The first Upland Music & Arts Festival should be one of the most happening places in the IE this weekend. Soul Asylum headlines the second of three days. The scrappy alt-rock band emerged from the same fertile Minneapolis punk scene that spawned Husker Du and The Replacements in the early 1980s, but toiled for nearly a decade on various labels before finally hitting pay dirt with 1992’s sleek Grave Dancer’s Union.
That disc went double platinum on the strength of folk/pop-leaning single “Runaway Train” (#5 on Billboard’s Hot 100) and a popular MTV video spotlighting missing teens (you might recall a fourth season episode of “The Office,” where one character warbled the tune on a locomotive).
Soul Asylum eventually snagged a Grammy for the tune, played the Bill Clinton inaugural ball, notched a dozen top 30 songs on the Modern Rock charts (“Somebody to Shove,” “Black Gold,” “Misery”) throughout the ‘90s and contributed music to several Kevin Smith flicks. Raspy singer Dave Pirner briefly became a tabloid magnet while dating Winona Ryder (he made a cameo in “Reality Bites”). After a lengthy absence, the group reappeared with 2006’s solid The Silver Lining, featuring ex-‘Mats bassist Tommy Stinson filling in for Karl Mueller, who died of cancer during recording.
Dozens of rock, blues, jazz acts will also perform on seven stages throughout the downtown area. Among those not to miss: the whimsical synth-popsters hellogoodbye (Friday); Colbie Caillat songwriting partner Jason Reeves, esteemed bluesmen Charlie Musselwhite and Coco Montoya, local rhythm & blues fave/multiple IE Music Award winner Big Papa and The TCB (pictured) - whose sizzlin' new release is 12 Gauge Insurance Plan, Dios Malos and Groove Session (all on Saturday); Tommy Castro, IE indie rock band Science Fiction Theater, jazz combo Open Hands featuring noted session bassist Abraham Laboriel (Sunday).
Admission: $30. More information, (909) 949-4499, www.uplandmusicandartsfestival.com