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Music Under the Stars

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
The Fort Worth Symphony’s Concerts in Garden Through July 6 Fort Worth Botanic Garden Fort Worth Grounds open 6:30 p.m.; concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Lawn tickets $20-$25, with children 10 and younger free. Adult table seats $25-$50; children’s table seats $13-$50. 817-665-6000; www.fwsymphony.org Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts Summer Concert Series Through July 14 Founders Plaza 100 W. Abram St. Arlington 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays (with some concerts beginning slightly later; see website for details) Free 817-543-4301; www.levittpavilionarlington.org Jazz in June Every Thursday in June Keller Town Hall Front Lawn Keller 7:15 p.m. Free 817-743-4000; www.cityofkeller.com Lone Star Music Series Through July 6 Lone Star Park Grand Prairie (Most concert times based on race schedule; see website) $5-$20 972-263-7669; www.lonestarpark.com Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic July 4 Fort Worth Stockyards North Forty Field Fort Worth Noon $35-$250 817-624-7117; www.williespicnic.com
Rock the River For a different kind of outdoor music experience, if you like the idea of floating through a concert, the Rockin’ the River series at the Panther Island Pavilion may be just the thing for you this summer. Every Thursday through Aug. 8 (except July 4), a concert featuring two bands will be presented at the outdoor venue on the Trinity River. Patrons have the choice of spreading a blanket or unfolding a chair on the shore, or inner tubes can be brought along or rented for those who would rather listen while drifting in the river. Admission is free. Most of the acts this summer are country bands (Josh Weathers, a favorite, is June 6), but a few offer some variations on rock or soul with a decidedly Texas tilt. Other headliners include Phil Hamilton (July 11) and Micky and the Motorcars (July 18). Gates will open for concerts at 4:30 p.m., with the headlining band performing from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. and a “last call band” taking the stage from 8:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Pets are OK, but coolers and outside beverages are not. Beer and other concessions will be available for purchase. Free parking is available at the old Tandy Center, 395 Purcey St., Fort Worth, 817-698-0700; www.trinityrivervision.org.
Tips About Outdoor Summer Concerts Do a little homework: Visit the concert’s website before attending to check out things like parking (it is free and easy at Levitt Pavilion, but at Concerts in the Garden, you have a lot of options you should check out and decide about before heading to the show) and what you can or cannot bring. Levitt allows anything except glass containers. Concerts in the Garden doesn’t want to see any open flames, but most anything else is OK. Lone Star Park and the Willie Nelson concert will, of course, have very different rules. Think about the time and the weather: Since some outdoor concerts begin before the sun sets, you may need a hat or visor. Also, most outdoor shows try to go on regardless of the weather. The music usually continues through a light rain, so you might need an umbrella or poncho. Think about comfort: If you do not have a reserved seat, you might want to take along a lawn chair or blanket. It is also not a bad idea to take some mosquito repellent, just in case. And, on the warmest nights, hand-held fans can be a survival tool. Be prepared to enjoy the atmosphere as much as the music: Outdoor concerts are not always the best way to really hear the music being played. But any loss in fidelity and purity of sound is usually offset by the wonderful vibe that is an almost tangible part of every good outdoor concert. Be ready to embrace the joys of a warm, carefree summer night as much as what you are hearing.

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Mozart, an American Idol star and Willie Nelson are expecting to see you this summer. Those are just some of the musical treats that will be offered in upcoming outdoor concerts in the area this summer — events that will feature rock, country, jazz, classical and a few musical forms that are not easy to define. So dust off the picnic basket, unfold the lawn chairs and let us help you prepare to enjoy some music under the stars during the lazy, hazy, crazy days ahead.


One of the area’s most enduring and popular music events is the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s Concerts in the Garden series at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. This eclectic concert series offers a wide range of musical genres that includes rock, Broadway, jazz and motion picture scores. Patrons can purchase table seats or spread their picnic blankets in less-expensive areas in a gorgeous, tree-bordered meadow on the garden grounds.

The acts in this year’s lineup include new offerings, as well as several returning favorites.

One of the most anticipated acts in the series is Fort Worth’s Casey James (June 28), a country singer-guitarist who distinguished himself with a third-place finish on American Idol’s ninth season. He has since recorded a self-titled album that reached the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s country charts last year.

Another local-act-made-good, rock band Green River Ordinance, which now has a decade of national touring under its belt, will come back home for a June 14 performance.

Tribute bands have proved to be crowd-pleasers in this series. Among the returning favorites will be the Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to the Beatles (June 15), Surf’s Up: The Music of the Beach Boys (June 16) and the extremely popular Music of the Eagles (July 6). In addition, Music of Woodstock (June 22) will cover a wide range of bands and musicians who made that music festival so legendary.

And new to that list of concerts devoted to baby boomer musical memories is Music of the Rolling Stones (July 5), a show developed by conductor and arranger Brent Havens, who has presented similar shows in this series over the years, including the Eagles tribute that is routinely one of the most well-attended concerts of the summer.

The Fort Worth Symphony will be on hand for all of those tribute concerts and a couple of concerts that include something not often heard in the series — classical music.

