Dave Matthews Band
7 p.m. June 5, Riverbend Music Center, 6295 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati. $37-$81.50. 1-800-745-3000.
After 25 years of regional concert visits, it has become difficult to imagine summertime without the Dave Matthews Band.
Sure, there are loads of acts like the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett that ultimately oversell their summery stance. Matthews has never played to any of that. His songs aren't even fun-in-the-sun tunes. He also regularly tours throughout the year, with the band's only Lexington visits coming in late fall (by way of Rupp Arena shows in 1996 and 1998).
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But summer after summer, Matthews and his mates (seven members, minus guests) hit the road with a sound as big and expansive as the outdoor venues they play. Invariably, the seasonal trek takes them through Riverbend in Cincinnati, where they will perform Friday.
It already has been an eventful year for the band. On May 8, it made its 13th and final appearance on Late Show With David Letterman. The taping also included a full length performance for the show's Legends on Letterman series that was streamed live online. It is still available for viewing at Cbs.com/davematthewsband.
Coincidentally, Matthews and the other two guests on the May 8 broadcast — comedians Ray Romano and Brian Regan — all made their network television debuts on Letterman's show in 1995.
The band's summer tour also will include a pair of performances (July 3 and 4 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) with Béla Fleck sitting in. The banjo star and one-time Lexingtonian has a long history with the band. He and his fusion group The Flecktones have opened many times for Matthews (including the '98 Rupp show), while Flecktone saxophonist Jeff Coffin was hired as a permanent replacement for DMB co-founder LeRoi Moore, who died in 2008 after an ATV accident.
New music is said to be in the works, too. One unreleased tune, Black and Bluebird, debuted during the Legends on Letterman performance.
But recordings and what little airplay the band receives have never fully represented the scale of the Matthews Band's performance sound, especially when it launches into one of its mammoth jams.
"Radio just gives a pretty one-sided view," Matthews told Rolling Stone magazine recently. "We are cursed and blessed with the fact that if you want to see what the band is like and get to know us, then you have to see us live or at least listen."
If you're heading to Riverbend for the Matthews Band's latest summer outing, arrive on time. There is no scheduled opening act.
Loneso me return
We'll detail most of the doings at the Festival of the Bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park next weekend. But the annual string music marathon actually gets underway Thursday with the return of Lonesome River Band.
Banjoist/bandleader Sammy Shelor and company were absent from the festival in 2014 for the first time in many years due to a scheduling conflict, but they made it to Lexington a few days before the event for a Best of Bluegrass show at Natasha's.
This year, the band is back to its Thursday headlining spot at the festival (7 p.m.; $15 for Thursday admission, $110 for the full weekend) with a fine new album, Turn on a Dime, to showcase.
"The Festival of the Bluegrass is one of the top festivals of the year for excitement and energy from a crowd," Shelor said in a press statement last week. "The Ragheads (one of the festival's regular groups of campers and attendees) lead the charge, and it makes for one of our best shows of the year. Great facilities, great production, great crowd."
Go to Festivalofthebluegrass.com. for more information.