More than any other time of year, summer is the season when musical artists come out to play as buses and RVs hit the road packed with instruments, stage clothes and fueled by the need to perform. Summer Tours – the make it and break it time of year for many musicians – is upon us.
While the cities generally get the superstars like Springsteen, the Stones and Paul McCartney, surrounding towns and suburbs also have plenty of great live shows to offer for those not wanting to venture too far from home.
The Star Plaza Theatre (I-65 & U.S. 30) in Merrillville which often has “gone dark” in past years during the summer, is offering a handful of strong shows, including the king of shock rock Alice Cooper (July 11 at 7:30 p.m. $45-$59), ‘80s hair metal favorites Whitesnake with David Coverdale (July 19 at 8 p.m. - $32, $42 & $57), and the retro doo-wop sounds of Under The Streetlamp, who will be taping their second PBS-TV special at the Star (Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. - $45). More: starplazatheatre.com or (800) 745-3000.
In Hammond, The Venue (777 Casino Center Drive) inside Horseshoe Casino is rolling the dice on a variety of summer shows for those 21 and older – “Legends Of Soul” starring Betty Wright, Denice Williams, Lenny White and Clarence Carter (June 14 at 9 p.m. - $55 and up); “Summerland Tour 2013” featuring Everclear, Sponge, Filter, and Live (June 22 at 8 p.m. - $20 and up); the comedy of Cheech & Chong smokes the stage (June 15 at 8 p.m. - $29 and up); iconic classic rockers Bad Company bring their 40th Anniversary Tour” with founding members Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke (June 28 at 8 p.m. - $40 & up); heavy alt-rock favorites Godsmack (July 20 at 8 p.m. - $39-$44); a double bill teaming contemporary pop sensations Daughtry & Three Doors Down (July 25 at 9 p.m. - $46-$82); followed by a pairing of R&B veterans Gladys Knight & The O’Jays (August 16 at 8 p.m. - $44 to $89); with more comedy to close out the summer from newcomer Amy Schumer (Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. - $19 to $34) and veteran Jay Leno on Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. - $39 - $79. More: www.horseshoehammond.com.
Just across the state line in New Buffalo, Mich., Four Winds Casino (11111 Wilson Road) presents an equally tasty menu of top entertainment at its Silver Creek Events Center, starting with Huey Lewis & The News (May 31 at 9 p.m. - $40-$95); Chicago legends STYX (June 7 at 9 p.m. - $40-$95); blue collar comedian Bill Engvall (June 21 at 9 p.m. - $45-$95); Collective Soul (June 27 at 9 p.m. - $25-$55); Foreigner (July 5 at 9 p.m. - $35-$75); the Motown sound of The Temptations dance in (July 19 at 9 p.m. - $20-$50); followed by the brassy rock sounds of Chicago (July 26 at 9 p.m. - $61-$126); Southern rock guitar army Lynyrd Skynyrd (Aug. 3 at 9 p.m. - $61-$126); Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo (Aug. 8 at 9 p.m. - $30-$60); and veteran crooner Tony Bennett (Aug. 23 at 9 p.m. - $61-$161). More: www.fourwindscasino.com or (866) 494-6371.
Just a bit further down the road in Three Oaks, Mich., The Acorn Theatre (197 Generations Drive) presents singer/songwriter Jim Peterik’s “Behind The Songs” solo show on May 31 ($30), followed by Peterik and his famous ‘60s brass-rock ensemble, The Ides Of March, doing a full concert June 1 ($30-$40). Both shows: 8 p.m. A documentary DVD filmed during the course of the two nights will be given free to all who attend both back to back shows upon its release. More: www.acorntheater.com or (269) 756-3879.
Top talent again returns to Wolf Lake Pavilion (2324 Calumet Ave.) in Hammond, where Mayor Tom McDermott and the Hammond Port Authority again present its 2013 Festival of the Lakes with nightly concerts. Performing are: Motown legend Smokey Robinson (July 17), Bruce Springsteen tribute “Bruce In The USA” (July 18), pop group Lifehouse (July 19), hip-hop/rap legend LL Cool J (July 20), and Latin group La Original Band El Limon (July 21). More: www.gohammond.com.
Officially kicking off summer at Hammond’s Wolf Lake Pavilion (2324 Calumet Ave.) will be a special concert by Creedence Clearwater Revisited featuring Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford (June 28 at 6 p.m. - $30). More: www.gohammond.com
The Porter County Fair Grandstand stage hosts a trio concerts. First up is the country hit-maker Hunter Hayes (July 18 - $20-$40), followed by Willie & Korie Robertson of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” (July 19 - $20-$45), and wrapping up with rising country star Justin Moore (July 20 - $20-$40). Location: 215 E. Division Road in Valparaiso. All shows: 7:30 p.m. More: www.portercountyfair.com
The city of Valparaiso is utilizing their downtown Central Park Plaza stage this year with the first annual Summer Jam & Music Festival headlined by Seventies rock monsters Blue Oyster Cult (July 27)- $10 gen admission/$30 reserved seating). Wrapping up the summer at Central Park Plaza as the national headliner of Valpo’s 2013 Popcorn Fest (Sept. 7 at 5 p.m.) with a free to the public performance is 1990s hit-makers The Gin Blossoms. More: (219) 464-8332 or www.valparaisoevents.com
Also in Valparaiso, Taltree Arboretum (450 West 100 North) again presents its summer concert series with the return of three tribute artists starting with The Neverly Brothers’ “A Rock ‘N’ Roll Evolution From Elvis to The Beatles” on July 26, followed by Beatles tribute American English on Aug. 9, and concluding with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young tribute Marrakesh Express on Aug. 30. All shows are 6:30-8:30 p.m. Cost is $30 per show or a 3-Concert package for $80. More: www.taltree.org or (219) 462-0025.
If the budget is tight, many area summer festivals present great regional and local artists. Once of the most impressive is the Munster Park Department’s annual “Centennial Summer Series,” offering a string of free public concerts starting June 14 with "Blusin' Into Summer" featuring Wayne Baker Brooks Band, Chicago Kingsnakes and Billy King (7-11 p.m.). Next up is John Mellencamp tribute Mellencougar and The Allen Wronko Band on July 19 (7-11 p.m.) and “The Grape Escape Wine Tasting” with Chicago tribute “25 or 6 to 4”, Timepeace Unplugged, Chris & Lou and David Blixt (12-8 p.m.). Closing out the series is piano rock tribute act Dueling Pianos on Aug.t 2 and Beatles tribute American English on Aug. 16 (both 7-11 p.m.). Munster also features additional free concerts at their Heritage Park stage. For the Heritage schedule and more on all Munster summer events: www.munster.org or (219) 836-6900.
Here’s a "must see" for families with toddlers. International children’s musician and TV star Ralph Covert will bring his award-winning “Ralph’s World” (www.ralphsworld.com) to Highland's Main Square Park Gazebo on Sunday, July 7 for a free performance as part of the town’s annual Fourth of July Independence Festival (July 3-7). For the festival’s full line-up: www.highland.in.gov/specialevents/july4th.htm
This is just a sampling of the wonderful summer of sounds available in the region and close to home. Keep reading The Times all summer long for more information on area fairs, fests and events.