The Gorge has Sasquatch, Tennessee has Bonnaroo, Chicago has Lollapalooza and the Warped Tour takes punk rock across the country. Summer ushers in tank tops, flip flops and umbrella drinks, but it also brings hordes of sweaty fans moving their bodies in time to music under the blazing sun. Festivals are a great excuse for a mini-vacation, and the anticipation of seeing your favorite artist(s) makes being packed like sardines in a crushed tin box (pat yourself on the back if you get the reference) in the backseat of your friend's Volvo seem like a good time. It's good to make a music exodus, but you don't have to leave town in order to hear quality tunes. While Boise--and Idaho in general--may not come to mind when you think of must-see shows, there are plenty of artists playing in the state within the next few months that are well worth your time.
June 4-Sept. 11
Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series
Idaho Botanical Garden
Perhaps the most beautiful venue in the area to catch a show, Outlaw Field at the Idaho Botanical Garden gives fans the opportunity to enjoy music in the cool summer air, with options like a VIP table or canopy if general seating seems too plain. Currently there are three shows scheduled--one each for June, July and August--featuring The Fray, Slightly Stoopid with Stephen Marley, and Nickel Creek, respectively. More shows may be added, so keep your ears open for further information throughout the summer.
Saturday, June 28
Boise Music Festival
That's right--it's back. The festival that brought you MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice keeps the '90s rap train rolling by bringing in none other than Sir Mix-A-Lot. If you're not a fan of hip-hop derriere connoisseurs, don't fret, there are other options. Other main stage performers include Kelleigh Bannen of "Famous" fame, Tonic's Emerson Hart, 2010 American Idol winner Lee DeWyze, Sky Blu from LMFAO, Fitz and the Tantrums and Train. Several yet to be announced local acts will also be performing on other stages. True, you won't necessarily know a lot of the performers, but it's free. And how can you pass up a chance to see Mix-A-Lot?
Summer Music Festival at Roseberry
About two hours north of Boise, near McCall, the Summer Music Festival at Roseberry is a good option for outdoorsy types looking for adventure. Presented by the McCall Folklore Society, the festival starts with a locals night and moves to separate categories as the festival proceeds. String Night features performances by bluegrassers Chicken Dinner Road, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado and Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. World and Rock Night welcomes Americana/indie banjo player Tony Furtado, the Appalachian-flavored Black Lillies and African-rock-jam band Toubab Krewe. Shows begin every night at 6:30.
Yellow Pine Music and Harmonica Festival
Yellow Pine's population of 35 will jump significantly during the first weekend of August when the Yellow Pine Music and Harmonica Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary and becomes the harmonica capital of the world (universe?). A celebration of all things harmonica, catch performances by Stellar Tide, Harmonica Bob Miner, Dick Earl's Electric Witness and many more. There's a music parade, youth jam session and contests. Now's your chance to wow with that Bach/David Bowie medley you've been working on.
Braun Brothers Reunion Festival
As the event name denotes, the Brothers Braun make music a family affair. The original Braun Brothers lineup--Billy, Gary and Muzzie (plus Cindy Braun)--will perform on Friday and Saturday evenings. The rest of the lineup includes artists such as Micky and the Motorcars, Jeff Crosby and The Refugees, Reckless Kelly and Jay Farrar and Gary Hunt of Son Volt. You can stay in a nearby hotel or bring your your tent and folding chairs to rough it for Braun-y authenticity. Musical diversity is not the focal point of this festival but if you're in the mood for Americana, you've come to the right place.
The Festival at Sandpoint
This festival requires the most travel--it takes 8-10 hours to drive from Boise to Sandpoint--but boasts an impressive lineup appealing to fans from across the music spectrum. Set on the scenic shores of Lake Pend Oreille, listen to the likes of The Head and The Heart, Ray LaMontagne, The Belle Brigade and Huey Lewis and The News, just to name a few. The festival also features a family concert titled "Musical Magic," and if the bounce houses pictured on the website are any indication, it will be magical indeed.