Must-See Live Music: 2017 Summer Concert Guide
Summer concert-goers rejoice: Connecticut is hosting some wonderfully eclectic acts this season. Whether it’s faithful warhorses like the Beach Boys and the Marshall Tucker Band, or artists still at the top of their game like Jason Isbell and Gillian Welch: Connecticut, as always, offers the very best in musical entertainment. Here’s a look at this season’s terrific events.
The Oakdale in Wallingford, CT welcomes the inimitable Bob Dylan on June 18th. Dylan, the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, is touring behind “Triplicate”, the songwriter’s third collection of material that culls the classic American songbook. The singer may be in a romantic mood lately, yet he will no doubt treat fans to classics from his own canon. At exactly three-quarters-of-a-century old, Dylan shows no signs of slowing down. The Nobel Prize may signify the man’s influence, yet his “Never Ending Tour,” now approaching its thirtieth year, signifies something just as impressive: his indestructibility.
San Francisco natives Third Eye Blind will be performing at Oakdale on July 2nd. The group, known for its personnel changes and long gaps in between recording projects, will likely break out melodic pop tunes like “Semi-Charmed Life,” “How’s It Gonna Be,” and “Graduate.”
A week later, on July 9th, the Moody Blues will be celebrating their 50th anniversary as they take the Oakdale stage. With classics like “Tuesday Afternoon” and the haunting “Nights in White Satin,” the group’s heady symphonic sound is a marvel to witness in a live setting. More classic acts are to follow with Boston and Joan Jett playing on July 22nd and Chicago on August 6th. For fans of talent from this millennium, look for blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa who plays the Wallingford theatre on August 8th.
New Haven’s College Street Music Hall welcomes City and Colour on June 9th. The group, which is actually a moniker for Canadian born Dallas Green, has released a string of gorgeous, acoustic-based records since the mid-2000s. “If I Should Go Before You”, buoyed by the ebullient yet bittersweet “Lover Come Back,” is stacked with enough poignant lyrics and catchy melodies to make fans of Radiohead and U2 take notice. Drive-By-Truckers defector Jason Isbell, who continues to prove he’s doing just fine flying solo, will be performing at College Street on June 26th. His newest record, The Nashville Sound, recorded with his band The 400 Unit, will be out this summer. Gillian Welch, another gifted songwriter, will be playing CSMH on June 30th. Without a new album of original material, Welch nevertheless has a handful of fine acoustic records of Appalachian-tinged Americana from which to draw. All guitars will take a backseat on August 4th when Tower of Power plays College Street. A veritable party on stage, TOP, playing together since 1968, will delight fans to R&B chestnuts like “You’re Still a Young Man,” and “Soul With a Capital S.”
The Ridgefield Playhouse may win this summer’s award for sheer volume of musical entertainment. New Wave maestros, the B-52s, known for campy classics like “Rock Lobster” and “Love Shack,” will play the 500 seat venue on June 5th. The following day, on June 6, Trombone Shorty brings the spirit of his native New Orleans to the playhouse. The Marshall Tucker Band, known for their classic 70s hits like “Can’t You See,” and “Fire on the Mountain,” take the stage on June 22nd. Jakob Dylan’s The Wallflowers, thriving after yet more personnel changes, play on June 29th. On July 7th, JJ Gray and Mofro, southern rock’s best kept secret, plays their patented brand of homegrown bayou blues. The recently reformed Toad the Wet Sprocket, darlings of 80s and 90s college radio, will continue their resurgence on July 20 at the playhouse.
Don Felder, former Eagles guitarist and co-author of “Hotel California,” plays on August 8th. On August 14th, Stephen Stills pairs with Judy Collins, his old flame as well as the source of his iconic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” The Beach Boys, with so much of their songbook devoted to cars, girls, surfing, and sunshine, might just be the perfect group to see in Ridgefield on August 16th. The last week of summer will see some stinging blues guitar at the Playhouse when Kenny Wayne Shepherd plays on August 23rd and Robert Randolph & the Family Band on August 24th.
These shows are only a hint of what’s happening in Connecticut this summer. Other venues to check out include Toad’s Place, Cafe 9, Bar, The Outer Space, and Stella Blues. All establishments have websites with an itinerary of upcoming events.