Oldies and country shows dominate Merriweather's summer music schedule

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 lineup 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 lineup, stressing the shows which will be offered in subscription packages, and will be available only 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 Genesis, the Cure, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Neil Diamond -- have announced they will bypass the outdoor amphitheaters in favor of more lucrative arena and stadium dates.

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