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Rockin’ second season at Westside Pavillion

Outdoor concerts are all the rage during the summer and it is even better when you have a venue that is tucked away in a corner surrounded by nature like Black Oak Casino’s Westside Pavilion in Tuolumne. This is the second year for the concert series at the venue that opened last year, delving into a very competitive market. However, Westside attracted significant artists in a variety of genres to the area.

The second year at the Westside Pavilion has seen acts like country group Midland, which kicked off the concert season, legendary rockers Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Sublime with Rome, country artist Chris Young and the sold-out Snoop Dogg and Friends tour that included the Isley Brothers.

BJ Nelson, executive director of Operations for Black Oak Casino’s Westside Pavilion, expressed that they had a full year to figure out their strategy for this year’s concert series as well as booking the talent and maneuvering through the industry.

“Getting talent to commit to a venue that is brand new is an interesting thing because there is a lot of competition in the marketplace for bands and tours to go to,” said Nelson. “We are always looking for good opportunities. We are very happy with the results from the concert season last year. We had to start from scratch of building the venue and marketing the venue and creating a brand within our brand. We learned some lessons on what is more successful than other stuff.”

Westside Pavilion is on the map and artists are making their way through this area from country, classic rock, to rap and hip hop. The shows will continue through October.

August features a performance by Pitbull, Bush and Live on their Altimate Tour and then country artist Brantley Gilbert will bring his country roots with a rock vibe to Tuolumne.

Rockers Bad Company, led by singer and songwriter Paul Rodgers, along with drummer Simon Kirke have been entertaining people since their formation in 1973. They will be performing at Westside on Sept. 1. They are an established classic rock band that has brought great hits like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad”, “Feel Like Makin’ Love”, “Ready for Love”, “Live for the Music,” and “Shooting Star” to the masses. The other bandmates are Howard Leese on lead guitar and Todd Ronning on the bass that will be joining Rodgers and Kirke on stage. 

“We are playing a lot of those in the set and I am writing a lot of songs,” added Rodgers. “The band is writing songs too. The audience loves to sing that with me. Also Todd has a new release so we are doing a new acoustic song. So yeah, I like to push the envelope and do more new stuff.”

Rodgers’ son Steve will be joining the guys on the bill, opening for Bad Company and bringing the fans his own material. Also on the ticket is The Wallflowers and the show begins at 7 p.m.

“I think they can expect a rock show because that is what we do,” said Rodgers. “We are going to play the big songs and some new things too. It is really cooking up gas right now. My favorite part of touring is playing on stage. I love getting on stage and meeting crowds.”

Although he has been in the business for quite some time, it has not changed the fact that being authentic is very important for Rodgers which is what he learned from some his musical influences throughout the years like Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Jimmi Hendrix, Queen, and Eric Clapton. 

“The desire to be authentic actually is what keeps me going and I love what I heard when I listened to all those people that I  

mentioned,” stated Rodgers. “I heard something pure in the music that touched my heart and I have been emulating that for many many years now. I am still trying to reach those kinds of peaks that the people before me went and laid the ground work for. So that is what inspires me is the music itself and the energy it creates and the life blood of my life.”

This year the VIP experience has been turned up a notch with a buffet for ticket holders prior to the concert. They will still have reserved parking, premium seating, a lounge area with shade, seats and televisions, vendors with shorter lines and nice restrooms for the price of a VIP ticket.

Rounding out the concert series for 2019 is Peter Frampton and his final tour with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening on Oct. 6 and Foreigner Double Vision: Then and Now on Oct. 12. 

There are general admission seats in the lawn area where guests can bring chairs and blankets, reserved seating or VIP options. 

With the competition from bigger established venues like Shoreline, Concord Pavilion, Toyota Amphitheatre, and the Golden 1 Center, the 6,000 seat new outdoor venue in its second year has been able to pull some big talent to the area making it a closer drive to enjoy great musical entertainment in the Central Valley.