Summer air play: The 2013 outdoor music season begins

dmenconi@newsobserver.comMay 2, 2013 

It took a while for spring to finally get here, but we’ll be into triple-digit heat before you know it. Which can only mean that it’s time to get outside for some concert action. And here is how this year’s outdoor-concert season is shaping up.

Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek

Even moreso than most years, Raleigh’s 20,000-capacity city-owned shed is all about the country comfort in 2013. An unprecedented 10 of the 18 shows on its schedule are country, starting with Saturday’s Tim McGraw and continuing with the usual suspects, including Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts.

Otherwise, this year Walnut Creek makes nods to old- timers (Matchbox 20, Heart, Iron Maiden), hip-hop (Lil Wayne) and the mainstream’s soft underbelly (John Mayer, Maroon 5, Big Time Rush). As for modernity, what looks like the show of the year is July 11’s very choice Black Keys/Flaming Lips double bill.

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Red Hat Amphitheater

With a title sponsor finally set for its fourth season, the 6,000-capacity downtown Raleigh facility has a solid schedule for 2013. Commercially leaning alternative rock is certainly in evidence, with Imagine Dragons, Postal Service, The National and Grammy winners Fun.

Most of Red Hat’s oldies are from that end of the spectrum, too – Smashing Pumpkins, Everclear and local favorites Ben Folds Five. Perhaps the most intriguing Red Hat show of all is jam-band icon Warren H aynes playing a “Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration” June 20 with the N.C. Symphony.

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Booth Amphitheatre

As always, the eight-show N.C. Symphony Summerfest anchors the schedule in the bucolic confines of Cary’s 7,000-capacity amphitheater, highlighted by the June 29 performance of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” Before then, Lyle Lovett strikes up the band with Saturday’s “Band Together” show, benefiting the Tammy Lynn Center and also featuring locals Delta Rae and Chatham County Line.

From there, look for rising alternative-rock band Passion Pit on June 11; Grammy-nominated folk-rockers Lumineers on June 13; iconic crooner Harry Connick Jr. on July 9; iconic Led Zeppelin freak-folker Robert Plant on July 20; and the Hob Nob Jazz Series with Wednesday-evening jazz shows throughout May.

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N.C. Museum of Art Amphitheater

The 2,700-capacity venue’s 17th season commences in fine style on May 17 with Los Lobos, setting the stage for a schedule that’s long on well-known favorites – Swell Season’s Glen Hansard, expatriate singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, Bruce Horn sby and Pink Martini, among others. Also of note are the music-movie pairings – honky-tonk icon Dale Watson with Richard Linklater’s small-Texas-town study “Bernie” on July 12; and Lost Bayou Ramblers opening for the Oscar-nominated “Beasts of the Southern Wild” on Aug. 24.

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Duke Gardens

Duke Performances’ “Music in the Gardens” series returns with eight fine shows at Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham – a great way to spend your Wednesday evenings beginning June 5. It’s pretty heavy on roots rock this year, with David Wax Museum, American Aquarium, Kenny Roby and Hiss Golden Messenger shaping up as highlights.

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Free Series

“Midtown Beach Music Series” ( – Every Thursday evening through mid-August, Raleigh’s North Hills common area plays host to live beach music. Embers, Liquid Pleasure and Band of Oz are among the genre giants on the schedule.

“Find Your Cool” ( – Another Thursday-evening series, this one at Durham’s CCB Plaza. Jo Gore & the Alternative kicks it off next week, with 13 shows through Aug. 8. Orquesta GarDel and Birds & Arrows are among the acts scheduled.

“GB Live” ( – This five-show series happens Friday evenings at Durham’s Golden Belt. It’s more alternative-focused, starting with Hammer No More the Fingers on May 17.

“Center Stage Back Porch Music” ( – Formerly American Tobacco’s “Music on the Lawn,” this WUNC-FM-sponsored series in Durham has moved to a larger adjacent space between the ballpark and Durham Performing Arts Center. All five shows happen Friday evenings (except for the Thursday, July 4 performance by The Beast and Apple Juice Kid), highlighted by Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin on Sept. 20.

