Timing is a challenge when assembling a guide to outdoor mountain-town concerts and music festivals.
If you publish too early, some of the events won’t have been announced yet. If you wait too long? A few of them pass by. So with apologies to early birds — come on, June is way too early for a mountain concert — here’s the annual guide. You’ll notice a couple of newcomers this year, including The Huckleberry Jam at Tamarack Resort. (That one should get the neo-hippie crowd twirling in ecstasy.) The McCall Jazz Festival has found a new home at Brundage Mountain Resort — which formerly hosted the Idaho-Down, which is taking the year off. And what happened to the EDM festival MASSV supposedly returning to Idaho in 2015?
No worries. There are plenty of options. Dust off your camping gear and start planning the soundtrack to your Idaho summer.
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Mountain Music Sleepover
July 10 and 11, Atlanta, Facebook.com/mountainmusicsleepover
In the mood for a remote Idaho camping weekend, but with tunes and friends? This fourth annual event in Atlanta, population around 40, is your ticket. In fact, you don’t need a ticket; it’s free. It’s been increased to two days this year (music is indoors the first night) and features more than a dozen area acts ranging from a.k.a. Belle to Fleet Street Klezmer Band. Need an ATM? Sorry, there aren’t any. So bring cash to purchase goodies from vendors. Oh, and fill your gas tank in Idaho City on the way up. Running out is a buuuuummer.
Summer Music Festival at Roseberry
July 16-18, about a mile east of Donnelly, thesummermusicfestival.com
It’s time to party in Valley County’s first established town. This long-running festival, presented by the McCall Folklore Society, is family-friendly and laid back. Thursday night features locals. Touring acts play Friday (Finnders & Youngberg, Matt Flinner Trio, Yarn) and Saturday (Innocent Man, Dead Winter Carpenters, Dangermuffin). Oh, and by “laid back,” we mean, yes, you can bring a stocked (but modest-sized) cooler to this festival. (Or buy food and drink there.) But, no, you definitely can’t camp on site.
July 19-26, mccallmusicsociety.org
This week-long series of classical chamber music and jazz from McCall Music Society is mostly indoors, but a couple of events are outside. The Brass Quintet will perform July 21 at Brundage Mountain as part of a music and dinner event, and jazz pianist Ted Rosenthal and Trio, and jazz singer Pamela DeMarche & Friends, will perform July 24 at Tamarack Resort.
Northern Rockies Music Festival
July 31 and Aug. 1, Hop Porter Park, Hailey, northernrockiesmusicfestival.com
Formerly called the Northern Rockies Folk Festival, this party near Big Wood River has blossomed into a showcase of musical diversity. The Friday lineup features Honey Island Swamp Band, Jeff Crosby and the Refugees, and Grove Valve Orchestra. Saturday includes Carolyn Wonderland, The Polyrhythmics, Tylor Bushman and the Train Robbers, Sammy Brue and Andrew Sheppard. Add food, drink and art vendors to the mix, and you’ve cooked up a good time in a scenic setting.
Yellow Pine Music and Harmonica Festival
July 31-Aug. 2, Yellow Pine, yellowpinemusicandharmonicafestival.org
Dear webmaster: There are approximately the same number of letters in your festival’s URL as there are people living in your town. Yet this backwoods bash has become near-legendary during its quarter-century-plus of existence. It’s not just about driving 150 miles north of Boise to hear killer harmonica jams, either. You’ll find all sorts of great musicians of all ages. Be ready to rough it, but know that fires will not be allowed in the free camping areas in the nearby surrounding woods.
Mountain Home Country Music Festival
July 31-Aug. 2, Elmore County about 30 miles up Idaho 20 from Mountain Home, mountainhomefestival.com
OK, this isn’t exactly a mountain-town event. But, hey, it has the word “mountain” in its name, and it’s in a rural area. Plus, it has the biggest-name lineup by far of any festival in this article: Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Thompson Square, Lonestar, Sara Evans, Parmalee — the list goes on. You can camp on site, and organizers are hoping for 20,000 or more fans to witness the more than 20 acts (not including locals). Yo, tailgaters: Alcohol technically is banned in the camping and parking areas, but if you’re discreet, you’ll be OK, organizers say.
