May 27, 2010

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Meadowbrook has a packed summer
Started early, ends late
By Michael Witthaus music@hippopress.com

This year, Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion in Gilford began its show season earlier and will end later than past seasons. The lineup, expected to eventually include 25 shows, blends classic and cutting-edge rock with country, pop, music and comedy and begins Memorial Day weekend with an Americana Lollapalooza.

During the off-season, Meadowbrook beefed up participation in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The result has been the biggest advance sale activity ever. Grammy-winner Zac Brown’s July 18 show sold out in record time (a second show, added a few weeks ago, is also selling briskly). Overall ticket sales are up 35 percent, said Meadowbrook marketing director Chris Lockwood.

“We thought the days of the big on sale were done, but we’ve been floored,” Lockwood said.
Meadowbrook is the exclusive New England venue for two shows. The Country Throwdown Tour (May 31) features nearly 20 bands performing on three stages, with headliners Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town and Jack Ingram in the main pavilion. The unique all-day show is the brainchild of VANS Tour creator Kevin Lyman, and includes a “Bluebird Café” tent with eight up and coming singer-songwriters performing in the round. “There’s going to be unbelievable access, all the stars are going to do autograph sessions,” Lockwood said. “It’s going to be a very long day, but it will be very cool.” And The Scorpions’ “Farewell Tour” touches down on June 23. “I’m jazzed for that,” said Lockwood, adding he’s honored that Meadowbrook will be the last New England venue to host the German metal stalwarts. “Maybe I’m a sucker, but I actually believe when they say, that’s it, we’re done. They’ve got a nice new single out (‘Raised on Rock’) and they’re going to walk away; that’s the last time you’re going to see them.”

Multiple band shows from classic rockers feature prominently in the summer schedule at Meadowbrook. The United We Rock tour features Styx, Kansas and Foreigner (June 13), while Pat Benatar returns with REO Speedwagon on Aug. 27. Meatloaf — tanned, rested and ready to play, according to reports — is set for July 3, while the ’60s throwback “Happy Together” tour with the Turtles and the Monkees’ Micky Dolenz happens July 23. A “special guest” will soon be added to the July 30 show by Heart.

Big pop and jam band rock share the stage on July 31, with Maroon 5 and Guster; a strong triple bill on Aug. 6 features modern rockers the Goo Goo Dolls and Vertical Horizon with the Spill Canvas.

Meadowbrook continues a tradition of booking strong country performers, with Jason Aldean, Reba and Sugarland scheduled to perform during the summer. ZZ Top cancelled their Oct. 2 date so they could open for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on the West Coast. However, a young country star is booked for Oct. 3 — her identity will be made public in June after the CMT Awards. It will be the latest show in the Gilford shed’s 15-year history.

Other season highlights include an appearance by former Nickel Creek fiddler Sara Watkins in Garrison Keillor’s house band for the Aug. 19 A Prairie Home Companion show, and a double bill featuring two of the most intriguing young pop bands working today — Paramore, fronted by teen singer Hayley Williams, and the eponymous alt-rock band led by Canadian twins Tegan & Sara.

In a break with past tradition, bike week will feature a night of mixed martial arts, with a fighting cage placed in the first 10 rows of the main pavilion, and seating on the stage providing a bird’s eye view of the action. The UFC-style Combat Zone event has sold out several times at Rockingham Park, and the promoter wanted to move it to a bigger facility, Lockwood said.

Attendance at bike week concerts in past years had declined, with music fans perhaps put off by the biker element, which won’t be a problem with the cage matches. “Some people are scared away at bike week,” Lockwood said, “but mixed martial arts fans aren’t afraid of anything like that.”


2010”s Meadowbrook line-up
• Monday, May 31, at 1 p.m.
Country Throwdown Tour with Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town, Jack Ingram, Eric Church, the Lost Trailers, Eli Young Band, Jonathan Singleton & the Grove, Ryan Bingham, Emily West and Heidi Newfield. The Bluebird Café Singer Songwriters Tent featuring Ashley Ray, Brad Tursi, Cory Branan, Dave Pahanish, Jedd Hughes, Sarah Buxton, Troy Olsen and Walker Hayes.
Tickets $29-$45 (Club Seats $60)
• Sunday, June 13, at 7 p.m.
United We Rock Tour with Styx, Kansas and Foreigner
Tickets $34-$62 (Club Seats $77)
• Friday, June 18, at 4 p.m.
Faux Fest 2010 with four tribute bands: Toys in the Attic (Aerosmith), November Rain (Guns ‘n Roses), Battery (Metallica) and Hells Bells (AC/DC)
Tickets $5-$10 (Club Seats $20)
• Wednesday, June 23, at 7:30 p.m.
Scorpions with Vince Neil
Tickets $24-$49 (Club Seats $64)
• Saturday, June 26, at 8 p.m.
Weird Al Yankovic w/ Super Secret Project on Second Stage
Tickets $34-$43 (Club Seats $58)
• Saturday, July 3, at 8 p.m.
Meatloaf with Lisa Bouchelle
Tickets $24-$52 (Club Seats $67)
• Saturday, July 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Cheap Trick with Squeeze
Tickets $24-$52 (Club Seats $67)
• Sunday, July 18, at 7 p.m.
Zac Brown Band
SOLD OUT
• Monday, July 19, at 7 p.m.
Zac Brown Band
Tickets $25-$50 (Club Seats $65)
• Friday, July 23, at 8 p.m.
Happy Together tour with the Turtles, Micky Dolenz, the Grass Roots, Mark Lindsay and Badfinger
Tickets $10-$49 (Club Seats $50)
• Friday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m.
Heart with special guests TBA
• Saturday, July 31, at 7:30 p.m.
Maroon 5 with Guster and Ry Cuming
Tickets $33-$42 (Club Seats $57)
• Sunday, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Jason Aldean with David Nail
Tickets $24-$40 (Club Seats $55)
• Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 6:30 p.m.
Paramore with Tegan and Sara, New Found Glory and Kadawatha
Tickets $26-$36 (Club Seats $51)
• Friday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m.
Goo Goo Dolls with Vertical Horizon and the Spill Canvas
Tickets $24-$42 (Club Seats $57)
• Thursday, Aug. 12, at 8 p.m.
Sheryl Crow with Colbie Caillat
Tickets $33-$66 (Club Seats $80)
• Friday, Aug. 13, at 8 p.m.
Sublime with Rome
Tickets TBA
• Thursday, Aug. 19, at 8 p.m.
A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor
Tickets $39-$59 (Club Seats $74)
• Friday, Aug. 20, at 7:30 p.m.
Creed
Tickets $23-$49 (VIP pit seats $55, Club Seats $57)
• Saturday, Aug. 21, at 8 p.m.
Reba with Steve Azar
Tickets $34-$89 (Club Seats $104)
• Friday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m.
Pat Benatar with REO Speedwagon
Tickets $26-$54 (Club Seats $69)
• Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Yo Gabba Gabba! With DJ Lance Rock and Biz Markie
Tickets $20-$42 (Club Seats $48)
• Sunday, Sept. 5, at 7:30 p.m.
Sugarland with Ellis Paul
Tickets $38-$70 (Club Seats $85)
• Sunday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m.
TBA