Meadowbrook mixes it up this season – 3 new shows announced

picture-15UPDATE:

Staind, Shinedown & Chevelle set for July 10

Steve Miller Band/Doobie Brothers confirmed for August 16

Tickets for both shows on sale Saturday, May 9.

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In what’s shaping into a wonderfully diverse summer of entertainment, Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion announced three new shows Tuesday.

Rounding out Bike Week, which so far includes a Brad Paisley/Dierks Bentley double bill (6/14), the Henry Paul-led Outlaws opening for a Fogerty-less Creedence Clearwater Revisited (6/17) and Blake Shelton with Craig Morton (6/18) is the pairing of two 90’s rock powerhouses – Live, who wowed the Meadowbrook crowd last year, and Candlebox.  A third act will likely be added to the June 19 show.

On August 1, a Canadian singer-songwriter with a list of admirers including none other than Bob Dylan performs.  Gordon Lightfoot’s hits include “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.

The third show announced Tuesday features crooner John Legend and modern soul diva India.Arie – a definite change of pace for the Gilford, NH venue.

On Wednesday, another show was listed on the Meadowbrook web site.  Steve Miller and the Doobie Brothers appear August 16, with an on sale date of Saturday, May 9.  Though exact details aren’t currently available, at least on more show,  targeting a younger demographic, will be announced in the coming weeks, as well as a performance by an as-yet-unnamed hard rock act.

Availability for the three just-announced shows begins with an Internet pre-sale (code required) on Friday, May 1 at 10 AM.  General public availability starts Saturday morning at 10 AM.  All seats are sold directly through http://www.meadowbrook.net.

After 24 shows last year, the venue will do around the same number in 2009.  “But it seems like more,” said venue Marketing Director Chris Lockwood recently.  “That’s because of the variety and quality of acts.”

The Country Music Association nominated the 6,500-seat facility as one of the nation’s top venues in 2008 (they lost to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium).  The recognition was instrumental in luring premier talent.  “This is the only non-Live Nation facility to book Brad Paisley,” says Lockwood, noting that negotiations for the country music star’s show began right after the CMA nomination was announced.

Meadowbrook has a pair of initiatives to memorialize founder Bob Harding, who died last year. A “Rock On Scholarship,” given to a Lakes Region High School student with plans to pursue the arts in college, is “based solely on talent.” Bracelets emblazoned with a rocker’s “devil horns” salute are being sold at shows to raise money for the effort.

On May 23, the inaugural “Rock On Fest” features Korn, Burn Halo and 30 local bands.  The event is a departure from so-called “pay to play” events like Locobazooka, a regional music showcase that ran for 15 years in Massachusetts before moving to Miami.  “Pay to play is promoters taking advantage of bands,” says Lockwood. “The best bands can hope for is to break even.”

For “Rock On Fest,” he says, “the bands become their own street team, and make 3 bucks for every ticket they sell.  They can sell merchandise in the venue – no money changes hands with Meadowbrook.”

“We have never been the type of band who would pay to play a gig,” says Sid Narged, whose Nashua-based Kinetic Theory will perform at the festival.  Narged says that Meadowbrook’s approach – asking each group to attract 50 fans using special ticket codes and embedded web site links –  “is a great way to promote the show, help the local bands, and give back to the local fans who support the bands. It really is a class act.”

Here’s a look at Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion’s 2009 Schedule:

Sat May 23     12:30 PM     Rock On! Fest 2009, with Korn, Burn Halo and 30 local bands

Sun May 31     7:00 PM     Willie Nelson

Sun Jun 14     7:30 PM     Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and Jimmy Wayne

Wed Jun 17     8:00 PM     Creedence Clearwater Revisited, The Outlaws

Thu Jun 18     8:00 PM     Blake Shelton, Craig Morgan

Fri Jun 19     7:30 PM     Live, Candlebox

Sat Jun 27     7:00 PM     Styx, REO Speedwagon, .38 Special

Fri Jul 3     8:00 PM     Diana Krall

Fri Jul 10  7:00 PM      Staind, Shinedown and Chevelle

Sat Jul 11    8:00 PM     The Offspring, Sum 41, Jack Turner

Thu Jul 16     8:00 PM     Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin

