When I phoned Christine Wiersema, executive director of the Idaho Botanical Garden, she hadn’t even begun tugging down the 300,000-plus lights that decorate Winter Garden aGlow. The holiday display only closed last weekend.
But I knew Wiersema would be ready to talk summer.
For outdoor venues such as the Garden and its 4,000-capacity Outlaw Field, concert season already is heating up.
“I’ve got emails going back and forth every day about ‘Will you approve this band or that band?’ ” Wiersema said. “There’s a lot of bands on tour this year. I can tell you that.”
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Music to my ears. Here’s a peek into what we might expect in 2016. May is only four months away ...
Outlaw Field: Booming, and boomer, paradise?
Since launching the Outlaw Field summer series, the Idaho Botanical Garden has grown into Boise’s premier outdoor concert destination.
Wiersema plans to stay the course in 2016.
“It’ll look exactly what it’s looked like for the last seven years,” Wiersema says. “Our goal is that.”
You’ll still be able to tote in a picnic. There still will be food vendors and wine and beer sold. But there will be a heavy focus on local craft beer and wine. (Too bad Payette’s Outlaw IPA got a name change.)
The Garden and newly contracted promoter CMoore Live have a 10-concert deal. But there’s wiggle room. “If it gets to 10 and there’s some amazing artist who happens to fall in our lap, we can push it to 11,” Wiersema promised.
So who will the performers be? Mums the word. (Yo, it’s a flower garden.) Wiersema did say that baby boomers should be “very happy.” But, as usual, the Garden hopes to appeal to a variety of demographics.
“We have artists on hold that have never been to Boise before,” Wiersema said. “So we’re looking at that as an exciting opportunity.”
The first Outlaw Field shows could be announced within a couple of weeks.
New outdoor series
For the first time, promoter Knitting Factory Presents is not booking the Outlaw Field shows.
Instead, Knitting Factory plans to create an entirely new summer concert series. It will be at a still-undisclosed Treasure Valley venue — “a new location that will make everyone really happy,” Knitting Factory president Mark Dinerstein revealed via email.
We should expect more details in February.
Warped Tour returning
The Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater hosted seven music-related events last summer.
“That number will be 10-plus this year,” new general manager Tim Savona predicted.
Promoter CTTouring plans to present two or three festivals and two or three concerts there, owner Creston Thornton said. Savona said Nampa’s amphitheater also will experiment with ways to offer smaller, perhaps 3,000-capacity shows while making them feel fun and intimate.
Yet the huge, grassy bowl will always have the ability to do 8,000- to 10,000-capacity events. And I’m sure that’s what organizers are dreaming about when the Warped Tour returns to Boise on Aug. 11. (Boise is the city listed at VansWarpedTour.com. I say it’s Nampa.) It will be the festival’s first Idaho visit since 2011, following a 14-year run at the Idaho Center Amphitheater. (And one year at Garden City’s Les Bois Park before that.)
So is Warped hitting the Idaho Center? Savona offered an amiable “no comment.”
Well, shucks, maybe it will trample through the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Outlaw Field instead?
“I can confirm it’s not the Garden,” Christine Wiersema said with a laugh. “I can’t even imagine how many phone calls I’d have the next day.”
Let’s put it this way: If Warped winds up somewhere besides the Idaho Center Amphitheater, I’ll get a mohawk.
Alive After 5: But where?
Will construction ever freaking end in Downtown Boise?
Absolutely not. But hard hats around The Grove Plaza will vanish eventually. And when they do, there will be more shade, new bricks, a spiffier fountain and an improved atmosphere for Alive After Five.
But maybe not this summer. Alive After Five definitely will happen, promises new Downtown Boise Association executive director Lynn Hightower. And it will be Downtown. But she doesn’t even want to guess what the odds are that the free Wednesday music series will be in its normal spot: 50/50?
“I can’t even go there,” she said.
It hinges on construction timelines, which can be squirrely.
“Our desire is to hold it back on the Plaza, where it’s always been. ... But really, the bottom line is, what’s going to be best for the thousands of people who enjoy this year after year?”
Hightower hopes to have an answer within a few weeks. If Alive After Five needs to move temporarily, I say we try Capitol Park. Heck, kick it off with a mid-summer New Year’s Eve potato drop. It won’t be nearly as cold in June.
Michael Deeds: @michaeldeeds