From festivals to summer music series and live music at the venues we love, music is back in the Inland Northwest
By Abigail Thorpe
The sun is shining, the outdoors is beckoning, and live music is back! 2020 brought with it many challenges, but one thing we all missed was the fun of letting go at a summer concert series while enjoying the best the Inland Northwest has to offer in live music. From the yearly music series and festivals we wait for with bated breath to last-minute enjoyment of some live music at our favorite winery or brewery, last year put a halt to many of our live music pursuits, but this year promises to make up for the loss.
From Spokane to Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, the festivals, series and intimate live music events we love are back, and we won’t soon take them for granted again. The health of attendees, workers and performers is still a central concern, but a return to a bit more normalcy means we can take out the blankets and chairs, grab our friends and family, and head out to enjoy summer the way we know best: with some great artists and the sounds of summer.
So, whether you want to go all out and attend a regionally and internationally recognized music festival, or are looking to keep it more intimate and small with an outdoor weekly summer music series or even a performance at one of the local hot spots, here is what the Inland Northwest is tuning up for this summer season.
Let’s Get to the Festival, Baby!
Yes, you heard correctly, summer music festivals are back! Though a bit different than in years past, they’re still as fun and full of the artists we’ve missed. These are the big once-a-year events you can’t miss, so mark them on your calendars, and don’t forget to get tickets before they sell out—space may be more limited than in previous years.
The VOLUME Inlander Music Festival is expected to return to Spokane this year after a year off last summer. Set at various locations across downtown over a weekend, the summer festival is a music mecca for all, featuring up-and-coming performers from around the area as well as iconic Northwest bands.
Stay up to date on expected festival dates as well as a lineup by visiting Volume.Inlander.com or following @volumespokane on Facebook. Like in 2019, a festival pass should get you into all participating venues to experience the different bands, but keep in mind things are subject to change depending on city and state health precautions.
Music performances are slowly returning to the Spokane Arena, with performances from headliners like the Backstreet Boys. While summer concerts at the Arena are still spaced out, check out SpokaneArena.com for updates as the summer progresses and to purchase tickets for some of the biggest concerts of the season. The First Interstate Center for the Arts is also opening back up to live productions and performances, including Wilco & Sleater-Kinney, with some theater productions coming later in the fall. To learn more, visit FirstInterstateCenter.org.
Coeur d’Alene Area
Just across the state line, the music will be flowing the weekend of July 9 through 11 at both the Post Falls Festival at Q’emiln Park on the Spokane River, and the Stateline Summer Jam at Cruisers Bar and Grill. The Post Falls Festival will feature live music from local bands, food vendors, a craft fair, beer garden and movie night in the park during the three-day festival, while the Stateline Summer Jam on July 10 will include a host of local rock, metal, country and other bands from the Spokane area and North Idaho.
Later in July, Hayden Days will be taking over Hayden and Coeur d’Alene the weekend of July 23 and 24 with live music, dancing, food and craft vendors, and a parade and car show that will provide fun for the whole family. The free event is essential North Idaho summer, with local community spirit and family centered fun that harkens back to old-fashioned times.
The Festival at Sandpoint is back this year after being canceled last year, and it promises to deliver all of the fun, excitement and great music that fans from around the area—and even country—have come to expect. The eight-day festival will take place at the newly redone Memorial Field July 29 through August 8, with a range of eclectic music and artists from all over the country, many of them leading names in the industry.
Grab a chair or blanket, bring some goodies—BYOB is allowed—and settle in for a night (or eight) of pure enjoyment. Food and drink vendors will be back, with a slightly new format this year. You can order your goodies (including merch) from the app whenever you’re ready, or even in advance, and you’ll be notified when it’s ready to pick up. Tickets will be more limited than in years past, so get yours early so you don’t miss out on the bands you love. Visit FestivalatSandpoint.com to stay in the know and grab your tickets.
The Sandpoint SummerFest is expected to return this year. Presented by the Eureka Institute (Eureka-Institute.org), the event features local, regional and national musical talent along with performers, artists and craftsmen, all focusing on sustainable, local and handmade items.
The intimate three-night Sandpoint SongFest in September features nationally recognized hit songwriters, along with Inland Northwest songwriters and artists, performing their original music live. This is your chance to hear the stories behind the music and meet the artists. For additional details and to purchase tickets, visit SongFest.com.
Summer Series Will Keep You Swaying All Season Long
The fun doesn’t end with the closing day of your festival of choice. For those looking for a more laid back—and ongoing—summer music adventure, there are many summer concert series that you can attend all season long. Grab some friends or family and head out to catch one or two of these outstanding (mostly outdoor) series, or make it a weekly or monthly outing, and spend the summer surrounded by music, relaxing under the open sky.
Northern Quest’s Outdoor Summer Concert series are back throughout the summer. Stay up to date with the ever-expanding lineup on NorthernQuest.com, and grab tickets to get a chance to see famous bands and artists like Foreigner, Darius Rucker, Billy Idol and Ice Cube at the large BECU outdoor concert venue. There are new artists hopping on stage every week, with a wide range of styles that’ll have everyone out cheering and singing along.
