Imagine the Beach Boys pounding out “Surfin’ USA” with Lake Pend Oreille as a backdrop.
That’s how the Festival at Sandpoint will kick off its season this summer.
The group performs July 27 and launches one of the most diverse three weeks of music in festival history.
Festival organizers have booked Natalie Cole, country crooners Loretta Lynn and the Bellamy Brothers and the bluegrass sounds of Alison Krauss & Union Station.
The series will also showcase the Cajun sound of Queen Ida & Bon Temps Zydeco Band, big band music from the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and reggae with Lucky Dube.
“I don’t think anyone can look at this lineup and say there isn’t anything they want to see. I think it’s one of our strongest lineups,” said festival Executive Director Connie Berghan. “It’s a combination that reaches out to almost every single taste, except grunge.”
And no, there will not be a Pearl Jam show, Berghan said.
Word of the grunge group playing at Memorial Field started as a joke during a feud over the use of the field. Some neighbors have regularly complained about the noise and rowdiness at some concerts.
That’s when someone said, “I wonder what the neighbors would think of Pearl Jam.” The rumor spread and soon festival organizers were getting calls about tickets for the Pearl Jam show.
“Can you imagine what Pearl Jam would do to that neighborhood?” Berghan said. Not only that, Pearl Jam is way out of the festival’s financial league, she said.
The festival did have some trouble booking shows this year and announced its concerts unusually late.
“We would like to announce before Christmas, but the level of performers we are after don’t put their tours together until later in the year,” Berghan said. “It’s tricky for a remote area like us to get big-name people.”
The festival is part of a booking consortium along with organizations in Seattle, Portland and Eugene. That makes it easier to land acts in a tremendously competitive market.
“It’s much easier for a performer to book the East Coast where they have a new audience every 70 miles than to come to North Idaho which isn’t very close to anything,” Berghan said.
The festival found itself competing with The Gorge this year. Many acts the festival was eyeing, like Peter, Paul & Mary, B.B. King and Lyle Lovett were already negotiating with The Gorge.
The festival is still negotiating one pop act (not Pearl Jam), which will be announced next week.
The festival also announced a few changes this year. About 500 reserved seats will be sold for each show and unlike last year, no one will be allowed onto Memorial Field early.
Designated dancing areas will also be set up for some concerts.
Ticket prices also went up slightly this year and will range from $19.50 to $30.50.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Festival lineup The Festival at Sandpoint concert series: July 27: Beach Boys July 29: Alison Krauss & Union Station (bluegrass) July 30: Pops/to be announced Aug. 3: Riders In The Sky (family concert) Aug. 4: Gunther Schuller conducting the Spokane Symphony (Journey into Jazz) Aug. 5: Queen Ida & the Bon Temps Zydeco Band Aug. 6: Bellamy Brothers Aug. 10: Loretta Lynn Aug. 11: Lucky Dube (reggae) Aug. 12: The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra Aug. 13: Gunther Schuller conducting the Spokane Symphony (all-Russian program) Aug. 16: Bill Wellington (children’s concert) Aug. 17: Gunther Schuller conducting the Spokane Symphony (Schuller’s favorites) Aug. 18: Natalie Cole Aug. 19: Gunther Schuller & the Schweitzer Institute of Music students conducting the Spokane Symphony in a program of classics. Gates at Memorial Field open at 6 p.m. and concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. (except for the children’s concert at 6 p.m.). For tickets and more information, call the festival office at 208-265-4554. Tickets are also available at all G&B; Select-A-Seat locations by calling (800) 325-SEAT.