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Alameda County Fair announces 2022 concert lineup
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Purple Reign, performing the music of Prince, are among several tribute acts in the concert lineup for the 2022 Alameda County Fair.

One thing I've done throughout the pandemic is listen to more and more music than ever before.

And a more eclectic catalog to boot. Partially because of the many days working alone in the Pleasanton Weekly office in 2020 and 2021; partially because we started paying for a streaming subscription. 

This column is being brought to you courtesy of Prince in my earbuds (if the lyrical reference in the headline wasn't enough of a clue).

Hits from the late great musician, who died six years ago Thursday, in tribute form will be among the acts gracing the main stage at this summer's Alameda County Fair, which this week confirmed the majority of its 2022 concert lineup. 

The fair in Pleasanton usually delivers a remarkable quality and variety of performances, and this year's Big O Tires Concert Series promises much of the same -- on paper, anyway.

Concerts were one of the many missed opportunities for me in 2020 as the Bay Area and (most) of the country aggressively scaled back public event crowds out of necessity amid the initial COVID-19 surges. 

We were supposed to go see Guns N' Roses at Oracle Park that summer -- my third time seeing them since their reunion -- and a trip to Shoreline to watch Matchbox Twenty with my mom was to follow that fall. It would be for naught. 

I did go to one live show last year, a stellar triple-bill with Weezer, Fall Out Boy and the Bay Area's own Green Day headlining. It was great having a communal experience like that again, albeit with me and my brother diligently wearing our masks at the outdoor San Francisco venue.

I'm not sure if I'll get out to a fair concert this year -- because, of course, we'll have our little guy in tow for his first trip to the fairgrounds. But we'll see...

The 2022 lineup is very appealing to my musical tastes, and really it has a little bit of something for almost everyone. 

"We are delighted to be able to bring such a great variety of performers to the Fair this year," Tiffany Cadrette, marketing and communications manager for the fair, said in a statement Wednesday. "Our concerts are one of the things our guests always look forward to, and we take a lot of pride in featuring such high-caliber entertainers." 

Kicking off the shows will be R&B artist Ginuwine on opening night, June 17. The rest of the first weekend features Neon Trees (best known for their 2011 banger "Everybody Talks") on June 18 and L.A.vation on Father's Day, the self-proclaimed "world's greatest tribute to U2."

Cover groups are often a popular part of the fair concert series. In addition to L.A.vation and the Prince-inspired show I referenced before, Purple Reign on June 26, other tribute concerts on the docket are Bonfire (AC/DC) on July 9, BB King Experience on July 3, Stealin' Chicago on June 23 and Mustache Harbor on June 25 (and I'm curious what exactly their "hardcore soft rock" cover catalog consists of).

Cover songs fascinate me, or more specifically, when I find out a famous recording was actually somebody else's song first. 

Like when I first learned "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" wasn't an original by '80s rock band Great White (at the fair on July 6); it was first written and recorded by Ian Hunter in 1975. Most recently, I was floored at the news "Ol' '55" -- my absolute favorite Eagles track -- was a Tom Waits song.

As you can tell, I'm a classic and alternative rock guy first. To fill that fix, the fair also features 38 Special (June 22) and Blue Öyster Cult (July 7) on the schedule. They'll surely be big draws.

Rounding out the stacked lineup are country star Clay Walker (June 24), Oakland's own Sheila E. (June 30), hip-hop artist Everlast (July 1), Con Funk Shun (an R&B/funk band with origins in Vallejo, where I was born) on July 8 and closing out the series on July 10, Mexican technobanda group Banda Machos.

Two dates on the calendar, June 29 and July 2, still need a concert act to be booked. Oh, and as usual in recent years, there will be no concert on Independence Day itself.

Each show runs from 8-9:15 p.m. Tickets for reserved seats went on sale starting this Friday online. All advance-purchase concert prices include general admission to the fair for the day of the show. 

It will be nice to have the fair back in its familiar summer slot for the first time in three years. I'm sure many of us are ready to (...dad joke incoming...) party like it's 2019.

Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Embarcadero Media East Bay Division since February 2017.