Meijer Gardens’ announcement of its 2023 summer concert series generated a buzz in April with Nickel Creek, Ben Folds, Peter Frampton and more. What was your favorite ’23 Meijer Gardens show?
EDITOR’S NOTE: No. 18 on our Top 20 countdown of top stories of the year was Meijer Garden’s announcement of its 2023 summer series. Plus, that mid-April story included a link to a list of fans’ favorite Meijer Gardens shows. So, what was your favorite concert of 2023? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your pick or add it to the comments section below.
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Concertgoers flooding the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park amphitheater last summer were treated to more than just the ‘usual suspects’ and returning favorites such as Lyle Lovett, Michael Franti, O.A.R., The Beach Boys and Trombone Shorty.
The 2023 lineup boasted first-time appearances by critically acclaimed acts The Revivalists, First Aid Kit, Train and internationally revered guitar whiz Tommy Emmanuel, Meijer Gardens announced in mid-April. (A scheduled concert by Orville Peck was later canceled.)
Not only that, but the 2023 series featured the return of several artists who hadn’t played the amphitheater in years, including bluegrass heroes Nickel Creek (who kicked off the series June 8), rock guitar legend Peter Frampton (who recently came out of retirement), and pianist Ben Folds (who performed with the Grand Rapids Symphony).
Kalamazoo progressive bluegrass powerhouse Greensky Bluegrass also returned to the amphitheater, this time playing a headlining show on June 28, two days after performing at Interlochen Center for the Arts.
“We’ve always wanted to find a way to introduce artists into the lineup that may not be specific to any one thing,” said Chris Mautz, the Utah promoter who books the Meijer Gardens series.
“We’re really trying to be mindful and selective and stick to what we know. The really gratifying thing is (that artists and managers in the industry) believe in us and want to be part of it.”
While Mautz said Meijer Gardens will always “have some of that comfort food that comes back that people love to have and see,” the series also showcased indie acts – such as Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit and Canadian pop duo Tegan & Sara – and emerging artists who haven’t appeared at the venue.
“We wanted to make sure that we reach out to other members of the musical audience when we can and introduce that music to our core audience,” Mautz said.
Discounted tickets went on sale to Meijer Gardens members on April 22 and many shows sold out quickly.
The average public ticket price of $72.90 for the 2023 series was about $1 less than the average price in 2022.
Mautz raved about bringing back Americana songwriter Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit. Isbell played to just over 1,000 fans at Meijer Gardens back in 2014 and has since become a prominent, much-admired performer and tunesmith.
“To see what he has done in terms of this reputation among musicians is so staggering. His live shows are legendary,” Mautz said. “People travel all over to see him.”
Mautz also pointed to other standout shows in the series, including the Meijer Gardens debut of crossover artist Maren Morris, guitar virtuoso Emmanuel who’s touring with another virtuoso, Jerry Douglas, an August appearance by the “dynamic” Joss Stone, and The Swell Season, featuring singer-songwriters Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.
From Brandi Carlile to John Prine to Gov’t Mule to The Avett Brothers. Local Spins readers chose their favorite Meijer Gardens shows as part of an early 2023 ‘Question of the Week.’ Check out more than 150 of their responses online here. What was your favorite 2023 Meijer Gardens concerts? Add your pick to the comments below.
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