The bucolic Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia has been host to a number of great events over the years, but it's rare that you can experience the double-header that I got to last Saturday.
During the day, Merriweather hosted the 20th annual "Wine in the Woods," an all-day festival featuring local wineries and vineyards sponsored by Howard County Recreation and Parks. The wooded grounds are an ideal setting for various wine tents, where you can sample or buy whatever vino fits your fancy. A lot of Maryland wines are on the sweeter side, which paired nicely with the unseasonably warm weather.
The weather helped to draw a pretty huge crowd, who were able to enjoy two stages of live music—everything from reggae band Jah Works and zydeco band The Crawdaddies to Dave Matthews tribute band Crowded Streets.
The music was just getting started as "Wine in the Woods" wrapped up at 6 p.m., because Saturday's ticket included lawn admission to Merriweather's concert that night: Justin Jones, the Drive-By Truckers, and Lucinda Williams. One qualm I had with this transition is that guests were not allowed to bring open wine bottles (which were uncorked when you bought them) and wine glasses (which were given to you upon entry) into the grounds of the concert. For next year, it would be great to either give out plastic wine glasses or amend the rules, as this was a big challenge for festival go-ers.
That said, seeing three great bands from a blanket on the lawn at Merriweather was a perfect way to conclude our day. I really enjoyed local singer-songwriter Justin Jones, whose twangy Americana was both catchy and creative. (Jones is currently doing a residency at The Ottobar, where you can see him on May 28 and June 4.) I've seen the Drive-By Truckers several times before, and their set didn't disappoint, as their hard-driving Southern rock soared through the amphitheatre. Lucinda Williams followed the Truckers, a move I'm guessing was a nod to her enduring folk and country career, but her slower songs almost seemed anti-climactic after such an explosive set.
All in all, it was a great Saturday at Merriweather. It made me feel lucky to have a venue, which hosts a plethora of great events, just 20 minutes down the road.