Merriweather lineup makes it look like a summer of oldies

April 17, 1992|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

It may say "Summer, 1992" at the top, but looking at the artists included in the subscription line-up announced by the Merriweather Post Pavilion yesterday, it's hard not to wonder if they really meant "Summer, 1972."

Starting with a season-opening show by Lynyrd Skynyrd on May 21, the Pavilion will feature performances by such '70s superstars as Jimmy Buffett (May 22-23), Ringo Starr (June 17), Chicago & the Moody Blues (sharing a bill June 19-20), James Taylor (Aug. 15), John Denver (Aug. 18), Anne Murray (Aug. 20) and Emerson Lake & Palmer (concert date to be announced).

Reading the schedule, one half expects to see an "Impeach Nixon" rally listed.

Granted, many of these artists -- particularly Buffett, Taylor, Chicago and the Moodies -- are Merriweather stalwarts, and have been performing there on a near-yearly basis for more than a decade.

But even the newest act on the Merriweather calendar -- the NY Rock and Soul Revue, due in Aug. 19 -- is secretly an oldie. This, after all, is the club band assembled by Steely Dan headmen Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, whose featured singers are Michael McDonald (who sang backup with the Dan before joining the Doobie Brothers in 1975), Phoebe Snow (whose only hit, "Poetry Man," was also in 1975) and Boz Scaggs (who cracked the Top 10 with "Lowdown" in 1976).

Naturally, the group's repertoire consists of classic soul tunes plus occasional Steely Dan songs -- no new music, in other words.

There are a few genuinely new acts on the calendar, of course. In fact, not only hasn't Wilson Phillips not played the Pavilion before, but the group's members are young enough to be the children of other Merriweather performers. Like, for instance, the Beach Boys.

But if your idea of new music means something more along the lines of alternative rock, tough luck. So far, the only concert fitting that bill would be an Aug. 8 show by the B-52's. Nor is there much for dance music fans at this point, apart from a return by Paula Abdul and Color Me Badd (Aug. 5), a pairing which played the Capital Centre last November.

There are no rap or R&B shows on the calendar. And barring further additions, the closest the Pavilion gets to heavy metal is a Rush/Mr. Big combo on June 16.

Country fans ought to be pleased, though. In addition to dates by Clint Black (July 11), Willie Nelson (July 24) and Hank Williams Jr. (Aug. 16), there's a Reba McEntire/Vince Gill double bill slated for Aug. 30 that should be the hottest ticket this side of Garth Brooks.

But no, there's no word yet on whether Brooks will play Merriweather. Or anywhere else nearby.

Yesterday's announcement, though, offered little more than a preliminary line-up, stressing the shows which will be offered in subscription packages, and will only be available by mail (details and an order form will be included in a Merriweather ad scheduled for this week's Sunday Sun). There is no word yet on additional shows, or when individual tickets will go on sale.

How much the season lineup will expand between now and midsummer remains to be seen. According to a Merriweather spokeswoman, shows were still being negotiated yesterday, and considerable additions to the schedule are expected.

Even so, given the generally disastrous business done last summer, industry observers anticipate slow going for venues like Merriweather this summer. Already, most of the biggest tours -- including outings by Genesis, the Cure, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Neil Diamond -- have announced they will bypass the outdoor amphitheaters in favor of far more lucrative arena and stadium dates.

Merriweather's summer schedule

The following is the summer concert schedule for Merriweather Post Pavilion announced yesterday.

May 21: Lynyrd Skynyrd '92 and .38 Special

May 22-23: Jimmy Buffett

June 16: Rush and Mr. Big

June 17: Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band

June 19-20: Chicago and The Moody Blues

July 11: Clint Black

July 12: Reggae Sunsplash

July 24: Willie Nelson and Sammy Kershaw

July 25: Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford

July 31: Sandi Patti

Aug. 1: Little Feat and George Thorogood

Aug. 5: Paula Abdul and Color Me Badd

Aug. 8: The B-52s

Aug. 15: James Taylor

Aug. 16: Hank Williams Jr.

Aug. 18: John Denver

Aug. 19: NY Rock and Soul Review featuring Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, Donald Fagan, Phoebe Snow and Walter Becker

Aug. 20: Anne Murray

Aug. 22: Dan Fogelberg

Aug. 30: Reba McEntire and Vince Gill

A few other artists -- the Allman Brothers Band; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Wilson Phillips; the Beach Boys and the Disney Symphony -- have been announced, but concert dates haven't been settled. Currently, tickets are only available by mail as part of the subscription series. Tickets for individual shows will be on sale at dates to be announced.

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