New music to explore

John Oates will perform on May 23 at Levitt Pavilion Arlington. The pay-for concert will help fund the summer and fall season of free concerts at the venue. (Photo: Levitt Pavilion Arlington)

Ready to explore some new music? Levitt Pavilion Arlington has plenty in store for the Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic & Spine Hospital Summer Concert Season May 17 through July 21. After its 10th anniversary season of “greatest hits” last year, the Levitt has lined up an assortment of newcomers to the pavilion, including several up-and-coming bands destined to be national names.

Some of the new artists coming to the Levitt this summer include Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, the BB King Blues Band featuring Fort Worth’s Michael Lee (who competed on The Voice) and made up of BB King’s musicians and his daughter, Claudette King; The Bright Light Social Hour, the Marshall Crenshaw Trio, international sensations Jenny & the Mexicats, The Black Lillies, and Nakia & the Blues Grifters (a semifinalist on The Voice).

“We especially love bringing in artists who are on the rise,” says Patti Diou, the Levitt’s executive director. “Our audiences get the opportunity to enjoy them before they start selling out arenas, and we can’t afford to book them any more!”

The “bands to watch” who are booked for this summer are the aforementioned The Bright Light Social Hour (currently touring the country with their transcendent, experimental sound) and The Black Lillies (a blend of rock and country) and Blue Water Highway, who performed at the Levitt before and wowed the crowd with their Gulf Coast roots music and three-part harmonies.

The Levitt Pavilion is partnering with a local superstar this summer. Kirk Franklin, 12-time Grammy winner, Arlington resident and owner of a new recording studio in Downtown Arlington, is offering the first Camp Lotus this summer for aspiring singers and songwriters. At the end of their week, Camp Lotus campers will perform on the Levitt stage at 8 p.m. June 22.

“It’s so exciting to be part of Kirk Franklin’s first music camp and provide a venue for these future artists to perform,” says Diou. “Arlington is fortunate to have an artist of Kirk’s standing living and working right here in our community. Working with him and his endeavors is a natural partnership for us.”

The Levitt opens its summer season of free music on May 17, with a familiar face to kick things off, Deryl Dodd, known to his fans as “Double D.” He brings his contemporary Texas sound back to the Levitt at 8 p.m. One of the most anticipated concerts of the summer happens the very next night, May 18, when Motown greats, Rare Earth, bring a bit of nostalgia to the stage with classic hits like “Get Ready” and “I Just Want to Celebrate.” Opening weekend concludes on May 19 with the contagious, shout-along musical mayhem that is The Soul Rebels and their NOLA-inspired sound.

The Levitt National Tour makes its way through Arlington on June 29, when the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation presents Latin Grammy winners and the all-female mariachi sensation, Flor de Toloache. The New York-based ensemble continues to win the hearts of both contemporary and traditional mariachi music fans alike with their soaring vocals, plush harmonies and genre-busting fusions of mariachi, jazz, salsa and pop and their sophisticated, fresh interpretation of mariachi classics.

Returning artists this summer include the Cosmic Cowboy himself, Michael Martin Murphey, Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis, Ram Herrera, The Vandoliers, The Unlikely Candidates, Zane Williams, Del Castillo and the Texas psych/pop choir, The Polyphonic Spree.

The 2019 Summer Concert Season calendar is available on the Levitt’s website, levittpavilionarlington.org, and on its free mobile app, Levitt Arlington.

Although more than 50 concerts at the Levitt are free, producing them is not, including paying the professional artists who perform there. To help with the expenses, Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic & Spine Hospital presents John Oates (of Hall & Oates) with the Good Road Band for a special Thursday night concert to start Memorial Day weekend on May 23. Oates is half of the best-selling rock duo of all time, but is also a phenomenal songwriter and solo artist with music he describes as “Dixieland, dipped in bluegrass salted with Delta blues.”

He’s sure to offer some of his more famous Hall & Oates songs during the evening as well. John Oates & the Good Road Band requires a ticket purchase. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $75 for reserved VIP seats and are on sale now through the Levitt’s website, levittpavilionarlington.org. Proceeds from the concert will help pay for more than 50 free concerts in 2019.

If you’re leery of the “My”Abram construction that continues in Downtown Arlington, it didn’t deter more than 100,000 music-lovers from getting to the Levitt last summer. The key is planning ahead. The Levitt’s website will have the latest street closings under Your Visit, then Directions & Parking. The best tool is the driving app, Waze. The City of Arlington has partnered with Waze to give drivers the best experience possible to get around town. Drivers can download Waze for free at www.waze.com/get for iOS and Android and see real-time traffic, find optimal routes, avoid road closures and more. The app will lead you straight to the Levitt using the quickest, easiest route.

Levitt Pavilion Arlington is located at 100 W. Abram St. in the heart of the Arlington Cultural District. Audiences are seated on an open lawn and can bring lawn chairs and blankets, picnics, and coolers with beverages for the free concerts. Concessions are sold at the pavilion, including beer and wine. All concerts are free and family friendly except for John Oates & the Good Road Band, which requires a ticket purchase.

The Levitt has a 24-hour information line at 817-543-4301 for weekly concert information and information should the weather turn iffy. The Levitt is also active on Facebook and Twitter during concert season.