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Star-studded Summer Nights Shine

By June 30, 2014Front Page

Abridged from June 2014 Connections, Arts and Entertainment writers, Molly and Marty Fisher, Ashland Park

M n M Concert Picks

Summer stars don’t just appear in our skies; they shine on stages all over the area.

Since our first summer in Issaquah in 1998, this has become one of our favorite annual rituals. Like kids counting the days until their birthdays, we hardly can contain ourselves waiting for our favorite venues to announce their summer lineups. Impatiently, we scan the internet for the concert postings beginning in April, conspiring with our friends about who we want to see, how many shows we’ll attend, what we’ll bring to eat, and the lengths we’ll go to buy, trade, or beg for tickets.

The wish list usually starts out comically long, but our ever-present reality check – the budget – hangs over our heads like winter storm clouds, turning the list into a collision of dollars and sense.

That’s because it’s not just the music that makes these concerts so much fun. It’s the combination of the food, the friends, and the furnishings that make them such fabulous occasions. And after a dark, wet winter, they’re the perfect reason for coming out of hibernation.

There’s also a lot more to this than just buying tickets, showing up for the concerts, and sitting on the lawn. When we do it, we go all the way (O.K. maybe a little too far, but why not?), planning mouth-watering menus and schlepping coolers of food, roll-up tables for just the right presentation, low-back, comfy chairs, and metal spike beverage holders that get pushed into the ground for easy liquid access. We even put together a soundtrack of the bands we’re seeing to listen to in the car going to and from the concerts.

It’s a crazy, expensive, exhausting process that never seems to get old.

Our goal is to get to at least one concert at each of several outdoor venues. Chateau Ste. Michelle is our favorite. How can you not love a place that sits in a lush, green valley with gorgeous sunsets where the wine flows at really reasonable prices with world-class shows and is just 30 minutes from home? We also like Marymoor Park and the Woodland Park Zoo.

The Gorge is reserved for special shows since it takes a lot more planning and sometimes even an overnight adventure to make it work. Every once in a while the White River Amphitheatre has a great show, like Santana on August 1, that makes the long, slow trek south worth it. We love to do the Puyallup (now the Washington State Fair) to end the summer fun with a scone and a song.

Last summer, our favorite show was Paul McCartney at Safeco Field. It was the perfect combination of a surprisingly good venue, an amazing performer (more than three hours!), and a magnificent Northwest summer night. This summer we’ll go back to see Beyonce and JAY Z..

Closer to home, there are the Issaquah Parks and Recreation concerts on Tuesdays outside the Issaquah Community Center and the City of Sammamish concerts on Thursdays at Pine Lake Park. Both series are family-friendly and dog-friendly, making them the perfect “just-because” nights out. Programming begins in July.

Gather your friends and make plans now to catch some sizzling summer sounds!

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