Preview by Joshua Maloni
The first weekend of Artpark & Company's summer season boasts a country music superstar and a fourth annual family tradition.
Willie Nelson & Family will headline a bill Saturday night inside the Mainstage Theater.
"Willie Nelson is an artist that I've always wanted to get up at least close enough to say I did a show with him," Artpark & Company President George Osborne said. "We've been trying to get Willie for 10 years.
"Willie and Alison Krauss were supposed to be on a Tuesday night, but as their tour schedule evolved, it didn't work for Tuesdays, so we went over and gave the show to Funtime to present at Artpark on Saturday night."
Nelson, who recently turned 80, has more than 200 albums and seven Grammy Awards to his name.
On Sunday, the Fairy House Festival will draw thousands of children to Artpark for crafts, sing-a-longs and nature walks.
"This is our fourth annual Fairy House Festival. It is an institution," said Tanis Winslow, Artpark & Company's director of visual arts and family programs. "We have 11 fairy houses in the gallery. We have hundreds of them out in the park that families have created - Scout groups, church groups, schools, classrooms; you name it. People have come out and made fairy houses.
"June 8, this weekend, Sunday, from noon to 5, we will have over 2,000 people here in their 'fairy best,' building fairy houses in the woods; checking out the already-made art houses; doing art activities that are fairy-related; petting the unicorn. ... Just having a blast.
"I've never seen so many fairy wings in all my life, and it's amazing. It's everything from, like, burly men to little girls to puppies in fairy wings, and it's amazing."
Two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acts, Daryl Hall & John Oates (June 10) and Ringo Starr (June 24), will headline two of the first three "Tuesday in the Park" concerts in the outdoor amphitheater.
Upcoming acts include Widespread Panic (June 17), Boston (July 8) and Megadeth (July 15).
"I think it's pretty exciting," Osborne said. "It was a battle for a moment in time when we were worried (if) we'd be able to meet the high standard that we've set for booking artists here. But, little by little, good things kept happening and we were able to get, I think, a really outstanding group of artists coming into Artpark this year."
With regard to the famed Beatles drummer, Osborne said, "We've been trying to get Ringo Starr for the last five or six years - Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band."
Ringo will be joined by Toto's Steve "Luke" Lukather, Mr. Mister's Richard Page, original Santana singer Gregg Rolie, singer/producer Todd Rundgren and Gregg Bissonette, who has played drums for Ray Charles, Don Henley and Duran Duran.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Luke said, "It's a great show; it really is. Everybody brings it. You just go, 'Oh, man'; you know all the songs. It's really fun."
Each All Starr will showcase his hit songs, "and then we do some of the Ringo solo stuff, and some of the Beatles stuff that he did," Luke said. "It really rips by. I mean, all eras are covered.
"It's a great band. We all get along really, really well. It's really like a traveling summer vacation for us older dudes."
Luke recently participated in "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America - A Grammy Salute" concert with Ringo and Paul McCartney. The star-studded CBS show featured performances by Dave Grohl, Imagine Dragons, Alicia Keys, Keith Urban, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Joe Walsh, Stevie Wonder and the Eurythmics.
"It was awesome to be there," Luke said. "It was surreal for me."
While Luke has performed with a "who's who" of recording greats, including Michael Jackson, Roger Waters, Don Henley, Alice Cooper, Michael McDonald and Peter Frampton, participating in the Beatles celebration was a career-defining moment.
"Here I am; we do this; we're playing with all these great artists. And I'm standing there right before we walk on stage, and I stare at Paul and Ringo, and all of a sudden they're showing clips of 'Hard Day's Night,' right?" he said. "And all of a sudden it hit me that that was where it all started for me. Fifty years later, I'm standing here going to do a tribute to this thing.
"Here's this kid from the valley in Los Angeles. Who would've ever guessed? I might as well have said I was going to be the first guy on Venus.
"It was a completely surreal experience. It kind of hit me a little bit emotionally. I was like, 'Wow, this is full circle, man.' I was really beyond honored to be there. It was a wonderful night - a great tribute. There were some great performances.
"There was a lot of us backstage just hanging out with Paul and Ringo. And everybody was just saying, 'Look, man, if it wasn't for you guys, none of us would be here.' And they were cracking up, going, 'Yeah, people tell us that sometimes.' "
"They changed the world, man," he said. "Nobody's going to do that again. Nobody's going to do that again."
Osborne said the timing was right to bring a Beatle to Lewiston.
"It couldn't be a better year to have Ringo Starr & The All Starr Band, because we've got the 50th anniversary of the Beatles," he said. "They did that great tribute show on national network television a few months ago. I saw the show and I thought he performed well. It was pretty exciting when he did a couple of numbers with Paul McCartney - the remaining Beatles reunited briefly.
"That's a big event for us to get."
•Visit Artpark's website, www.artpark.net, for ticket information.