Outdoor music arrives in Triangle

Schedules aren't complete, but our outdoor music guide gives you a good start for your planning

Staff writerApril 15, 2011 

Last month, Prince announced a show in Raleigh less than two weeks before it happened - a lead time that's almost unheard of. But that might be more of a regular thing around here this summer. In years past, the Triangle's big outdoor concert venues would have most of their schedules pretty well set by the middle of April.

Not this year. Whether due to increased competition between Cary's Booth Amphitheater and the Downtown Raleigh Amphitheater or the shaky state of the touring industry, it's taking an unusually long time for the venues' seasons to come together. So here is what we know so far.

TIME WARNER CABLE MUSIC PAVILION AT WALNUT CREEK

Raleigh's 20,000-capacity McShed turns old enough to drink in 2011, which will be its 21st concert season. It will open in appropriate fashion Tuesday with longtime venue favorite Jimmy Buffett, to the delight of Parrotheads everywhere. But for now, there is a two-month gap between Buffett and the next show, jam band Phish on June 18 - a void that will probably be filled.

Meantime, the schedule is long on the arena-country acts that have become Walnut Creek's primary focus, with Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney. From the rock end of the spectrum, we have 311, Grateful Dead spinoff Furthur, Journey, Kid Rock and the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival with Disturbed and Godsmack.

KOKA BOOTH AMPHITHEATER AT REGENCY PARK

Last year was Walnut Creek's first season in which the Allman Brothers did not play, because Gregg Allman was recovering from a liver transplant. It's not known if they'll return this year. In the interim, Allman is well enough to tour solo, and he plays Wednesday at Cary's 7,000-capacity Booth Amphitheater with the Steve Miller Band.

Booth's initial slate of dates finds the place getting its country on, with Miranda Lambert and Alison Krauss. From the venerable-hitmaker file is Huey Lewis & the News in July, and Styx in September. The N.C. Symphony's Summerfest also returns for eight dates, most notably "Live and Let Die" - a program of Paul McCartney's music.

DOWNTOWN RALEIGH AMPHITHEATER

The 5,600-capacity venue opened its first full season early, a sold-out April 1 show with rapper Wiz Khalifa. It's off to a good start with bookings. The electronic group Pretty Lights is there Tuesday, followed by Thirty Seconds to Mars this month. In the summer are two breakout alternative acts - Mumford & Sons and the Decemberists, scheduled for the first half of June. Pop singer Ke$ha will be along in August, too. Other acts that might be in the pipeline: Goo Goo Dolls, Earth, Wind & Fire, Death Cab for Cutie and ZZ Top.

AMERICAN TOBACCO HISTORIC DISTRICT AMPHITHEATRE

This Durham venue is a bucolic setting, and its offerings are folksy - topping out with raconteur Loudon Wainwright III with his daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche in September. Caitlin Cary's Small Ponds open the season April 29, followed by the Freighthoppers, "A Prairie Home Companion" favorites Robin and Linda Williams, Holy Ghost Tent Revival and Shady Grove Band.

N.C. MUSEUM OF ART

In contrast to other venues, the art museum's 2,800-capacity Joseph M. Bryan, Jr. Theater has its schedule pretty much set. It will get going with banjo master Bela Fleck, who brings the reconstituted original lineup of his Flecktones June 4; and wraps in September with alternative-rocker-turned-kids-music-guru Dan Zanes. In between is lots of folk, including zydeco band Beausoleil, guitar wizard Leo Kottke, our own Carolina Chocolate Drops, Battlefield Band and Iris DeMent.

DUKE GARDENS

The Music in the Gardens series returns, commencing June 1 with Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys. Fight the Big Bull, which took part in a spectacular Duke Performances program of Alan Lomax field recordings last fall, are also on the schedule, along with local favorites Hammer No More the Fingers and Lost in the Trees.

SHAKORI HILLS SPRING FESTIVAL

Also in the bucolic category, the ninth annual edition kicks off Thursday in rural Chatham County. The lineup is as wide-ranging as ever, including Tift Merritt, the iconic folk-rock duo Sarah Lee Guthrie with Johnny Irion and venerable hip-hop group Arrested Development, among many others. Best to check shakorihills.org for details.

WALNUT CREEK

Tuesday - Jimmy Buffett

June 18 - Phish

June 24 - Def Leppard, Heart, Evan Watson

July 8 - Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan

July 22 - Toby Keith, Eric Church

July 28 - Furthur

July 30 - Rascal Flatts, Sara Evans, Easton Corbin, Justin Moore

Aug. 2 - 311, Sublime, Rome

Aug. 3 - Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival with Disturbed, Godsmack

Aug. 5 - Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Uncle Kracker

Aug. 20 - Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger

Aug. 25 - Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Leroy Powell

Sept. 10 - Jason Aldean, Chris Young, Thompson Square

Sept. 25 - Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Jerrod Niemann

KOKA BOOTH AMPHITHEATER AT REGENCY PARK

Wednesday - Gregg Allman, Steve Miller Band

May 28 - N.C. Symphony Summerfest: "Summertime, Summertime!"

June 3 - Miranda Lambert

June 4 - N.C. Symphony Summerfest: "Around the World in Eighty Minutes"

June 11 - N.C. Symphony Summerfest: "The Pines of Rome"

June 18 - N.C. Symphony Summerfest: "Live and Let Die: The Music of Paul McCartney"

June 25 - N.C. Symphony Summerfest: "Swan Lake at Symphony Lake"

July 4 - N.C. Symphony Summerfest: "Independence Day Celebration"

July 9 - N.C. Symphony Summerfest: "Pirates!"

July 16 - N.C. Symphony Summerfest: "Time for Three"

July 24 - Huey Lewis & the News

July 28 - Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith

Aug. 11 - Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas

Sept. 16 - Styx

DOWNTOWN RALEIGH AMPHITHEATER

Tuesday - Pretty Lights, Two Fresh, Mindelixir

April 22 - Thirty Seconds to Mars, Anberlin

June 8 - Mumford & Sons, Low Anthem, Matthew & the Atlas

June 11 - Decemberists, Best Coast

Aug. 9 - Ke$ha, LMFAO, Spank Rock

JOSEPH M. BRYAN, JR., THEATER AT THE N.C. MUSEUM OF ART

June 4 - Bela Fleck and the (Original) Flecktones

June 11 - Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

June 18 - Beausoleil

July 16 - Iris DeMent, "True Grit"

Aug. 6 - Leo Kottke

Aug. 13 - Battlefield Band, "The Illusionist"

Aug. 27 - Carolina Chocolate Drops

Sept. 17 - Dan Zanes and Friends

DUKE GARDENS

June 1 - Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

June 8 - Fight the Big Bull

June 15 - Parkington Sisters

June 22 - Hammer No More the Fingers

June 29 - Shirlette & the Dynamite Brothers

July 6 - Holy Ghost Tent Revival

July 13 - Lost in the Trees

AMERICAN TOBACCO HISTORIC DISTRICT AMPHITHEATRE

April 29 - Small Ponds

May 27 - Freighthoppers

June 17 - New North Carolina Ramblers

July 1 - Robin & Linda Williams

Aug. 19 - Holy Ghost Tent Revival

Sept. 2 - Craicdown

Sept. 9 - Shady Grove Band

Sept. 16 - Loudon Wainwright III, Lucy Wainwright Roche

Sept. 30 - Chatham County Line

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