10 Central New York Concert Picks for Summer 2016

Our events editor picks his top 10 central New York concerts to see this summer.

It’s June, Central New York! With Taste of Syracuse taking place this weekend, summer is “officially” here. It’s time to stand up, stretch and shake our limbs until we’re fully awake. The weak excuse of “there’s nothing to do” may be easy to use during the winter months (to a sea of rolling eyes), but the statement becomes more played out with the increasing temperatures.

Music does have the ability to coax out the region’s smiling faces, along with surrounding cities and neighboring country residents. The destiny of humanity and relationships may even lie in the hands of live melody, not stuffy mall consumerism. Live music can be heard in several venues (especially throughout Syracuse) every single night. Go out and enjoy our great local musicians.

With that being said, here is a chronological list of my picks of summer shows to check out.

1. Dave Matthews Band

You may either love or hate the band — most of the disdain falls on the front man’s shoulders — is but the fact is: these guys can play. They also love central New York. This new amphitheatre probably was too good to pass up.

It’s the first and only show this year (so far) to be sold out. That’s right, Phish phans. It’s to be understood Syracuse is a last-minute town as far as attendance goes, but Matthews and his band take the first glorified prog rock piss — they are the first jam band to step on the venue’s stage.

Where: Lakeview Amphitheatre, 490 Restoration Way, Syracuse
When: June 22 | 8 p.m.
Cost: Sold Out | 435-2121,

2. Against Me!

Laura Jane Grace has never been afraid to give the middle finger and stick to her personal beliefs. Growing up as Thomas Gabel, dealing with gender dysphoria and the bullying that’s come with it, she formed this distinctive punk outfit in the late ’90s. She continues the music and attitude after fully transitioning to a woman in 2012.

Where: The Lost Horizon, 5863 Thompson Road, Syracuse
When: June 26 | 8 p.m.
Cost: $45, $15 camping add-on | 446-1934,

3. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

trombone_shorty -

Troy Andrews is becoming a familiar face in CNY. The New Orleans native and multi-instrumentalist brings his high-energy show back to the M&T Jazz Fest. New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but New Orleans is a city where the music never ceases. In case the big band’s show was missed two years ago, here’s a second chance to check them out.

Where: M&T Jazz Fest, Onondaga Community College, 4585 W. Seneca Tpke., Syracuse
When: July 3| 9:30 p.m.
Cost: Free admission |

4. Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds


The seven-piece bulldozer of a blues, funk and soul-infused band is coming back into town after two years since their show at The Westcott Theater. This time they’ll be headlining the first evening of the New York State Blues Festival. Catskill natives, the big-voiced Arleigh Kincheloe and her ferocious harmonica playing brother Jackson, are only two of the elements that make this band such a powerhouse.

Where: New York State Blues Fest, Clinton Square, Downtown Syracuse
When: July 8 | 5 p.m.
Cost: Free general admission, $60/VIP per day, $100/VIP (weekend) | 457-3895,

5. The Milk Carton Kids

The California duo has been creating an acoustic commotion. They’ve been nominated for a Grammy and won Best Duo/Group of the Year through the Americana Music Association. If Simon and Garfunkel and the Smothers Brothers were blended into one of those healthy shakes people are all about, well, this duo is that perfect blend.

Where: Earlville Opera House, 18 E. Main St., Earlville
When: July 8 | 5 p.m.
Cost: $18-$47 | 691-3550,

6. Colin Hay

Who can it be now? Yes, it’s him! The Scottish front man of the Australian Men At Work has a much longer career as a solo artist than his former band. He’s returning to CNY after a couple years for an acoustic show in Geneva.

And, oh, The Milk Carton Kids open.

Where: Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St., Geneva
When: July 14 | 8 p.m.
Cost: $30.50-$40.50. | 781-5483,

7. The Wood Brothers


Beak and Skiff once again is bringing back its music series this year, and there are a few big names attached to it. Brothers Chris and Oliver Wood with multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix will be performing in fresh air compared to their indoor performances at The Westcott Theatre. The trio exudes instrumental and songwriting prowess, and they’re all about getting people on their feet.

The Blind Owl Band opens.

Where: Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards, 2708 Lords Hill Road, Lafayette
When: July 15 | 7 p.m.
Cost: $25/advance, $30/door | 696-6085,,

8. Nora Jones and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band

norah-jones -

Come away with me and head over to Cooperstown. The late Ravi Shankar’s daughter has definitely created a name for herself. She’s a versatile singer, and have taken experimental projects to accentuate her career; this includes her involvement on the spaghetti western-inspired Danger Mouse-produced Rome (2011).

Now she’s touring with the infamous New Orleans jazz ensemble.

Where: Brewery Ommegang, 656 County Highway, Cooperstown
When: July 21 | 9:10 p.m.
Cost: $45, $15 camping add-on | (607) 544-1800,

9. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa


Alright, Snoop. You’ve been given a second chance. Central New York really wants to see you in concert; we’ve reeled you back less than a year later. Being a baby of the 80s and child of the 90s, MTV (when it was MTV and not the current zika virus-infected MTV) would have not been the same without your music and videos. You helped complete our lives.

Kevin Gates, Jhene Aiko, Casey Veggies and DJ Drama open.

Where: Lakeview Amphitheatre, 490 Restoration Way, Syracuse
When: July 21 | 9:10 p.m.
Cost: $45, $15 camping add-on | 435-2121,

9 1/2. Chris Stapleton

stapleton -

In case Snoop cancels again — I’m confident Wiz will talk him out of any second guesses — it’s fair to have a backup plan.

I’m not an avid fan of country music, and there wasn’t going to be a trace (nor an Adkins) of the genre on this list. However, Stapleton’s song “Tennessee Whiskey” somehow came through on Pandora, and it is actually a catchy tune. After looking into more of this musician’s catalog, I’m a bit impressed. He’s not as typically corporate as the rest of them; there is respectable country in him.

Brandy Clark opens.

Where: Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center (CMAC), 3355 Marvin Sands Dr., Canandiagua
When: July 21 | 8 p.m.
Cost: $30.50, $55.50, $68 | (585) 394-4400,

10. Umphrey’s McGee


Another personal favorite is returning to Syracuse for another show at the F-Shed. This is my redemption, considering I missed their last show in this hometown venue. They have a great light show; they’re a little heavier, faster and more intricate (in my opinion) than another aforementioned prog rock outfit; and all of this adds up to an exciting concert.

Brown Sabbath opens.

Where: F-Shed, CNY Regional Market, 2100 Park St., Syracuse
When: Aug. 14 | 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $27.50-$55 |


To Top