Jay N. Miller
The summer concert season is upon us, and this week we’re taking a look at two of the most appealing options on the South Shore.
The South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset is one of the area’s most beloved venues, a 2,300-capacity tent that offers a variety of music and entertainment. And debuting this summer is an outdoor music series – “Rockin’ Summer” – at East Bridgewater’s Commercial Club, which has long staged music events indoor and outdoors over the years and now has a new promoting team eager to make their mark with eight concerts.
South Shore Music Circus highlights
Cohasset’s Music Circus is the sister venue to the Cape Cod Melody Tent and most of the acts that appear at one appear at the other, but there are a few shows that only play one venue. Cohasset’s Vince Longo is the longtime general manager of both venues.
The Music Circus season opened June 18 with country star Billy Currington, and continues June 22 with the Turtles’ acclaimed ‘Happy Together Tour,’ featuring such 1960s icons as The Association, Gary Puckett and The Cowsills. The Music Circus schedule heats up in July with eight big shows, eight more in August, and a couple in September.
“I can’t complain at all about ticket sales so far,” Longo said. “We are so happy to be able to bring the Happy Together Tour back, after its two-year postponement, and sales in general have been good. We just had a sold-out show with Lake Street Dive on the Cape. They are totally fun people, but I had no idea we could have a sellout on a Tuesday night in June.”
Longo said finding employees has been “rough.”
“Where did they go? When we’re going full tilt with both venues, we have 232 employees. We’re just about set at Cohasset, but I’d say the Cape Cod staff is still about 40 people short. There’s also been cases of waiting for a certain piece of equipment, due to the shipping delays. Most fans might not notice anything wrong, but I’m the kind of guy who might see a lightbulb out and be disappointed. I’d love to have about 30 extra employees, but we’re managing.”
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Venus nationwide have sought to honor their many postponed 2020 and 2021 dates, while also adding new shows. Booking has been competitive with so many venues swinging back into action. The Music Circus schedule includes many of its longtime favorite acts and genres.
“We like to think the Music Circus is the country place to go,” Longo said. “We have the Brothers Osborne making their only New England stop, Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge – who drops a new album this week – Lyle Lovett hasn’t been here for three years, and Chris Young, who is making his first visit here.
“In other genres like rock, we have the Beach Boys back after four years,” Longo said. “KC and the Sunshine Band is another great one. KC is 78 years old and never stops onstage. Five for Fighting is kind of a new act for us, and the Wailers should be a fun reggae show.
“Tribute shows have proven very popular, but we are very selective, and Rumors, the Fleetwood Mac tribute, was first booked as just the proscenium (fixed) stage on the Cape, but sold so quickly we had to go round (revolving stage) , and it’s their first time in this market. The ELO tribute, the Electric Light Orchestra Experience, has some incredible videos and they are the real thing, with their own orchestra and light show. , and we are also bringing in Queen and Led Zeppelin tributes too.
Traditionally, the Cape Cod Melody Tent, not located in a residential area, can venture into louder, more adventurous bookings, and this year it offers The Little River Band and the Yacht Rock Revue, as well as Scituate’s Dalton and the Sheriffs, and a lot of comedy, among their exclusive shows.
“Yacht Rock Revue is heading for a sellout,” Longo said. “We love those Scituate guys, Dalton and the Sheriffs. We also have Amy Schumer, and while we have hosted about three different members of the Marley family for reggae, the one we have coming this year is (New Hampshire) comedian Bob Marley. He’s been one of the biggest surprises so far, selling so fast we had to add a second show. People really love him.”
For tickets to concerts at the South Shore Music Circus, call 781-383-9850 or go to themusiccircus.org.
East Bridgewater Commercial Club
The Commercial Club in East Bridgewater, off Route 18, north of the town center, has a history of hosting music inside and out. Some of us have very fond memories of hearing John Lincoln Wright and his Sour Mash Boys there. Now a new group of local promoters is unveiling “Rockin’ Summer,” a weekend series of concerts, most going from 1 to 6 pm and all reasonably priced in the $20 to $25 range, and running until Oct. 16.
Lifelong music fan Susie Cullen got into the music business kind of accidentally, when some struggling musicians asked her to help manage their band. While that first experience may have reminded her of herding cats, she liked it and soon tried promoting shows too. Now she’s allied with Upper Entertainment, a new South Shore promotional firm that includes Hanover’s Bobby Anderson, surely one of the region’s busiest music devotees. Aside from promoting and hosting a monthly show on WATD radio, Anderson is a versatile musician, representing half of the acoustic duo 53 South, helming the rock band Gunpowder and Lead, and leading the Led Zeppelin tribute act Zepphoria.
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The East Bridgewater series has eight concerts scheduled so far, with a sterling combination of New England favorites this Saturday, when the James Montgomery Band headlines with special guests Charlie Farren and Jon Butcher, with 53 South opening the show. Saturday’s kickoff event begins at noon, and tickets are $25 (available through Eventbrite.com or at the club, and there are VIP upgrades available) and is 21-plus. There is plenty of free parking nearby, and a dedicated motorcycle lot. Fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, but no outside coolers are allowed, and food and drink is available at the Commercial Club.
The series continues July 10 with John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, the Narragansett, Rhode Island, band that became national stars with the 1983 hit movie “Eddie and the Cruisers.” Now in their fifth decade, the Beaver Brown Band is a New England legend, and South Shore homeboys Gunpowder & Lead open the show.
Cullen’s main management client these days is Danny Klein’s Full House, the excellent J. Geils Band tribute that features its founding member in bassist Klein. Besides a standout group of musicians, including “Rosey” Rosenblatt on harmonica, fans know that Klein’s stylish and sometimes outrageous suits are often worth the price of admission. The Full House show is scheduled for July 24 and carries a ticket price of $20, with Whiskey Saints opening.
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The first three shows offers chances to win guitars autographed by the headliners. The guitars were donated by Paul Kinch, and a different charity benefits each time, with Cops for Kids with Cancer receiving the first week’s proceeds. The Beaver Brown show’s proceeds go to Rawkstars, while the Danny Klein’s Full House show’s proceeds are earmarked for Taunton’s Broken Chains Biker Church, and their sober house, Barracks 22.
Later shows at the Commercial Club include East Coast Alice (an Alice Cooper tribute) on Aug. 7; LoVeSeXy a tribute to the music of Prince, on Aug. 21; Monsta Country Rock Band on Sept. 11; The American Who on Oct. 2; and Zepphoria (the Led Zepplin tribute) on Oct. 16.
Dierks Bentley among notable shows this week
Country 102.5 offers a hot country show this Friday at The Xfinity Center with Dierks Bentley and Ashley McBryde, among others. The Doobie Brothers arrive at the Mansfield concert shed Saturday. Saturday also finds Machine Gun Kelly at TD Garden. Closer to home, New England treasure Duke Robillard is at Plymouth’s Spire Center Saturday night, and he’s got yet another roots-rockin’ delight of a new album out too.
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