Franti, fireworks set to wrap up Festival at Sandpoint
Final weekend also includes Ritter, Spokane Symphony
Little-known fact about the Festival at Sandpoint: Some people bob around in boats on Lake Pend Oreille and enjoy the concerts for free.
Actually, the boat will be the only option for Friday’s Michael Franti & Spearhead concert, which is already sold out. Try not to dance too vigorously and capsize your craft.
Meanwhile, if you want to enjoy the weekend’s other concerts, unaccompanied by sloshing sounds, you’re better off buying a ticket. They begin with local-favorite-turned-star Josh Ritter tonight and end Sunday with the musical fireworks of Rimsky-Korsakov and the, well, real fireworks.
• Josh Ritter, tonight, 7:30 – Ritter is a true homegrown phenomenon. The Moscow, Idaho, product has gone on to become one of most respected singer-songwriters in the nation.
He played the 2007 Festival at Sandpoint as an opening act – and completely upstaged the headliner. This time, Ritter’s at the top of the bill, as befits a man who is often compared to Bob Dylan for his lyrical creativity and who now has a well-reviewed debut novel, “Bright’s Passage,” under his belt.
He’ll be backed by his Royal City Band (which is not, apparently, named after the little town of Royal City, Wash., but from an image in his song “Thin Blue Flame”).
The opening act will be Darren Smith, another Moscow product who is now a popular Seattle folk-rock-indie singer-songwriter.
This is the festival’s annual microbrew-tasting concert, which means that everyone over 21 gets free beer samples from a number of breweries, beginning when gates open at 6 p.m.
• Michael Franti & Spearhead, Friday, 7:30 p.m. – Franti, the Bay Area’s soul-hip-hop-dance-funk merchant, was wildly popular when he came to the festival last year. This year, he’s even more popular; all of the tickets were gone by the beginning of the week.
And most of those attendees will be ready to dance. This is the festival’s designated dance concert, which means that the area in front of the stage will be opened up for dancing. The seating areas will be shifted to the side. The festival tried this experiment last year with Franti, and the crowd responded enthusiastically, and even rapturously.
By the way, Franti will be repeating last year’s Yoga Fest – a communal, morning yoga experience at Memorial Field – on Friday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with a $20 admission fee.
The opening act will be the Jason Spooner Trio, a New England act popular on AAA radio formats.
• Rodney Crowell, with David Nail, Saturday, 6 p.m. – The festival’s Super Country Saturday show features longtime star Crowell, who has been one of Nashville’s premier songwriters for three decades.
He had a huge string of No. 1 hits in the late 1980s, including the Grammy-winning “All This Time.” You’ll also hear plenty of hits he wrote for artists including Jerry Reed, Emmylou Harris, the Oak Ridge Boys and his ex-wife, Rosanne Cash.
David Nail, an up-and-coming country singer from Missouri, will open. He had a hit song last year with “Red Light.”
• Grand Finale, “Spanish Serenade” with the Spokane Symphony, Sunday, 7:30 p.m. – The symphony’s traditional closing concert will have a Spanish accent.
The program includes Spanish-themed works from Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov and De Falla. Conductor Gary Sheldon will be joined by soloist Mak Grgiæ, a 25-year-old classical guitar master from Slovenia, and soprano Hailey Fuqua, a rising opera star who hails from Sandpoint.
Grgiæ will play Rodrigo’s “Concierto Andaluz for four guitars” (with fellow guitarists Paul Grove, Leon Atkinson and Michael Millham) and “Fantasia Para un Gentilhombre.”
The orchestra will also accompany the big fireworks finale, made possible by Avista Utilities.
By the way, if you’re 21 or older, you might want to get there at 4:30 p.m., a full three hours before showtime. That’s when the gates open and the “Taste of the Stars Wine Tasting” event begins. All adults will get unlimited samples of at least 34 different wines from Northwest wineries.
According to festival director Dyno Wahl, it’s Idaho’s largest wine event – and it’s included in the price of the ticket.