“Because people love to listen to the orchestra, this year we are adding an orchestral concert, Moonlight and Mozart [June 30], which is going to be just the orchestra playing some of the greatest [hits of] classical music,” said Andres Franco, associate conductor of the symphony, who also serves as the artistic director and primary conductor for Concerts in the Garden.

Franco said the program for that concert includes Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, a movement from his Symphony No. 40, the overture to Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Sarasate’s beloved Zigeunerweisen, which will feature symphony concertmaster Michael Shih as soloist.

Classical music has taken a back seat in the series in recent years, in part because a rock band or jazz ensemble typically can be more effective in an outdoor setting than an orchestra. But for Franco and his players, a concert is a concert.

“We always want to create the best artistic product possible,” Franco said. “The garden seats many more people than Bass Hall. And it is lot more relaxed out there. So I think we can reach an audience that is slightly different from the one we reach at Bass Hall.”

Another concert featuring the masters is the bombastic “1812 Overture & Russian Sparklers” (June 23), a mainstay of the series. In addition to Tchaikovsky’s iconic, cannon-pierced curtain raiser, the concert offers the winner of the symphony’s Erma Lowe Young Artist Competition, Evan Ritter, performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

The series also offers a night devoted to the Great White Way, “Broadway A-Z: ABBA to Les Mis” (June 29) and another honoring the silver screen, “Star Wars & Beyond: A Laser Light Spectacular” (June 21), which will also include portions of the scores of the “Lord of the Rings” films and The Hobbit.

And, as always, every concert concludes with a fireworks display.


In Arlington, Levitt Pavilion presents its fifth summer of free concerts, featuring a wide range of artists from about every musical field except classical. Some acts you may know, and some you may not.

“We’re really excited about Girl in a Coma,” said Cathy O’Neal, communications director for the concert series, about a female alt-rock trio from San Antonio that performs July 11. And, at first glance, the band looks like just the sort of interesting-but-not-yet-on-the-radar group that pops up in this series.

The series, which offers concerts Wednesdays through Sundays through July 14, often unites new bands with new fans. But the artists performing also include a number of well-known musicians and bands. Local pianist Danny Wright performs June 16. Popular Austin folkie Sara Hickman is on stage June 21. Fleet-fingered guitarist Monte Montgomery will dazzle with his six-string virtuosity June 28. And Texas roots music lovers will be glad to hear that Billy Joe Shaver performs June 30.

Also included in the series are a few acts that defy description.

“Lannaya West African Drum and Dance Ensemble [June 12] are more than just a band. They have percussion. They have fire dancers. They have stilt walkers,” said O’Neal, attempting to describe the Austin-based troupe.

While all the concerts are family friendly, Wednesdays are considered “children’s days.” Concerts are offered at 9:30 a.m. especially for the little ones, and then repeated at 7:30 p.m. for the whole family.


Keller would like to jazz up summer with its sixth annual Jazz in June festival. A free concert will be presented on the front lawn of Keller Town Hall every Thursday of the month.

Opening the series June 6 will be Grammy-winning drummer Adonis Rose, a New Orleans jazzman who moved here after Hurricane Katrina and founded the Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra. He has also served as an artist in residence at UT-Arlington and has been highly active in performing and organizing concerts in North Texas.

“We feel like it’s a great opportunity to showcase the public arts in Keller,” said Jonathan Phillips, management assistant for the city of Keller. “It also gives our residents and neighbors the chance to come out to a free event that offers quality entertainment, and to take advantage of our parks here at Town Hall as well.”

The other bands performing will be Arlington’s The Bright, fronted by vocalist and TCU grad Julie Lange, on June 13; Breggett Rideau and her soulful jazz stylings June 20; and Fort Worth’s Luke Wade, who will close the series June 27.

But wait. There’s more.

The concerts begin at 7:15 p.m. and run until 9:15 p.m., when they will be followed by the screening of a family-friendly movie. The Family Fun Film series will show Wreck-It Ralph (June 6), Despicable Me (June 13), Hook (June 20) and Rise of the Guardians (June 27).

A variety of vendors from the Keller Farmers Market will be selling everything from tamales to wine. In fact, Keller’s may be the only music festival that has its own honey vendor.

To further add to your visual entertainment, artists who have participated in the facility’s monthly shows will be invited to bring their works to display and sell, Phillips said.

The event is pet friendly and will include a vendor selling treats for four-legged jazz fans.


In Grand Prairie, Lone Star Park is offering some music under the stars to go with the sound of galloping horses. The track’s Party at the Park series offers live bands in its Courtyard of Champions every Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. (except for nights when concerts are scheduled). Definitely Maybe plays June 14 and The Project is featured June 21.

There are also three country concerts remaining in the track’s Lone Star Music series before the current racing season concludes July 6: Wade Brown and Kyle Park (June 28), Pat Green (July 5) and Billy Currington (July 6). The concerts in this series begin after the last race of the day.


And it would not be an official Texas summer without Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, which will once again hold forth in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

The 40th anniversary edition of this storied annual concert will offer the usual long list of country and rock luminaries. They include: Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price, Leon Russell, David Allen Coe, Ryan Bingham and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Punch Shaw is a Fort Worth-based freelance arts and entertainment writer.

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