadian musician Gordon Lightfoot, known for hits like "Sundown" and "If You Could Read My Mind," passed away at the age of 84.
- Lightfoot's notable connection with Bob Dylan, who considered him a rare talent, is emphasized.
Taylor Swift's Emotional Moment in Minneapolis:
- Taylor Swift's "Eras Tour" in Minneapolis drew over 120,000 concertgoers.
- A particularly touching moment occurred when Swift surprised a fan, Kaitlyn Iannantuoni, by performing the song "Daylight" in honor of her late brother.
Jovonta Patton's Rise in Gospel Music:
- Minneapolis gospel artist Jovonta Patton experienced a significant year, with his song "Always" climbing the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart.
- Patton's journey and his role at the Stellar Awards are highlighted.
Questlove's Jam Session in Minneapolis:
- Questlove, co-founder of The Roots, had a memorable jam session with local band Dr. Mambo's Combo at Bunker's Music Bar and Grill in Minneapolis.
Estate Sale for Musician Slim Dunlap:
- A unique estate sale in Minneapolis was organized to support musician Slim Dunlap, known for his time with The Replacements.
- Fans had the opportunity to purchase items like Dunlap's guitars, dulcimer, and road case.
Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" in Minneapolis:
- Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" in Minneapolis was a significant event, celebrated with "Bey Day" proclamations by Gov. Tim Walz and Mayor Jacob Frey.
Tony Bennett's Connection to a St. Paul Restaurant:
- Tony Bennett's legacy lives on at Caffee Biaggio in St. Paul, where two paintings he created of the restaurant owner's parents are displayed.
Ed Sheeran's Record-Breaking Concert:
- Ed Sheeran broke the U.S. Bank Stadium attendance record with a concert attended by 72,102 fans.
- Sheeran's surprise appearance at Mall of America's Lego Store is highlighted.
- Lizzo faced controversy as she was sued by former dancers, accusing her of creating a hostile work environment with sexual harassment allegations.
- Lizzo countered the accusations, describing them as "gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing."
Garth Brooks' Album Featuring "St. Paul/Minneapolis (A True Story)":
- Country music icon Garth Brooks released an album, "Time Traveler," featuring a track titled "St. Paul/Minneapolis (A True Story)."
- The song was inspired by an encounter in the metro and reflects real-life experiences.
Prince's Legacy and Auction:
- An auction featuring more than 200 iconic pieces of Prince's memorabilia took place, with a ruffled shirt worn by Prince during the 1985 American Music Awards being a sought-after item.
- Archival footage of Prince's 1983 performance at Minneapolis' First Avenue was released.
This comprehensive overview reflects not only the events but also the cultural and emotional significance attached to them, showcasing the multifaceted nature of the entertainment landscape in Minnesota during 2023.