Roots Report: Concert Costs

Okee dokee folks…

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about concerts. I was VERY fortunate to have grown up in the ’60s and ’70s when the price of tickets was reasonable, maybe even cheap. I used to go, on average, to about one show a week. Yes, it drove my parents crazy to have to drive back and forth to the Civic Center to have to pick me up, but selfishly, it was worth it. I discussed ticket prices in this column many years ago and compared the cost of a concert ticket with minimum wage. Back then, working after school or during the summer, I made $2.30 an hour. The average concert ticket was around $5. I could work two-and-a-half hours and pay for a show. If you worked an hour you could pay for a movie ticket. Currently, minimum wage in Little Rhody is a measly $13 an hour. The average concert ticket, for CHEAP seats, is over $100. You would have to work about TEN hours to be able to attend a show. BIG difference.


I came across an ad for Bill Graham Presents (legendary concert promoter) that was dated November 1973. During a one-month period at various venues he booked, you could see these performers: Neil Young, Beach Boys, Commander Cody, Dave Brubek, The Who, Sha Na Na, ELO, David Crosby & Graham Nash, Peter Frampton, Loggins & Messina, Billy Joel, Linda Ronstadt, Jesse Colin Young, New Riders, Tower of Power, Joe Walsh, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Santana, Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, John Mayall, and War. ALL of these performances were a total of 15 shows. The total to see all of these concerts was about $100. The first time I saw Springsteen in the late ’70s I paid $5, five minutes before the show, from a scalper! I truly feel for all of the folks out there who have to budget and limit their concert experiences. Like the expression says, “I may be old, but I got to see all the good bands.” My concerts were my college of sorts for a long time. It showed me who I wanted to be and that I needed to be involved in music. Thank goodness I grew up then. Back then the summers usually had the best shows, at least that hasn’t changed! Read on…

RI Folk Fest photo by John Fuzek

Festivals are going to be your best bang for the buck! Besides having the opportunity to see a multitude of talent, the festival experience is something everyone should have. You can wander from stage to stage hearing a variety of music, eat lots of great food and shop for artsy items. Unfortunately it seems that some festivals are feeling the economic pinch and are being forced into extinction. The New Bedford Folk Festival ended its run, East Providence canceled the Heritage Days activities and the iconic Philadelphia Folk Festival has been retired after 60 years. Newport still runs the folk and jazz fests but unless you are part of the cult that gets those nearly impossible to acquire tickets, it is pointless to talk about these two. Locally, the festivals that are still happening that you can get tickets for are The Blackstone River Theatre’s Solstice Festival (Jun 16), Warren Folks Festival (Aug 16), Rhythm and Roots Festival (Labor Day Weekend) and this year’s winner of the Motif Award, The Rhode Island Folk Festival (Aug 27). We will update this list in the coming months as we get more listings.

Outdoor venues, such as Indian Ranch in Webster, MA, are always fun places to catch shows. It’s kind of like an abbreviated festival. This summer they have scheduled concerts such as Rumours, Chase Rice, Get the Led Out, Pop 2000, Almost Queen, The Mavericks, Fitz and the Tantrums, Yachtley Crew, ABBA Tribute, Randy Houser, Badfish, The Pike Hairfest and Rokfest, Aaron Lewis, and others. For more about the venue and shows, Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungug over to

Indoor venues are still going strong all summer and they have AIR CONDITIONING which is a vital part of surviving the summer! The Greenwich Odeum’s highlights: Andy Summers, Eric Gales, The Uncle Louie Variety Show, Mullett, Debbie Gibson, Pure Prairie League, Gaelic Storm, Adam Ezra, The Weight Band, and Donna the Buffalo. For a complete listing stampede to
The Narrows in Fall River has Jim Weider & GE Smith, The Iguanas, Ana Popovic, Shemekia Copeland, Abigail Washburn & Wu Fei (you don’t want to miss this one!), Jorma Kaukonen, Jimmie Vaughan, Eilen Jewell, Tab Benoit, Cracker, Rodney Crowell, Béla Fleck, Jesse Cook, Peter Rowan and more! Squeeze over to for schedule.

The Stadium in Woonsocket is a gem of a venue. More people from RI need to get this one on their radar! Coming up: Howie Mandel, The Righteous Brothers (listen to my podcast with Bill Medley), Jesse’s Girl, Sweet Baby James, Garcia Project, Summer of Love, as well as musicals and comedy. Vaudeville over to

Jane Pickens has Rickie Lee Jones, AJ Croce and Livingston Taylor. Flick to
The United in Westerly has Shawn Colvin, Devon Allman & Donavon Frankenreiter, and Ben Bailey (Cash Cab). Follow your compass to:

Providence Performing Arts Center/Veterans has been keeping it going over the past summers and continues this year with The Temptations and The Four Tops, The Avett Brothers, John Mellencamp, The Rocketman Show, Natalie Merchant, Counting Crows/Dashboard Confessional, RuPaul’s Drag Race and ABBA Tribute. To get thoroughly in the know, hit up

Follow my column and podcasts for more events as they are added over the summer! Stay cool. That’s it for now. Don’t forget you can listen to my podcasts at You can also find my concert photographs at Thanks for reading and listening.