Your Best Bets guide to Downstate summer entertainment

Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band drummer Max Weinberg hits the Big Chill Beach Club with an all-request show in August. (Submitted photo)

As we come to the unofficial start of the summer season, it’s time to look ahead to the music, festivals and fun that await downstate from now until Labor Day.

•Leading off the music festival scene is June Jam, which will celebrate its 40th year June 9 at the G&R Campground in Houston.

To mark that milestone, “Best of June Jam” will feature bands that were a fan favorite or has a member that has been a longtime favorite.

The groups Hyde Park and Furious George will reunite along with 1980s favorite Tommy Conwell and Johnny Neel.

Local bands lower case blues, Shades of August and Triple Rail Turn will also perform.

•Later that week is the four-day Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands of Dover.

In its seventh year, this year’s event is headlined by Arctic Monkeys on June 15, Eminem June 16 and Kendrick Lamar June 17.

Other acts on the bill include The Killers, Lil Wayne, Big Gigantic, Logic, Odesza, SZA, Jimmy Eat World and Dover’s Amillion the Poet and Champagne Gang.

•Smyrna at Night will be back for another year of food and music around town on June 29.

This year’s headliner is Adam Wakefield from Nashville. He was runner-up on Season 10 of the hit NBC talent show “The Voice.”.

Other acts announced Thursday for the festival, which drew 4,000 to downtown Smyrna last year, include Highway 309, Scot Sax & Suzie Brown, Best Kept Secret, Cecilia Grace and Sara Ann Garrison.

Produced by Gable Music Ventures of Wilmington, Smyrna at Night will feature a biergarten, games for the kids and much more. Gable is also bringing its popular Ladybug Festival to Milford on Sept. 22. The all-female music festival has been running in Wilmington for several years and is slated upstate for July 20 and 21.

•The Central Delaware Blues Society will hold its annual Roadhouse Bluesfest on July 21 at Jonathan’s Landing in Magnolia.

This year’s event is headlined by Washington D.C.-based blues band The Nighthawks. It will also feature Harper and the Midwest Kind, Sean Chambers, Skyla Burrell, Barrelhouse and The Jon Hay Band.

For tickets and more information, visit centraldelawareblues.com.

Best Kept Secret will play the Blue Earl Brewing Food Truck Throwdown on Aug. 4. (Submitted photo)

•Blue Earl Brewing in Smyrna will host the annual Red White & Blues Party on June 7 featuring Nate McCormick, Dr. Harmonica & Rockett 88 and Party Fowl; the second annual Food Truck Throwdown on Aug. 4 with more than 12 food trucks competing for the Blue Earl Cup and music by Blues Reincarnation Project, Best Kept Secret and Montana Wildaxe; and the third annual Beers Rims & Notes on Sept. 1, featuring a car show, food trucks and live music.

Concert series

A summer staple for many years has been weekly free concerts put on by municipalities and agencies.

Joe Trainor leads The Rock Orchestra in a night of Beatles music as part of the first Smyrna Summer Concert Series. (Submitted photo)

•This year a new one has been added to the slate with the addition of the Smyrna Summer Concert Series.

Again produced by Gable and presented by the town of Smyrna, all performances, with the exception of the first one, will be at George C. Wright Jr. Municipal Park on North Main Street, north of Route 300.

The series will run every Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 through Aug. 15, with the only week off being July 4.

The series opens with Wilmington reggae band Spokey Speakey Wednesday night on the beach at Lake Como.

It goes to the park June 6 with The Rock Orchestra performing the music of The Beatles.

The series will span the gamut of jazz, rock, soul and country, including Smyrna favorite Lovebettie on June 20, local band Country by Night Aug. 1 and Beatles reggae band Yellow Dubmarine on Aug. 15.

•The longtime Dover Concerts on the Green kicks for another summer on Thursday night and every Thursday until Sept. 6 starting at 7 p.m.

It starts with Caroline Hermance, who plays ukelele and piano with a range of covers and original songs, Thursday and continues throughout the summer with artists such as The Honeycombs June 28, R&B’s Evolution Orange July 19, jazz band The Vaughn Bratcher Project Aug. 9, rock’s Wall of Cain Aug. 16 and blues groups Bad Avenue Aug. 30 and Bad Juju Sept. 6.

In case of inclement weather, call 736-7155.

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Mike Hines and The Look will kick off the Kent County Public Library’s Summer Arts in the Park starting Wednesday. (Submitted photo)

•Kent County Public Library’s Summer Arts in the Park starts Wednesday at Brecknock County Park in Camden, 80 Old Camden Road, with the ubiquitous Mike Hines and the Look at 6:30 p.m. and running every Wednesday with the exception of July 4 until Aug. 15 when it features Elvis Presley impersonator Bob Lougheed at the library.

