On the Beat

2015 Outdoor Music Guide: Options abound across the Triangle

Brad Paisley performs Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh May 16th.
Brad Paisley performs Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh May 16th. Getty Images

While the big venues have never had a complete lockdown on outdoor music in the Triangle, for many years the action was centered around a few hubs. Walnut Creek, Booth Amphitheatre and the N.C. Museum of Art accounted for a sizable majority of outdoor concerts.

Nowadays, however, those large-scale venues are a sliver of the market, and not just because of the addition of downtown Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater. Every April through October, there are multiple festivals like Art of Cool and Hopscotch; outdoor one-offs, from the Rolling Stones playing N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium to more than a dozen acts playing Deep South Street Festival on downtown Raleigh’s Cabarrus Street; and a bumper crop of free series at Central Park and American Tobacco in Durham, North Hills and City Plaza in Raleigh, The Plaza in Chapel Hill and other spaces throughout the Triangle.

A lot of the big shows are pricey, especially the Stones and some of the Walnut Creek headliners. But much of what’s on the schedule is free.

The 2015 outdoor season has its unofficial start this weekend with Shakori Hills Spring GrassRoots Festival; Love Language, Mac McCaughan and others playing free at Durham Central Park; and downtown Raleigh’s ’Cuegrass Festival (plus ’80s pop icon Bryan Adams at Red Hat on Saturday). From now until September, just about every week has multiple options – so get out and listen.

WALNUT CREEK

Once again, this 20,000-capacity city-owned shed has no title sponsor. And so far, its 25th season looks like another case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That means country and lots of it, starting with Zac Brown Band May 7. About all that’s unexpected so far are some of the pairings – Fall Out Boy with Wiz Khalifa July 18, and Steely Dan with Elvis Costello Aug. 6. Meanwhile, ’90s favorites Dave Matthews Band (May 22), Phish (Aug. 14) and ex-Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker (Aug. 28) will all be back for another round.

BOOTH AMPHITHEATRE

Cary’s bucolic 7,000-capacity facility has a lively schedule with a few curveballs, highlighted by Alabama Shakes (June 10), the intriguing pairing of Robert Plant with the Pixies (June 15) and even “Weird Al” Yankovic (June 18). And of course, the N.C. Symphony is back for another season of Summerfest.

RED HAT AMPHITHEATER

You’ll find about the most varied schedule of the top-end venues at downtown Raleigh’s 5,600-capacity Red Hat, from old (Third Eye Blind June 9, Smashing Pumpkins July 26) to classic rock (John Fogerty May 5) to classic R&B (Morris Day & The Time with Sheila E. May 30) to even new (Hozier June 19). It should be amusing to hear Idina Menzel sing her cold-weather “Frozen” standard “Let It Go” in the dead of summer, July 22.

N.C. MUSEUM OF ART

More of its schedule is out early this year, with cool critical favorites from the rootsier end of the spectrum: blues-rock guitar god Gary Clark Jr. June 17, country-pop chanteuse Neko Case June 19, the great King Sunny Adé June 25 and conservatory kids the Punch Brothers July 16.

MUSIC IN THE GARDENS

After last year’s tie-in with Merge Records’ 25-year anniversary, the Duke Performances series has linked up with Hillsborough-based Music Maker Relief Foundation for 2015. That means Cool John Ferguson, Boo Hanks and other blues folks at a series of three dates in June and July. Other highlights include American songster Dom Flemons June 17, best-folk-album Grammy nominee Alice Gerrard July 8 and three epic nights with Megafaun’s Phil Cook June 22-24.

OTHER

Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre will move to its outdoor stage for a couple of shows, Mastodon May 9 and St. Paul & the Broken Bones with Parker Millsap June 6. There will also be significant outdoor components to both Hopscotch Sept. 10-12, and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass Sept. 29-Oct. 3; lineups on both are still to be announced.

FREE SHOWS

▪ Raleigh’s North Hills Mall will be humming with activity into mid-October, with different series devoted to bluegrass, beach and cover bands, plus the occasional original-act lineup – most notably the April 25 Midtown Music Fest featuring local stars American Aquarium.

▪ Durham’s Central Park will be almost as busy with blues, rock and what-not, including the April 24 kickoff to the eclectic jazz-soul Art of Cool Festival with Rissi Palmer. Central Park’s Warehouse Blues Concert Series starts July 10 with Mel Melton’s Wicked Mojos.

