Explore Atlanta

Mood Music

There are activities that signify every season in Atlanta and during the summer, that includes Braves home games at The Ted, 55,000 runners pounding the pavement during July 4th’s Peachtree Road Race and concerts under the stars at Chastain Park Ampitheatre.

From late April until early October, fans of just about every musical genre enjoy artists in an intimate, outdoor setting with a unique ambience not usually found at concerts. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) Delta Classic Chastain and Live Nation Concert Series bring a dizzying array of talent with world-class acts including jazz, pop, rock, country, classical, oldies, blues and R&B greats. Perennial favorites like Harry Connick, Jr., The Gipsy Kings and B.B. King have shared the schedule with less traditional acts like Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Idol and The Kinks. Even Frank Sinatra graced the stage. This 40th-anniversary season of the ASO Delta Classic Chastain promises to have something for everyone.

Carved into a hillside in a wooded, upscale residential Buckhead neighborhood, the ampitheatre—made of concentric arcs of Georgia granite—had humble beginnings. A project of FDR’s New Deal and the Works Progress Administration in the late 1930s, it was largely underused and overlooked as an entertainment facility. That is, until the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra began performing there in the early 1970s. The facility has been updated several times in the last four decades, and it is regularly ranked as a top venue in national polls. Season tickets are often held onto for years and passed down through families, but single-concert tickets are always available. The 6,800-seat venue is not just a place to go for music but rather an experience of sight, sound and taste.

Patrons are encouraged to B.Y.O.E.—Bring Your Own Everything—and people take dining at Chastain seriously. From tubs of carry-out chicken and a six-pack of beer to a cooler with Brie, grapes, votives and a bottle of wine to an elegant affair with appetizers, dinner, dessert, linen tablecloths, fine china, flowers and candelabras—the choices are practically limitless. Concert-goers who forget their snacks can grab concessions; for those who’d rather leave the preparations to others, on-site caterers Proof-of-the-Pudding will take care of every detail including table set-up. Nearby grocery stores often offer “Chastain Baskets,” [Note: Check your tickets. There are a few rare concerts each year that use “row on row” seating and prohibit outside food and drink.]

The plaza area in front of the stage is filled with tables that seat six; this area is usually the site of the most elaborate dining. The aisles of the terrace seat can easily accommodate TV trays, while blankets are permitted in the lawn-seating areas. As daylight fades into night, the glow from thousands of votive candles creates a twinkling landscape from the stage rising to the top of the lawn seating. It’s a beautiful sight for both patrons and artists. Emily Saliers, half of the home-grown Indigo Girls and a Chastain veteran, agrees. “A lot of people don’t like the chatter, but we really like to play there. We always have a great crowd, and we love to play our hometown.” The duo perform with Joan Baez June 14&15; for a full lineup, see below.

Sounds of Simon & Garfunkel with the ASO, June 5 at 8 pm

Sting, June 10 at 8 pm

Joan Baez & Indigo Girls, June 14 & 15 at 7 pm

Heart, June 20 at 8 pm

Straight No Chaser, June 28 at 8 pm

Just Imagine—A Symphonic Tribute to John Lennon with the ASO, June 29 at 8 pm

Chastain Park Amphitheatre: 4469 Stella Dr. NW, Buckhead. Classic Chastain: 404-733-5000, www.classicchastain.com. Live Nation: 404-443-5002, www.chastainseries.com.