Music Greats perform under the Stars at Pinewood Bowl
by Sriyani Tidball
Take a beautiful drive to Pioneer Park. Enjoy the picturesque park as you walk to a concert at the Pinewood Bowl. The 668-acre Pioneer Park site is the result of a Work Progress Administration project in the 1930s that included 440 acres of native tall-grass prairie, eight miles of hiking trails, outdoor animal exhibits and several gardens and an outdoor performance location. Pinewood Bowl’s capacity is set at just more than 4,000 for reserved seating and at a little more than 5,000 for general admission shows.
The Pinewood Bowl was built in 1947 when the city needed a larger venue to host open-air church services for airmen stationed at Lincoln’s air base. Several Lincoln residents recognized a need for a diversion for the service men and their families, a place where they could meet for worship and prayer and sometimes for entertainment. Before the Bowl was constructed, services were held on the steps of the Capitol. When the group grew to more than 1,000, Pinewood Bowl was built. Weather permitting, to this day, Easter services are held there every year, and they’re open to the public, not just the military.
Lincoln’s music buffs wait for the incredible season at the Pinewood Bowl amphitheater to be announced every year and then go wild getting their tickets before they are gone. The incredible list of performers usually includes those entertainers we have dreamed of seeing in person, most of our life. It seems that well-known groups just stop for a night in Lincoln, between Chicago and Denver, and perform their hearts out, to such an appreciative audience in the heart of the country.
The line-up has some of the most beloved musicians in the country, which is why the tickets sell out fast—prices are reasonable, and our sweet dreams can come true. Surrounded by tall pine trees, right under the stars in moonlight, in a magical performance venue, called the Pinewood Bowl, the open-air concert just explodes at the center of the beautiful lush, wooded Pioneers Park.
In the past, Pinewood Bowl hosted just one local musical show each summer, but in 2012 they started to add a few summer concerts. The unique series of summer concerts has become hugely successful and today the season features many performers and adds to Lincoln’s already full schedule of musical performances. Pinewood Bowl serves the city’s 300,000 residents while accommodating up to 5,500 music lovers at a time at a concert at the Bowl. It has become a Lincoln tradition, and for many of us it is the best outdoor location for music in the city.
The Pinewood Bowl Concerts was the brainchild of the SMG Lincoln General Manager the late Tom Lorenz. This Lincoln hero knew that concerts at Pinewood Bowl Theater would be breathtaking, with the setting in nature. This experience of listening to great artists was going to be a success. Year after year, the concerts have lived up to all of the expectations of the Lincoln public who look forward to the wonderful summer concerts of their favorite artists, and Tom Lorenz made sure it happened. Now the tradition goes on and everyone awaits to find out who will come through Lincoln next summer.
The Pinewood Bowl surroundings cannot be topped. Whether it is balmy summer day or a cool evening, you can wear casual summer clothes, drink cold beer and stay happy while delighting in great music. The audiences and performers just love the deep blue skies, the glow of the moon speckled with starlight making the concert experience unforgettable.
The shows chosen for this venue are popular in Lincoln and range from the ’60s folk rock of Crosby, Stills & Nash to the blues of Robert Cray to indie rock by My Morning Jacket, Chicago and Counting Crows. From the British folk and rock band Mumford and Sons to ZZ Top, the Steve Miller Band, the Moody Blues, Steely Dan and Peter Frampton to Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles and Allison Kraus, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Martin Short and Steve Martin, Weird Al, the Beach Boys and more.
Food and beverages, are available, adding to the overall festive atmosphere. You can count on having a wonderful experience every single time. After a super successful 2022 season organizers are busy planning an equally impressive series of concerts for the summer of 2023.
Tickets can be purchased online or at Pinnacle Bank Arena downtown when they go on sale. Check pinewoodbowltheater.com for information about upcoming shows for the summer and make sure you get your tickets early.