By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — On Saturday night, Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion turns 50, and it’s throwing itself a big party.

The concert venue has also, as Alex DeMetrick reports, gotten a multi-million dollar face lift.

Much of the $50 million renovation is being spent in the back of the house, making it “the absolute best venue for the artist, the best venue for the fan, and the best place to work,” says vice president Brad Canfield.

For the paying public, new restrooms and food options have been added, built while saving some of the property’s old trees.

“It’s important that throughout these renovations, that we do preserve the charm of Merriweather Post Pavillion, that is I think what keeps artists coming back, fans coming back,” says Ian Kennedy of the Columbia Arts & Culture Commission.

The upgrade also includes a dressing room that looks more like a living room, a bathroom unlike any The Grateful Dead would have found here decades ago and, since a band’s got to eat, a new dining facility.

And something few other back stages have to cool off between shows: a pool, with a lifeguard for safety’s sake.

The improvements are meant to keep Merriweather a competitive venue.

“We have to work really hard that artists don’t go play with an 800-pound gorilla in another venue, and so we want to make sure when they come here, they feel like they’re at home,” says Audrey Fix Schaefer.

Merriweather’s Saturday night birthday concert will feature performances by Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson.

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