Joshua Tehee

Mid-State Fair, Vina Robles Amphitheatre provide road-trip music this summer

American singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor, known for the pop single “All About That Bass,” plays Wednesday, July 22, opening night for the California Mid-State Fair.
American singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor, known for the pop single “All About That Bass,” plays Wednesday, July 22, opening night for the California Mid-State Fair. Amy Sussman/Invision/AP

The California Mid-State Fair opens Wednesday, July 22, in Paso Robles, which is worth a mention because its mid-summer in Fresno and that brings an exodus of travelers to the Central Coast almost every weekend.

Also, the fair’s concert lineup is worth the drive.

Here’s a quick look at some of the acts on the bill.

▪ Meghan Trainor, plays 7:30 p.m., opening night. The producer/singer is known for her single “All About That Bass,” which ranks high on my list of songs that get stuck in my head (also: songs I love to sing. So it’s okay). It spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 last year.

▪ Brantley Gilbert, plays Sunday, July 26, with Cold Ford in a show that will appeal to new-school country fans.

▪ Alan Jackson will appease more traditional country fans. He plays Tuesday, July 28, on his 25th Anniversary tour.

▪ American Idol judge (and Grammy winner) Keith Urban plays Wednesday, July 29.

▪ Def Leppard fills the classic rock niche. The “Rock of Ages” band plays Monday, July 27, with fellow ’80s-rockers Tesla.

▪ The big draw though, has to be Motley Crue, which plays Saturday, July 25, with shock-rock pioneer Alice Cooper. The show is part of the band’s run down to its promised final show, Dec. 31, 2015 at Staples Center in Los Angeles (#RIPMotleyCrue).

These show are all in the Chumash Grandstand Arena and start at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary, see the Mid-State Fair’s website,, for details.

On the fair’s second-tier Fort Frontier stage, cow-bell rockers Blue Oyster Cult, play 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 29.

Also scheduled: Mini Kiss, the Kiss tribute band made up of little people. Mini Kiss appeared alongside the actual band in a Dr. Pepper Super Bowl commercial in 2010 and has been on “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” “The George Lopez Show” and “The Conan O’Brian Show.” The band plays 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy plays Saturday, Aug. 1, if you’re itching for some ’90s swing-revival nostalgia. Flock of Seagulls plays the following night, Sunday, Aug. 2, if the ’80s is more your decade.

All shows on the Fort Frontier stage are free with fair admission.

Of course, if you’re planning a road trip to the central coast, the fair isn’t the only place to see live music. You should probably check out Vina Robles Amphiteathre (also in Paso Robles). The venue is in the midst of its annual summer concert series.

Technically, the series spills into fall. Alt.-rock metal band Deftones play Oct. 30. Tickets for the show go on sale 10 a.m. Saturday, July 18.

The 3,300 seat outdoor amphitheater, opened in 2013 and established itself by bringing in name acts like Tony Bennett, Sammy Hagar, The Band PerryColbie Callait, Ray LaMontagne, Weezer and Rob Zombie.

Highlights for this season include Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional. They play 7 p.m. Friday, July 17. Willie Nelson & Family and Alison Krauss & Union Station, plays a mid-week show, Tuesday July, 21.

In August the venues hosts folk singer Jackson Browne (Aug. 8), Hollywood Records act Grace Potter (Aug. 12) and crooner Chris Isaak (Aug. 15) among others. Punk band Social Distortion plays Sept. 11, with Nikki Lane and Drag The River.

Ringo Starr — who recently turned 75 and is seeing a revival in popularity as a songwriter and drummer — comes to the amphitheater Oct. 2 with his All Star Band. Tickets are $69-$125 and on sale now.

A full list of concerts dates and ticket prices can be seen at the amphitheater’s website at