Country stars, Meat Loaf and Maroon 5 will all invade the Meadowbrook Pavilion this summer.
Located in Gilford, N.H., Meadowbrook offers roughly 25 shows a year from Memorial Day through the end of September. About half of its 6,600 seats are under the covered pavilion, and the rest are lawn seats.
The venue has been nominated three times by the Academy of Country Music as being one of the five best concert venues in the country.
“It’s kinda cool being lumped in with the big guys,” said Chris Lockwood, Meadowbrook’s director of marketing.
On Monday, the summer season at Meadowbrook kicks off with the “Country Throwdown Tour,” featuring familiar names like Little Big Town, Montgomery Gentry and Jamey Johnson, plus up-and-coming artists like Emily West.
Other big shows planned over the next few months include the Zac Brown Band, Paramore, Creed, and Sheryl Crow.
“So far, we are way ahead for ticket sales,” Lockwood said.
He attributes much of that early success to social networking.
“We got real serious about social networking, and we did it in-house,” Lockwood said. “We went from no following to having 250 people on Twitter and 7,000 friends on Facebook.”
Around Christmas, Lockwood posted on Facebook “The 12 Days of Christmas,” giving away gift cards, circle memberships and asking questions about what shows people wanted to see.
“What we noticed,” he said, “is that the Facebook page created interest and people wanted to talk about the music.”
Many of the bands that were the most requested on Facebook were the ones that made it to the Meadowbrook line-up.
“Everyone was screaming on Facebook for Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean, and Styx and Foreigner,” Lockwood said.
Every year, the bands that come through the venue change.
“We see who is touring and coming through New England,” Lockwood said. “We also have to think about what we can sell. We know country and classic rock sells well, and we try to continue to get current and younger acts.”
This year, the acts will reach a much younger age, with two shows of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” the traveling version of the popular children’s television show. For older audiences, NPR’s “Prairie Home Companion” stage show will also make an appearance.
“If anything, our line-up has become more diverse,” Lockwood said. “We try really hard to get something for everyone. Last year, we did a little bit older with Tom Jones, and we had jazz for the first time with Diana Krall.”
But it all gets started with Monday’s “Country Throwdown,” an all-day event featuring 15 artists.
“It’s a huge undertaking and put together by same people who organize the ‘Warped Tour’ and ‘Coachella’,” Lockwood said. “We are the only venue in New England to get this festival.”
IF YOU GO:
What: “Country Throwdown Tour”
When: Monday, May 31, at 1:25 p.m.
Where: Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion, 72 Meadowbrook Lane, Gilford, N.H.
How: Tickets are $29 to $60. For tickets, call 293-4700 or visit www.meadowbrook.net
UPCOMING SHOWS AT MEADOWBROOK:
Country Throwdown Tour, Monday, May 31, 1 p.m., with Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town, Jack Ingram, Eric Church, Emily West
Styx and Foreigner with Kansas, Sunday, June 13, 7 p.m.
Fauxfest, Friday, June 18, 4 p.m.
Scorpions with Vince Neil, Wednesday, June 23, 7:30 p.m.
Weird Al Yankovic, Saturday, June 26, 8 p.m.
Meat Loaf, Saturday, July 3, 8 p.m.
Cheap Trick and Squeeze, Saturday, July 17, 7:30 p.m.
Zac Brown Band, Monday, July 19, 7 p.m.
Happy Together Tour, Friday, July 23, 8 p.m.
Heart, Friday, July 30, 7:30 p.m.
Maroon 5 and Guster, Saturday, July 31, 7:30 p.m.
Jason Aldean, Sunday, Aug. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Paramore with Tegan and Sara, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 6:30 p.m.
Goo Goo Dolls, Vertical Horizon, Friday, Aug. 6, 8 p.m.
Sheryl Crow with Colbie Caillat, Thursday, Aug. 12, 8 p.m.
Sublime with Rome, Friday, Augl 13, 6:30 p.m.
A Prairie Home Companion, Thursday, Aug. 19, 8 p.m.
Creed, Friday, Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Reba with Steve Azar, Saturday, Aug. 21, 8 p.m.
Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon, Friday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m.
Yo Gabba Gabba!, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Sugarland, Sunday, Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m.