More than 60 bands and solo artists - famous, obscure and in between - are scheduled to perform between Friday and July 5 on the main stages at the 2015 San Diego County Fair.
At least two of them, Vicki Carr and Tony Orlando (minus Dawn), suggest a Las Vegas revue, circa 1975. Another, the San Diego-bred Iron Butterfly (now, sadly, without a single original member) harkens back to the psychedelic-rock heyday of the 1960s. Then there's golden-voiced songstress Judy Collins, another '60s alum. She is the first fair act in memory who will be accompanied by a string quartet. (Rumors of a Collins' medley of "Send in the Clowns" and "Both Sides Now," with live Tilt-a-Whirl and bumper-car accompaniment, may in fact turn out to be true, if entirely unplanned.)
Beyond these extremes, concertgoers have a broad array of options. Here is a look at five likely highlights that caught our attention; ticket information appears at the conclusion of this article.
June 6: Gary Allan - Allan is surely the only country-music star to graduate from high school in Whittier, Richard Nixon's Southern California hometown. He brings a pathos to his singing most Nashville acts can only hope to match. His tone of rugged resignation is reflected on such Allan albums as "Living Hard" and "Tough All Over." (7:30 p.m., Toyota Summer Concert Series on the Heineken Grandstand Stage. Free with fair admission; reserved seats are also available.)
June 14: The Robert Cray Band - As a young man, Cray had a memorable musical cameo in the 1978 movie "Animal House." He's since established himself as a first-rate blues singer, guitarist and songwriter, and counts B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Eric Clapton among his past collaborators. With his own band, Cray delivers sleek blues and vintage soul with admirable intensity. (9 p.m., Ford Dealers Paddock Concert Series Stage. Separate tickets required; a limited number of reserved and VIP seats are available.)
June 18: Gregg Allman - It's been barely half a year since the Allman Brothers Band performed its farewell concerts in New York. Singer and organist Allman has toured on his own before, but his solo career will now be his focus, not an adjunct to the storied band he led for four decades. With any luck, he'll rise to the challenge. (7:30 p.m., Grandstand Stage. Free with fair admission; reserved seats and dinner packages are available.)
June 19: Switchfoot - Performances at the fair by this Grammy Award-winning San Diego rock band have become a near-annual tradition. Whether delivered at a whisper, a scream, or somewhere in between, the five-man group's well-crafted songs are uniformly thoughtful and delivered with palpable conviction. (7:15 p.m., Grandstand Stage, free with fair admission; reserved seats are available.)
July 1: Voz de Mando - Formed in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, and now based in Los Angeles County, this snappy quartet specializes in norteño and ranchera music. It shines whether performing fast-paced polkas, romantic waltzes or plaintive narcocorridos (ballads about the drug cartels in regions of Voz de Mando's homeland). (7:30 p.m., Grandstand Stage. Free with fair admission; reserved seats and paid floor tickets are available.)
Other shows of note:
June 10: Peter Frampton & Cheap Trick, Grandstand Stage
June 18: Belly Up Music Festival, featuring Candye Kane, Combo Libertad, B-Side Players and more, Coors Light Rock On Concert Series Stage
June 26: Charlie Wilson , Grandstand Stage
July 1: Tanya Tucker, Paddock Stage
July 2: Judy Collins and The Passenger String Quartet, Solid Gold Concert Series Stage
July 4: Dana Carvey, with the U.S. Navy Band Southwest, Grandstand Stage
2015 SAN DIEGO COUNTY FAIR CONCERTS
When: Friday through July 5 (concert times vary)
Where: Various performance venues at the fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
Tickets: Most concerts are free with fair admission. Reserved seats and VIP packages are available for some shows, while a few shows require separate paid admission.
Phone: (800) 745-3000