Merriweather Post Pavilion — the beloved independent amphitheater nestled on 40 wooded acres mid-way between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore — will celebrate its Golden Anniversary July 15. This show will be the pinnacle of the season-long celebration of “Merriweather’s Greatest Hits,” a series featuring the best of Merriweather’s longtime favorite acts. To mark the 50th Anniversary, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson and Father John Misty will perform, with Grace Potter hosting the show.
Jackson Browne’s art and legacy are inextricably tied to Merriweather, as he recorded his best-selling album “Running On Empty” live at the pavilion nearly 40 years ago. The album, which includes the hit “The Load-Out/Stay,” spent 65 weeks on Billboard’s Pop Charts and went Platinum with RIAA seven times — so far.
Venerable favorite Willie Nelson will mark his 14th time playing Merriweather when he hits the stage July 15. Twice he surprised audiences when in 1978 and 1980 President Jimmy Carter joined Willie to sing a duet of “Georgia.” It’s the only time a president of the United States performed at the amphitheater.
Father John Misty represents a new breed of artists destined to become a veteran of Merriweather. Tillman, who grew up in Rockville, Md., just released last week his third album, titled “Pure Comedy.” He’s lauded as one of the most gifted, thought provoking singer-song writers today.
Americana singer/songwriter Grace Potter, who wowed the Merriweather during Virgin FreeFest, will serve as host of the 50th Anniversary celebration show and will play a few solo acoustic songs as well.
Tickets to the Merriweather 50th Anniversary show go on sale 10am EDT Friday, April 28 through ticketfly.com and will be available at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 9:30 Club and Lincoln Theatre during normal box office hours.
When the Pavilion opened July 15, 1967, the evening featured a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra. Vice President Hubert Humphrey was on hand to recognize Marjorie Merriweather Post — for donating millions of dollars to the arts and the facility that bears her name — and Jim Rouse –the pioneer who invented Columbia, Md., and had the foresight to put an amphitheater in the middle of it. When describing his vision, Rouse said, “There should be a strong infusion of nature throughout a network of towns…people should be able to feel the spaces of nature as part of their everyday life.”
In The New York Times’ review of the inaugural performance, Harold Schonberg wrote, “The Merriweather Post Pavilion of Music turned out to be an unqualified architectural and acoustical success. It is exceptionally handsome, with pleasing proportions, clean lines and an unobtrusive kind of finish that fits perfectly into the landscape.” The pavilion was designed by world renowned Frank Gehry.
I.M.P. recently announced it has signed a 40-year lease with The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission to operate the amphitheater. The venue is in the 3rd year of a 5-year $55 million renovation effort, which includes expanding and enhancing the stage, creating 15,000 square feet of backstage facilities including two pools for the artists, and adding new box offices, bathrooms and concessions. Rolling Stone and Pollstar have named Merriweather among the best amphitheaters in the nation.