Austin takes its reputation as Live Music Capital of the World very seriously over the summer. Each year, as temperatures begin to rise, our beloved city plays host to free summer concerts at various outdoor spots around town.
As always, local radio station KGSR leads the way with no less than three concert series at some of the most popular music venues in Austin. Keep things classy with the Austin Symphony on Sunday nights through August, or the Music Under the Star series at the Bullock Museum on Friday nights in July. Austin does hump day right, and fortunately you don’t have to choose between the venerable Blues on the Green and the always unique Sound & Cinema series because of their alternating event dates.
So pack up the sunscreen and get your lawn chairs ready. This is your complete guide to enjoying free outdoor music in Austin for the rest of the summer.
Blues on the Green
KGSR pioneered free summer concerts in Austin over 25 years ago, when they debuted Blues on the Green. Held at Zilker Park on select Wednesdays, Blues on the Green holds the distinction as not only the longest-running free concert series in Austin, but also the largest.
These distinctions allows Blues on the Green to book the hottest Austin talent to play before a crowd of thousands. Many of the concerts’ biggest names are rising stars in the local music scene. Blues on the Green is definitely one of the most fun ways to see Austin’s top acts at an incredible venue, for free.
- July 12, 2017 – Shiny Ribs with Jackie Venson
- August 2, 2017 – TBA
The full lineup and more information can be found here. Shows begin at 8 p.m., but be sure to arrive early.
Unplugged at the Grove
KGSR also happens to curate the second longest-running summertime concert series, with Unplugged at the Grove now celebrating its 22nd year. With almost half a year’s worth of shows (24 weeks, to be precise), held at Shady Grove on Barton Springs, the music series has become almost synonymous with the restaurant.
The music will keep playing every Thursday night through September 24. A few of the standouts still to come this summer include:
- June 29, 2017 – Darden Smith
- July 6, 2017 – Shane Smith & The Saints
- July 13, 2017 – Jackie Venson
- July 20, 2017 – Kevin Russell
- July 27, 2017 – Nakia & The Blues Grifters
- August 3, 2017 – Flatland Cavalry
- August 17, 2017 – Rhett Miller
- August 24, 2017 – Charley Crockett
The full lineup can be found here. Shows begin at 8 p.m., but you should plan to arrive early.
The Wine Down
As if hosting the biggest summertime concert in Austin and another longstanding concert series at an iconic Austin restaurant wasn’t enough, KGSR has teamed up with one of the top live music venues in the country, 3TEN Austin City Limits Live, to put on The Wine Down.
On the last Wednesday night of the month through September, The Wine Down opens up the patio and concert floor at Austin City Limits Live and features local talent curated by KGSR. Attendees can look forward to bites from a different restaurant every week, and merchandise giveaways from businesses in the 2nd Street District.
The remaining summer 2017 shows, held from 5-8 p.m., include:
- June 28, 2017 – Superfónicos with bites by Lonesome Dove & pop-up by Luxe Apothetique
- July 26, 2017 – Scott H. Biram with bites by Taverna & pop-up by ModCloth
- August 30, 2017 – Mobley with bites by W Living Room & pop-up by Saint Bernard
- September 27, 2017 – Austin Music Foundation Presents Magna Carda and Tomar & The FCs with bites by TRACE and pop-up by Rae Cosmetics
Sound & Cinema
Back for another year, Alamo Drafthouse and Do512 are offering their unique Austin take on the summertime concert. Taking advantage of the expansive lawn at The Long Center, Sound & Cinema features a live band paired with an iconic movie.
The live music starts around 8 p.m. with a stage set up in front of the huge inflatable movie screen provided by Alamo Drafthouse. The movie begins once the sun sets–usually around 9 p.m.
The remaining dates are:
- June 28, 2017 – Raising Arizona + The Quaker City Night Hawks
- July 19, 2017 – Galaxy Quest + special musical guest (TBA)
- July 26, 2017 – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World + A Giant Dog
Admission is completely free. Lawn chairs are allowed in a designated area, or you can bring a blanket to lay out. Pets have to stay home from this excursion.
Concerts in the Park With Austin Symphony
In its 15th summer season, the Austin Symphony enriches the city’s music scene with “Concerts in the Park,” located in Hartman Concert Park in front of The Long Center City Terrace. The Hartman Foundation generously funds the concerts each year in thanks for continued and generous support from the Austin community.
Every Sunday night, a different ensemble from the Austin Symphony is featured. Each group performs a gamut of musical selections, from jazz and light classical, to pop selections and film scores.
Concerts in the Park is unique in that it encourages attendees to pack a picnic and make it a group outing, and folks deliver. I’ve seen some impressive spreads at The Long Center City Terrace.
Remaining dates for 2017 free concerts:
- July 9, 2017 – Strings
- July 16, 2017 – Woodwinds
- July 23, 2017 – Big Band
- July 30, 2017 – Brass
- August 6, 2017 – Strings
- August 13, 2017 – Woodwinds
- August 20, 2017 – Brass
- August 27, 2017 – Big Band
Music Under the Star
The Bullock Texas State History Museum is hosting Music Under the Star again this summer. This is a family-friendly event held on Friday nights from 6-9 p.m. There’s complimentary garage parking, so bring chairs and blankets to enjoy free music from Texas artists.
There are three shows left in this year’s free summer concert series:
- July 7, 2017 – James McMurtry with Akina Adderley
- July 14, 2017 – Mother Falcon with Molly Burch
- July 21, 2017 – Tameca Jones with Los Coast
Whether you are looking for classical sounds, an ACL-like experience, or even an actual show at the ACL Live theater, Austin has you covered with plenty of free summer concerts.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Which free summer concert in Austin is your favorite?
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