Barenaked Ladies perform at the new Festival Grounds outdoor stage in Mercer County Park on July 2.

By Meagan Douches

Perhaps nothing epitomizes summer fun more than good music performed live on an outdoor stage. Area residents will have an opportunity to enjoy the experience right in their own backyard at Mercer County’s newest venue — the new Mercer County Festival Grounds at Mercer County Park.

Renowned alt-rock band Barenaked Ladies will christen the new outdoor stage with a performance on July 2. The Ladies have been producing music steadily since 1988, with hit singles including, “If I Had $1000000,” “One Week,” and “Pinch Me.”

The July 2 show is part of BNL’s Last Summer on Earth Tour featuring Violent Femmes and Colin Hay of the group Men at Work. It is just one of the concerts lined up for Mercer County Park’s new concert venue, which features reserved stage-front seating as well as general admission lawn seating. Upcoming events include the free summer concert series as well as performances by pop rock band R5 on July 18 and country star Lee Brice on Aug. 13.

This year’s Last Summer on Earth Tour celebrates BNL’s new album Silverball, which was released on June 2. Bassist and contributing songwriter Jim Creeggan describes the new album as, “It sounds like Barenaked Ladies, but Barenaked Ladies in a whole new suit.”

Naturally, the Barenaked Ladies’ sound has progressed over the years, says Creeggan. The group originally started as an acoustic band before developing the alternative rock style they are known for today. When keyboardist Kevin Hearn joined in 1995, BNL added synthesizers and experimental electric guitar to create a more melodic sound. While the band has adapted their music over the years, Creeggan insists that they’ve stayed true to their unique tone.

“Silverball is new material inspired by new things in our lives,” Creeggan said, “but it brings us right back to the days when we were playing in our parents’ living rooms, when we just had bass, drums, guitar and harmonies.”

Aside from many hit singles, the band is known for their comedic on-stage banter and impromptu raps between songs. Creeggan recalls a tune that the group concocted during one of their shows in New Jersey.

“We played in a pavilion and there were all these pigeons in the rafters,” Creeggan said. “So we were getting pooped on, and we came up with this rap that we improvised called ‘Bird Poop.’ And the good people of New Jersey were witness to this rap.”

The Barenaked Ladies draw details from the crowd and the local area to make up their signature improvisation.

“Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it falls flat on its face,” Creeggan said.

Either way, fans agree that the group is always entertaining on stage.

Barenaked Ladies has played every kind of venue imaginable in their 24 years of touring. But over the last several years, the band has taken on a new direction focusing on smaller communities like Mercer County.

“It’s my favorite way to play, to play for a community feel,” Creeggan said. “It’s like you’re right inside communities, and you get to play for more families. We have families back home, and I enjoy that kind of community gathering. You get to play for an audience that has a common history.”

Creeggan and the other members of Barenaked Ladies are looking forward to exploring the local area during their visit to Mercer County. Creeggan says he is especially interested in discovering local bike and running trails.

General admission tickets for the Barenaked Ladies show on July 2 are still available. Call (888) 929-7849 or visit AEGlive.com to purchase tickets.