Memorable Summer Concerts at Pinewood Bowl
by Sriyani Tidball
Every summer beautiful Pinewood Bowl, located under the stars in Pioneers Park, offers an array of reasonably priced, wonderful outdoor concerts that bring nationally known performers to Lincoln.
This unique series of at least six summer concerts adds to Lincoln’s already full schedule of musical performances. Traditionally, Pinewood Bowl hosted one local musical each summer, but starting in 2012, six hugely successful summer concerts were added. These concerts take place at Pinewood Bowl, an outdoor theatre, ringed by a forest of tall pines, located in Lincoln’s lush, wooded Pioneers Park.
Pinewood Bowl Theater was constructed in 1947 when the city needed a larger venue to hold open-air church services for the 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. They had been holding services on the steps of the Capitol, but when the group grew to more than 1,000—more than the Capitol steps could hold—Pinewood Bowl was constructed. Today it has become an important facility for the community, and Easter services are still held there every year.
The Pinewood Bowl music concerts feature well-known, national artists. Tickets can sell out the moment they go on sale. And according to concert fans, the evergreen surroundings, cool evening temperatures, deep blue skies, and the light of the moon make a perfect concert experience. The shows chosen for this venue are popular and nearly every concert is packed. From the ’60s folk rock of Crosby, Stills & Nash, to the blues of B.B. King and Robert Cray, to the indie rock of My Morning Jacket and Counting Crows, to British folk rock band Mumford and Sons, and recently ZZ Top and the Midwest’s beloved Garrison Keillor, these concerts are adored by the Lincoln public, and have become the place to have fun on a summer evening.
The performers also find Pinewood Bowl a unique performance venue. They genuinely have a wonderful time, truly connecting with their audience in this intimate setting. The summer weather, happy audiences, and great music make Pinewood Bowl a perfect location for these large music shows. Food and beverages, including beer, are available for the concerts, adding to the overall festive atmospere. Count on a memorable experience every time.
The SMG officials do a great job organizing the Pinewood Bowl concert series. The theatre’s capacity is set at just over 4,000 for reserved seating and at a little over 5,000 for general admission shows. The 5,000+ seat theatre has seen performances by Sara Bareilles, the Moody Blues, Ben Folds, Boston, the Doobie Brothers, Ray LaMontagne, Widespread Panic, Blue October and others. “The six 2015 summer concerts at Pinewood Bowl Theater were a resounding success. It lived up to all of our expectations and beyond,” said SMG general manager Tom Lorenz. After a super successful 2015 season the organizers are busy planning an equally impressive series of concerts for the summer of 2016.
Take time to enjoy the famous Pioneers Park as you make your way to Pinewood Bowl. The 668-acre site is the result of a WPA project in the 1930s and includes 440 acres of native tall-grass prairie, eight miles of hiking trails, outdoor exhibit animals, and several gardens. “We’re hoping this continues to be a Lincoln tradition, to be honest,” said Lynn Johnson, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We would call this a total success. The shows were very well received. It was so much fun to see that big stage used the way it was designed to be used.”
Check www.pinewoodbowltheater.com for information about upcoming shows for the summer.