No matter what genre you dig, there are tons of outdoor concerts around Boston this summer
We could have filled up two entire issues just by listing outdoor concerts—from arenas to backyards—that we’re excited about hitting this summer. Instead, we’ve plucked a stellar sampling for this issue and will continue to remind you about further options in the coming weeks. Without further ado, here are some of the lawns you will find us on over the next few months with our ears open wide.
Head to City Hall Plaza for this unique chance to get your worship on with thousands of new friends. Serving as New England’s largest concert of its kind, GospelFest is heading into its 19th year of bringing both regional and national artists and choirs to Boston. It’s free and open to the public, and in addition to the long list of performers soon to be released, the mayor’s own community choir will open the show. If you’ve never heard Marty Walsh belt out “Oh Happy Day,” you won’t want to miss this one.
- Aug 11 (5-8pm) on City Hall Plaza, Boston
Jazz in the Park
Jazz will never die in Greater Boston, and this series is a testament to that good news. The North End Music and Performing Arts Center is holding four Tuesday evening shows to present Boston-based musicians, making for the kind of curated experience that would otherwise cost you a cover charge. You will be able to experience a range of sounds, from New Orleans classics by the Dirty Water Brass Band (July 31) to the Italian pop music of Scanzonati (July 10). As a kicker, there will also be several food trucks on site.
- Tuesdays in July (6-7pm) on the Greenway (Hanover Street and Cross Street), Boston
We wanted to spice up our list with a critical pick out of town, and the nonprofit 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is worth the day trip. Organizers here are holding Friday concerts on their loading dock; they’re free for everyone (though donations are appreciated) and will feature performers ranging from folk and jazz to indie rock artists. There’s also a contemporary art gallery and bar on site, though you may want to BYOB (we mean blankets, of course).
- Fridays in July and August in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Free Concerts on the (Waltham) Common
You know we had to include one old-fashioned nighttime concert series, the kind that has a dedicated group of senior groupies who set up their folding chairs at every installment. Here at Waltham’s gazebo inside the city’s grassy common, you’ll find what may be the most diverse local summer lineup in the land, from the new country of Martin and Kelly (July 9), to the military music of the Waltham American Legion Band (July 16), to the Beatles tribute band Studio Two (July 30), to R&B by Mystique (Aug 27). For a similar smorgasbord in Boston proper, check out the Dorchester Heights concert series at Thomas Park, where performers will include Iraís Brito, a bluegrass band called the Fort Point Ramblers, and Mestiza, an all-female Latin band from Berklee.
- Various dates on Waltham Common, Waltham
Levitate Music & Arts Festival
If you’re waffling on whether to make the (short) hike down to the Marshfield Fairgrounds south of Boston for the Levitate Music & Arts Festival this year (its seventh annual iteration), perhaps some of the details may sway you one way or the other. The spectacle is truly a grassroots effort that’s grown into a major event and proudly boasts a lineup of the roots, folk, reggae, and funk variety, as well as an organic earthy vibe with side shows to match. For headliners, this year will feature the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and Damian Marley, the latter of whom is among the greatest living performers by any measure. If you’ve never seen Jr. Gong do his thing live, this is a prime opportunity.
- July 12-14 at the Marshfield Fairgrounds, Marshfield
Fenway Rooftop Sessions
Hosted by Vineyard Vines, the Fenway Rooftop Sessions are basically pregame shows for lucky baseball fans before Red Sox throwdowns at Fenway. All concert tickets come with a ticket for the Sox game that day, and there’s another awesome catch as well: All of the performances are Boston music scene favorites—Todd Thibaud (June 9), SuperSmashBroz (June 22), Will Dailey (July 28), Annie Brobst (Aug 11), Carissa Johnson (Aug 17), Ali McGuirk (Sept 8).
- Various dates at Fenway Park, Boston