▪ American Tobacco again plays host to WUNC’s Americana-slanted Back Porch Music on the Lawn, starting May 14 with John Howie Jr.’s Rosewood Bluff and Tonk. Chatham County Line’s season-ending Sept. 10 show should be a perfect primer for World of Bluegrass a few weeks later.

▪ 

Speaking of bluegrass, downtown Raleigh’s City Plaza again has a seven-show Pickin’ in the Plaza series starting June 4 (acts to be announced). And the Oak City 7 series at City Plaza is doing tribute acts this year, highlighted by Johnny Cash tributaries Johnny Folsom 4 July 23.

▪ Artsplosure returns to downtown Raleigh’s Moore Square May 15-17 with a solid lineup including alternative-rock trio Those Darlins and singer-songwriter Israel Nash.

▪ Cary also has its Sertoma Series at Bond Park, nine shows commencing with Cary Town Band on May 15; and the six-show Starlight Concert Series in the garden of Cary’s Page-Walker Center. Chapel Hill’s Live & Local at the Plaza has 10 shows, highlighted by Jennyanykind veterans the Holland Brothers June 5. And Wake Forest’s Six Sundays series is back at Joyner Park starting April 26.

▪ Northgate Mall has again partnered with the Triangle Blues Society for a free five-part series, Blues on the Plaza, featuring the best of Piedmont blues. It happens every Friday at 6:30 p.m. from May 1-May 29

WALNUT CREEK AMPHITHEATRE

Raleigh (nando.com/15q)

5/7 – Zac Brown Band

5/16 – Brad Paisley, Justin Moore, Mickey Guyton

5/22 – Dave Matthews Band

6/5 – Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore, Maddie & Tae, Canaan Smith

6/10 – Train, The Fray, Matt Nathanson

6/11 – Mumford & Sons

7/10 – Tim McGraw, Billy Currington, Chase Bryant

7/11 – Kid Rock, Foreigner

7/17 – Toby Keith

7/18 – Fall Out Boy, Wiz Khalifa

7/26 – Rascal Flatts, Scotty McCreery RaeLynn

8/6 – Steely Dan, Elvis Costello

8/8 – Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Sam Hunt

8/13 – Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Frankie Ballard

8/14 – Phish

8/28 – Darius Rucker, Brothers Osborne, A Thousand Horses

9/4 – Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire

9/5 – Jason Aldean, Cole Swindell, Tyler Farr

9/9 – Van Halen, Kenny Wayne Shepherd

9/10 – 5 Seconds of Summer, Hey Violet

9/19 – Kelly Clarkson, Pentatonix, Eric Hutchinson

9/25-26 – Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, Dustin Lynch

RED HAT AMPHITHEATER

Raleigh (redhatamphitheater.com)

4/18 – Bryan Adams

5/5 – John Fogerty

5/9 – Brand New, Manchester Orchestra

5/15 – NEEDTOBREATHE, Ben Rector, Drew Holcomb, Colony House

5/30 – Morris Day & The Time, Sheila E.

6/3 – Decemberists, Shovels & Rope

6/9 – Third Eye Blind, Dashboard Confessional

6/16 – Flogging Molly, Gogol Bordello

6/17 – Band Together with Michael Franti and Spearhead

6/19 – Hozier, Antlers

6/22 – Lindsey Stirling

6/27 – Band Together with Michael Franti and Spearhead

7/2 – Julianne & Derek Hough, “Move Live On”

7/4 – Barenaked Ladies, Violent Femmes, Colin Hay

7/17 – Slightly Stoopid, Dirty Heads, Expendables

7/22 – Idina Menzel

7/26 – Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson

7/28 – My Morning Jacket, Lucius

7/31 – Faith No More, Refused

8/7 – Piano Guys

8/10 – Sublime With Rome, Rebelution, Pepper, Mickey Avalon

8/12 – Counting Crows, Citizen Cope, Hollis Brown

8/23 – O.A.R. with Allen Stone and Brynn Elliott

8/28 – Sugar Ray, Better Than Ezra, Uncle Kracker, Eve 6

9/15 – Death Cab For Cutie

BOOTH AMPHITHEATRE

Cary (boothamphitheatre.com)

5/2 – Old Crow Medicine Show, Sturgill Simpson

5/9 – North Carolina Opera’s Opera in the Pines

6/10 – Alabama Shakes, Courtney Barnett

6/15 – Robert Plant, Pixies

6/18 – “Weird Al” Yankovic

7/18 – Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sharon Jones, Doyle Bramhall II

8/5 – Christina Perri, Colbie Caillat, Rachel Platten

8/9 – Garrison Keilor’s “A Prairie Home Companion”

