Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Summertime Venues

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high...

Who says that there ain't no cure for the Summertime Blues? Oh yeah, it was Eddie Cochran (later covered by Blue Cheer and The Who). But they were all wrong. There are some great Summer only concert series in New England that may just be the ticket for some summer fun, both indoors and outdoors. Most announce their line-ups in early spring. 

See my Music Calendar and Music Festivals pages for upcoming shows in New England

  • Prescott Park Arts Festival: - Prescott Park in Portsmouth, NH hosts a Wed night concert series in a beautiful waterfront park in the lively seaside town. The selections have been more folk, blues, bluegrass than rock in past years, but it makes for a very nice night out. There are great places to eat nearby, but I suggest setting up a blanket early and having a picnic dinner in the park. In addition to the concert series there are weekend Folk, Jazz, American and Roots festivals, as well as chowder and chili festivals. Prescott Park Festivals: ShowcaseFolk and Americana festivals and others 
  • Hampton Casino Ballroom: - This club is about the same size as the House of Blues in Boston capacity-wise, but I like this room better. It's got a more open and airy feel (with 60 foot ceilings) and a great sound system. The bands are more mainstream for my liking, but they do host some good shows. I've seen The Strokes and Black Crowes there in recent years, as well as The Ramones and The Talking Heads "back in the day". Plus it's at the beach.
  • Lowell Summer Music: - This is held in a downtown park in Lowell. The park slopes to the river, creating a natural amphitheater. They do get big acts and the prices are not necessarily low, but it is a nice venue and the sound is good. I think the key is to arrive early and place your blanket down, then walk downtown for a drink or bite. They do have great (ethnic) food vendors, so a picnic in the park is also a good idea. The city also hosts the annual (free) Lowell Folk Festival (end of July). 
  • Meadowbrook Pavillion: - The Meadowbrook Pavilion in Gilford, NH was once known as Meadowbrook Farm, is a beautiful outdoor pavillion. There is both fixed seating under a roof, as well as a lawn area where you can bring your own chair. There's a Samuel Adams pub and several beer tents.
  • Bank of America Pavillion: - This is a large concert venue right on the water in Boston. If the weather's nice and the band is right, it can make for a great night out. They do sell beer (not cheap) and have a nice outdoor area overlooking the water. Definitely check that part out during the intermissions.
  • Comcast Center: - This is a nice venue and I have some great memories here, but it is a haul and dealing with the traffic can be a pain, so I haven't been there in years. I remember seeing Elvis Costello there on a nice summer night. I was also at one of the early Lollapalooza shows there (1992, with Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, more). During that show, those crazy kids ripped up the sod and created huge bonfires with it. Needless to say, that concert series never was invited back.
  • Rock and Blues Cruises: - Rock on a boat. The cruises leave from the World Trade Center Pier in the Seaport District at 200 Seaport Blvd, Boston and are usually three hours. They board at either 2pm or 7pm and are 21+ with a cash bar.
  • Club Passim Summer Concerts: - Free lunchtime concerts held on Wednesdays noon-1pm in Kendall Square and Thursdays 1pm in Harvard Square
  • Concerts in the Courtyard @ MFA Boston: - Concerts are held in the beautiful Calderwood Courtyard at the MFA, late June through August. The events are paid, general admission (bring your own chair). Shows start at 7:30, typically on Wednesday nights, and are moved to the auditorium in bad weather.
  • Harborwalk Sounds at ICA Boston: - Thursday night concerts on the harborwalk in front of the ICA. The events run July through August and feature performers from Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music. Grandstand seating is first come, first served. Admission is free.
  • The Beachcomber of Wellfleet: - This is a summer shack/concert club high up in the dunes of Wellfleet. If the beach by day or the views by night aren't enough, they have an eclectic summer series that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If you're staying on Sunday, or driving back late, check out the Incredible Casuals, who have had a Sunday afternoon residency there for years (and years).
  • Hampton Seashell Stage: - A brand new Seashell State opened in 2012, as part of a $14.5 million redevelopment project on Hampton Beach. The shows here are mostly mainstream and family oriented, but it's a nice venue and admission is free. And it's at the beach. The new stage has three stages,  750 seats, three stages and state-of-the art sound and lighting.
  • Cocheco Arts Festival: - The annual festival kicks off on the 4th of July in Dover, NH. It includes a Friday night Headliner concert series that highlights local talent. There's also a children's and lunchtime concert series.
  • Picnic Concerts at Crane Estate: - A Thursday night concert series on the beautiful Grand Allee of the Crane Estate (Crane Beach) in Ipswich. Admission is charged by the car. Gates at 5pm and the shows run 7-9pm
  • L.L. Bean Summer Concert Series: - Concerts are held at L.L. Bean's Discovery Park at their flagship store in Freeport, ME. Shows include national and local acts and admission is free. Bring your own chair.
  • Governors Inn of Rochester, NH: -  Three months of great music in the gardens of a 1920 Georgian Colonial with a very comfortable tavern. The series runs June into September and features up to 40 bands and 12 beer selections. The Sunday concerts feature roots and Americana music and are held from 4-7pm, rain or shine. Admission is free. 
  • 3S Loading Dock Concerts: - A summer long concert series at the upcoming 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH. The series will feature some of the best local and regional talent every other Friday night, 6-8pm (Note: 2012 series info)

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