It’s a good sign when the staff concert picks is one of the last pieces of editorial finalized for the print edition. Why? It took us that long to make our choices – there are that many great shows happening this month.
Here’s what the Fly editorial team finally selected for May’s Hot Ticket:
Stephin Merritt at Union Transfer (Philly)
Stephin Merritt is responsible for some of my favorite albums of all time. He’s truly one of his generation’s finest songwriters, whether in the form of the carefully crafted indie pop of his long-running primary band, The Magnetic Fields, the bouncy synth-pop of side project Future Bible Heroes or the goth bubblegum of side side project The Gothic Archies. He’s currently doing a solo acoustic tour (accompanied by longtime collaborator Sam Davol on cello) in which he’ll be playing songs spanning his entire career. But he’ll be playing only 26 of those songs. One starting with each letter of the alphabet. In alphabetical order. All of which is a very Stephin Merritt thing to do, somehow. See it live on May 2 at Union Transfer in Philly.
– Jed Reinert
Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival at Granite Hill Resort (Gettysburg)
Nothing says summer more to me than the start of festival season, and one of the first big ones on tap is the 70th semi-annual Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival held just outside the hallowed ground of the Civil War battle site on May 14-17. The festival has long been recognized as bringing together one of the best bluegrass lineups in the country, and this year’s installment is no different. Headlining this year are The Earls of Leicester – a super-group fronted by dobro master Jerry Douglas and winners of the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album for their self-titled album. Also on the bill are local favorites The Stray Birds, along with three days of workshops, jam sessions and camping. [Want to win two tickets to Saturday’s lineup? Of course you do. Enter here.]
– Michael Yoder
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Dark Star Orchestra at Pullo Center (York)
If you’re like me and love the Grateful Dead but were too young to catch the original lineup (and also not a CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, and therefore can’t afford to attend any of the band’s final Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago), then catching Dark Star Orchestra is your next best bet to get a dose of the Dead. The cover band replicates actual Grateful Dead concerts in their entirety, but they put their own spacey spin on the songs when it’s time to jam. Dark Star Orchestra has actually played more shows then the Grateful Dead. I interviewed DSO lead guitarist Jeff Mattson last year when the band was eclipsing the total number of Dead shows. Catch them on May 19 at the Pullo Center in York.
– Mike Andrelczyk
Denison Witmer & William Fitzsimmons at Kable House Presents (York)
When I first started playing guitar back in high school, my guitar teacher – Don Peris of The Innocence Mission – told me about another former student of his named Denison Witmer. Once I started listening to Denison’s tunes, I was hooked. Dude knows how to tell a story. Fast forward a good 15 years or so, and I’m happy to say I not only still listen to Denison’s albums regularly, but I’ve had the chance to open for him and even develop something of a friendship along the way. Denison opens for singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons – a guy I met (in a very non-creepy way) and used to message back and forth with on Myspace back in the day when he was just a starry-eyed songwriter trying to get his tunes out there. He was awesome back then, and all these years later, he’s still penning some moving material. Witmer and Fitzsimmons join forces for a Kable House Presents show at Central Market York on May 20.
– Mike McMonagle
What concerts are you hitting this month? Tell us below.