Thursday night we attended the 11th annual Minnesota Orchestra Concert down by Lake Winona, which officially opens the 2017 Beethoven Festival. It was a delightful concert, and got me thinking about some differences between Outdoor and Indoor Concerts:


  1. There may be a little rain an hour prior to concert, but hey, it blows over. (This has happened for the past two years.) The breeze makes the musicians find a way to secure their music to the stand.
  2. You bring your own chairs (or blanket), a picnic supper, and have a glass of beer/wine if you are discreet.
  3. The orchestra is seated on a platform, and you are on the ground below, so for the most part you can only see the string players. (It would be a good idea for the horns to stand when they have a prominent part, but I haven’t told them this yet.)
  4. A little girl in a green dress runs around (and around…) her parents’ chairs during the Tchaikowsky Polonaise (and beyond). Kids are swinging as high as they can on the adjacent playground, while the orchestra plays three of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances.
  5. You can kick of your shoes and let your feet feel the grass.
  6. You get to watch a really cool sunset while listening to the music.
  7. You can hum along with John Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark theme and no one minds.
  8. If you see someone you know, you can wave wildly, and easily find them after the concert ends.


  1. Weather is not an issue once you are in the venue. Musicians’ music usually stays put on its stand.
  2. You have prepaid seating; refreshments can be purchased at Intermission, and must be consumed before returning to the auditorium.
  3. The venue is designed so that much of the audience is looking down on the performers, and can see most of the players.
  4. Children are regularly hushed and shushed throughout the concert, and will run around only at Intermission.
  5. It’s probably best to leave your shoes on your feet… they’re hard to find in the dark if you need them.
  6. The lights will go down when the music starts playing, and you will sit in the dark.
  7. If you talk or sing during the concert, you will most likely get stern looks from those around you.
  8. If you see someone you know, give a polite wave and hope they see you; perhaps you will find each other in the milling crowd at Intermission 

When and where was the last outdoor performance you remember attending?

36 thoughts on “Outdoor/Indoor”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    This Father’s Day my son, husband, and I attended the Cantus Concert at Lake Harriet Bandshell. It was sunny and cool and practically heaven.
    The people-watching, as ever at Lake Harriet, was supremely interesting. The concert itself was wonderful.

    And did I mention the price? free, free, free! Everything was right.


    1. That was my answer, too! We went to look at the rose garden after the concert. It was a lovely day, although it seriously looked like rain for awhile.


  2. To my mind, the most attractive thing in Minneapolis is the chain of city lakes. And the most charming public building in Minneapolis is that gorgeous bandshell on Hariette. Does any city in the country have a public building that pretty and exotic?

    My last outdoor concert was a jazz performance there by Lake Hariette.

    Other great outdoor concerts: Red House Records had a great folk concert once. And I’ve enjoyed at least two Prairie Home Companion outdoor concerts (one near the old Guthrie and one on the Mac campus).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. While it’s true that Red House Records has put on folk concerts for years, what I meant to say was that they have put on outdoor folk festivals with lots of different performers – also for years.


  3. Outdoor concert: Last summer, a friend hosted Jeremy Messersmith in a ‘living room’ concert that was outside in their yard. About 35 people there and we had pot luck and bought our lawn chairs and sat under the shade of this huge oak tree and it was really really nice.
    We all gathered for one big selfie with Jeremy when it was over.

    A former college student of mine is traveling with the world as a roadie. He’s been with AC/DC, Guns and Roses, and now Radio Head. (It’s OK if you don’t know some of those groups; I don’t either). It’s a pretty good way to see the world. Some tours are easier than others.
    But side note to that; at outdoor shows, (He does a lot of outdoor shows) sometimes the moths will be so bad the spotlights are covered with moths. It’s kinda gross.

    Course in ‘Ye Old Days’, the spots were actually carbon arc and the operator had to adjust the ‘trim’ of the rods while the show was going. Eventually, the rods were motorized to feed by themselves, but they still had to build a ‘break’ into the show for the operators to put new rods in. Usually at staggered times.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Red House Folk Festivals moved around. Several of them were at the Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, and a couple were somewhere near Afton, don’t remember the exact location. The last one I attended was a few years ago and that was held at Crossings near Zumbrota.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Near Afton” sounds right for the only one I attended. I remember that one for an odd encounter I had. I was moving around in between songs and came face to face with Kate McKenzie, who was also moving. She gave me a smile so lovely I have it stored with special beloved visual memories.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Soapbox rant follows, you’ve been warned…

    Many years ago, my sister and I started going to concerts at the Minnesota Zoo. We discovered some amazing new groups in the opening acts, and the prices were very doable for normal folk ($12-$15 average). All was right with the world.

    Maybe 10 years ago, when the prices had begun to rise, the venue decided that they could make more money by having more seats. Adding actual seats to the backless benches wasn’t feasible, so they creatively made the seating spaces smaller. A bench that might originally have had 20 labeled seat assignments, at 20″ each, now had 25 at 16″ each. This causes severe crowding even if everyone in a row was of “average” girth and didn’t bring a personal backrest.

