12 Free Live Music Series to Check Out this Summer

Take advantage of the extra daylight this time of year with these relaxed outdoor performances across the Triangle. 
by Henry Thomas

Photo credit: Justin Kase Conder

Summer evenings in North Carolina are well spent outside — and what better way to do that than by enjoying live music? There are vibrant big and small music venues across Raleigh and the Triangle that regularly offer performances from both local and artists. Whether you’re a fan of chart-topping pop or want to enjoy more mellow tunes, the Triangle’s live music scene has something for everyone this time of year. 

Live After 5 

Music series Live After 5 returns downtown with an exciting new theme: a Celebration of Women in Music! This year’s lineup includes Chapel Hill-based neo soul artist Elora Dash, the North Carolina “Dream Country” duo Blue Cactus, and Raleigh’s singer-songwriter Kate Rhudy. Closing out this year’s series is Grammy-nominated rock band Sixpence None the Richer, performing nostalgic chart toppers such as “Kiss Me” and “There She Goes.” Enjoy an assortment of food trucks and vendors as you listen to empowering female voices in the music industry at one of Live After 5’s four installments. And no need to pour out your drink as you stroll the fest; In Raleigh’s Sip ‘n Stroll Downtown social district, attendees can freely carry wine, beer and cocktails as they walk through a well-defined area of Raleigh’s downtown. 
Last Wednesdays until Aug. 28 | 5 – 8 p.m.; Free; 443 Fayetteville Street; downtownraleigh.org

Raleigh Parks and Rec Summer Concerts

Pull out your lawn chairs and picnic blankets at a concert for Raleigh’s Parks and Rec summer concert series. The Pullen and Fred Fletcher Parks are the perfect venue to be serenaded by local talent as you lounge on a lush green lawn. For fans of live jazz  music ensembles, plan to attend the July performance by the Tune Swingers Orchestra, or opt for a concert in the fall by wind symphony, the Raleigh Concert Band. Be sure to pay attention to weather reports as concerts may be canceled accordingly.
Select Sundays until Sept. 22 | June & July 6-8, August & September 5-7; Free; 520 Ashe Ave & 820 Clay Street, raleighnc.gov

Summer Concert Series at Waverly Place in Cary

Looking for something to do on a Wednesday evening? Cary’s Summer concert series in Waverly Place includes high-energy local bands such as crowd pleasers Heads Up Penny and motown-top 40-etc hybrid Miss Mini and the Sandman Band. Afterwards, trade in the picnic blankets and lawn chairs for a hearty meal at Enrigo Italian Bistro, Chicken Salad Chick or MOD Pizza, all found within the shopping district. Concerts at Waverly will be hosted no matter “light drizzle or shine.” 
The 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month until Aug. 28 | 5 – 8 p.m.; Free; 575 New Waverly Place, Cary; waverlycary.com

Music in the Park in Morrisville

Located at the Healthy Food Hub in Morrisville is the town’s Music in the Park series. Relax on a picnic blanket and enjoy a food truck selected to match the theme of the musician/band playing. The upcoming lineup includes bluesy-soul performer Mysti Mayhem and country artist 2Digh4.
First Fridays until Sept. 6 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Free; 280 Town Hall Drive, Morrisville; morrisvillenc.gov

Saturdays in Saxapahaw 

Come to Saturdays at Saxapahaw for the live music and stay for the assortment of fresh local produce at the Farmer’s Market. Each weekend, guests can enjoy artisanal ice cream and food trucks–or can opt for a delicious meal at the Saxapahaw General Store. Additionally, the event is great for families to enjoy art, crafts, and blowing bubbles on a picnic blanket in the remote and eclectic community of Saxapahaw — complete with a view of the Haw River.
Each Saturday until Sept. 7 | Market opens at 5 p.m., band plays at 6 p.m.; Free; Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road, Saxapahaw; hawriverballroom.com

Friday Night on White in Wake Forest

Since its inception in 2016, Friday Night on White has been a hit with Wake Forest and the surrounding community. With live bands that range from R&B, hits from the 1970s, Motown, and more, it’s also convenient to downtown’s restaurants, food trucks and breweries for any food and beverage needs. 
Second Fridays until Sept. 13 | 6-9 p.m.; Free; South White Street Downtown Wake Forest; wakeforestnc.gov

