One of the highlights of summer for us is the annual concert series at the Woodland Park Zoo known as ZooTunes. Although this already merits a mention on our website's Seattle activities page, it definitely deserves a blog post of its own-- and maybe a few more if I decide to report on some of the shows after they happen!
The ritual begins in about March as I start scouring my secret sources for clues to who will be playing that summer. In late April comes the official announcement of the lineup. Then the big day-- the first Monday in May, when tickets go on sale. Either Ana Lena or I (this year she drew the short straw) queue up at the Zoo gate well before the on-sale time of 8:00am. (Last year I was there by 6:25 which put me second in line.) Sure, there are other places to get tickets and although shows do sell out it doesn't generally happen the first day. But being there early is all part of the fun.
Shows take place in the North Meadow of the zoo, most often on Wednesday evenings, with families picnicking on blankets, basking in the sunshine (very occasionally of the liquid variety) and enjoying great music. We usually attend 7 or 8 shows a year but the 2009 lineup is just superb and we plan to be at all 13, including both the July 1 and 2 shows of 3 Girls and Their Buddy, who comprise four of our favorite musicians on the planet (Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller). The season kicks off with the B-52s (already sold out) and as you'd expect our innkeepers Brenda and Glenn, who until recently hailed from the band's home of Athens, GA, are pretty pumped about that one! Ana Lena has being saying for years that we need to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and this summer we'll finally get the chance. Los Lobos and Cowboy Junkies are perennial favorites of ours. And Mavis Staples! What can you say but "living legend." Folk divas Joan Baez and Nanci Griffith, the Indigo Girls... I could go on but you get the drift.
Several years ago we started a new practice of getting extra tickets so we can invite friends and family to join us at the shows. Another aspect of the annual ritual is trying to match up bands with invitees we think will especially enjoy them.
If you come stay with us this summer, I hope you'll consider an evening at ZooTunes. If you want tickets and they're sold out online, let me know and I'll try to pick them up for you. But here's a tip: Even if the show is sold out (as they usually are) and you don't have tickets, just show up at the North Gate of the zoo around 4pm and there are always folks with tickets for sale-- usually at face value. It's definitely worth a shot!