Sun Jul 19     7:00 PM     Tom Jones

Sat Aug 1     8:00 PM     Gordon Lightfoot

Wed Aug 5     7:00 PM     Pat Benetar, Blondie, the Donnas

Fri Aug 14     8:00 PM     Sugarland, Matt Nathanson SOLD OUT

Sat Aug 15     7:30 PM     John Legend, India.Arie

Sun Aug 16     7:00 PM     Steve Miller Band, Doobie Brothers

Fri Aug 21     7:00 PM    Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Sat Aug 22     8:00 PM     An Evening With The Moody Blues

Mon Aug 24     6:00 PM     Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic

Sun Aug 30     8:00 PM     Big & Rich, Luke Bryan

Sat Sep 26     8:00 PM     Alan Jackson

Conniption Fits – A Heaping Helping of Perspective

picture-12When it comes to trios, there’s power and finesse. “A Heaping Help of Perspective” marks the Conniption Fits’ first outing as a three-piece (guitarist Tuck Stocking left after 2006’s “Airplane Rides”), and fortunately, they opted for the latter.

For their second album, the Fairlee-based band eschew crushing chords for tasteful guitar figures and expert singing, while resisting the temptation to overproduce, trusting a well-oiled core unit do its work.

Don’t get me wrong – the record is not without punch and swagger.  You’d expect nothing less from a band that made their bones satiating bar patrons hungry for Foo Fighters and Gin Blossoms covers. Heck, guitarist Stevens Blanchard alone has been at it for half his life.

It just doesn’t need to beat listeners over the head to prove that it rocks.

Examples?  The roiling “Game of Grace,” which opens like a power pop version of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”  Or “Grit Your Teeth,” with a middle bridge evocative of “Synchronicity,” a runaway train of a song done by perhaps the finest finesse trio of them all, the Police.

The best moments come when guitarist Stevens Blanchard, drummer Seth Roya and bass player Erik Von Geldern blend modern angst with Big 80’s gusto.  This Weezer meets Def Leppard formula is evident on the perfectly executed “Get Off.”   The track features reggae-rock interludes mixed with lush three-part harmonies (all the band members sing, and there’s nary an overdub).

The record’s short – just 8 songs total, but it’s 30 minutes of real chemistry, self-produced with no sidemen.  For the most part, it has precision without sounding labored, spontaneity without feeling too loose.  The energy level never flags (there’s only one ballad, the dreamy, disc-ending “Time Remains”), and there’s a constant sense that these guys thoroughly enjoy playing together.

“Willing To Try Again” succeeds where the overly frenetic “(She Just Needs to Go) Away” fails, going from a whisper to a scream with poise and nuance.  Despite somewhat clumsy lyrics (“I need a crutch and one that’s not worn down” – huh?), this is also true on “Come Undone (Only Me to Blame)” – a close contender with “Get Off” for the record’s best track.

The song starts out teasing at being a ballad, then riffs a bit of rock and reggae (the album’s Police homage tendencies becomes clear with the liner notes, which thank Sting and Messrs. Copeland and Summers by name).  In between jazz-tinged drum runs and juicy guitar jangle, it soars into rock and roll heaven.

Whether consumed a la carte or by the whole disc, “A Heaping Helping of Perspective” is a delicious platter of music. The record is available on iTunes, CD Baby and the band’s web site, with select tracks streaming on MySpace.

Upcoming Conniption Fits appearances:

Jun 13 2009      The Woodstock Inn     Woodstock, NH
Jul 11 2009     The Woodstock Inn     Woodstock, NH
Jul 17 2009     Connecticut Valley Fair     Bradford, VT
Sep 4 2009     Derryfield Country Club     Manchester, NH
Oct 10 2009     Shenanigans         White River Junction, VT