Ecclectic mix has Festival lineup sizzling

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  • Ben Harper

  • 1

    Bruce Hornsby

  • 2

    Emmylou Harris

  • 3

    Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

  • 4

    —Courtesy photo Fireworks light the sky at a past Festival at Sandpoint Grand Finale concert.

  • 5

    —Daily Bee file photo Crew finish putting up the iconic Festival at Sandpoint tent just before the start of the 2015 season.

  • Ben Harper

  • 1

    Bruce Hornsby

  • 2

    Emmylou Harris

  • 3

    Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

  • 4

    —Courtesy photo Fireworks light the sky at a past Festival at Sandpoint Grand Finale concert.

  • 5

    —Daily Bee file photo Crew finish putting up the iconic Festival at Sandpoint tent just before the start of the 2015 season.

SANDPOINT — The 34th annual Festival at Sandpoint summer concert series, set for Aug. 4-14, is going to be legendary.

First up is Bruce Hornsby, who will be kicking things off on Opening Night. Not convinced? Add in Emmylou Harris, who headlines the first of two “Super Saturdays” and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, making another encore performance to the Memorial Field stage.

And if those group’s aren’t enough to convince that this year’s lineup is something special, Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals top the second “Super Saturday” show and the Spokane Symphony Orchestra and maestro Gary Sheldon will wrap up the series with the Grand Finale concert.

Want more? The Festival is also serving up shows by Railroad Earth, The Bros. Landreth, and Angelique Kidjo as well as a strong lineup of local and regional opening bands, including Bridges Home, Rabbit Wilde, Afrosonics, The Powers and Luke Bell.

Some opening acts are well-known local treasures like Bridges Home and Coeur d’Alene-based The Powers. Others find their way to the Festival stage, literally in Afrosonic’s case, by accident.

Festival at Sandpoint Executive Director Dyno Wahl was returning from her daughter’s first track meet in Spokane when her car was hit and totaled by an uninsured motorist. When she was contacted by the insurance agent the next day, he had her at the Festival office because he couldn’t find her other number, Wahl said. While on the phone, he mentioned he had a band, which led to a discussion about music and his band — Anfrosonics — the perfect fit, it turns out, as an opening act for Angelique Kudjo.

While the word ecclectic tends to get thrown about a lot when it comes to the Festival, Wahl said

Take Bruce Hornsby. From classical to jazz, bluegrass to rock, Motown to gospel, the Grammy Award-winning would be enough for the summer concert to stake a musical claim to the word to describe the event. The credentials are further strengthened when Emmylou Harris is added to the mix with a diverse body of work and collaborations with everyone from Bob Dylan to Dolly Parton as well as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which has more than 30 albums and 50 years of music under their belts.

NGDB, as the band is known to their fans, is a familiar — and popular — visitor to the Festival stage. In each of their four previous concerts, starting in 1999, the band has sold out each time.

With a under-the-stars venue perched by the lake, the Festival offers a unique and personal concert experience for both the artists and the audience, Wahl said.

“You can listen to, or go to other venues, but there’s nothing like going to see a concert at the Festival at Memorial Field,” she said. “It’s so unique, so casual, so personal, and so wonderful.”

Something new this year will be paperless tickets through Eventbrite for those who want them, Wahl said. While paper tickets will be available for those who want them, Wahl said concert-goers can print their tickets at home or store them on their phone to show at their gate on their device.

Going paperless and connecting to concert-goers on their phones will allow the Festival to take the experience to a whole new level, said Wahl.

“This keeps us more connected with our audience,” she said.

n Thursday, Aug. 4 — Bruce Hornsby

Opening Night celebrates Grammy Award-winning singer and keyboardist Bruce Hornsby with his touring band, The Noisemakers. Known for the spontaneity and creativity of his live performances, Hornsby draws frequently from classical, jazz, bluegrass, folk, Motown, gospel, rock, blues and jam band musical traditions with his songwriting and seamless improvisations.

His 1986 No. 1 debut hit, “The Way It Is,” describing aspects of the American civil rights movement, went multi-platinum and in 1987 Bruce Hornsby and the Range won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. He won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album and Song “The Valley Road,” and the 1994 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Hornsby has written hits for many fellow artists, including Huey Lewis (“Jacob’s Ladder”) and Don Henley (“The End of the Innocence”), and has collaborated with and appeared on albums by Bob Dylan, Ricky Skaggs, Leon Russell, Robbie Robertson, Crosby Stills and Nash, Stevie Nicks and Squeeze. In the 1980s and ’90s he performed over 100 shows as a guest member on tour with The Grateful Dead. Hailing from Williamsburg, Va., his biggest hits including “Mandolin Rain,” “Every Little Kiss,” and “Look Out Any Window,” helped establish what came to be known as the “Virginia Sound.” Festival fans will enjoy Hornsby’s acoustic piano playing and honest lyrics intensified by his strong vocals.

