In like a lion, out like a rolling stone

By By John Francis

By John Francis

Summer has arrived, and with it, great outdoor concert festivals in seemingly every state in the United States?except our own.

With so many ideal venues, it is a genuine surprise that some eager venture capitalist has not taken full advantage of the restless stupor and idle pocket-change that pervade Utah hipsters during the long days of summer by establishing an all-genre, several-stage concert bonanza.

Sure, there may be the upscale, pricey, hit-or-miss galas like the Park City Jazz Jubilee at Deer Valley, or the repetitive and predictably bland bands of Van’s Warped Tour at the Utah State Fairpark.

Yet sadly, there is rarely a jamboree in Utah that brings together fans and musicians from music’s endless reservoir of diversity. Until the day when, somewhere in Utah, a lively bacchanal in the vein of Seattle’s Bumbershoot, Manchester’s Bonnaroo or Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Pitchfork Festival is established, most concert-goers will continue to be at the mercy of the fickle promoters who represent the seasonal stomping grounds of USANA Amphitheatre, the Gallivan Center, Red Butte Garden and Snowbird Ski Resort.

It’s not all bad news, however. The one-two punch of sometimes sensational summer concert series and congested club schedules typically atone for the lack of an berconcert in Utah. Read on for a brief guide to prepare for this year’s onslaught of summer concert series.

Pickering’s Picks:

1. Red Butte Gardens (June 11 through Aug. 27): Although pricey at times, this is one of the most tranquil and balanced venues in the valley (it’s hard to find a poor seat). The stage this year at Red Butte will be graced by living legends representing several genres, from bonafide bluegrass to hyper-funk jazz fusion.

Highlights include:

June 11, $27, The Del McCoury Band-the most decorated band in bluegrass?ever.

June 27, $30, John Hiatt/North Mississippi Allstars-gospel-tinged, full-tilt folk.

July 14, $27, Koko Taylor-blues royalty.

Aug. 6, $38, Herbie Hancock-jazz-funk fusion at its best.

Aug. 17, $29, Dr. John-the best pianist N’Awlins has to offer, served with that l’esprit du Creole!

2. Twilight Concert Series at the Gallivan Center (July 6 through Aug. 24): The free and ever-popular shows at the Gallivan Center are replete with the quirks of social posturing from locals and even-gasp!-good music! The best of the rest consist of:

July 6, Michael Franti & Spearhead-the bouncy, barefoot clarion returns to spread guilt and joy on your summer evening.

July 20, Me’Shell Ndegeocello- the beautiful, brazen bassist and the scion of Neo-Soul.

Aug. 10, Soulive and the Heath Brothers-the funk/jazz/hip-hop trio will animate even the most rhythmically challenged with relentless organ stabs, kaleidoscopic drum fills and climacteric chord progressions.

3. Snowbird Rock and Blues Festival (July 28 through 29):

Day one ($35): Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, Chris Duarte and Los Lobos.

Day two ($35): Andrew Goldring & the Rosedale Power Company, Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials and Walter Trout.

4. Usana Amphitheatre:

June 27, Poison ($20-32).

Aug. 16, Def Leppard/Journey ($30-50).

Aug. 22, Ben Harper and Damien “Junior Gong” Marley ($20-35).

Aug. 30, Dave Matthews and Robert Randolph and the Family Band ($38-60).

Dr. John promises to showcase a worthwhile piano performance on tour this summer at Red Butte Gardens in August. Along with him, many other artists are coming to Salt Lake including Michael Frianti and Me’Shell N’degeocello who will be performing at the Gallivan Center in July