Jim Grant

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July 2, 2008
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Summer concert series still going strong after 16 years

In an effort to boost summer events in South Lake Tahoe, Harveys Resort and Casino launched the Outdoor Summer Concert Series with two shows, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported in its July 19, 1992, Business Plus section.

An outdoor amphitheater that could seat nearly 5,000 people was built in the parking lot behind the hotel to accommodate the upcoming shows and the first concert on July 17, 1992. That first show featured the acoustic Gipsy Kings. Former Beatle Ringo Starr would perform on the outdoor stage Aug. 3, the article indicated.

The series kept a low profile over the ensuing summers, hosting the Rhythm and Brews Fest featuring artists such as Elvin Bishop and Commander Cody.

It wasn't until 2002, after Harrah's Entertainment acquired Harveys, that the outdoor concert series evolved into the summer event it is today. A larger amphitheater seating up to 7,500 people was erected in the lower parking lot behind the parking garage. Working with promoter Gil Cunningham, Harrah's booked five shows that summer featuring Tim McGraw, Don Henley, Heart, Robin Williams and a blues festival with Jonny Lang.

"It was a very successful first year for us," said John Packer, director of entertainment and public relations for Harveys and Harrah's Lake Tahoe.

The summers of 2003 and 2004 included concerts from such artists as Toby Keith, Alice Cooper, Third Eye Blind, Jack Johnson, Steely Dan and Ted Nugent.

"It was a good mix of shows, and the country entertainers were doing really well, but we needed some bigger headliners," Packer said. "So we brought in a new promoter, Another Planet Entertainment, as they were well connected in the industry."

The 2005 summer saw The Eagles fly in to open their "California Tour" in Nevada at the Harveys concert series.

"The Eagles actually played twice at Harveys that summer, selling out both shows very quickly," Packer said.

Other shows that summer were the Loggins and Messina Reunion Tour, Sammy Hagar & The Wabos and the return of Toby Keith.

The summers of 2006 and '07 brought headliners such as Paul Simon; Rascal Flatts; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Stevie Wonder; Brad Paisley; Fergie; and Beyonce.

Big-name entertainers are attracted to the South Shore for more than just the great location, Packer said.

"I think it is a combination of things," Packer said. "Credibility with promoters, great accommodations and staff, Lake Tahoe itself, and our audience. Artists always say the crowds are happy, responsive and upbeat."

South Lake Tahoe resident Kevin Molloy usually attends two to three concerts each summer with his family and friends.

"I go to concerts all over, and Harveys is definitely one of the best venues to see a show," Molloy said. "My top three shows I've seen at the outdoor concert series would be Stevie Wonder, the Eagles and Toby Keith - he's always fun. I already have my tickets for this year's Alan Jackson concert."

This year's concert series features 12 acts, including Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, who played last Saturday, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow and Kiss.

"We're always looking for the best concert series, but a lot of it depends on the band's tour routing, and we have a very small window to book shows," Packer said. "We look at it as an event to drive summer tourism for all of South Lake Tahoe and benefit all businesses, not just Harveys and Harrah's."

2002

- Tim McGraw

- Blues at the Lake w/Jonny Lang

- Don Henley

- Heart

- Robin Williams

2003

- Melissa Etheridge

- Bob Dylan

- Kenny Chesney

- Steely Dan

- Boston

- Alice Cooper

- Ted Nugent

- Blues at the Lake w/Otis Rush

- Third Eye Blind

- ZZ Top

- Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band

2004

- John Fogerty

- John Mayer

- Dennis Miller

- Chris Isaak

- Jack Johnson

- Toby Keith

- Alabama

2005

- Loggins & Messina

- Journey

- The Eagles

- Sammy Hagar & The Wabos

- Toby Keith

- John Mellencamp

- John Fogerty

2006

- John Mellencamp

- Rascal Flatts

- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

- Paul Simon

- Sammy Hagar & The Wabos

- Ben Harper

- Brad Paisley

2007

- Sammy Hagar & The Wabos

- Earth, Wind & Fire

- Incubus

- Fergie

- Martina McBride

- Rascal Flatts

- Diana Krall

- Stevie Wonder

- Beyonce

- Toby Keith

June 28 - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

July 12 - Journey, Heart, Cheap Trick

July 26 - James Taylor

July 27 - Toby Keith

Aug. 2 - Steely Dan

Aug. 9 - Sammy Hagar & The Wabos

Aug. 15 - Alan Jackson

Aug. 23 - Sheryl Crow

Aug. 30 - Kiss

Sept. 7 - Luis Miguel


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 3, 2008 02:48AM Published Jul 2, 2008 03:00AM Copyright 2008 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.