“The Art of Cool @ The Stack” ( – Back in the American Tobacco courtyard, meanwhile, deejays will spin evening sets four Thursdays in a row, beginning with DJ Jamad on May 16.

“Sundays at Six” ( – Sunday evenings through the summer and into October, Chapel Hill’s Southern Village will have concerts. Boo Hanks, Branchettes and Shakedown Street are among the acts scheduled.

“Six Sundays” ( – Another Sunday-evening series, this one at Wake Forest’s Joyner Park through May 26. Ghezzi, Big Medicine and others are on the schedule.


5/4 – Tim McGraw, Brantley Gilbert, Love & Theft

5/23 – Kenny Chesney, Eli Young Band, Kacey Musgraves

6/8 – Brad Paisley, Chris Young, Lee Brice

6/21 – Zac Brown Band

6/22 – Heart, Jason Bonham

7/7 – Big Time Rush, Victoria Justice

7/11 – Black Keys, Flaming Lips

7/13 – Luke Bryan, Thompson Square, Florida Georgia Line

7/26 – Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Dustin Lynch

7/27 – Lil Wayne, T.I., 2 Chainz

8/7 – Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Kate Earl

8/9 – Blake Shelton, Easton Corbin, Jana Kramer

8/24 – Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Randy Rogers Band, Gwen Sebastian

8/30 – Allman Brothers, Steve Winwood

9/3 – Iron Maiden, Megadeth

9/5 – John Mayer, Phillip Phillips

9/10 – Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson

9/13 – Jason Aldean, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett

9/27 – Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, Cassadee Pope


5/7 – Smashing Pumpkins, AWOLNATION, AAN

5/8 – Imagine Dragons, Paper Route, X Ambassadors

5/31 – Everclear, Live, Filter, Sponge

6/7 – Postal Service, Ra Ra Riot

6/8-9 – Widespread Panic

6/10 – The National, Dirty Projectors

6/20 – Warren Haynes, N.C. Symphony, “Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration”

6/23 – Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock

7/21 – O.A.R., Andrew McMahon, Allen Stone

7/23 – Black Crowes, Tedeschi Trucks Band, London Souls

7/28 – Ben Folds Five, Barenaked Ladies, Guster

7/31 – Jonas Brothers

8/16 – Slightly Stoopid, Atmosphere, Budos Band

8/25 – Umphrey’s McGee, STS9

9/18 – Steely Dan

9/25 – FUN., Tegan and Sara


5/4 – Lyle Lovett, Delta Rae, Chatham County Line

5/11 – “Strike Up the Band,” Concert Singers of Cary/Raleigh Symphony Orchestra

5/26 – Triangle Wind Ensemble, “Music of John Williams”

6/11 – Passion Pit, Cults

6/13 – Lumineers, Cold War Kids

7/9 – Harry Connick Jr.

7/20 – Robert Plant

8/24 – “Grease” Sing-A-Long (Sat, 8/24

N.C. Symphony Summerfest/Booth

5/25 – “Play With the Pros” and Brahms Symphony No. 2

6/1 – “At the Movies”

6/8 – “Classical Mystery Tour”

6/15 – Rachmanioff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

6/22 – “Broadway Blockbusters”

6/29 – “Holst’s The Planets”

7/4 – Independence Day Celebration

7/6 – “1812 Overture: Classics Celebration”

Hob Nob Jazz Series/Booth

5/1 – Side Car Social Club

5/8 – Peter Lamb & The Wolves

5/15 – Al Strong Quartet

5/22 – Mint Julep Jazz Band

5/29 – Outside Soul


5/17 – Los Lobos

6/15 – Glen Hansard, Doug Paisley

6/29 – Indigo Girls

7/12 – Dale Watson, “Bernie”

7/13 – The Duhks

8/3 – Bruce Hornsby

8/17 – Tift Merritt

8/24 – Lost Bayou Ramblers

9/6 – Pink Martini

9/13-15 – Paperhand Puppet Intervention


6/5 – JKutchma & the Five Fifths

6/12 – David Wax Museum

6/19 – The Tender Fruit

6/26 – Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba

7/10 – American Aquarium

7/17 – Kenny Roby

7/24 – Matthew E. White

7/31 – Hiss Golden Messenger

Menconi: 919-829-4759 or

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