Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian at Rock the Garden in 2015/ Star Tribune file

Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian at Rock the Garden in 2015/ Star Tribune file

Once again, the Minnesota Zoo music lineup will feature something new, something local and lots and lots of the familiar.

Prolific indie-rock hero Conor Oberst (July 28) and Scottish indie-pop faves Belle & Sebastian (July 23) top the new names in the 27th annual concert series.

Only 22 shows are booked for 2019, down two from last year. Some years the zoo presented more than 30 concerts.

“If the opportunity arrives, we will add some more shows if they’re a good fit for the series,” said Patricia McLean, CEO of Sue McLean & Associates, which books the concerts. “We’ve overdelivered for many years. There’s a lot going on in the market. The market is becoming more and more competitive.”

Also new this year is a Gen Y package billed as Pop 2000 Tour (July 14) featuring boy-band O-Town, once-bratty rocker Aaron Carter, “On the Way Down” hitmaker Ryan Cabrera and host Lance Bass of N’Sync. Another flashback show features the big-in-the-‘80s Brit rockers Psychedelic Furs and James (July 24).

The male-dominated zoo series kicks off June 1 with the Cactus Blossoms, the twangy harmonizing duo of Twin Cities brothers.

Other locals are longtime rockers the Suburbs (June 19) and singer-songwriter Mason Jennings (June 22). And we count Minneapolis-launched guitar hero Jonny Lang (July 3) as one of us.

Blues is a theme among other returnees, including Taj Mahal Quartet (June 15), Big Head Todd & the Monsters (June 21, with Toad the Wet Sprocket), Keb Mo (June 23) and Robert Cray (Aug. 28).  Dave Koz’s annual smooth-jazz outing features Gerald Albright and Kenny Lattimore (Aug. 25).

The zoo lineup is heavy on popular singer-songwriters, including Rosanne Cash (July 19), Mat Kearney (Aug. 9), Josh Ritter (Aug. 24) and perennial Marc Cohn (Aug. 10), who has appeared at the zoo more than any other act.

Another zoo regular, Americana vet Steve Earle, returns with the Dukes (Aug. 2).  

Jam band fans will welcome back Dark Star Orchestra (July 2) and banjo master Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (June 26). Also returning are pop-rockers Guster (July 22) and the still-great veteran funk band Tower of Power (July 20).

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. April 20 at etix.com, suemclean.com/zoo and 1-800-514-3849. Tickets also can be purchased at Bunker’s from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 20 only.

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