Last summer was such a bummer, Perfect Duluth Day didn’t even bother publishing its annual preview of outdoor concerts. There was nearly nothing to report. With the pandemic seemingly under control in 2021, however, the list of options is lengthy. Rock, however, seems to have barely survived the pandemic. Bluegrass, folk and country dominate the concert scene.
There are more than 100 outdoor concerts in the PDD Calendar, and more will likely be scheduled as the summer continues. To peruse the full offerings, visit the calendar’s music tag — which includes both indoor and outdoor music events — or click the links in the text below for listings at specific venues or for concert series lineups.
Bayfront Park and Big Top Chautauqua are joined by Earth Rider Brewery‘s festival grounds as the busiest stages throughout the summer, but there are numerous street dances, patio shows, and weekend festivals throughout the region, along with a variety of weekly concerts in various parks and plazas.
Among the one-off weekend shows are Rock Fest in Cadotte, Hodag Country Music Festival in Rhinelander, RockTember Music Festival in Hinckley and the Downtown Duluth Street Dance outside Dubh Linn Irish Pub.
The concert series circuit includes Bayside Sounds, Chester Creek Concert Series, Lucius Woods Summer Concerts, the Summer Concert Series at Olcott Park in Virginia, Bayfield Summer Concerts, City Sounds on the Duluth Public Library Plaza, Summer Parking Lot Concerts at the Coppertop, Superior Porchfest, Porch Music at White Winter Winery, Live Music on the Patio at Skyline Social & Games, and a bulked up lineup for Concerts on the Pier at Glensheen.
Below is Perfect Duluth Day’s peek at some anticipated highlights.
Boku Frequency at Chester Bowl | July 6
Boku Frequency brings its 1970s-era funk-rock and psychedelic blues to the park as part of the 38th annual Chester Creek Concert Series. The Duluth-based trio of Terry Gums, Rick Bruner and Thomas Harris draws its influences from artists like Funkadelic, Sly & the Family Stone, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix.
Lanue at Glensheen | July 7
The Concerts on the Pier series at Glenshenn Mansion has expanded to two full months of Wednesdays. Previously just a July affair, the 2021 series includes eight shows in total, running July 7 to Aug. 25. Sarah Krueger opens the series with her new musical project, Lanue.
Pert Near Sandstone at Earth Rider Brewery | July 15
Twin Cities-based bluegrass band Pert Near Sandstone has a new album, Rising Tide, and is launching its Midwest tour with this show on the festival grounds at Earth Rider Brewery in Superior. Duluthians might recall the band opening for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers in 2012 at Bayfront Park. Black River Revue opens the Earth Rider show.
Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival | July 17
Third World, shown above, is among the acts performing at the 15th annual Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival at Bayfront Park in Duluth. Also on the bill: Anthony B, Mr. Killa, Kranium, International Reggae Allstars, Dynamq and DJ Sound of Fujun.
Brad Paisley at Grand Casino Hinckley | July 17
Country music superstar Brad Paisley has a new album and new tour, which brings him to the outdoor amphitheater stage in Grand Casino Hinckley, about 60 miles southwest of Duluth.
Honey Bee Festival | Aug. 6-7
New Salty Dog, pictured above, headlines the two-day Honey Bee Festival at the Oldenburg House in Carlton, about six miles west of Duluth. Also performing: Ayers-Groves, Four Mile Portage, Jim Hall, Gavin St. Clair, Brooke & Caleb Anderson, Woodblind, Lesser Planets, Ninety to the Dozen, Sara Thomsen, Boss Mama and the Jebberhooch and more.
Ingeborg von Agassiz on the Coppertop lot | Aug. 18
Duluth’s electro-folk sensation Ingeborg von Agassiz performs on First United Methodist Church’s parking lot on Skyline Parkway, with Downtown Duluth and Lake Superior as the backdrop. It’s one of three Summer Parking Lot Concerts at “the Coppertop Church.”
Ani DiFranco at Big Top Chautauqua | Aug. 20
Alt-folk troubadour Ani DiFranco has a new album, Revolutionary Love, and her U.S. tour launches with this show under the famous big top tent in Bayfield, about 55 miles east of Duluth.
Northbound Caravan | Aug. 20-21
Superior Siren, pictured above, is among eight acts performing over two days on the festival grounds between Earth Rider Brewing and the Cedar Lounge in Superior. Also on the bill: Dirty Horse, the Plott Hounds, the Slamming Doors, Lanue, Turn Turn Turn and Erik Koskinen.
Ripple-sippi Music Fest | Aug. 21
Charlie Parr, pictured above, headlines the Ripple-sippi Music Fest outside Block North Brew Pub in Aitkin, about 70 miles west of Duluth. Also on the bill: Aurora Baer, Christian McShane, J-Pack, Rusty Crayfish Band, Mike & Jan Cheri, French Hillbillies and more.
Gaelynn Lea at Glensheen | Aug. 25
The Concerts on the Pier series at Glensheen closes out with a doozy. Violinist Gaelynn Lea, winner of National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2016, performs her original music on the edge of Lake Superior.
Colin Hay at Big Top Chautauqua | Aug. 28
Three weeks after releasing his 13th solo album, Colin Hay arrives at Mt. Ashwabay in Bayfield for a concert at Big Top Chautauqua. The Australian-American musician is best known as lead singer of Men at Work from 1978 to ’86.
G.B. Leighton at Central Park | Sept. 8
Superior’s Bayside Sounds concert series concludes its summer season with the soulful rock of the hardworking Twin Cities band fronted by Brian Leighton.
Four days after this post was published, concert promoter Jade Presents announced the Sept. 8 show at Bayfront Park featuring the Avett Brothers has been canceled “due to circumstances stemming from COVID-19 and scheduling adjustments.”
Grand Rapids Riverfest | Sept. 10-11
The inaugural Grand Rapids Riverfest, about 60 miles northwest of Duluth, features two days of bands from the region and beyond, including Trampled by Turtles, pictured above. Also part of the lineup: Sugar on the Roof, Superior Siren, Charlie Parr, Annie Humphrey, Kathleen Edwards, the Brothers Burn Mountain, Yonder Mountain String Band and more.
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