Brookhaven festival’s free concert lineup: Band of Horses, Hanson, the Fray, Don McLean, All-4-One

The event is being held March 25-26.
The Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival features multiple acts for free March 25-26 including Don McLean, Hanson and the Fray. AJC FILE PHOTOS

Credit: AJCFIL

Credit: AJCFIL

The Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival features multiple acts for free March 25-26 including Don McLean, Hanson and the Fray. AJC FILE PHOTOS

Skyrocketing costs for big-name concerts has made the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival an appealing option for budget-conscious music lovers.

The city this year budgeted $250,000 to pay for multiple acts with major hits under their belts to appear March 25 and 26 for free at Blackburn Park. The headliners include indie rock band Band of Horses, family pop band Hanson (1997 No. 1 hit “MMMBop”), singer-songwriter Don McLean (1971 No. 1 hit “American Pie”) , Deep Blue Something (1995 top 5 hit “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”), The Fray (top 10 hits such as “Over My Head,” “How to Save a Life” and “You Found Me.”) and R&B act All-4-One (No. 1 song in 1994 “I Swear”).

Ben Bridwell, lead singer of Band of Horses, performs at the Shaky Knees Music Festival on Sunday, May 1, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

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In recent years, major acts such as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Rick Springfield, the Wallflowers and Five for Fighting have performed at the Brookhaven festival. The event attracts 40,000 people over a typical weekend, according to communications director Burke Brennan.

Brookhaven mayor John Ernst, in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said the city has increased the budget for musical talent slightly over the years. He believes this is a way not just to entertain Brookhaven residents but shine a brighter light on the city itself for those who live around Atlanta.

“It’s a branding effort and a marketing effort,” Ernst said. “Elected officials from other cities and federal and state officials come by. It’s a way for us to get together outside of work.”

He said the festival is supplemented by sponsorships and while it does not break even, gets closer each year. “It’s also a major boon to our local restaurants and hotels that weekend,” he said.

The festival uses Live Nation, the largest promoter in the nation, to help find acts for the festival that fit its budget. Ernst said the goal is to offer a wide variety of acts that appeal to multiple generations.

“People know a lot of these songs and I’m excited to see a legend like McLean,” Ernst said.

And the schedule for the music acts are family friendly: concerts start at noon and will conclude by 6 p.m. both days.

Don McLean rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Feb. 22, 2019. He'll play the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival this weekend. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

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In past years, the festival booked a few country and R&B acts, but rock and pop appear to be the primary genres of choice. (All-4-One, the R&B group, was added after the initial schedule announcement this year.)

Some other cities in metro Atlanta have set aside money to book name acts as well. Peachtree Corners last year hosted Vertical Horizon, the Spin Doctors and Everclear on its town green on top of several tribute bands, all for no charge. Canton’s Etowah River Park featured the Atlanta Rhythm Section for free last May. Chamblee brought the Plain White T’s to City Hall Plaza last August at no cost. And on April 28 of this year, Sandy Springs on the plaza on City Green will feature a free show with Better Than Ezra, who had a big 1990s alt-rock hit “Good.”

According to Pollstar, the average ticket price for the top 100 tours in North America during the first half of 2022 was $108.20, up 18% from $91.86 during the comparable period in 2019. And most acts of even modest renown will charge at least $30 to $40 a ticket before fees at venues like the Variety Playhouse, Center Stage or the Eastern.

Those high costs have also generated a strong secondary market for cover and tribute bands at places like Madlife Stage & Studios in Woodstock and the two 37 Main venues in Avondale Estates and Buford.

Band of Horses last appeared in Atlanta in August 2022 opening for the Black Keys at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. It also appeared at the Shaky Knees Festival at Central Park in Atlanta last May. In earlier years, the band has performed at Music Midtown, the Coca-Cola Roxy at the Battery and as an opener for My Morning Jacket.

Hanson headlined a show at the Eastern last July and in recent years has appeared at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, Buckhead Theatre and Center Stage in Midtown.

McLean was also here in 2022 at Atlanta Symphony Hall and before the pandemic appeared at the City Winery in Atlanta.

The festival also includes the Splash Artists’ Market, Kidz Zone, Pet World, Classic Car Show, and food trucks.

Headliners at the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival from past years:

2018: Keith Anderson, Craig Morgan, Edwin McCain, Five for Fighting

2019: The Wallflowers, Smash Mouth, the Spin Doctors, the Romantics

2020: Cancelled due to COVID-19 (Rachel Platten and Better Than Ezra were scheduled headliners)

2021: Rick Springfield, The Revivalists, The Amy Ray Band, Better Than Ezra, Jagged Edge, Brian Littrell

2022: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Drivin N Cryin, Anderson East, Howie Day

Here is the approximate lineup for this weekend’s acts:

Saturday, March 25

Eliot Bronson, 12:30 p.m.

Deep Blue Something, 1:15 p.m.

Don McLean, 2:45 p.m.

Band of Horses, 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 26

Little Hopes, 12:00 p.m.

Lissie, 12:45 p.m.

All-4-One 2 p.m.

The Fray 3:30 p.m.

Hanson 4:45 p.m.