Braun Brothers Reunion Festival
Aug. 6-8, Challis, braunbrothersreunion.com
Americana rockers Reckless Kelly are back with family and friends for this popular annual celebration. It’s a destination event for country, bluegrass and red-dirt music fans. Thursday lineup: Micky and the Motorcars, Wade Bowen, Band of Heathens, American Aquarium. Friday: Turnpike Troubadours, Peterson Brothers Band, Chris Hillman/Herb Pedersen, Jason Eady/BBR Jam Band, Eilen Jewell. Saturday: Reckless Kelly, Cody Canada and the Departed, Shinyribs, Corb Lund, guitar pull, Braun Family and guests. There’s free shuttle service to nearby lodging and RV/camping spots.
The Huckleberry Jam
Aug. 14 and 15, Tamarack Resort, Donnelly, thehuckleberryjam.com
Jam-band time! With nine acts over two days, plus festival camping at the Donnelly Airport, this has the makings of mountain-festival nirvana. Friday’s bill: The Ballroom Thieves, The Motet, North Mississippi Allstars and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Saturday’s bill: Anders Osborne, Pimps of Joytime, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Brett Dennen, and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. Two more acts, Fruition and Shook Twins, also will perform Thursday at the campground for early arrivals. (Camping is free on that night, too.) Organizers would love to attract a few thousand fans, but this event should feel intimate nevertheless.
Sawtooth Valley Gathering
Aug. 21 and 22, Pioneer Park, Stanley, sawtoothvalleygathering.com
This two-day event includes Hot Buttered Rum, Dead Winter Carpenters, Blue Lotus, Free Peoples and more. Camping is available.
McCall Jazz Festival
Sept. 12, Brundage Mountain Resort, brundage.com
Take a load off at the ski resort’s grassy amphitheater with singer Curtis Stigers, who will host this benefit for The Shepherd’s Home in McCall and Interfaith Sanctuary in Boise. With a multi-act lineup highlighted by spectacular guitarist Bill Frisell, this is a serious jazz experience. It’s also a chance to enjoy daytime mountain views as summer temperatures start to cool for fall. If you show up early, you can even take a chairlift ride on Bluebird Express.
Sun Valley Pavilion
The covered Sun Valley Pavilion seats nearly 1,500 concertgoers, providing protection from the elements — yet a gorgeous setting. The Sun Valley Summer Symphony dominates the calendar July 26-Aug. 19, highlighted by its Gala on Aug. 2 with Audra McDonald. Visit svsummersymphony.org for more information. Two non-symphonic Pavilion concerts are definitely worth noting, too: Kenny Loggins (Aug. 22) and Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (Sept. 4). Go to sunvalley.com for more about those.
River Run Lodge
John Butler Trio kicked off this three-band series in June, but you can still catch two more acts: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (Aug. 3) and Wilco (Aug. 16).
Stanley Concert Series
It’s tough to beat the Sawtooth Range for breathtaking scenery. This series of outdoor concerts will make it rock even more: Uncle Lucius, Radio Birds, other openers (July 11), Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Black Lilies, openers (Aug. 29), Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons, Jeff Crosby, openers (Sept. 5 and 6) and Whiskey Myers, Mike and the Moonpies (Sept. 12). Concerts begin around 6 p.m. in the field east of the Stanley High Country Inn. You’ll be able to buy grub, beer and liquor on site.
Music at Redfish
Redfish Lake Lodge, Stanley, redfishlake.com
There are lots of opportunities to check out local and touring acts at Redfish Lake Lodge — so many, in fact, that we’re not going to list them here. You’ll find free live music on the front lawn from 5 to 7 p.m. Sundays as part of the Music From Stanley series (through Sept. 6), as well as performances from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays (through Aug. 12) and Fridays (through Aug. 28). Note: You can’t bring outside food and beverage. Hit the website for a music schedule and full details.