At the park, June 6 continues with The Funsters with June 20 seeing Illusions by Vick, the Smooth Sounds Dance Band on July 11 and juggler Cascading Carlos on Aug. 1.

The status of events will be available on Facebook page (search “KCPLibrary”) or by calling 744-1919 after 4 p.m.

•Milton’s Memorial Park will be filled with the sound of music this summer. The Smooth Sound Dance Band will kick it off Wednesday at 7 p.m. Smooth Sound performs music from the 1940s and newer.

Other Wednesday night shows include The First State Symphonic Band on June 20, The U.S. Navy Commodores on July 25 and the U.S. Navy Cruisers on Aug. 22. The series goes until Aug. 29.

•Delaware State Parks have a series of free concerts as well. The first one gets underway this weekend with lower case blues Saturday night at Trap Pond State Park’s Baldcypress Nature Center in Laurel. It runs every Saturday night at 6:30 until Aug. 4 and then again with a special show Sept. 1 with gospel group The Reminders.

•The series at Killens Pond State Park in Felton starts on June 15 with folk rockers Stone Jack Ballers at 6:30 p.m. It runs every Friday until Aug. 10 when it will feature Celtic Harvest.

•Holts Landing State Park in Millsboro will feature the acoustic music of Smilin Drake starting June 19. It will feature music Tuesdays until Aug. 14 when it ends with classic rock’s Twice Removed.

Fair frenzy

•The focal point of any downstate summer is the Delaware State Fair. This year’s 99th edition is set for July 19-28 on the fairgrounds in Harrington.

Along with its usual assortment of food, rides and attractions, this year’s concert lineup includes Toby Keith with Sussex County’s own Jimmie Allen on July 19, country’s Brett Eldredge on July 20, the craft beer festival with tribute bands Bruce in the USA and The Eagles Experience on July 21, country’s Chris Young on July 22, ventriloquist Jeff Dunham on July 23 and contemporary Christian artist Lauren Daigle on July 24.

The fair has also started concerts at the Quillen Arena with the first one slated for June 2 featuring country superstar Kane Brown. That show is sold out but another concert is promised for the fall.

At the beach

Philadelphia R&B trio Boyz II Men plays The Freeman Stage on July 12. (Submitted photo)

•The summer should be filled with trips to the beach where the stars will be shining brightest at The Freeman Stage near Fenwick Island.

Over 70 programs are scheduled starting with a free Locals Under the Lights event featuring area performers on Thursday.

The concerts continue June 1 with a sold-out show by music legend Smokey Robinson.

Shows of note with tickets still available include Alison Krauss (June 9), The Wailers (June 15), Chris Janson (June 22), Lee Brice (July 5), Jeff Foxworthy (July 7), Boyz II Men (July 12), Pat Benatar and Rick Springfield (July 23), Mary Chapin Carpenter (July 28), Gin Blossoms (Aug. 2), The Beach Boys (Aug. 3), O.A.R. (Aug. 9), Vince Gill (Aug. 11), Trombone Shorty (Aug. 16), Postmodern Jukebox (Aug. 18), Michael Bolton (Aug. 31) and Gipsy Kings (Sept. 16).

JJ Grey and Mofro plays the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach on June 20. (Submitted photo/Jay Simon)

•The Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach is ready for a music-packed season.

Their country-heavy lineup includes Brothers Osborne on Tuesday, Aaron Lewis (June 13), Matthew Sweet (June 19), JJ Grey and Mofro (June 20), Frankie Ballard (June 21), Chris Lane (June 29), Maxi Priest (July 1), Granger Smith (July 11), Kix (July 12), The White Panda (July 13), ZZ Ward (July 26), Old Crow Medicine Show (July 27), Scotty McCreery (Aug. 9), Chase Rice (Aug. 10), Eli Young Band (Aug. 16), Lanco (Aug. 19) and Locash (Aug. 30) and The Struts (Sept 6).

•Two shows, both with country artists, are scheduled this season for Hudson Fields, near Milton, along Del. 1.

Singer Jake Owen, who put on a rollicking show at Bottle & Cork last summer, will be back in the area on July 18.

Old Dominion, which played during last year’s inaugural series of Hudson Fields shows, will also return this year on Aug. 23.

The Wheeland Brothers bring their brand of beach rock to the Big Chill Beach Club on July 6. (Submitted photo)

•The Big Chill Beach Club, at the Delaware Seashore State Park, is starting a summer concert series.

The series is highlighted by an appearance by longtime Bruce Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg on Aug. 24 with a show he calls Max Weinberg’s Jukebox.

During the show, Mr. Weinberg, who also was the bandleader for Conan O’Brien for 17 years, invites the audience to create, in real time by request, the set list he and his four-piece group will play that night from a list of 200 songs. Everything from The Beatles to Bruce himself is up for grabs.

