July 3, 2012
My foray into interesting summer concert venues this time took me to the banks of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in Webster, MA where for the past 66 years Indian Ranch has been a stronghold for country music and is today a summer-camp setting for music fans of all stripes.
Its longtime allegiance to country and western shapes Indian Ranch’s style to this day. Located off of Gore Road in Webster, about 15 miles south of Worcester, the concert pavilion is part of a larger camp ground where the roads are named after country music stars. Gift shops and concessions are housed in buildings that look like outposts on a stage coach route, or at least a 1950s New England approximation of “old west.”
True to the tradition that brought Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, George Jones and the like to Massachusetts long before there was such a big country audience here, Indian Ranch this summer has some stand-out offerings including Ranch debuts by Wynonna Judd (July 15), Gretchen Wilson (Aug. 12), and Kellie Pickler (Aug. 25) alongside longtime faves Randy Travis (July 22), Charlie Daniels (Sept. 9), and Montgomery Gentry (Sept 22).
In recent years, the Ranch has branched out to rock and pop. The Bacon Brothers (July 8), Gavin DeGraw (July 27), and Bret Michaels (Sept. 23) are slated to be first-time visitors to the Ranch, while Little Feat (Aug. 11) makes a return trip, all of them lures for fans of acoustic pop and classic rock. Earlier in the season, “American Idol’s” teenaged title holder Scotty McCreery sold-out the Ranch’s 2,750 seats, likely introducing a whole new generation to the vintage venue
And it’s hard to imagine any type of music fan not enjoying a show in the Indian Ranch setting. The pavilion is a mix general admission and reserved seating, all nestled into a grove of shading trees. Last season, the Ranch improved its sound and stage designs, though didn’t disrupt the airy environs.
Most concerts are on Saturdays and Sundays and begin at 2 p.m. Gates open a few hours before that allowing show-goers access to a beach and barbecue pits. Patrons can bring in coolers of food and drinks (though no alcohol, which is sold on the premises) and make a day of it before the music even begins.
A full schedule and ticket information is available at indianranch.com
Scott McLennan is a music correspondent for the Boston Globe and former entertainment columnist for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. His work as taken him from the Newport Folk Festival to the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival and many musical points in between. Scott also writes about skiing for Hawthorn Publications.
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