By K.D. Norris
July is the peak of summer and often the high-point of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series — and there are three takeaways from those facts: a ton of top-notch talent is coming to town; they are mostly sold out but available for a price; and you better make some party plans before fall rolls in.
There will be 10 shows in 19 days this month starting with Sheryl Crow on Wednesday, July 12, and ending with Lifehouse and Switchfoot on Monday, July 31. In between is dynamite run of four great shows in five days, July 16-20 — Huey Lewis & the News, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Barenaked Ladies, and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers with the Wood Brothers.
All four shows are sold out, as are all but one of the July shows, including the highly anticipated July 27 visit by The Shins (a great alt-pop project of James Mercer) — at least it is my most anticipated show. But still not sold out, so at regular Meijer Gardens price, is what should be a great show of relatively new-to-the-scene talents of Andrew Bird with Esperanza Spaulding on July 24.
And speaking of not being sold out … of the remaining 11 shows in August, seven of them still have tickets available, including Lyle Lovett’s annual visit, Garrison Keillor’s latest Prairie Home tour, the Punch Brothers, Tegan and Sara, John Butler Trio, and the improv/jam-band sounds of moe. with Railroad Earth.
Don’t know much about Railroad Earth but like a lot what mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan said, in supplied material, about the band’s live performances.
“Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song,” Skehan said. “There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.”
After a busy July and August, the Meijer Gardens Summer Concert season will come to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40 — also not sold out.
Also this month, Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater will host its Tuesday Evening Concert Series, with general admission to the Gardens getting people in for some great local and regional musical acts. The diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all starting at 7 p.m. Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.
For complete information on the concert series tickets and admission prices, visit meijergardens.org .