Who's playing at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in 2023? Here's what to expect
HAMPTON — I’m not going to lie; I’m still feeling the snow that came down and buried the drive last week. Nearly two feet at my house. All that said, spring has officially arrived, and the bulk of that storm and all storms prior has mostly melted away. Funny how that happens.
And though my arms and legs are still sore from pushing all that stuff around, they’re not sore enough to prevent me from getting over the Casino Ballroom at Hampton Beach for the start of its 2023 season this Saturday, March 25 with Third Eye Blind.
Seacoastonline had the opportunity to toss some questions at Andy Herrick, the Casino Ballroom's marketing director, to give you a little insight into what’s in store for 2023.
Seacoastonline: Opening week! What are the emotions that fall in place when the Casino Ballroom is set to plug in the metal detectors and prop the doors open for a brand-new season?
Herrick: It's super exciting. Cliché to say but it’s like Christmas, we’ve been shopping for all these awesome bands and now everyone gets to start opening their “sonic presents." So many people put in so much preparation to get these shows and make them happen, so the reward for us is seeing a room full of people having a blast.
Seacoastonline: You’re kicking things off with Third Eye Blind on March 25 (Saturday!) March feels slightly early? I mean, it’s a day earlier than last year, but, yeah, are these seasons starting earlier and earlier? When does the season generally commence? Or I suppose, what’s the earliest you’ve ever started? I think I just set the record for iterations of “early” in the same question.
Herrick: You know what they say, the early bird gets the earliest rock show; earlier the better! (Tried to get some more in there for you!)
Our opening weekend tends to be around the same time each year. The first March show we ever did was in 2006 with Ratdog, it was the only date they had available, and we had such a special relationship with them it was worth risking the cold weather (and possibility of pipes freezing). The earliest we have ever opened was 2016, our first show that year was Billy Currington on March 24th (so we are close this year).
Seacoastonline: How’d last season fare? What were the highlights? What shows left the crowd begging for more? What shows left the bands asking you, "Where the heck do you find these people?"
Herrick: Last year was awesome, finally “back” in full swing, felt great. Seemed to be some pretty magic nights. Some of the ones that stick out were Cole Swindell, Bonnie Raitt, Weird Al, STP, Lee Brice, Joe Bonamassa two nights with Kip Moore, Nate Bargatze’s debut in the room. So many fun nights. In terms of that special crowd/artist connection the two I remember most were Joe Samba, who kicked things off for Badfish, asking his lovely girlfriend to marry him onstage. The place went bonkers. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention JJ Grey & Mofro, who once again just nailed it — go see that band.
Seacoastonline: Comedian Theo Von follows up the Third Eye Blind opener. He’ll be doing two nights (March 30 and 31). Dude is funny. What do you think the percentage is of music to comedy shows you all do in a year?
Herrick: Our comedy series is about 15% of our total entertainment offering. The capacity of the Ballroom is considered a large venue for comedians, so we get some unbelievably funny comedians. If they are playing at a room the size of the Ballroom, they are an established road-tested act for sure, so the quality is fantastic.
Seacoastonline: Riffing on those Von shows for a minute more: I know you’re a fan of '80s fashion. Given that, Von rocks a pretty serious mullet. And he’s not alone. What brought those back? You ever sport one?
Herrick: Pretty sure TikTok brought back the mullet. Did I ever have one? You know it! There was a 22-month period starting in late 1988 where I went full mullet->rat tail->flattop; complete identity crisis.
Seacoastonline: Buddy Guy’s hitting the room on June 8. He’s certainly no stranger to the venue, but this time around happens to be billed as his “Damn Right Farewell Tour.” You really think he’s hanging it up after this? If yes, dang, what a run. But I highly suspect he won’t be able to stay away from the road. What’s he gonna do with all that spare time? Play to his cats?
Herrick: Man, Buddy is 86 years old! He’s a living legend and my thoughts are that he will probably stop touring, but he’ll never stop playing. If you don’t think playing music keeps you young forever, you’ve never seen Buddy Guy.