Sandpoint’s own Bridges Home, featuring Dave and Tami Gunter, with Paul Gunter, will open the show.

All tickets are $44.95. The Festival’s popular Brew Tasting tickets are available for $10 — which includes a commemorative pilsner glass and premium microbrew tastes. The Brew Fest starts when gates open at 6 p.m. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

n Friday, Aug. 5 — Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth is a roots and Americana-based newgrass jam band from Stillwater, N.J. Borrowing their name from the Jack Kerouac short story “October in the Railroad Earth”, the band has a song by the same name. Railroad Earth’s music combines elements of bluegrass, rock and roll, jazz, Celtic and more and the virtuosic band members are known for their extensive live improvisation and lyrical songwriting within an acoustic base.

An instant sensation at the 2001 Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Sugarhill offered them a record deal on the spot and their dedicated fans, affectionately known as the Hobos, starting flocking to their shows. Enduring RRE fan favorites include “Bird in A House,” “Mighty River,” “Been Down this Road,” and “Hard Livin’.”

Rabbit Wilde out of Bellingham, Wash., is eclectic bluegrass that is original, authentic, and delivered with high energy and great showmanship.

Please note: This is a dance show. The Festival venue will be configured differently for this concert to allow for an increased dancing/standing area in front of the stage. There will still be adequate sections for blankets, low chairs, high chairs and reserved patron and sponsor seating, as well as seated availability in the grandstands. The dance venue map can be viewed online at FestivalatSandpoint.com.

All tickets are $39.95. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

n On Aug. 6 ­— Emmylou Harris

Country Music Hall of Fame singer songwriter Emmylou Harris headlines a Super Saturday show with special guests The Bros. Landreth and local favorites, The Powers. A member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1992, Emmylou Harris is a musical treasure famous for collaborations with numerous artists including Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Willie Nelson and Mark Knopfler. Whether as a solo artist or with her Hot Band or the Nash Ramblers, she lit up the charts for decades and had big hits with “Poncho and Lefty,” “Red Dirt Girl,” and “Old Yellow Moon.”

A recipient of the Billboard Century Award and an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music, Emmylou is one of the most decorated artists in music with 13 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, a No. 22 ranking on VH1’s 100 Most Influential Women in Rock and Roll and the No.5 Ranking on the CMT’s list of 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.

The Bros. Landreth are a red-hot Canadian alternative country and folk music group formed in 2013 by brothers Joey and David Landreth, the sons of Winnipeg musician Wally Landreth. At the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2014, the band won the award for New/Emerging Artist of the Year and their debut album “Let It Lie” won the 2015 Juno Award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year. They attracted additional media attention when American rock icon John Oates agreed to perform as an opening act for the band at a 2015 tour stop in Nashville. The Powers are a regional favorite — an indie folk/country band based out of Coeur d’Alene, with a delightful mix of parts from vocal harmonies with acoustic guitar to banjos fighting with fiddles.

All tickets are $54.95. Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. and the music starts at 6 p.m.

n Sunday, Aug. 7 — Family Concert

Sunday, Aug. 7, is musical fun for the young and young at heart. The Festival presents its Family Concert, “Peter and the Wolf” featuring the Festival Community Orchestra and Sandpoint’s Studio 1 dancers.

Favorite pre-concert activities include the Instrument Petting Zoo — where kids can try out various instruments with guidance from high school musical mentors — an animal petting zoo, pony rides, clowns, face painting, games galore and the popular Parents’ Corner where moms and dads can take a break from the chaos for a complimentary mini-massage.

All tickets are only $6. Activities begin when the gates open at 2:30 p.m. and the musical performance starts at 5 p.m.

n Thursday, Aug. 11 — Angelique Kidjo

The Festival’s second week kicks off with the undisputed queen of African music Angelique Kidjo, a Beninese-born American Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and activist, noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos.

Time magazine calls her “Africa’s premier diva,” the BBC includes Kidjo on its list of the African continent’s 50 most iconic figures, The Guardian listed her as one of its Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World and she is the first woman to be listed among “The 40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa” by Forbes magazine. National Public Radio named her “Africa’s greatest living diva.” Most recently she won the Grammy Award in 2016 for Best Contemporary World Music Album.

A UNICEF goodwill ambassador since 2002 and a recipient of honorary doctorates from Yale University, Middlebury College and Berklee College of Music, Kidjo now resides in New York City, where she is an occasional contributor to the New York Times.

Afrosonics is an Afro Indie band based in Boise, specializing in upbeat, positive, multicultural music that makes people want to groove. With nine languages spoken amongst their diverse band members, they are true promoters of an open-minded community and firm believers in music as the universal language.

