Summer on the horizon means it’s time to see some live music under the dark night sky. Here’s a look at some of the top upcoming outdoor shows in the Blue Ridge.
Ray LaMontagne Meets My Morning Jacket
In the spring, LaMontagne released Ouroboros, a multi-dimensional folk-rock odyssey that was co-produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. This summer LaMontagne is borrowing the entire band, sans James, for a huge tour to capture the album’s experimental flourishes in the live setting. The collaboration should also offer some interesting takes on old favorites from LaMontagne’s back catalogue. The soulful singer-songwriter seems to change directions with each album he releases, so don’t be surprised if this tour with most of MMJ behind him is a one-time thing. Southern stops on the upcoming run include the Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, N.C., on July 15, the Uptown Amphitheatre in Charlotte, N.C., on July 16, and the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville, Va., on July 20.
Even after the Grateful Dead’s multiple 50th anniversary celebrations last year, the band’s long strange trip continues this summer with Dead & Company, a group that features John Mayer taking lead guitar duties alongside original Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. The new band, offering an evolved spin on classics from the Dead canon, starts its summer tour this month with some outdoor shows at big sheds in the South, including a tour opener at Charlotte’s PNC Music Pavilion on June 10 and a stop at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on June 23.
Wheels of Soul Rolls On
With the Allman Brothers Band now retired, former member Derek Trucks and his wife Susan Tedeschi are now carrying the torch of Southern-flavored improvisatory rock with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The 12-piece outfit has been touring relentlessly over the last few years, delivering high-energy shows that highlight Trucks’ blazing guitar licks and Tedeschi’s deeply soulful vocals—all while backed by a powerful band that includes tight rhythm and horn sections.
Last summer, the band embarked on its first Wheels of Soul Tour, a multi-band caravan with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The traveling musical carnival will return this summer, this time pairing Tedeschi Trucks with Los Lobos and the North Mississippi Allstars—a trifecta that should include plenty of guitar sparks. Dates in the South: Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., on July 17, Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, N.C., on July 22, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta, Ga., on July 23, and Uptown Amphitheatre in Charlotte, N.C., on July 24.
Chris Stapleton Gets His Due
In the mainstream eye, Chris Stapleton is a fast-rising star, bolstered by last year’s debut solo album, Traveller, and his much-buzzed collaboration with Justin Timberlake at last fall’s CMA Awards. Stapleton, though, has been quietly killing it in the music business for many years, writing number one hits for the likes of Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan, and previously fronting the Grammy-winning bluegrass band The Steeldrivers. Fans of his work both old and new might have a hard time getting tickets to shows on Stapleton’s huge summer tour, as the country-rock tunesmith has been selling out big rooms across the country. He’ll be in the region this month with a show at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville, Va., on June 16 and a co-bill with Jason Isbell at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., on June 18.
Two Small Venues Worth Visiting
Catching shows outside doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to a big amphitheater or huge festival. The region also has some smaller outdoor venues that host a range of quality acts in the warmer months. Located in Black Mountain, N.C., Pisgah Brewing Company is known for churning out some great beers like Greybeard IPA and the limited release Benton’s Bacon Stout. The brewery also has an outdoor stage with enough room to host bands like Lake Street Dive (June 3), Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs (June 21), and Dr. Dog (July 18).
To the north in Lexington, Va., the Lime Kiln Theater is an outdoor theater located in a former limestone quarry. Originally transformed into a performance space by a former Washington and Lee University student, the scenic natural amphitheater has been hosting plays and concerts since the mid 1980s. Financial trouble put the venue in jeopardy a few years ago, but it has since been revived and this summer will host an impressive slate of roots music acts. Bands include The Infamous Stringdusters (June 5), The Seldom Scene (June 17), Walker’s Run (July 2), Turnpike Troubadours (July 16), and Acoustic Syndicate (July 30).