Other shows on the schedule this summer are beach rockers The Wheeland Brothers on July 6, country’s Eric Paslay on July 26 and reggae group Pepper on Aug. 8.

•Since 1963, the city of Rehoboth Beach has offered free entertainment at the bandstand for residents and vacationers every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening beginning at 8 each summer.

Performances kick off Saturday night with Desert Highway, paying tribute to The Eagles. Sunday brings local favorite, The Jimi Smooth Band.

The season jumps into full effect on June 15, continuing every weekend until Labor Day weekend with Wilmington’s The Counterfeiters.

Noted groups this year include Mike Hines & the Look, Billy Price Band, The 1974, Central City Orchestra and The Edwin Perez Band. Tribute performances include acts from Real Diamond (Neil Diamond), Gringo Jingo (Santana), Yellow Brick Road (Elton John), The B-Street Band (Bruce Springsteen), Still Surfin’ (Beach Boys) and Larger Than Life – the Ultimate Boy Band Tribute.

Bethany Beach Bandstand also has a full lineup of free concerts each Friday through Sunday in the summer at 7:30 p.m.

Music will kick off June 8 with the country sounds of the Federal Street Band and goes until Sept. 2 with Jesse Garron’s Tribute to Elvis.

Stages set

Area theaters still have plenty to offer this summer.

Jefferson Starship will perform at Dover Downs’ Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center on June 22. (Submitted photo)

•Dover Downs’ Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center will host a pair of shows in the coming months.

Jefferson Airplane, the famed rock ‘n’ roll band that produced eight gold and platinum albums from 1974 and 1984, will perform on Friday, June 22.

The band features original members David Freiberg (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Donny Baldwin (drums) along with longtime members Chris Smith (keyboards, synth bass), Jude Gold (lead guitar) and Grammy nominee Cathy Richardson (vocals and 12-string guitar).

Classic funk group Morris Day and the Time will be in Dover Aug. 10. The group formed in Minneapolis in 1981, and were close associates of Prince. Since the early 1980s, the group has recorded five albums, all of which have hit the top 10 in U.S. R&B charts, including “The Time,” “What Time Is It,” “Ice Cream Castle,” “Pandemonium,” and “Condensate.

•As the town of Smyrna is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, the Smyrna Opera House is getting into the act hosting a concert by the Romford Drum & Trumpet Corps, a youth military-style marching band based in the London borough of Havering in Romford, Essex, England, on July 3.

As one of the oldest independent youth marching bands in the country, it has a history with performances throughout the UK, including marching displays, parades, carnivals and concerts. The band’s music portfolio covers a wide breadth including military marches, film themes, popular music and brass classics, often featuring solos from some of the band’s musicians across the brass, woodwind and percussion sections.

The band will also march in the next day’s Smyrna-Clayton Fourth of July Parade.

Other summer concerts at the opera house include Heritage Winds from the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band on June 10 and popular local bands Nothin But Trouble on June 23 and Reunion on Aug. 10.

•Down at the Milton Theatre, the summer will see a schedule heavy on tribute artists. The slate includes The Beach Boys (tonight), Jimi Hendrix (June 8), Black Sabbath (June 23) Heart (July 14), Buddy Holly (July 14), Joan Rivers and Don Rickles (July 21) Johnny Cash (July 28, The Beatles (Aug. 4) and Abba (Aug. 4).

•Area plays include the Kent County Theatre Guild mounting the Wendy Wasserstein comedy “The Sisters Rosensweig” starting June 22 in Dover; “Shrek: The Musical” beginning July 13 at Milford’s Second Street Players; and Stanton’s Fourth Wall presenting “A Few Good Men” on Aug. 18 at the Smyrna Opera House.

Dover Comic Con is set for Aug. 18 at the Dover Public Library. (Delaware State News file photo)

And finally …

Also of note this summer is the sixth annual Dover Comic Con in and around the Dover Public Library on Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event, which just keeps getting bigger each year, features artists, vendors, authors, cars, panels, crafts, gaming, fan groups and more.

The Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover is celebrating its 25th anniversary all year long.

On display until July 8 is “Rembrandt Etchings: States, Fakes and Restrikes,” showcasing a traveling exhibit of 40 Rembrandt etchings from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joined by Rembrandt’s etchings from University of Arizona Museum of Art.

Starting Aug. 4 will be an exhibit entitled “John James Audubon and His Influence Today” That will run until Nov. 25.

Finally, 13 young women will vie for the title of Miss Delaware June 16 at Cape Henlopen High School starting at 7 p.m. Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will be held June 15 at 7 p.m. also at Cape Henlopen.

Now Showing

New in theaters this weekend is “Solo” A Star Wars Story.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Annihilation.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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