PLAYlist Concert Series 

This year’s PLAYlist concert series in Durham will feature artists including ‘Latingrass’ duo Larry & Joe, contemporary soul group Sierra Green & the Giants and Lady Wray, a Virginia-based artist previously signed under Missy Elliott’s recording label. Durham’s Central Park, located downtown, is five acres of green space within walking distance of the Durham Food Hall, American Tobacco Campus and more. Leashed pets are welcome at the concert and a spread of outdoor food trucks and vendors will be offered at the venue. 
First Fridays until Oct. 4 | Venue opens at 6:30 p.m., Band plays at 7:30 p.m.; Free; 501 Foster Street, Durham, durhamcentralpark.com

Wine Down Wednesday in Chapel Hill

If you’re fiending for some live music mid-week over some gelato or a glass of wine, look no further than Chapel Hill’s La Vita Dolce. Now attendees can even enjoy select food delivered to the patio from Market and Moss, a neighboring restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine. From jazz to classic rock to Americano, the Chapel Hill-based ice cream shop-café is committed to making sure its customers are livin’ la vita dolce. 
Wednesdays until Oct. 23 | 6-8 p.m.; Free w/ purchase of meal or drink; 610 Market Street, Chapel Hill, lavitadolcecafe.com

Fridays on the Front Porch at Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill

Kick off your weekend with the Carolina Inn’s concert series Fridays on the Front Porch for music ranging from newgrass to funk to Americana. While on the lawn, grab some crafted cocktails or grub from the assortment of food truck options available at each concert. Right next to UNC’s campus & just a stone throw from Franklin Street, why not start your night off right with some live music before taking a walk on UNC’s iconic red brick paths or heading over to Blue Horn Lounge for a beer or the Crunkleton cocktail bar?
Every Friday until Oct. 25 | 5-8 p.m.; Free; 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill; destinationhotels.com

Concerts at Colonial Inn in Hillsborough

Now until October, you can spend an evening listening to live music outside Hillsborough’s Colonial Inn, situated in quaint downtown Hillsborough and less than a five minute walk from favorites such as the Wooden Nickel Pub, Italian restaurant Antonia’s, an assortment of galleries and more. Whether you’re listening to “bouncy blues” bands like Tea Cup Gin or multilingual Moroccan-American singer and composer Houda Idrissi, the historic boutique hotel’s outdoor patio and balcony are the perfect setting to take in some of the area’s best local musicians well into the fall.
Select dates until Oct. 27 | 6-7:30 p.m. (w/ some exceptions); Free; 153 W. King Street, Hillsborough; colonialinn-nc.com

CaryLIVE! In Cary

Now through October, enjoy some of the area’s rising artists at CaryLIVE!, in downtown Cary. The new seven acre green space park with stunning, winding landscapes is perfect for a family, with the accompanying playground, nearby library and dog park. Bring a picnic blanket and folding chairs for a comfortable viewing experience, and then enjoy dining in the park or the surrounding downtown area. For its next two performances in the park enjoy indie-rock bands Doc Robinson and Nicotine Dolls, and keep an eye out for more info to come on their performances lasting through October.
Select dates until October | 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Free; 327 S. Academy Street, Cary; downtowncarypark.com

PineCone’s Beer and Banjos

For lovers of acoustic music native to North Carolina, the PineCone’s Beer and Banjos Tuesday music series is for you. The series features both seasoned regulars and newcomers, such as NC’s premiere youth bluegrass band, the Loblollies. And when it’s time for supper look no further than one of the many restaurants located in the host venue, Transfer Co. food hall. Beers and Banjos is sometimes held inside the Transfer Co. Ballroom, when it’s too hot outside. 
Tuesdays | 6:30-9 p.m.; Free; 500 E. Davie Street, Raleigh; facebook.com/beerandbanjos

This article was originally punished on June 27, 2024 on waltermagazine.com