    There are also several “box seats” at the top of the amphitheater. Originally, they could be reserved at the same price as the bleacher seating, with the caveat that you had to reserve all 4 seats in the box. Not a problem. And, you had a seat with a back. About the same time they shrunk the seat width on the bleachers, they added a new twist to the boxes, now you had to reserve all 4 seats and pay a $50 per box premium.

    I still go to one or two zoo concerts each summer, but the prices are steep and the comfort level is poor. My sister used to get a couple of SRO (standing room only) 10-concert packages, but they’ve made that less attractive in the last few years, and she didn’t get one this year, for the first time in recorded history.

    I still love a concert at the zoo. The proximity to the band, the casual, friendly atmosphere, the beautiful surroundings, the quality of the acts, are all fantastic. Ticket prices are now $35-$75 for most groups and a VIP seat to see Pat Benatar this month is $325. All this and if it gets rained out, your’re SOL. I miss those lazy, hazy, crazy days of zoo concerts past.

    The same thing happened with Talking Volumes. When we started going, tickets were free and easy to get, crowds were small, authors were incredible, and events were well spaced out. I love being in at the beginning of something new, but I wish I could be grandmothered in to the original format when the rest of the world starts intruding on my “find!”

    …and she steps lightly from her soapbox.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The zoo’s amphitheater is a beautiful venue, but you’re right, it has gotten awfully expensive, and the seats are awful.

      I’ve seen Jerry Jeff Walker there three times. He attracts a really fun crowd who knows all the lyrics to his songs and are not shy about singing along. I’ve also seen Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, Bela Fleck, and several others there. Haven’t been there this year.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. About Talking Volumes, I agree, it would be nice for those who provided an attentive audience early on would be given some sort of “special” deal on tickets. The same thing happened with the Prairie Home Companion Show, although that did have a nominal fee from the get-go.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The last “outdoor” concert I attended was probably one of the small acts at the Renaissance Festival last summer. Guess I don’t get out much.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My last outdoor concert was Garrison Keillor’s Grandstand concert last year at the State Fair. Last minute ticket was given to me by a friend. I missed this year’s Cantus at the Lake Harriet Bandshell as I had something else going on. Too bad, I love those!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The Wiinipeg Folk Festival is a must do for lovers of folk and world music. It is outside at a Provincial Park north of Winnipeg. You can camp there. It lasts 4 days or so, with music all day and wonderful evening concerts. You sit on blankets or on low chairs under the stars. We haven’t been there for a number of years, but I hope we can get back in the next couple of years.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Let’s not forget the Rock Bend Folk Festival. It’s free!

    The most recent outdoor concert I attended was the Eddies’ annual Memorial Day bash. Weather was a little unruly (high winds) for about 15 minutes just as we were setting up the food, but we managed to hang on to everything until it blew over. After that it was smooth sailing. Good food, great company, and spirited singing, and we weren’t raided by the police. It’s one of my favorite community events and it’s right here on the West Side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please remind us next year PJ. That sounds like so much fun and I love the Eddies the couple of times I’ve seen them. Is this an invitation only event or is it open to all?


      1. It’s open to all, Caroline, the more the merrier. This year was the 19th annual Memorial Day picnic, unfortunately it may also have been the last; only time will tell.

        A couple of years ago, Phil, one the Eddies, dropped out of the group, but the remaining four Eddies kept on singing. But next month, Paul, another Eddie, is moving to Arizona to head up a science museum affiliated with the University of Arizona. Whether the group can survive that, remains to be seen.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. We’ve been to the Big Top for three shows. The first one was Iris DeMent. The warm-up act was Tish Hinojosa. It soon became apparent that most people were there to hear Iris, and had little or no interest in Tish. Half way through her set, a woman a few rows behind us yelled out: “Play Our Town.” Tish looked confused, then mumbled something about it not being on her playlist. When Iris finally came on, she acknowledged the request by making some sort of a joke about it. It was all a bit awkward.

      It was at that same show that my husband, the stoic Dane, at the conclusion of one of Iris’ songs yelled: “We love you, Iris.” An unheard of public display of affection from a Dane. He has yet to live it down.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Radio Heartland sent me tickets to Blues at the Barn a number of years ago. It was just outside of Red Wing. Ray Bonneville, The Pines, Dave Moore, others who are not coming to mind right at the moment. The Mavericks at the Minnesota Zoo put on an amazing show. Amanda Shires, Charlie Parr, Eric Koskinen, Cahalen Morrison and Eli West at Rock Bend.

    I think the venue near Afton may have been Carver Nature Center. I saw the Ditch Lilies there a few years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Carver Nature Center sounds right, Linda. Thanks. There are some really nice open air performance spaces in the Twin Cities that most people don’t know about. The Dodge Nature Center has one, and so does the Caponi Art Park.


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