8/11 – Culture Club

8/12 – Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick

8/14 – Jim Gaffigan

9/1 – Gregg Allman, Doobie Brothers

N.C. SYMPHONY SUMMERFEST at BOOTH

5/23 – Dvorak’s New World Symphony, “Rhapsody/Blue,” Aaron Copland

5/30 – “Your Favorite Light Classics”

6/6 – “Totally 80s”

6/12-13 – “White Nights: Russian Festival”

6/19 – “An Evening of Broadway”

6/20 – “Symphonic Wizardry”

6/27 – “The Music of the Eagles”

7/4 – Independence Day

7/9 – The Hot Sardines

N.C. MUSEUM OF ART

Raleigh (ncartmuseum.org)

5/23 – Lake Street Drive

6/12 – Brandi Carlile

6/17 – Gary Clark Jr.

6/19 – Neko Case

6/25 – King Sunny Adé

7/11 – Paris Combo

7/16 – Punch Brothers

8/29 – Mavericks

9/25 – Dawes

MUSIC IN THE GARDENS

Duke University, Durham (dukeperformances.duke.edu)

6/3 – Mipso

6/10 – Music Maker #1: Cool John Ferguson, Sam Frazier Jr.

6/17 – Dom Flemons Trio

6/22-24 – Phil Cook’s Southland Revue

7/1 – Laurelyn Dossett

7/8 – Alice Gerrard, Reyna Gellart

7/15 – Music Maker #2: Boo Hanks, John Dee Holeman

7/22 – Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba

7/29 – Music Maker #3: Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, Big Ron Hunter

OTHER

Shakori Hills Spring GrassRoots Festival (shakorihillsgrassroots.org)

April 17-19 with Billy Joe Shaver, Bombadil, Donna The Buffalo, Wood Brothers, Jimbo Mathus, others

(Shakori Hills Fall GrassRoots Festival will be 10/8-11)

Art of Cool Festival, Durham (aocfestival.org)

4/25 – Anthony Hamilton, Maimouna Youssef, Soul Understanding (Durham Athletic Park); Fuzz Band, DeQn Sue (Parrish Street Stage)

Lincoln Theatre outdoor stage, Raleigh (lincolntheatre.com)

5/9 – Mastodon, Clutch, Graveyard

6/6 – St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Parker Millsap

Deep South Street Festival, Raleigh (deepsouthentertainment.com)

5/16 – Parmalee, Marcy Playground, Collapsis, I Was Totally Destroying It, Hank Sinatra, others

Blues & Brews Festival, Durham Central Park (durhambluesandbrewsfestival.com)

5/30 – Armand & Bluesology, Will McFarlane, Harvey Dalton Arnold, Josh Preslar Band

The Rolling Stones (aeglive.com)

7/1 – Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh

Hopscotch Music Festival, Raleigh (hopscotchmusicfest.com)

9/10-12 – lineup TBA

IBMA’s World of Bluegrass, Raleigh (ibma.org)

9/29-10/3 – lineup TBA

FREE STUFF

WKNC’s Fridays on the Lawn at N.C. State’s Harris Field, Raleigh (facebook.com/wknc881)

4/17 – Ancient Cities, Coytah

4/24 – David Dondero, Old Hours

Artsplosure at Moore Square, Raleigh (artsplosure.org)

5/15 – Those Darlins, Matt Andersen, Dana Long

5/16 – Israel Nash, Girls Guns and Glory, Porch 40, Karan Casey; Elvin Bishop, Jarekus Singleton, Town Heros, ChroBop

5/17 – Martin O’Reilly Old Soul Orchestra, Stray Birds, Robert Josep Express; The Congress, Mantras, Triangle Community Orchestra, Fairmont Gospel Revue

Durham Central Park (durhamcentralpark.org)

4/17 – Counter Culture Coffee Anniversary Party with Mac McCaughan, Love Language (counterculturecoffee.com/cccxx)

4/24 – Rissi Palmer, Art of Cool Festival kickoff (aocfestival.org)

6/21 – Food Truck Rodeo Father’s Day with Chit Nasty Band

Warehouse Blues Concert Series at Durham Central Park (durhamcentralpark.org)

7/10 – Mel Melton & Wicked Mojos

7/17 – Jarekus Singleton

7/24 – Luxuriant Sedans

7/31 – TBA

Back Porch Music on the Lawn at American Tobacco, Durham (americantobaccohistoricdistrict.com)