Seacoastonline: Lot of tribute acts on the schedule, which, like the resurgence of the mullet, seems to be “a thing,” far and wide. Why do you think that is? I’ve got no issue with people pounding down a few and belting out familiar songs that are omnipresent in all our lives. But, yeah, why do you think tribute acts are finding so much success?
Herrick: Two reasons, quality is high with some of them, and the price is right. If you can see Voyage (for instance) play dead-on versions of Journey tunes for 20% of the cost to see Journey with a cold beer in your hand, that is a fantastic Saturday night out. Historically it makes sense, it’s kind of like the way an orchestra interprets Beethoven right, we are watching super talented musicians playing this classic rock music that we all love so much. This is especially true for a band that can no longer tour, like Led Zeppelin or The Grateful Dead; you can’t see the real thing, but you can still have a night out with like-minded people and enjoy yourself.
Seacoastonline: I (literally) just saw you announce Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. That’s amazing. I suppose I’m a fan of tribute acts …
Herrick: They might be at the top. They take the Dead’s music, which has basically become the American songbook, and completely make it their own. You gotta see it.
Seacoastonline: Have you thought to ask One Night of Queen to change their name to Two Nights of Queen? At least in April? (If you need an opener for any of the comedy acts, I know a guy …)
Herrick: Ha-ha — Dude, did you hack our Facebook messenger feed? There are a lot of comics out there stealing your bit.
Seacoastonline: What else you looking forward to this summer? Who is rolling through that will get you bouncing around the ballroom floor?
Herrick: We had to move Joss Stone’s show in 2021 so we are hoping to get her back, she is fantastic, same with ZZ Top. There are so many shows we would love to have, perhaps by the time this goes to print we will have even finalized a show with Ween. That should make for a pretty awesome year.
Seacoastonline: What else do folks need to know?
Herrick: Our schedule is really coming together to offer something for everyone. We will be adding a TON of additional shows so it’s important to keep an eye on the website all year long. The one thing you can bet on at the Casino this summer is a hell of a good time.
Seacoastonline: Let’s bring this full circle: Any curious confiscations over the years from the aforementioned metal detectors? What’s the lost and found situation at the Casino Ballroom? Do those items wind up in the venue’s yankee swap? OK, I’ll see myself out …
Herrick: You didn’t get my Swiss Army stocking stuffer with someone else’s initials on it this year? Nah, just kidding, it’s not very exciting; mostly umbrellas.
2023 Casino Ballroom lineup (as of March 24)
03.25.23 – Third Eye Blind
03.30.23 – Theo Von
03.31.23 – Theo Von
04.08.23 – Get The Led Out
04.14.23 – Brit Floyd
04.15.23 – Nikki Glaser (2 shows)
04.26.23 – Bush
04.28.23 – One Night of Queen
04.29.23 – One Night of Queen
05.06.23 – Fran Turner & The Interrupters
05.11.23 – Kook & The Gang with The Spinners
05.12.23 – Beartooth & Trivium
05.13.23 – Dylan Scott
05.20.23 – Ashley McBryde
05.25.23 – Collective Soul
05.27.23 – Tower of Power
06.01.23 – Sam Morril
06.02.23 – Umphrey’s McGee
06.03.23 – Voyage The Ultimate Journey Tribute
06.08.23 – Buddy Guy
06.11.23 – The Happy Together Tour
06.16.23 – Little River Band
06.17.23 – Matt Fraser America’s Top Psychic Medium
06.24.23 – Dirty Deeds The AC/DC Experience
06.28.23 – Cinderella’s Tom Keifer & Winger
06.29.23 – Chase Rice
06.30.23 – Michael Franti & Spearhead
07.01.23 – Badfish A Tribute to Sublime
07.20.23 – Dirty Heads
07.21.23 – The Struts
07.22.23 – Kathleen Madigan
07.25.23 – Social Distortion
07.28.23 – The Fab Four Ultimate Tribute
08.05.23 – Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
08.06.23 – Scotty McCreery
08.10.23 – Legion of Skanks
08.11.23 – Styx
08.24.23 – Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line
08.25.23 – Gabby Barrett
09.07.23 – George Thorogood & The Destroyers
09.16.23 - Ween
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom 2023 lineup kicks off