Free music all summer long in Durham

May. 01, 2014 @ 05:08 PM

The best things in life, as they say, are free. In Durham this summer, the best things are also free. Summertime – or late spring, really – ushers in a cool wave of free music series in the Bull City. From downtown to the malls, there are enough concerts to fill your calendar from now to Labor Day.

First, two big anticipated Durham events. The 45th Annual Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival sponsored by Durham Parks and Recreation always draws well-known names in rap or hip-hop. This year Biz Markie will take the mic, along with Da Brat and Nice & Smooth. This year’s festival will be held from noon to 8 p.m. May 17 at Rock Quarry Park, 71 Stadium Drive, near Durham County Stadium.

Bimbé is a family-oriented event that celebrates African and African-American history, culture, art and traditions. Along with the concerts there will be food, arts and crafts, and a children’s area. If you want to sit down, make sure to bring a chair. No alcohol or coolers permitted. Bimbé will happen rain or shine, and shut down temporarily if there are storms.

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park will host the All-Star Game and celebrate with two parties in one day. On July 12, the All-Star Fan Fest will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the DBAP. For fans, there will be batting practice, games, ballpark tours and fun stuff for kids. Then after a midday break, the All-Star Block Party begins at 6 p.m. that day on Blackwell Street next to the ballpark. There will be food trucks, beer tents and a headlining concert by The Baseball Project, a band that includes members of R.E.M. For information, visit

Downtown Durham Inc.’s Find Your Cool summer concert series will bring music to CCB Plaza on Thursdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. downtown at 201 N. Corcoran St. The lineup:

May 8: South Carolina Broadcasters

May 15: Tea Cup Gin

May 22: The Gravy Boys

May 29: Strung Like A Horse

June 5: Nikki Hill

June 12: The Chit Nasty Band

June 19: Steph Stewart & The Boyfriends

June 26: PitchBlak Brass Band

July 10: Toon & The Real Laww

July 17: Africa Unplugged

July 24: John The Conqueror

July 31: Kenny Roby

Aug. 7: Zansa

Both Northgate Mall and the Streets at Southpoint mall are hosting music series, a first for Northgate. Northgate Mall and the Triangle Blues Society are planning an outdoor blues series called Blues on the Plaza. