Box-office business is running ahead of last year’s pace for this annual two-week outdoor music festival. At least three shows may stretch the 3,500-person capacity of the festival’s lakeside venue at Memorial Field, although nothing was completely sold out as of press time.
The best-seller so far is Michael Franti and Spearhead – the same act that packed in sellout crowds last year. Franti’s show, designated as the dance-friendly “Dance Concert” show, will be during the festival’s second week, on Aug. 12.
Both of the festival’s other biggest sellers – Brandi Carlisle and Chris Isaak – are part of the first week’s lineup.
Read on for a rundown of the festival’s opening week:
• Rickie Lee Jones, tonight, 7:30 – People might remember her for the jazzy 1979 hits “Chuck E.’s in Love” and “Young Blood.” Yet Jones has been crossing genre lines ever since with forays into soul, funk, reggae and even techno. Lately, said Wahl, she has gone back to her roots, performing plenty of tunes from her early albums. She’ll be with her own jazzy eight-piece band.
The opening act sounds just as intriguing. Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers play swinging jazz. Smith is a San Francisco chanteuse and her eight-piece band features veterans who have played with the likes of Duke Ellington.
• Brandi Carlile, Friday, 7:30 p.m. – She was last year’s “sleeper hit” at the Festival. Carlile, the biggest star to come out of little Ravensdale, Wash., has a big, big voice, which might be described as Patsy Cline meets Melissa Etheridge. She has recently been embracing her inner rocker. Carlile is also a great entertainer, with funny between-songs banter.
The opening act is an indie rock act from Western Washington, Ivan & Alyosha.
• Chris Isaak and Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Saturday, 6 p.m. – Chris Isaak is the “Wicked Game” singer (among many other hits), but he has also emerged as a multimedia entertainer.
He’s an actor (“Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” and “Silence of the Lambs”) and has hosted his own funny and clever TV series, “The Chris Isaak Show.” He brings a lot of his comic sensibilities to his stage show – along with that incredible Roy Orbison-style voice.
This is the “Super Saturday” show, which means the opening act is far more than a mere opener. Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real have already generated a ton of excitement from a Spokane date earlier this year. Lukas is Willie Nelson’s sixth son, yet Wahl describes his sound as more akin to Southern rock. Rebel yells might be in order.
• “Disney Symphantasy,” Family Concert with the Spokane Youth Orchestra, Sunday, gates open at 4:30 p.m. – This may be the most fun concert on the bill, for a number of reasons. For one thing, there will be two different kinds of petting zoos: a musical instrument petting zoo and an actual farm-critter petting zoo.
Also, the traditional Festival bar area will be turned over completely to the kids – no one over 21 allowed. Yes, parents, that means you’ll have to stand behind the barrier and watch while you child goes in with a few bucks and buys a Shirley Temple or a Roy Rogers.
And one whole area of the festival grounds will be populated by massage therapists giving five-minute massages to those who need them most: parents.
The music might soothe the soul as well. The Spokane Youth Orchestra will play music from Disney’s “Fantasia” and “The Little Mermaid.” The whole thing is a bargain at only $6.
Check next Thursday’s paper for a rundown of week No. 2 of the Festival at Sandpoint.
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