Fill Your Summer with Music with These Free Shows and Festivals

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Like the first day of patio season, the surge of live music options is a summer happening that we look forward to each year.

Whether you prefer your music alfresco or inside with the AC blasting, you can always find plenty of opportunities to rock out. Summer concerts are also a great way to get a taste of local culture — definitely a cool thing to check out if you’re in town for a Visitcation.

Here’s a summer’s worth of free concerts and live music events across the country, starting with a great option hosted by Graduate Lincoln.

When: Saturdays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

It’s eggs and Bloody Marys with a side of live music at John J’s Chow Hall this summer. Local bands come by for Saturday brunch, providing tunes that harmonize with the restaurant’s easy, breezy Tiki vibes.

Enjoy music by Michelle Eva, The Shineys and more. You can find the weekly lineup on the Graduate Lincoln Facebook page.


See some of the best local and regional musicians and visual artists together in downtown Athens — for free!

Now in its 22nd year, AthFest Music & Arts Festival is a three-day event that supports music and arts education for the area’s youth. And we’re proud to say that Graduate Athens is one of this year’s sponsors. (Keep your eyes peeled for our trusty Mutt Cutts van.)

Headliners include Athens hip-hop artist Linqua Franqa, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and local rockers Elf Power. Check out this article from Flagpole for details.

The festival runs June 22–24. Outdoor performances are free. You can also buy a Club Crawl ticket for access to evening shows at local venues, including The Foundry.

Let’s go crazy, Charlottesville. On Aug. 31, C’Ville’s Purple All Stars pay tribute to the one and only Prince by playing “Purple Rain” in its entirety. This free show is part of the summer-long Fridays After Five series at the Sprint Pavilion.

If you find yourself in Madison, head over to King Street for free summer concerts out in front of the Majestic Theatre. This year, the lineup includes touring artists Nikki Lane, Margo Price, Chicago’s own Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press and more. Stroll down State Street and over to the venue — it’s less than a mile from Graduate Madison.

It’s a treat for your eyes and ears during Summer Breeze Fridays at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In June, July, and August, the VMFA adds tunes to its year-round Friday Art & Wine events with DJs playing in the Sculpture Garden. You can also up your art knowledge with a free 30-minute gallery tour.

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