The latest big-name performer joining the lineup of Tanglewood’s Popular Artists series this summer is Elvis Costello, making his debut here with his backup band, The Imposters.
On the bill with guitarist Charlie Sexton and with guests Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets, the show is slated for July 1 at 7 p.m. in the Shed. Tickets go on sale to the public on 10 a.m. April 6 at tanglewood.org or by calling 888-266-1200.
Lowe and Los Straitjackets performed with The Mavericks on last summer’s Popular Artists lineup.
As a result of the booking announced on Tuesday, the long Independence Day holiday weekend will feature four nights of shows, including Robert Plant and Alison Krauss on July 2 and James Taylor on July 3 and 4, both listed as sold out.
All Popular Artists shows are in the Koussevitzky Music Shed, seating 5,000 with 13,000 more at capacity on the Lawn.
Costello, 68, began performing in 1969 under his birth name, Declan Patrick McManus. Winner of a Grammy in 2020 and multiple previous awards, he married Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall at Elton John’s home in 2003.
Of Irish descent and raised in Liverpool, England, he legally changed his name in 1977, based on Elvis Presley and on Day Costello, his father Ross McManus’s stage name. Then in 1986, he changed his legal name to Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus.
Costello’s first album, for Stiff Records, was “My Aim Is True,” a big hit in England. He gained an international distribution deal from Columbia Records and with his first backup group, The Attractions, he released several critically acclaimed, strong-selling albums as part of the British punk and new wave movement. His first six albums were produced by Nick Lowe.
A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Costello and the Attractions were admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
Introducing him at the ceremony, Elton John said: “Elvis Costello took the literacy of folk music and broke it wide open against the ragged edges of punk. He was one of the best and most consistent songwriters of his generation, but he never used that as an excuse to get repetitive. Elvis Costello has experimented with everything from punk to opera. … His songs have no musical boundaries.”
Since splitting with the Attractions in 1986, Costello has performed mostly as a solo artist and with other groups such as The Imposters as his backup partners since 2002.
Widely considered one of the most influential singer-songwriters on the pop scene, Costello plays piano, guitar and harmonica.
He is also known for collaborations with renowned popular music composer Burt Bacharach, who died Feb. 8. Their first album, “Painted from Memory,” was released in 1998.
Costello has partnered with Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Lucinda Williams, Johnny Cash, Kid Rock, Brian Eno, and Rubén Blades, and with classical artists, including the Brodsky Quartet and Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter.
In 2019, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Costello the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to music.
Costello’s lyrics employ a wide vocabulary and frequent wordplay. His music is based on many diverse genres; All Music, the U.S. online music database, described him as a “pop encyclopedia” able to “reinvent the past in his own image.”
He has written several original songs for films, including “You” for “Notting Hill in 1999 and “The Scarlet Tide” from “Cold Mountain” in 2003, with T-Bone Burnett. Costello’s memoir, “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink,” was published in 2016.
“It was difficult to develop an original style,” he has acknowledged. “I have no idea who it was I might have been imitating, whether consciously or unconsciously. I get to play festival occasions with a jazz orchestra or a symphony orchestra. Believe me, that stops it from getting monotonous. Each performance requires slightly different dynamics, and really keeps the music from getting routine.”
Nick Lowe, 74, the English singer-songwriter, musician and producer, has released a string of well-reviewed solo albums. He plays guitar, bass guitar, piano and harmonica. Lowe has performed with Costello in concert, as a producer on albums and as a co-songwriter. Lowe has also worked as a producer with Graham Parker and The Pretenders.
Lowe performs high-energy, guitar-driven rock and roll. In 2019, he began touring with the American instrumental rock band known since 1994 as Los Straitjackets. The group was first formed in Nashville in 1988 as The Straitjackets.
“Apart from being a fantastic rock ‘n’ roll band, they know how to play tons of different styles really well,” Lowe has said. “They can knock you out a version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s ‘The Look of Love’ with no trouble at all.”
Los Straitjackets perform in concert wearing their trademark Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling masks. They have released 14 studio, eight live and four collaboration albums.8 p.m. June 22: NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” in its 25th season (June 22, 8 p.m.) with its rapid-fire, satirical take on the news, with host Peter Sagal and official judge and scorekeeper Bill Kurtis.
7 p.m. June 23: The Steve Miller Band, formed in 1966 in San Francisco, is joined by Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers in their Tanglewood debut.
7 p.m. July 1: Elvis Costello and The Imposters with Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets (July 1, 7 p.m.) Tickets on sale April 6 at 10 a.m.
7:30 p.m. July 2: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Plant, lead singer and lyricist of the English rock band Led Zeppelin makes his Tanglewood debut. Bluegrass country singer and violinist Krauss last appeared at Tanglewood in 2018. Singer-songwriter and guitarist JD McPherson (first time at Tanglewood) opens.
8 p.m. July 3 and 4: James Taylor and his All-Star Band, both shows listed as sold out.
7 p.m., Aug. 24: Train, formed 30 years ago in San Francisco, with country music band Parmalee (Tanglewood debut).