In his wonderful book "Blink," Malcolm Gladwell discussed the concept of "thin slicing"—that is, the ability to partition just the smallest bit from a larger whole to tell the complete story. Said differently, any one part of your summer can indicate the entire attitude for the next three months—whether it will be a wild Class V ride or a more mellow canoe float.
Our annual Summer Concert Guide is a lot like that; what concerts you select can set the whole soundtrack for your June, July and August—whether it is listening to Feist under a canopy of stars (at Pickathon) as a representative of a magical season sprinkled with pixie dust or rocking out old-school to Steve Miller (at the Les Schwab Amphitheater) as the essence of a big, bombastic driving-with-the-top-down summer.
In our annual summer concert guide, the Source provides a jukebox full of summer concerts and musical events.
We tell you about our favorite concert series, the five not-to-miss concerts, a few tips on taking toddler to an outdoor show and some shows that are worth a road trip. Mix-and-match, and set the tone for the greatest season of the year.
TOP FIVE CONCERTS/FESTIVALS
There certainly are things—opportunities missed, chances not taken, words not said—that are lamentable on your deathbed. Honestly, though, those I-wish-I-hads will pale next to the lifetime regret that missing just one of these summertime concerts will bring from the Ghost of Summer Past.
PEAK SUMMER NIGHTS: JOHN PRINE—An active voice in folk music since the early 1970s, John Prine's archetypal twangy American tracks have made their way into the repertoires of the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash and George Strait. The author of some of the saddest ballads on the planet, the saintly "Angel from Montgomery" could make a robot tear up. At age 66, Prine is still touring this summer from Ohio to Oregon. June 26, Athletic Club of Bend. $38-78.
FREE SUMMER SUNDAY CONCERTS: TUMBLEWEED WANDERERS—When the Source put out a concert wish list earlier this year that included Bay Area vintage rock band Tumbleweed Wanderers, it was a Hail Mary. Luckily, the folks booking acts for Bend's fan favorite Free Summer Sunday Concerts at Les Schwab Amphitheater took us seriously and added the fun-loving and socially conscious band to the series lineup. Songs like "Roll with the Times" are a throwback to Creedence Clearwater Revival, but Tumbleweed Wanderers also infuse bluegrass banjo on songs like "Hard Times." Their shows are intimate and raucous, filled with jams, and a welcome addition to a great 2013 lineup of free concerts. Sunday, July 14, 2:30 pm, Les Schwab Amphitheater, free.
PICKATHON—Over the past decade, Pickathon has grown from humble origins as a banjo-picking hoedown to one of the West Coast's most robust music festivals—a kaleidoscope of venues, music and summertime camping. Stretching from a horse barn that houses sweaty and intimate stripped-down shows to a sprawling amphitheater where the big names—like Feist and Andrew Bird—play, this is a massive concert. Campsites are hidden throughout the nearby woods, including gems of spaces that seem like they were designed by the Hobbit—clearings with enough trees so that hammocks can be strung up. Aug. 2-4, Pendarvis Farm (SxSE of Portland), $260 weekend pass.
BUMBERSHOOT—The first Bumbershoot, held in 1973, attracted the largest crowd to the Seattle Center since the World's Fair a decade earlier. Since then, the festival has been hit or miss. Although the lineups have been a snore in recent years (the most notable headliners were Jane's Addiction and Hall & Oates—great acts, but not headlining material for a multiday, multi-stage festival circa 2012), this year promises a comeback for Seattle's Labor Day weekend festivities. Headliners for 2013 are some of the past year's biggest names, from Fun. to Alt-J. We're looking forward to Death Cab for Cutie playing Transatlanticism, the band's beloved 2003 album, in its entirety, an old school performance from Heart, the soulful renderings of Charles Bradley and Allen Stone, and discovering some of Bumbershoot's small-timers: Matt and Kim, The Joy Formidable,!!!, Ra Ra Riot, Bob Mould, Daid Bazan, ZZ Ward and Mates of State. The event is held in one of the most interesting festival locations, the Seattle Center, just under the Space Needle bordering the Experience Music Project. Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 3-day pass $150.
BRITT FEST—The festival in Jacksonville, Oregon, would make our top five list on the strength of the setting alone—the quaint B&B-filled Jacksonville and a gorgeous, intimate amphitheater—and the fact that concertgoers can bring in their own beer and wine to the venue (a unique allowance). But it is so, so much more—an awesome lineup, free parking, pre-concert concerts and not-a-bad-seat-in-the-house design. Oh my! The Southern Oregon performing arts festival has been around since the '60s and, year after year, offers great live music. The whimsical and fun-to-explore gold rush town of Jacksonville hosts the festival. Britt books up-and-coming indie artists, powerful orchestras and some of the biggest names in music. (Ray LaMontagne, k.d. lang, Willie Nelson and The Black Crowes are just few.) Only 15 miles from Ashland. 2013 Highlights: June 24—Grace Potter & The Nocturnals; July 2—Robert Plant presents The Sensational Space Shifters; July 24—Jeff Bridges & The Abiders; Aug. 30—Tegan & Sara.