5/14 – John Howie Jr. & Rosewood Bluff, Tonk

5/28 – Scythian

6/11 – Jim White vs. Packway Handle Band

6/25 – Gravy Boys

7/30 – Jeff Austin Band

8/13 – Music Maker All-Star Review: Eddie Tigner, Peewee Hayes, Albert White, Nashid Abdul

8/27 – American Aquarium

9/10 – Chatham County Line

Oak City 7 on Raleigh City Plaza (oakcity7.com)

5/28 – On The Border (Eagles tribute)

6/11 – 120 Minutes (’90s tribute)

6/25 – Trial By Fire (Journey Tribute)

7/9 – Natural Wonder (Stevie Wonder tribute)

7/23 – Johnny Folsom 4 (Johnny Cash tribute)

8/6 – Dealing Stan (Steely Dan tribute)

8/20 – Coconut Groove Band (Jimmy Buffett tribute)

“Pickin’ in the Plaza” on Raleigh City Plaza (raleighcityplaza.com)

6/4 – TBA

6/18 – TBA

7/2 – TBA

7/16 – TBA

7/30 – TBA

8/13 – TBA

8/27 – TBA

Midtown Music Series - Midtown Beach Music Series, Midtown Music Fest, Midtown Bluegrass Series and Friday Night Tributes at North Hills Mall, Raleigh (northhillsevents.com or pinecone.org)

4/19 – Snyder Family Band, Lang Sisters

4/23 – Embers featuring Craig Woolard

4/25 – Midtown Music Fest: American Aquarium, Four Founders, Jason Adamo

4/30 – Liquid Pleasure

5/7 – North Tower

5/14 – Jim Quick & Coastline

5/17 – Vickie Vaughn Band

5/21 – Band of Oz

5/28 – Fantastic Shakers

6/4 – Holiday Band

6/6 – Kickin’ It Country: Spare Change, Blake Kearney Band

6/11 – Entertainers

6/18 – Hip Pocket

6/21 – Bankesters

6/25 – Legacy Motown Revue

7/2 – Too Much Sylvia

7/9 – Steven Owens and Summertime

7/16 – Tams

7/23 – Liquid Pleasure

7/30 – Band of Oz

8/6 – Embers featuring Craig Woolard

8/14 – Face 2 Face (Billy Joel & Elton John Tribute)

8/16 – Flatt Lonesome

8/21 – Crucial Fiya (Bob Marley tribute)

8/28 – Legacy Motown Revue

9/4 – Sleeping Booty (disco tribute)

9/11 – Walrus (classic-rock tribute)

9/18 – 42 (Coldplay tribute)

9/20 – Billy Strings & Don Julin

9/25 – British Invasion tribute

10/2 – Breakfast Club (’80s tribute)

10/9 – Here’s to the Night (’90s tribute)

10/16 – 2U (U2 tribute)

10/18 – Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

Starlight Concert Series at Page-Walker Center garden, Cary (townofcary.org)

5/8 – Polka Plus Band

5/22 – Barrowburn

6/26 – Celebration of Bluegrass

7/24 – Moment’s Notice

8/28 – Jamrock

9/25 – Craicdown

Sertoma Series at Bond Park, Cary (townofcary.org)

5/15 – Cary Town Band

5/16 – Moore Brothers Band

5/29 – Triangle Brass Band

6/5 – Old North State Brass

6/12 – Triangle Wind Ensemble

6/13 – Lynda Dawson & Pattie Hopkins

6/26 – Triangle Brass Band

7/11 – Blu-Bop: Tribute to Bela Fleck

8/8 – Songs of the Fall

Live & Local at The Plaza, Chapel Hill (140westfranklinplaza.com/series)

4/17 – Wilton Dubois & Company, Tar Heel Voices

4/24 – Eric + Erica

5/1 – Sandbox

5/8 – Elevate Aerialist & Interactive Art

5/15 – Jared Place & Company

5/21 – Jon Stickley Trio

5/29 – Suitcase

6/5 – Holland Brothers

6/12 – BarHop String Quartet

6/19 – Bless Your Heart

Six Sundays at Joyner Park Ammphitheater, Wake Forest (wakeforestarts.org/events/six-sundays)

4/26 – MikeMickXer

5/3 – Capital Transit

5/10 – Casablanca Orchestra

5/17 – Liverpool: Carolina’s Beatles Experience

5/24 – Jeanne Jolly

5/31 – Gravy Boys

Northgate Blues on the Plaza

5/1 – Tornado Blues Band

5/8 – Jimi King Trio

5/15 – Blues Rockets

5/22 – E Train & The Rusted Rails

5/29 – Adrian Duke & Blueshammer

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