Trail Mix: Sounds of Summer

5 Big Tours Rolling Through the South

Package tours are plentiful this summer. Acts are teaming up with like-minded contemporaries to fill the open air with sound at amphitheaters across the South and beyond. If you’re looking to catch some live music under the stars, check out these five tours leaving footprints in the Blue Ridge.

Wheels of Soul Tour 

Guitar hero Derek Trucks and his wife, Grammy-winning blues singer Susan Tedeschi, are carrying the torch of experimental Southern-flavored roots-rock with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The hard-touring 12-piece outfit delivers joyful shows that highlight Trucks’ blazing slide licks and Tedeschi’s deeply soulful vocals, backed by a powerful band that includes tight rhythm and horn sections. Earlier this year the band released the dynamic new studio album, Signs, which blends uplifting gospel-minded songcraft and greasy instrumental interplay. For the fifth straight year the group is leading the Wheels of Soul Tour, a multi-band caravan that will also feature Blackberry Smoke and Shovels & Rope. 

Appearing at: Heritage Park Amphitheatre in Simpsonville, S.C., on July 6, PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, N.C., on July 7, and Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, N.C., on July 9.

The Flaming Lips with the Claypool Lennon Delirium 

Things should get wonderfully weird on this tour featuring alt-rock innovators the Flaming Lips and the Claypool Lennon Delirium—a growing side project featuring Les Claypool of Primus and indie rocker Sean Lennon, who, in case you don’t know, is the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Both acts will be touting new material, as the Flaming Lips will unveil their fifteenth studio album, Kings Mouth, an effort that features help from the Clash’s Mick Jones, on July 19. As for the Claypool Lennon Delirium, which often sounds like the cosmic side of the Beatles boosted by prog-rock bombast, the group released a sophomore album, South of Reality, back in February. Particle Kid, the freak-folk project of Willie Nelson’s son, Micah, will open the shows. 

Appearing at: Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre in Charlotte, N.C., on August 5, Sprint Pavilion in Charlottesville, Va., on August 6, and Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, N.C., on August 7. 

JJ Grey & Mofro and Jonny Lang

Feeling like a down-and-dirty dose of the blues? Catch this double bill with ace guitarist Jonny Lang and swamp-soul rocker JJ Grey and his gritty backing band. An abundance of vocal howling and scale shredding will be perfect for humid Southern nights, as these two acts both have decades of original material to mine at these shows. A big bonus is opening act the North Mississippi Allstars, supporting all shows in our region. 

Appearing at: Modell Performing Arts Center in Baltimore, Md., on July 11, Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, Pa., on July 12, SERVPRO Richmond Pavilion in Glen Allen, Va., on July 17, and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., on July 19. 

Father John Misty and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

On the wry, self-referential “Mr. Tillman,” from last year’s album God’s Favorite Customer, Father John Misty sings about an extended hotel stay, and in the first verse he relays a line from a desk clerk: “Jason Isbell’s here as well, and he seems a little worried about you.” All concerns should be addressed when Isbell, an Americana star, and Misty (real name Josh Tillman), the indie folk-rock troubadour, cross the country together on an extended tour. While a somewhat unlikely pairing, both artists have recently made significant critical impacts in their respective independent music worlds, and this run of gigs—a mix of large theaters and amphitheaters—should put them both in front of new fans.

Appearing at: Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., on June 21, Altria Theater in Richmond, Va., on June 24, and Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, N.C., on June 25

Kacey Musgraves 

Texas native Kacey Musgraves took her twangy sound well beyond country with her colorfully expansive latest album Golden Hour, which won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards earlier this year. Since January she’s been delivering the beloved record’s material on stage on her high-energy Oh, What a World Tour, moving between standouts like the mystical folk tune “Slow Burn” and the disco-infused groove of “High Horse.” A second leg of the tour hits the South in early September, but act fast; at last check there weren’t many tickets left. 

Appearing at: Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., on September 7, Sprint Pavilion in Charlottesville, Va., on September 13, Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, N.C., on September 25, and the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C., on September 16-17.  

Places to Go, Things to See: