the great outdoors: five places to see live music outside

the old ceremony @ wallace plaza

One of my favorite things about summer in the NC is the glut of (mostly) free or cheap outdoor concerts. Even when it’s painfully hot and humid, there’s nothing better than listening to a band I love sing up to the sky at twilight, especially when it’s free. Below are some of the places you can see music outdoors in the summer in the Triangle; if I’ve missed anything, leave it in the comments. (Check the links for times and dates.)

  • Locally Grown, Chapel Hill, Wallace Plaza. These once-a-month outdoor shows are booked by Glenn Boothe, who owns Local 506, and feature up-and-comers and old favorites from the Triangle-ish area. Free. Beer sold. Bring your own chair. This year: Mandolin Orange, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Future Islands.
  • Music In The Gardens, Durham, Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke. Every Wednesday all summer, some of my best concert memories in the Triangle are from this series. $5 if you have a connection to Duke, $10 if not. Bring your own chair and picnic and beer. This year includes: Hammer No More The Fingers, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Lost In The Trees.
  • Saxapahaw Rivermill Music Series, Saxapahaw, the farmer’s market. Every Saturday from May to September, early evening on the hill across from the Rivermill apartments. Free. Buy muscadine wine and then fall down the hill! This year: John Howie Jr, Big Fat Gap, Django Haskins.
  • American Tobacco Music On The Lawn, Durham, American Tobacco campus. Fridays. Free. This year: Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Loudon Wainwright III, Chatham County Line. (Man, Holy Ghost is just making the rounds of the outdoor shows this year, aren’t they? Such good boys.)
  • North Carolina Museum of Art Summer Concert series, Raleigh, um, at the art museum. Not free, and can be pretty pricey, actually, but impeccable booking. This year: Iris Dement, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Those are the ones that I can think of off the top of my head, especially now that Raleigh’s Downtown Live is no more. (Not that it was a great time anyway, because ugh, crappy expensive beer and frat boys from Johnston County, but I did once see the Old 97s there.) Especially folks who live in Durham and Raleigh, what did I miss? Leave more free outdoor music in the comments!

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