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Country music star: Minnesotans embrace resurging genre

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Country tunes often tout the simple summer lifestyle – warm weather, friends, a lake or an open road. But even as temperatures begin to slide down the thermometer, it's a good time to be a country music fan in Minnesota.

It starts with Garth Brooks, arguably the biggest country music star out there, kicking off his lengthy run at Target Center Thursday night. Brooks will play 11 shows, and continue through next week. See a full schedule of the weekend-based shows here.

The Star Tribune, trying to peg why country has struck such a chord in the Twin Cities lately, went at it from multiple angles. A promoter told the paper the genre was broadened, drawing in more fans and propelling its radio station popularity upward (both nationally and in Minnesota, where K102 and BUZN 102.9 sport high listener numbers).

A label executive theorized Minnesotans are more willing to go outdoors, and that helps when scheduling summer country concerts in the open, the paper reports. And people are buying – a Nashville show booker says the Twin Cities metro is fourth in the U.S. for country ticket sales despite being 16th in population.

Nielsen credits the genre's resurgence to young fans. According to the report, country's audience share has grown significantly over the past two years among the 12-17 and 18-24 age group – pushing its overall popularity above pop music in 2013.

One of those young fans, 15-year-old Maddy Siiter from Proctor, is cruising for a country career of her own.

The Duluth News Tribune reports the Siiter family packed their luggage and traveled to Nashville three times over the summer so Maddy could begin recording some tunes. What started as a few demos turned into a full-length record, the paper says.

The album is called "Runaway" and it's out Friday. She'll play a release show that night at Amazing Grace Bakery in Duluth, at 7 p.m. You can find more details, and some song samples, on her ReverbNation page.

One Minnesota business is getting a taste of the big-stage twang.

ABC 6 reports Four Daughters Winery in Spring Valley supplied the drinks for a Country Music Awards show after-party hosted by Universal Music Group. The label has Tim McGraw and George Strait among its ranks, and winemaker Justin Osborne told ABC 6 the after-party has "the most star power of the things we've done."

And that star power is attracting quite the crowd in Minnesota.

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