Once again, the musical lineup at the Minnesota Zoo is heavy on — surprise — veteran roots-rock musicmakers who appeal to baby boomers. For the second consecutive year, though, country stars are part of the mix. But the biggest surprise is an old-school hip-hop act — Salt-N-Pepa.
That’s right, Cheryl James (“Salt”) and Sandra Denton (“Pepa”) are back, their profile boosted by a current Geico TV commercial. Known for their hits “Push It” and “Shoop” during their 1986-99 heyday, they will perform at the zoo on July 9.
About two dozen concerts in the Music in the Zoo series were announced Monday, with a few more shows expected to be confirmed soon.
Country star Easton Corbin, known for “Roll With It,” makes his zoo debut on Aug. 12. Blackberry Smoke, a rising country-rock band that’s been compared to Lynyrd Skynyrd, lands at the zoo on July 24. And the retro and rootsy Mavericks, Grammy-winning country stars in 1990s who reunited in 2012, will make their inaugural zoo appearance July 21 and demonstrate why they are America’s greatest dance band.
Also new at the zoo this summer will be gravelly voiced Michael McDonald, formerly of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, on June 20, and Twin Cities soul sensation Caroline Smith on a double bill with gritty Texas R&B/bluesman Black Joe Lewis on July 23.
The lineup is heavy on familiar names, including raspy-voiced Marc Cohn — who has played at the zoo more than any other act — kicking off the series June 6 with fellow Grammy winner Shawn Colvin (“Sunny Came Home”).
Other zoo repeaters include Americana queen Lucinda Williams (June 9), blues-rock showmen Los Lonely Boys (June 16), the good-time BoDeans (June 19), blues giant Buddy Guy (June 26), the always harmonious Indigo Girls (July 17), smooth jazz sax star Dave Koz (July 18), blues-rock jammers John Butler Trio (July 19), Texas troubadour Jerry Jeff Walker (July 31), bluesman Keb Mo (Aug. 6), rock powerhouse Pat Benatar (Aug. 11), blues-soulman Robert Cray with Sonny Landreth (Aug. 18), steel-guitar star Robert Randolph (Sept. 3) and the Sweet Harmony Soul Tour featuring Patty Griffin, Mavis Staples and Amy Helm (July 12).
The lineup also features some Minnesota favorites: guitar hero Jonny Lang (Aug. 22), singer-songwriter Mason Jennings (July 25), Grammy-winning kids music duo the Okee Dokee Brothers (July 26) and the always rockin’ Tina & the B Sides (Aug. 15).
All concerts are rain or shine, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the 1,500-seat Weesner Family Amphitheater.
VIP boxes will go on sale at 10 a.m. April 16 and standing-room passes at 10 a.m. April 24 at suemclean.com. The general sale begins at 10 a.m. April 25 at the Electric Fetus, etix.com, suemclean.com/zoo or 1-800-514-3849.