First set of zoo concert dates for 2017 confirmed, with full lineup coming in April
Much as the Oregon Zoo presents a world of natural wonders, so the 2017 Oregon Zoo Summer Concerts offer a far-ranging array of musical marvels, from influential Americana to Croatian classical crossover to a Brazilian take on Bowie.
In 1979, the Oregon Zoo — then called the Washington Park Zoo — became the first zoo in America to host a summer concert series. Since then the annual slate of shows has become a quintessential part of summer in the Rose City, with a wide variety of top artists performing in a beautiful and relaxing setting. Regular zoo admission is included for the day of the show.
Wednesday, June 21: Seu Jorge - The Life Aquatic: A Tribute to David Bowie
From an upbringing in the crowded favelas outside Rio de Janeiro, the singer and multi-instrumentalist Seu Jorge has risen to international renown, carrying on the smooth, sophisticated musical legacy of such Brazilian forebears as Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben. He has collaborated with such disparate artists as the pop experimentalist Beck and the hip-hop activist Talib Kweli, but he has made his greatest mark appearing in the 2004 Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, performing beautifully silky acoustic versions of early David Bowie songs translated into Portuguese. He played a show of his Bowie renditions in Portland last November at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
Friday, June 23: John Prine
Nearly a half-century ago, John Prine burst onto the American music scene with a debut album that led critics to hail him as yet another "next Bob Dylan," on the basis of such trenchant songs as "Sam Stone" and "Angel From Montgomery." But while Dylan comparisons sank many a career, Prine proved both enough of a talent and enough of a distinctive artist in his own right that he became an inspiration even to Dylan himself. Prine's emotional incisiveness and wry wit quietly made him one of the most influential songwriters of his generation (and the next), and the gravelly quality that his singing took on after throat-cancer surgery two decades ago seemed only to deepen the impact of his plain-spoken eloquence. In 2005 he won a Grammy for the album Fair & Square and also was named Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards. Now, at age 70, he's still going strong and steady.
Saturday, July 22: 2Cellos
Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser met as teenagers, in a master class for young cellists. After some years of friendly rivalry, they teamed up to apply their chops not just to the classical and chamber music for which they'd trained but to all manner of popular tunes — anything from "Welcome to the Jungle" to "Moon River." Their breakthrough came several years ago with a YouTube video of them performing Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" (which by now has been watched more than 24 million times) and they've gone on to record several albums for the prestigious Sony Masterworks label and to tour with Elton John. Their new album, Score, was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and features their favorite movie music, no doubt performed with the evident energy and emotion that's helped make 2Cellos a crossover sensation.
Sunday, July 23: Natalie Merchant
Quality over quantity seems to be a guiding principle for Natalie Merchant. In a solo career that's lasted nearly a quarter-century — since she left the pioneering folk-meets-indie-rock band 10,000 Maniacs — Merchant has released merely seven albums, and the last of those is a re-recording of the first of them, her 1995 breakthrough, Tigerlily. Yet each new batch of her finely crafted songs has delivered the kind of poetic depth and emotional poignancy to feed the ardor of her passionate fan base.
Wednesday, Aug. 16: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo / Rick Springfield
Gifted with one of the most powerful voices '80s rock had to offer, Pat Benatar became a hard-rocking pop star with such hits as "Heartbreaker," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Love Is a Battlefield." That success owed nearly as much, though, to the tough yet crafty guitar work of her husband, Neil Giraldo, who now gets prime billing. Those with fond memories of Benatar's time on the charts won't have forgotten Springfield, an Australian soap-opera star turned teen idol who became a massive star with the 1981 pop smash "Jessie's Girl."
Saturday, Sept. 9: Mac DeMarco
This young Canadian singer-songwriter has attracted attention with a style as approachable as it is idiosyncratic. So laid back it can almost seem drowsy, DeMarco's sound is a quietly soulful folk-rock sometimes tinged with psychedelia. His previous releases have garnered repeated "Best New Music" designations from the influential music website Pitchfork (as well as being used for Target commercials), and marked him as an intriguing new talent to watch. Now based in Brooklyn, he'll be touring behind a new album, This Old Dog, due out in May.