The setting doesn’t get much better than the Spokane Pavilion at Riverfront along the Spokane River, and this summer the Spokane Pavilion Concerts are back for the dog days of summer. See a range of big-name artists like Machine Gun Kelly, Counting Crows, Primus, and Nathaniel Rateliff while you soak up the sun and outdoors, right in downtown Spokane. For ticket information and the summer lineup, head to SpokanePavilion.com.
No summer would be complete without Live After 5 in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Every summer, family and friends gather each Wednesday to enjoy live music performances in McEuen Park right next to Tubbs Hill and beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. You can grab a day pass, or spring for a season ticket and enjoy music all summer long each week starting in June. To see the summer lineup and order ticket, head over to LiveAfter5Events.com.
Every Thursday throughout July and August, the Riverstone Summer Concert Series will be offering free concerts at the Idaho Central Credit Union Amphitheatre. Featuring a wide selection of artists from throughout the area, the concerts are a perfect opportunity to drop in for some live music and relaxation after you wander, shop and eat through Riverstone. Whether you come to one or all of the concerts, you don’t want to miss taking in the magic of music on a warm Thursday night. Visit ArtsandCultureCdA.org to learn more.
Sunday afternoons in Coeur d’Alene City Park, Handshake Productions brings free summer concerts to the community every week. Head out to enjoy local sounds from favorite bands throughout the area, and enjoy the park setting and plenty of space for the kids to run free. Keep in mind, concerts are subject to change without notice. Handshake Productions also hosts weekly concerts at Sherman Square Park in downtown Coeur d'Alene on Tuesdays and at McIntire Family Park in Hayden on Thursdays. To stay up to date, visit HandshakeProductions.net.
The Sandpoint Summer Music Series is working to bring free family friendly concerts back to downtown Sandpoint throughout the summer. Mattox Farm Productions brings the free concerts to the community, with a focus on introducing people to the incredible Americana musicians who live and play throughout the Inland Northwest.
Things may look a bit different this year, but keep an eye out for concert announcements and future artists at MattoxFarm.com, and get excited to welcome live music back to Sandpoint’s parks and downtown!
Keep the Tunes Going All Week Long
We all love a summer music festival, large headliner concert and outdoor regular concert series, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of other places to catch some good tunes on the weekend or weeknight. The Inland Northwest is filled with talented artists that you can usually find playing at one of the artsy, fun or fashionable venues from Spokane to Sandpoint. Make a point to explore new places this summer and stop in for some live music, delicious food and great drinks. Chances are, you’ll be back for more.
Spokane is home to some incredible music talent, and some great bars, restaurants, wineries and breweries that host them. The pandemic slowed things down and canceled live music for a time, but places are slowly getting up and running.
Wander Spokane’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, and you’re likely to find some local favorites, like Mootsy’s, a chill neighborhood bar that often plays host to some great bands and offers good beers and cocktails. Zola is the place to be when it comes to live music, good food, great drinks and a fantastic atmosphere.
For a larger venue, the Knitting Factory Spokane hosts a variety of concerts throughout the year, and is attached to an adults-only restaurant. BridgePress Cellars on West Pacific Avenue plays host to a collection of live concerts over the summer, and you can sip on some of their delightful wines while you soak up the tunes.
If you’re in the mood for more instrumental and classical music, the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox is the permanent home of the Spokane Symphony, and hosts their regular performances in addition to other special music events.
These are just a few of the many hot spots for live music in Spokane, so take some time to explore and find your own favorite spot. Just keep in mind things are opening at different paces, and depending on health conditions and local rules, certain places may not be offering live music.
Walk the charming Lake City’s downtown and you’ll be hard put to find a good spot that’s not hosting live music. From the NYC Piano Bar’s dueling pianos and colorful performances to local watering holes Moose Lounge and Iron Horse, there's a lot of fun to be had, often without charge (or just a small cover).
Many of the local winery tasting rooms also bring live music in over the weekend, so stop in Cork & Tap, Coeur d’Alene Cellars and other places to toast some whites or reds and enjoy some relaxing tunes. Downstairs of Honey Eatery you’ll find the Social Club, ready with delicious cocktails and usually playing host to live music on the weekends (and even some weeknights).
If you’re looking for a more elegant and romantic atmosphere, Seasons of Coeur d’Alene and Beverly’s will often have live music on the weekends to accompany a delicious dinner and drinks.
For those looking for a more broadway-esque night, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre features some of the most beloved musicals throughout its summer season, and is a fun and entertaining way to spend an evening out.
Music is a part of Sandpoint’s restaurant and bar culture. You can easily hop between the several local favorite spots for music in the intimate downtown, and you’ll find a different style of music at each place.
Over the weekends, live bands grace the stages of Pend d’Oreille Winery, MickDuffs’ Beer Hall, Eichardt’s Pub and more. For a hidden gem, wander down to the Back Door below Baxter’s and enjoy live music multiple nights a week accompanied by a great wine and beer list and jovial company.
The 219 is Sandpoint’s oldest bar and often features live bands over the weekends for a late-night spot to hit up. Looking for weeknight tunes? Eichardt’s hosts Monday Night Blues Jam every week to help stave off the weekday blues.
Whether you’re ready to jump right back into the spirit of music with a grand ol’ festival, or looking to keep things relaxed with a local summer outdoor concert or casual dinner and drinks accompanied by live music, the Inland Northwest abounds with opportunities to enjoy the varied talent that comes from our streets, and this is the year to get out and enjoy every single moment (and note) of it.