You don’t need an AARP card to get in, but there will be plenty of baby boomers at this summer’s Minnesota Zoo concerts.
The lineup announced Monday is dominated by boomer-loved acts, including Rock Hall of Famers Brian Wilson and Dr. John, folk goddess Joan Baez — who kicks off the series on June 6 — guitar hero Richard Thompson, rocker Melissa Etheridge and zoo regulars Dave Koz, the BoDeans and Robert Cray. And don’t overlook classic rockers Cheap Trick, Pat Benatar, Elvin Bishop and Edgar Winter.
There are newer names, too, including bluegrassy Minnesota favorites Pert Near Sandstone and popster Eric Hutchinson, and some frequent visitors on appealing double bills — John Hiatt with Steve Earle, Los Lobos with Los Lonely Boys, Trombone Shorty with Mavis Staples and Marc Cohn with Mary Chapin Carpenter for two nights.
The July 27 show by Wilson, the guiding light of the Beach Boys, is probably the biggest coup for the zoo and its 1,500-seat Weesner Amphitheater. He’s touring with original bandmates Al Jardine and David Marks, with whom he performed last year as the Beach Boys. But Wilson has had his differences with Mike Love, his cousin and fellow BBer, so he won’t appear under that banner here. This group has the zoo’s top ticket price, $75.
Even though Cheap Trick and Benatar are touring together this summer, they will do separate concerts at the zoo. The Rockford rockers are set for July 6 while Benatar and guitarist/husband Neil Giraldo play on June 30. Edgar Winter headlines the Rock ’n’ Blues Fest Aug. 7 with Canned Heat, Rick “Rock ’n’ Roll Hootchie Koo” Derringer and Pat Travers.
The jam-band crowd also has its nights at the zoo. Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band, recreates an old Dead set list on July 5. Xavier Rudd brings his progressive, eclectic sounds on July 12, and Nova Scotia’s Great Big Sea throws a folk-and-Celtic seasoned party on July 8.
Memphis-loving piano man Cohn, the zoo’s most frequent performer, returns to share the stage with singer-songwriter Carpenter on July 10-11. A more curious combination is Trombone Shorty, New Orleans’ spirited funk-jazz party animal, on July 21 with Staples, the R&B/gospel powerhouse who landed in the Rock Hall of Fame with the Staple Singers of “I’ll Take You There” fame. They definitely fit in with the rootsy flavor of this summer’s zoo lineup.
New Orleans legend Dr. John, who just earned a blues Grammy for his collaboration with Black Keys ace Dan Auerbach, will be joined by Louisiana slide guitar star Sonny Landreth on July 19. England’s James Hunter Six brings its retro rock ’n’ blues sound on June 23, with blues mama Shemekia Copeland opening. And veteran blues-rocker Elvin Bishop is paired with soulful Texas singer Ruthie Foster Aug. 28.
The re-teaming of Los Lobos, one of America’s finest live roots bands, with the flashy blues brothers of Los Lonely Boys on July 7 is a guaranteed sell-out. Hiatt, the always spirited singer-songwriter, pairing up with Earle, the always political singer-songwriter, promises a combustible evening on Aug. 1.
British guitar hero Thompson is headed back to the zoo with his Electric Trio on June 8. Etheridge will pump up the volume on June 28. And the BoDeans, Kurt Neumann’s revamped, Wisconsin-bred band, will deliver their good-time sounds on June 21.
Rising pop star Hutchinson, whose hits “Watching You Watch Him” and “Rock and Roll” have made the Twin Cities his biggest market, makes his zoo debut on June 15.
Promoter Sue McLean usually books more than 30 concerts at the zoo. She expects to announce several more shows this spring.
Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. April 27 at the Electric Fetus and Ticketmaster outlets. For ticket prices and more information, go to www.suemclean.com/zoo.