John PrineFolk songwriting legend John Prine will kick off the zoo’s 35th season of outdoor summer concerts with a show Saturday night.

Prine, one of America’s most revered singer-songwriters, has built a devoted following for his humble, poetic tunes that peek into often-overlooked corners of everyday life.

“He writes beautiful songs,” Bob Dylan said in a 2009 interview. “Nobody but Prine could write like that.”

In a career spanning more than 40 years, the singer has won a pair of Grammys while earning cover versions from artists such as Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, the Everly Brothers, John Denver, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Ben Harper and Joan Baez.

Prine’s most recent release, 2011’s “The Singing Mailman Delivers,” is a two-disc archival set featuring studio and live recordings dating back to 1970. These tracks reveal a young Prine, honest and unassuming, writing lyrics on his mail route by day while moonlighting as a folk singer in Chicago’s nightclubs.

Vancouver, B.C.-based roots rocker Dustin Bentall opens the show, backed by fiddle player Kendel Carson.

The Oregon Zoo’s 2013 summer concert series starts with Prine on Saturday and winds up with the Doobie Brothers in early September. Along the way, concertgoers can catch the Go-Go’s (on a double bill with the B-52s), Ziggy Marley, Indigo Girls, Randy Newman, Lyle Lovett, Los Lobos, Chris Isaak, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Brice and Huey Lewis and the News. For more information and a full schedule, visit

In a new offering this year, concert tickets will be good for zoo admission all day on the date of the show. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted; not every show has an opening act, so fans should make sure to arrive on time to make sure they don’t miss part of the show.

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