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See the Stars at Chesapeake Beach

Big names and local bands play nightly under the big Bay sky

It’s the perfect summer evening: snow-white sand in your toes, waiters ready to put a drink in your hand, wind tickling the palms and a great band jamming out in front of you.
    For 70 years, Rod N Reel has been a destination for nights like these. In later years, Chesapeake Beach Resort has revived the old beach town’s ambiance. This year’s Rock the Dock live music series has more than 50 acts performing almost every night at the resort’s historic Band Shell. With music under the bandstand and stars all around, you can expect VIP table service and paradise conditions at affordable prices. Most shows are free or charge a small door fee.
    “This is one of the few places in Maryland where you can put your toes in the sand and watch some first-class entertainment,” says resort Vice ­President Wes Donovan.
    Big-name performers join this year’s lineup, like Eddie Money (do you remember Two Tickets to Paradise?), Country Music Hall of Famer Ronnie Milsap, American Pie singer Don McLean and jazz-rock band Blood Sweat & Tears (featuring American Idol Season Four’s Bo Bice). Headliner tickets range from $25 to $60.
    “The way the economy is, people can’t afford to pay more than $65 to see a concert,” Entertainment Director Murphy Smilardo says.
    Smilardo has curated Rock the Dock for over 20 years. When it comes to booking tribute bands, a popular feature at the concerts, he won’t just book anybody. Smilardo spends the winter scouting tribute bands as far as Orlando and Las Vegas, seeing each one perform live before booking.
    The lineup he’s selected for the summer includes tributes to artists like Stevie Wonder (The Natural Wonder) and Jimmy Buffett (Caribbean Chillers). For ’70s and ’80s throwbacks, you can jam to the songs of The Rolling Stones (Satisfaction), The Eagles (The Long Run), Led Zeppelin (Zoso), AC/DC (High Voltage) and Aerosmith (Pandora’s Box).
    This summer Smilardo says he’s most excited to bring The Long Run, Bruce in the USA, a Bruce Springsteen tribute, and Who’s Bad, a Michael Jackson tribute. Tribute bands play every Thursday night.
    Rock the Dock performances can also be enjoyed by boat. The resort is one of the easiest venues to reach from the Chesapeake Bay. Boaters can rent a slip next to the stage and enjoy a show.
    Or you can board the resort’s headboat, The Miss Lizzy, for Rock the Bay Cruises on July 23 and August 17, which include an on-boat barbeque buffet while a live band plays.