As the dreary weather just continues to linger, I'm probably like many of you -- longing for the Bay Area sunshine to return. Maybe that's one reason the Alameda County Fair's slow-release of its 2023 Big O Tires Concert Series lineup over the past month really caught my eye.
Nothing says summer in the Tri-Valley like the county fair, and the nightly concerts are such a big part of the experience.
Fair organizers have outdone themselves yet again, putting together a tremendous series with entertainers that run the genre gamut.
The headliners are E-40, Ashanti, Joe Nichols, LeAnn Rimes and Quiet Riot, but they're really just the tip of the iceberg.
Seeing Bay Area rap legend E-40 on the bill is a wow. As someone born in Vallejo and raised in Benicia, E-40's music was a mainstay on my iPod in high school and college -- tracks I still enjoy to this day, albeit via streaming.
"Tell Me When to Go" dropped my senior year. An all-timer. I'm partial to "Automatic", "Sprinkle Me" and a little "Carlos Rossi" too.
E-40 will hit the Lucky Amphitheater stage on June 29, midway through the Alameda County Fair's summer 2023 run. Unfortunately, reserved seats are already sold out for his concert, but bleacher or lawn spots will be available on the day of.
Grammy Award-winning R&B star Ashanti promises to be another popular draw at the fair, when she arrives on June 22.
LeAnn Rimes, another Grammy winner who exploded onto the scene when I was growing up with her string of country crossover hits, is making her return to the Pleasanton fair on July 6. Local country fans can also enjoy Joe Nichols on June 28 and LANCO on July 3.
Actor and singer Jesse McCartney, who performs at the fair on June 21, came into his own musically during my high school years as well. His "Beautiful Soul" was everywhere.
Classic rock and 1990s alternative also blare from my headphones often these days, so Quiet Riot (June 23) and Gin Blossoms (June 30) can sustain those cravings, respectively.
Other throwback groups coming to the fair are Mi Banda El Mexicano on June 25 and Con Funk Shun, who open the concert series on June 16.
The rest of the slate is filled with cover acts: Yachtley Crew ("The Titans of Soft Rock" on June 17), Bee Gees Gold (June 18), Queen Nation (June 24), George Michael Reborn (July 1), Purple Reign (Prince tribute, July 2), Mirage: Visions of Fleetwood Mac (July 7), Super Diamond: The Neil Diamond Tribute (July 8) and Karla Perez as Selena (July 9, closing night).
It's a fun list highlighting many performers and songs I know and love.
I used to sing all the Bee Gees' hits to my son Francis when he was an infant last year; of course my rendition of "Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)" became "Franny". I nearly wore out my Prince greatest hits CD in high school. I once wrote a short story for a college writing course on adaptations inspired by my favorite Fleetwood Mac song.
But there's a tinge of melancholy to these cover acts too. It's barely been four months since we lost Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac. Selena, murdered at such a young age. Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Prince, Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb -- musical geniuses, all, who died when they no doubt had so much more of their passion to share with the world.
Thankfully, their music continues to live on. I know they rotate among my Amazon Music account regularly.
Fair reps are still working to fill the July 5 concert slot, and there is no show when the fair is open on the Fourth of July.
This summer, the fair is offering "Floor" and "Club" reserved seats (floor seating with chairs that have backs) for $25 each, or just $15 for cover bands, sold separately. Bleacher seats, which are on benches without backs in an open seating format, are available on the concert day with fair admission or a season pass.
Fair patrons can also watch the concerts just outside the amphitheater on the concert lawn via the Jumbotron screen. As the concerts wind down each night, there will be a drone light show at 9:30 p.m. over the grandstand.
The fair this year is set to run from June 16 to July 9 at the fairgrounds in Pleasanton, open on Wednesdays through Sundays and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays except for July 3 and 4.
If you want to see which shows still have reserved seats available, or you just want to know anything else about the concert series or the 2023 fair overall, visit annual.alamedacountyfair.com today.