On the Beat

Simon, Simpson and other concerts put Booth Amphitheatre back in black for 2017

Sturgill Simpson in concert Saturday night, July 8, 2017 at Cary, N.C.'s Booth Amphitheater.
Sturgill Simpson in concert Saturday night, July 8, 2017 at Cary, N.C.'s Booth Amphitheater. ssharpe@newsobserver.com

Koka Booth Amphitheatre had another solid concert season in 2017 – one that added up to a profit for the venue for the second straight year.

In figures released by the town of Cary, Booth’s national concerts and N.C. Symphony Summerfest drew paid attendance of 56,418 people this year. Throw in 13,137 for the free Fourth of July celebration with the N.C. Symphony, and a total of 69,575 came through the gates for 21 events.

Owned by the town of Cary, Booth has been a concert venue since 2001. Its high-water year remains 2016, with 70,120 in paid attendance.

Last year was also the first that Booth produced a concert surplus, of $76,177. For 2017, the concert surplus is projected to be even higher: $82,746, according to Town of Cary cultural arts manager Lyman Collins.

Heading up this year’s list, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Paul Simon and country-rocker Sturgill Simpson both drew near-capacity crowds to the amphitheater, which holds 7,000. The Americana-friendly pairing of Alison Krauss and David Gray drew just short of 5,000 people, with John Mellencamp and Charlie Daniels Band’s “Carolina Uprising” also attracting solid crowds.

John Mellencamp brings his Sad Clowns and Hillbillies Tour to Cary, N.C.'s Booth Amphitheatre Wednesday night, June 28, 2017 with Emmylou Harris and Carlene Carter. Scott Sharpe ssharpe@newsobserver.com

The symphony’s annual Summerfest accounted for both the largest and smallest crowds at Booth this year. The July 4 celebration, which had expanded capacity with the house turning over several times, drew an unpaid crowd of more than 13,000. But a Beethoven program came in at fewer than 900.

This follows record-setting attendance years for 2017 at two Raleigh outdoor venues, Red Hat Amphitheater and the NC Museum of Art.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi


National concerts

6,494 - Paul Simon (June 7)

6,405 - Sturgill Simpson (July 8)

4,960 - Alison Krauss & David Gray (Sept. 24)

3,465 - John Mellencamp (June 28)

3,316 - Charlie Daniels Band/Carolina Uprising (Oct. 21)

3,144 - Chris Tomlin (Oct. 22)

3,060 - Willie Nelson (July 14)

2,667 - Jeff Foxworthy & Larry the Cable Guy (Sept. 16)

2,262 - 2Cellos (Sept. 19)

1,536 - Jackie Gore & North Tower Band (July 15)

1,247 - Garrison Keillor (Sept. 15)

N.C. Symphony Summerfest (*free show)

*13,137 - July 4 Celebration (July 4)

3,296 - Music of U2 (July 7)

2,595 - Steep Canyon Rangers (June 30)

2,502 - Space Spectacular (June 10)

2,073 - Romantic Broadway (June 3)

1,829 - Appalachian Spring (July 1)

1,638 - Play with the Pros (May 27)

1,578 - An Evening in France (June 17)

1,479 - Classics Under the Stars (June 9)

892 - Beethoven (June 24)

69,575 - total, 56,418 paid

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