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Lively mix of acts set for Britt

Joan Baez, Tori Amos, Trombone Shorty and a host of others will perform
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Lyle Lovett and His Large Band will perform at the Britt Festivals July 17. Photo courtesy of Britt FestivalsCourtesy of Britt Festivals
 Posted: 2:00 AM April 10, 2014

Folk legend Joan Baez, singer-songwriter Tori Amos, country rockers Montgomery Gentry and comic Brian Regan are among the acts coming to the Britt Festivals in Jacksonville this season.

The season, announced Wednesday at a members event, includes 27 headliners, including reggae artist Matisyahu, indie darlings The Head and the Heart, rockers the Tedeschi Trucks Band and pop sensation The Fray.

More acts are expected to be announced.

"We made 108 offers," said Britt Executive Director Donna Briggs. "Our goal was 29 shows. ... We're going to be announcing more next week."

The season includes soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples, perennial Britt favorite Michael Franti, ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band and New Orleans ambassador Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue.

In a welcome break for concertgoers, ticket prices have remained essentially flat. Most reserved seats for headliners are in the $40 to $60-something range, while some lawn seats can be had for less than $30.

"We ran the numbers, and the average ticket is actually down by 75 cents," Briggs said.

Britt's new alcohol policy will remain in effect this year, with most concerts open to guests bringing in their own beer and wine, but several shows (10 this year) are excluded from that tradition, with consumers limited to buying beer and wine on the hillside.

The most visible changes this year will be the new Performance Garden Stage with its own dressing room, and new, wheelchair-accessible restrooms and concessions. The changes stem from a three-year capital campaign through which Britt raised $1 million. The festival is continuing to sell customized pavers to patrons for $250 and $450 each.

Britt's booking guru, Mike Sturgill, plans to book primarily local and regional performers for the intimate Performance Garden on evenings when the main stage is dark. The space offers 150 to 300 seats, depending on how it's configured, versus 2,200 for the main hillside.

The Table Rock Stage, which presented local and regional musicians last year, will remain on the site but won't be used much.

Briggs trumpeted the season as one of the most varied ever.

"I know I've said it for three years," she said, "but this is the most diverse I've seen. Last season was good for classic rock and county, but this year there's also jazz, blues, comedy, country, indie, gospel, folk ..."

The season will kick off June 7 with the annual Taste of Summer celebration in Jacksonville with live music, food, street performers, a wine walk, a beer garden, classic cars and more.

A Best of Britt benefit June 26 will feature music, food from local restaurants, wine from more than 20 wineries of the Southern Oregon Wine Association, beer from Western Beverage and Ninkasi Brewing, and a headline performance by ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro. Proceeds will benefit Britt's education programs.

Tickets for Britt's 2014 season will go on sale Friday, April 11, to Britt members and on May 16 to the general public. Visit or call 541-773-6077 or 800-882-7488. The box office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at 216 W. Main St., Medford.

Reach Medford freelance writer Bill Varble at

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