All tickets are $39.95. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

n Friday, Aug. 12 — Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is coming to Sandpoint as part of its historic 50th Anniversary Tour. NGDB formed in Southern California during the spring of 1966 as a scruffy, young jug band, and 50 years later, the quartet of Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter and John McEuen is still going strong with their special blend of country music infused with pop, rock and bluegrass.

With over 30 albums under their belt, their love of traditional American music explores all sorts of musical roots and has always accentuated the diversity of the band and celebrated the life and love of the common man. They cemented their place in music history with their “Circle” albums, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volumes I, II and III”, which brought together the legends and budding newcomers of the country music world for unforgettable Grammy, International Bluegrass Music Association and Country Music Association Award-winning collaborations.

Over the years they have constantly reinvented themselves with a string of hits that have erased the lines of musical definition. “Mr. Bojangles” was their first hit to make the Top 10 pop charts while “Dance Little Jean” and the No. 1 “Long Hard Road” began a string of 17 consecutive Top 10 country hits. Pop hits like “Make a Little Magic” and “American Dream” cemented their status as hugely successful crossover artists. With a career that spans five decades, the members of NGDB have gone from a hippie jug-band to pioneers of country rock, and their influence is still being felt today. A recent PBS special honoring their 50th anniversary featured a star-studded musical guest list including Jackson Browne, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill and John Prine. We can’t wait to welcome these favorite Festival alumni back to Sandpoint.

Rolling Stone says Luke Bell “plays classic honky-tonk with a wink and a yodel that summons the sleeping ghosts of country better than any voodoo spell ever could…” Bell’s shows are welcome excuses to click your boots and down an extra sniff of bourbon.”

All tickets are $44.95. Gates will open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7:30 p.m.

n Saturday, Aug. 13 — Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals

Super star Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals headline the Festival at Sandpoint’s second Super Saturday show. A singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock music. Known to worldwide audiences for his guitar-playing skills, distinctive vocals, inspiring live performances, and activism, he is a three-time Grammy Award winner in three different categories with greatest hits including “Diamonds on the Inside,” “Burn One Down,” “Steal My Kisses,” and the latest, “Pink Balloon.” Harper will be joined by a yet to be announced special guest prior to his headline performance, and local vocal favorite Sadie Waggoner will open the show, accompanied by her father Michael Waggoner.

Please note: This is a dance show. The Festival venue will be configured differently for this concert to allow for an increased dancing/standing area in front of the stage. There will still be adequate sections for blankets, low chairs, high chairs and reserved patron and sponsor seating, as well as seated availability in the grandstands. The dance venue map can be viewed online at FestivalatSandpoint.com.

All tickets are $64.95. Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. and the music starts at 6 p.m.

n Sunday, Aug. 14 — Grand Finale Concert

The Festival season culminates on Sunday, August 14, with the Grand Finale Concert: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” featuring the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Gary Sheldon with the return of the sensational jazz pianist and composer Vadim Neselovskyi and two Sandpoint natives Jason Moody on the violin and soprano Hailey Fuqua. The summer-inspired program includes Mendelssohn’s “Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Vivaldi’s “Summer” from “The Four Seasons”, Strauss’ “Voices of Spring Waltz”, Gershwin’s “Summertime”, and Tchaikowsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from the Nutcracker.

Festival fans are also in for a special treat, the world premiere of “Season’s Suite” by jazz pianist and composer Vadim Neselovskyi, who was a huge hit at last year’s Festival.

Preceding the concert, the Festival at Sandpoint will hold its annual “Taste of the Stars” wine tasting, is now the largest wine event of its kind in the state of Idaho and complimentary for all concertgoers over the age of 21 years. The Festival’s traditional fireworks finale, made possible by Avista Utilities, will close The Festival at Sandpoint’s 34th season in spectacular fashion.

The concert also serves as part of The Festival’s 5th Grade Music Outreach Program, an educational mission that takes place in all Bonner County and Boundary County elementary schools. Each fifth-grader receives complimentary tickets for themselves and two family members to attend a symphonic Festival concert. The recipient of the Festival’s Music Scholarship will perform before the concert and the winning bidder of the original 2016 poster artwork by Kate Weisberg will be announced.

Gates open early at 4:30 p.m. for the wine tasting event and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $39.95 for adults, $10.95 for youth through 18 years.

Individual tickets to all shows went on sale at midnight Saturday, April 30, at www.festivalatsandpoint.com and at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 2, at The Festival at Sandpoint office, 525 Pine St., Sandpoint. Phone orders may be placed by calling the Festival office locally 208-65-4554 or toll free 888-265-4554. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover cards, personal checks and cash are accepted.

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