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.
May 23 – The Black Angels with Night Glitter
June 13 – TBA
July 18 – TBA
August 8 – 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 25th year. With almost half a year’s worth of shows (23 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 13. A few of the standouts still to come this summer include:
May 24, 2018 – Dale Watson
June 7, 2018 – Gary P. Dunn
June 28, 2018 – Ray Wylie Hubbard
July 5, 2018 – Jackie Benson
July 12, 2018 – Peterson Brothers
July 19, 2018 – Asleep at the Wheel
July 26, 2018 – Roger Creager
August 2, 2018 – Alejandro Escovedo
August 23, 2018 – Bob Schneider
The full lineup can be found here. Shows begin at 8 p.m., but you should plan to arrive early.
➡ Keep reading: Unplugged at the Grove Series Celebrates 25 Years of Free Music
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 summer 2018 shows, held from 5-8 p.m., include:
May 30, 2018 – The Sour Notes 10th Anniversary Show + 7-inch Release with bites by TRACE and pop-up shop by ModCloth
June 27, 2018 – Melat with bites by Mamu Fu’s and pop-up by Luxe Apothetique
July 25, 2018 – Grace Pettis Band with bites by Taverna and pop-up by Sneaker Politics
August 29, 2018 – Love & Chaos with bites by Living Room at W Austin and pop-up by Yummi Joy
September 26, 2018 – Austin Music Foundation present Blackillac with bites by La Condesa and pop-up by Prize
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 on select Wednesdays during the summer.
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.
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.
Dates are up for 2018, but the lineup isn’t. Keep watching the official web page for film and band names.
- July 11, 2018
- July 25, 2018
- August 1, 2018
- August 15, 2018
Concerts in the Park With Austin Symphony
In its 16th summer season, Austin Symphony Orchestra 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 from June 3-August 26, 2018 (with the exception of July 8), a different ensemble from 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.
Dates for 2018 free concerts:
June 3 – Strings
June 10 – Woodwinds
June 17 – Brass
June 24 – Big Band
July 1 – Strings
July 8 – No concert
July 15 – Woodwinds
July 22 – Brass
July 29 – Big Band
August 5 – Strings
August 12 – Woodwinds
August 19 – Brass
August 26 – 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 in July from 6-9 p.m. There’s complimentary garage parking, so bring chairs and blankets to enjoy free music from Texas artists.
Dates haven’t been announced for 2018 yet, but we’ll all be watching the website for details.
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?
The original version of this article was published June 27, 2017.
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