Any preview of the 30th season of the Lowell Summer Music Series has to accurately reflect the unusual circumstances that led up to the lineup.
There was, of course, the government shutdown several months ago that now seems brief in hindsight but, at the time, crippled LSMS organizers' ability to book musical acts into Boarding House Park. It happened right when summer concert tours were being put together, and the result is now obvious.
Though the season kicked off last week with the Allman Betts Band (featuring Gregg Allman's son Devon and Dickey Betts' son Duane), there is now a noticeable gap before the season resumes in early July.
That's no doubt the result of having to confirm acts on short notice and making the best of a bad situation.
And, by all accounts, this year's Lowell Summer Music Series is an ear-opening mix of new and established acts.
There are a lot of hitmakers in the lineup and a generous helping of newer acts generating critical buzz.
There are the acts your parents like and the acts your kids like. There's folk. There's new wave. There's '90s rock. There's country rock. There's classic rock. There's surf rock. There's world music.
Because the lineup is back-loaded, there are multiple shows every weekend from July 12-14 through Labor Day weekend (with the exception, of course, Lowell Folk Festival weekend, July 26-28, which is another cover story for another day).
That's actually great news for music lovers, since you can count on there being at least one show you'll like every single weekend!
Let's take a closer look at the lineup.
The weekend of July 12-14 brings the soft-rock melodies of Colbie Caillat and Gone West on Friday, July 12. The next night brings to town blues-rockers The Record Company and their massive amount of critical buzz. Finally, that Sunday night, July 14, features the imaginative Angelique Kidjo, who is touring behind her interpretation of the Talking Heads' 1980 album "Remain in Light."
Fast-forward to the following weekend and you get a pair of shows that have a folk pedigree in them, though one of the acts has definitely made its mark in a different genre.
Friday, July 19, gives us I'm With Her, the inspired collaboration of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan. The next night features The Wallflowers, whose founder Jakob Dylan is, of course Bob Dylan's son, even though The Wallflowers are more roots-rock-oriented.
Jump into your time machine, fast-forward two weeks while simultaneously going back in time, and you'll land at Boarding House Park for a pair of concerts that feature guys and guitars.
There's the inimitable classic-rock sound of Blue Oyster Cult on Friday, Aug. 2, followed two nights later by the acoustic guitar-driven Mat Kearney.
August rolls in the following weekend with the piano-tinged harmony of Gavin DeGraw on Friday, Aug. 9, and the New Wave grooves of The English Beat on Aug. 10.
By this point, summer's almost over and you'll either be squeezing in one more trip to the beach or going back-to-school shopping, but make sure to check out The Beach Boys on Thursday, Aug. 15. It's the only Thursday show on this year's calendar, so make a note of it. Yes, it's just Mike Love as far as original members go (and Bruce Johnston, who joined the band in 1965 — 54 years makes him an honorary original) and a bunch of other guys, but the Wilson brothers aren't coming through that door any time soon.
The following night brings this year's Classic Albums Live concert, featuring Queen's "A Night at the Opera."
As early autumn spreads into the Merrimack Valley, so do Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey, two-thirds of Peter, Paul and Mary (the third third, Mary Travers, died 10 years ago), on Friday, Aug. 23. The next night will take some back to their '90s college days with a double bill of Toad the Wet Sprocket and Big Head Todd & the Monsters. (No, they're not the same band.)
The final weekend of summer, Labor Day weekend, brings two shows to Boarding House Park to close out the 2019 lineup. There's the country-rock style of The Mavericks on Friday, Aug. 30 ,and a classic double bill of two good-time party bands from the Boston '80s scene, The Fools and The Stompers on Saturday, Aug. 31.
A little something for everyone. That's the 2019 Lowell Summer Music Series lineup.