As temperatures warm and daylight hours increase, we tend to venture outside for our entertainment. In the Triangle, we suffer no shortage of music venues, both indoor and outdoor. Gladly, festival season is upon us once again. It’s time to pull out the picnic blankets, dust off the camp chairs and clean out the coolers. Local concerts beckon.
This week some of the local music series we’ve come to appreciate kick off their 2012 Spring, into Summer concerts along with a new one. I’ve put together a list of a few of the free, low-cost, or donations-welcomed series to enjoy and where we can continue to support Triangle musicians. Even if the show is free, be sure to bring a few extra dollars for “tips”, or to indulge in that impulse buy, the band’s CD with that song you just heard that now happily hums around your noggin.
Music on the Porch in Downtown Raleigh
Once on a porch in Seaboard Station, the grassroots community organization now calls the porch at Mordecai Historic Park home. The music event’s season begins Friday, April 27th and continues each second and fourth Friday through the summer, into early fall. A $5 donation earns each adult entry. Kids and dogs are welcome too. You can BYOP(icnic), as well as beer or wine (be sure to read the “rules” about alcohol), or purchase dinner from one of the food trucks, or a nearby restaurant. The park opens at 6 pm, and the bands start at 7 pm (ending at 9 pm). And the bands play on, rain or shine.
Made possible by the Chatham Arts Council, the Bynum Front Porch Friday Night music series begins May 4th with Mipso Trio, three UNC students who “play bluegrass inspired music and dabble in taking classes.” Bring your camp chair and the kids, but leave the dogs and adult beverages at home. Food is available for purchase from local vendors and a collection hat is passed around the crowd to compensate the performers. Inside the General Store you’ll find art works on exhibit and activities for the kids. The music plays from 7 pm to 9 pm each Friday, through August.
You may not be sure how to pronounce Saxapahaw, but you know you want to be there Saturdays, May through August, sitting on the hillside above the Haywagon Stage, dining on the food you just purchased at the farmers’ market. Bliss. Bring a blanket or chair, the kids (there are plenty of activities to keep them engaged) and extra cash to drop in the “Swan Bucket” (donations go to the bands). Also, arrive early to find parking in the designated areas (not on the side of the road – you might be sad when your car gets towed). The scheduled bands have yet to be updated on the website (check back soon), but the band schedule poster has been posted to the SXPHW Facebook page, if you want a sneak peek. The farmers’ market opens at 5 pm, and the music starts around 6 pm. Both usually wind down around 8 pm. First up, May 5th, is the Haw River Festival, 4 – 8 pm. Sorry, dogs are not allowed, but hula hoops are most welcome!
Locally Grown in Chapel Hill
The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership brings “nationally-known but locally-grown music acts as well as family-friendly and classic films” to the top of the Wallace Parking Deck in downtown Chapel Hill. The complete line up should be announced soon (check here for the update), but the shows begin with a free concert on June 28th. Concerts typically start at 7 pm, while movies start later, around sun down (say 8-ish). Concert nights feature a beer garden and food from Franklin Street restaurants, while movie nights offer free popcorn, trivia and other fun frivolities.
Southern Village Summer Music Series in Chapel Hill
The “Sundays at Six” summer music series in Chapel Hill’s Southern Village kicks off this Sunday, April 29th with guitar music and the Carolina Brewery Brew Van. This free event series starts at 6 pm, a new start time for 2012. Patrons can bring a picnic or purchase food from one of village restaurants (Weaver Street Market offers some tasty treats too).
Music in the Gardens in Durham
On the lawn, behind the Visitor’s Center at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, local music fans gather to watch acts such as The Beast, The Old Ceremony, Mandolin Orange, Midtown Dickens and Megafaun (and now you’re wondering if a season pass option is available, right?). Tickets go on sale May 15th for the seven shows scheduled June through July in the Music in the Gardens series from Duke Performances ($12 for general admission, $5 for Duke students/employees, kids 12 & under free). Picnics are welcome, though food and beverages (including beer and wine) are available for purchase on site. The lawn opens about 30 minutes prior to the start of the show (at 7 pm), and the show goes on, even if it rains.
Music (and more) on the Lawn in Durham
The free Back Porch Music Concerts at American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham return this Friday, April 27th at 6 pm on the lawn, facing the water tower (in front of Bays 6 & 7), weather permitting. Patrons should bring blankets or chairs, and if you get hungry you’ll find many dining options available among the campus restaurants (coolers and picnic baskets are not permitted). Also “on the lawn” this season are movies (thanks to Full Frame) on select Fridays, and a special American Dance Festival performance on July 13th.
The Hillsborough Arts Council marks the fourteenth year of Last Fridays with the start of the 2012 season this Friday, April 27th. Last Fridays is both a gallery art walk and free concert series (April through September). The musicians perform on the old courthouse lawn (6:30 to 9:30 pm), while food vendors, artists and crafts people set up on sidewalks surrounding the courthouse square. This Friday, if you attend, you’ll be treated to the soaring vocals of singer/songwriter Jeanne Jolly (and you should attend if at all possible). Dining options abound in downtown Hillsborough as well. You might plan ahead, make an early dinner reservation, then walk across Churton Street to enjoy the music.
Jazz brunch in Carrboro
Sundays are especially relaxing when brunching on the lawn in front Weaver Street Market in Carrboro (11 am to 1 pm). A partial schedule of the free performances can be found on the market website currently. The series begins May 6th and continues to October. There are some seats and tables on the lawn, but those tend to become occupied quickly. Bringing a picnic blanket might be a good back up plan. The Carrboro co-op location also hosts an After Hours concert series on Thursday evenings (check the website for schedule updates).
Six Sundays in Spring in Wake Forest
Sponsored by Wake Forest Arts, the Six Sundays in Spring free concert series begins April 29th and continues through June 3rd (performances are weather permitting). Held at the E. Carroll Joyner Park Amphitheater, attendees to this family-friendly event can bring a picnic or purchase available food and refreshments. Performers in this series reflect a variety of genres and include musicians Marcus Anderson, The Will McBride Group, Lakota John and The Gravy Boys.
NEW! Oak City 7 in Downtown Raleigh
Yesterday (April 25th) brought some welcome news to live music fans (who still may have been mourning the demise of the Moore Square free concerts a couple of years ago) via this press release. The Oak City 7 free concert series will start the Thursday after Memorial Day (May 31st) and repeat on alternating Thursdays through August 23rd. The event stage will be City Plaza on Fayetteville Street and hours will be 5 – 9:30 pm. According to the website FAQ, well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome and patrons can bring their own food/snacks, though there are ample choices to purchase meals from local restaurants. Local and craft beer will be available for purchase from on site vendors as well. The band schedule is expected to be announced on April 30th, and you’re welcome to throw out suggestions for your favorite local bands on the Oak City 7 Facebook page.
One more music organization you’ll want to follow is The Art of Cool Project. You’ll find their booth at the Wednesday evening Hob Nob Jazz Series held in Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre. The AOC Project issues a weekly jazz update on their website and is the driving force behind the After Hours concert series you’ll find at Flanders Gallery during First Fridays in downtown Raleigh and at LabourLove Gallery in Durham’s Golden Belt complex.
As Triangle residents we are fortunate to have opportunities such as these to enjoy. Our continued support for local musicians enriches our lives immeasurably. Thank you, once again, for keeping it *local*. Now, get out there and have some fun!