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Red Butte Gardens Brings Eclectic Sounds of Summer

May 31, 2019 10:49AM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Located at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, the Red Butte Ampitheater brings its A-game for day-and night-time concert viewing. (Red Butte Gardens Ampitheater)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]

Few things say (or would it be sing?) “summer” like Red Butte Garden’s jam-packed summer concert series.

Red Butte Garden, a 100-acre botanical garden, holds an outdoor concert series at the Red Butte Garden Ampitheater, co-located at the University of Utah campus, at the foothills of the Wasatch Range.

31 acts, starting on the 31st stand spanning all days of the week, genres, genders

Summer officially begins at Red Butte Friday, May 31, when banjo-reimagining musicians Béla Fleck and the Flecktones kick off not just Red Butte’s season but their own summer concert tour.

Thirty-one is an apt date for Red Butte’s concert kickoff, inasmuch that the outdoor concert series offers 31 performances to cram Salt Lake County residents’ datebooks. And, Friday the 31st sounds way better for a good time than say, perhaps, Friday the 13th? 

Critics would agree that the Red Butte concert series knows no bounds in terms of musical variety. The same can be said of its schedule: Concerts are, literally, offered each day of the week, deliciously sprinkled throughout the summertime, wrapping up Monday, Sept. 23, with viral-borne Australian soloist Tash Saltana pairing with Australian musical colleagues, the “Millennial Motown” sound of the Teskey Brothers.  

Artists are a delightful mix of genres and genders—rife with plenty of bending in all directions—as well as solo-shows and unique pairings, and, of course, numerous nationalities representing copious countries and continents, with musical methods aplenty on display. 

Show prices also vary, with Utah’s homegrown shows on the lower end, and gigs like the 80s flashback B-52s 40thAnniversary Tour with OMD and Berlin topping $80 and the Steve Miller Band/Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives up to $89. Celtic rock and rock legend Mark Knopfler tops out at $94. All three shows are sold out.

A little old, a lot new—always with the Red Butte twist

This year’s program offers some new twists, with everything from cameo appearances by the Utah’s Shakespeare Festival and Utah Symphony to the tried-and-true Red Butte regulars like John Prine and Lyle Lovett (mic drop: Tickets are, at the time of this writing, still available for both). 

Artists who got their big break through viral vids and even Kickstarter campaigns will be on-stage with bands who formed in college, those young enough to still be in college, and those whose grandchildren may be in college. (Little Feat’s 50thanniversary tour is early on the lineup.)

While always a risk to try to categorize musical stylings, here’s an aid to help decide where and when to “go Red Butte” this summer:

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, with Lucius – Tuesday, July 23
Mandolin Orange (with Anaïs Mitchell) – Wednesday, Aug. 7
Shakey Graves (with Dr. Dog) – Tuesday, Aug. 13 
Colter Wall (with The Wood Brothers) – Wednesday, Aug. 28
Amos Lee—My New Moon 2019 Tour, with Madison Cunningham – Thursday, Aug. 29
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – Thursday, Sept. 19

Bluegrass/Folk Rock
Billy Strings (with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones) – Friday, May 31
Greensky Bluegrass, with The Lil Smokies – Thursday, June 27
Trampled by Turtles and The Dead South – Friday, July 26


Lucinda Williams and Buick 6 – Wednesday, June 26
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band – Sunday, July 14
John Prine and I’m with Her – The Tree of Forgiveness Tour – Tuesday, July 30
Jonny Lang (with JJ Grey and Mofro) – Monday, Aug. 5

Gary Clark Jr. – Friday, Sept. 6

Country/Honky Tonk/Rockabilly
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (with The Steve Miller Band) – Monday, Aug. 19

Eighties and Beyond

Howard Jones Transform Tour 2019 with Men without Hats – Tuesday, June 25
The B-52s—40thAnniversary Tour, with OMD and Berlin – Friday, Aug. 16
The Stray Cats—40thAnniversary Tour– Monday, Aug. 26
Boz Scaggs – Sunday, Sept. 15

Umphrey’s McGee (with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong) – Sunday, Aug. 4

Anaïs Mitchell (with Mandolin Orange) – Wednesday, Aug. 7
The Wood Brothers (with Colter Wall) – Wednesday, Aug. 28

Funk/Rhythm and Blues/Rock/Soul
Galactic—Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe– Wednesday, July 10
Seal – Thursday, July 18
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (with Umphrey’s McGee) – Sunday, Aug. 4

Indie Folk
Lord Huron – Wednesday, Aug. 14

Indie Rock/Rock
The Mighty O.A.R. with American Authors – Friday, Aug. 9

Pink Martini with China Forbes – Thursday, July 11

Utah Symphony’s Patriotic Celebration – Tuesday, July 2

Reggae/Rock Fusion
Tash Sultana (with The Teskey Brothers) – Monday Sept. 23

Little Feat 50thAnniversary Tour – Wednesday June 5
Steve Miller Band (with Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives) – Monday, Aug. 19
An Evening with Gov’t Mule – Wednesday, Sept. 4
An Evening with Mark Knopfler – Wednesday, Sept. 11

The Stray Cats – Monday, Aug. 26

Soft Rock/Soul Rock
Boz Scaggs – Sunday, Sept. 15

Southern Rock
Little Feat 50thAnniversary Tour – Wednesday June 5
JJ Grey and Mofro (with Jonny Lang) – Monday, Aug 5
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – Thursday, Sept. 19

Musical Theater
Utah Shakespeare Festival’s “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” concert – Thursday, June 6

Pink Martini with China Forbes – Thursday, July 11

Seventies and Beyond

Little Feat 50thAnniversary Tour – Wednesday, June 5
Steve Miller Band (with Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives) – Monday, Aug. 19

Soul and Blues

Teskey Brothers (with Tash Sultana) – Monday, Sept. 23

Howard Jones Transform Tour 2019 with Men without Hats – Tuesday, June 25

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