You'll have plenty of opportunities during the next several months to earn your merit badge in Music, as summer in the Inland Northwest is nothing if not swarming with live concert events and outdoor music festivals. Any will do -- including those below. The important thing is to actually get off your sweaty duff this summer and dip into some cool live tunes.
The Festival at Sandpoint
The Festival at Sandpoint is unlike any other annual outdoor music festival in the Inland Northwest. First of all, it's big -- eight nights' worth, to be exact (Aug. 4-7 and Aug. 11-14). Second, it's diverse, typically featuring talent from classical performers to artists from all across the popular music spectrum. It's also very family-friendly and accommodating -- lounge chairs, blankets, ice chests, food and beverages are OK at the festival grounds on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. Finally, it's affordable, with tickets to individual shows that range from $5 to $37. (Discounted multi-show packages are also available.) Basically (to paraphrase Seinfeld's Frank Costanza), it's a Festivus -- a festival for the rest of us.
On Thursday, Aug. 4, at 7:30 pm, the Festival opens with the On Broadway pops concert with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Gary Sheldon. Tickets are $27.
Probably the biggest name on the Festival's marquee this season (indeed, one of the biggest names ever to play here) is alt-country poster-boy Ryan Adams, who performs with his band, the Cardinals, on Friday evening, Aug. 5. Formerly the front man for the popular country-rock group Whiskeytown, Adams' versatile style and thoughtful songwriting -- not to mention casually tousled good looks -- have made him the obvious heir to the rich musical legacy left us by artists such as Gram Parsons, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers. His appeal easily crosses the generation barrier, for though he's a contemporary artist working from a modern palette, his songs (including those on his 2001 breakthrough album, Gold) speak to both teens and boomers. Adams' new album with the Cardinals is called Cold Roses. Tickets to this show are $30.
Super Saturday's Aug. 6 show is a bluegrass riot with Drew Emmitt (of the Colorado jam band Leftover Salmon) and his band featuring instrumentalists Matt Flinner, Ross Martin and Greg Garrison followed by mandolin and fiddle prodigy Sam Bush. Tickets are $37. The family concert (called "Here Come the Bugs!") is on Sunday, Aug. 7, and features the Spokane Youth Orchestra led by Maestro Gary Sheldon and KPBX Music Director Verne Windham. Tickets are $5. On Thursday, Aug. 11, Celtic songstress Natalie McMaster and gothic-folk band the Be Good Tanyas perform. Tickets are $27. Country music icon Ronnie Milsap performs on Friday, Aug. 12. Tickets are $30. Rolando Morales and the legendary Pancho Sanchez ignite the night of Super Salsa Saturday on Aug. 13. Tickets are $30. And the Festival's 2005 season culminates on Sunday, Aug. 14, with the grand finale concert, "Bravo Beethoven" by the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. Tickets are $30 and $10 for youth 18 and younger. Call 325-SEAT.
Wine & amp; Dine & amp; Listen
The 4,000-seat Maryhill Winery outdoor amphitheater is located near Goldendale, on the edge of the Columbia River in south-central Washington state, across the river from The Dalles, Ore., and just a stone's throw (heh) from the Stonehenge monument replica. It's built into a slope on the grounds next to the winery's tasting room, offering sweeping vistas of Mount Hood and the rugged beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. Concert-goers are allowed bring blankets or small folding chairs into the grass-terraced general admission area.
While the full concert calendar for the 2005 summer season at Maryhill is still being hammered out, what we know so far looks tasty. Blues legend B.B. King and his trusty sidekick Lucille will be running through the notes together on Sunday, Aug. 14. Tickets are $59.50-$125. Wholesome-as-Wonder-Bread Christian singer Amy Grant will perform at the Winery on Aug. 20. Tickets are $9.50-$100. The quintessential hippie folk trio, Crosby, Stills and Nash, will regale Maryhill's audience on Sunday, Sept. 4 with hazy post-Summer of Love dreams and the group's patented slick vocal harmonies. Tickets are $49.50-$125. Those heavily bearded, well-dressed Texans, ZZ-Top, finish off the season on Saturday, Oct. 8. Tickets are $59.50-$125. For ticket information, call (509) 325-0500 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
Wine & amp; Dine & amp; Listen II
Closer to home, we have the Summer Concert Series at Spokane's Arbor Crest Wine Cellars consisting of 17 outdoor concerts, one each Sunday (June 12-Sept. 25) beginning at around 5 pm. Does taking in the fading evening light high atop the Spokane Valley to the sweet blues, country, jazz or folk sounds of local musicians while sipping wine and nibbling at your own edibles sound like a perfect way to ease out of a hot summer day? And what if we told you it was free? It's true -- bring a picnic and settle in to enjoy free live music, the sunset and Arbor Crest wines. All the folks at Arbor Crest ask is that you don't bring your own booze and that those attending are age 21 or older. The full Summer Concert Series schedule can be found by visiting www.alcyontech.com/arborcrest.
Mines to Music
Kellogg's Silver Mountain has it all. In addition to the resort's many summer-time mountaintop activities (hiking, mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides) one finds the very popular Summer Concert Series. Few outdoor arenas in the region boast better natural and creature comforts. And the music offerings aren't bad either. While the concert series typically features a mix of contemporary and oldies acts, the 2005 season is tilted slightly in the latter direction. And nothing on the schedule this summer looks more tilted than David Lee Roth on Saturday, Aug. 20.
The former front man of the original, late-'70s/early-'80s version of the popular hard rock outfit Van Halen -- "Van Halen, not Van Hagar, dude" -- initially found considerable success as a solo artist after leaving the group in 1985. But he's spent much of the last decade popping in and out of Van Halen reunion rumors and solo touring (recently with nemesis Sammy Hagar). While stardom and chart action remain elusive, Diamond Dave's goofy sense of humor, capacity to entertain and curious ability to squeeze himself into constricting swatches of spandex have yet to go missing. Tickets are $37 for general admission and $47 for the sweat-catching VIP Silver Circle seats.
Other shows this summer at Silver Mountain include the annual BrewsFest on Saturday, July 30, from 1-7 pm featuring representatives -- and kegs of free-flowing beer -- from more than 20 regional brewers plus tunage from local favorites Too Slim & amp; the Taildraggers, Civilized Animal and Milonga. Your admission includes a souvenir mug and six drink tickets. Yummy. Tickets are $25.50. On Aug. 7, you can (if you wish) catch '70s prog-rockers Styx. Tickets are $36-$46. Country boy Phil Vassar rounds out the schedule with southern flair in the cool mountain air on Saturday, Aug. 27. Tickets are $30-$40. Visit www.silvermt.com.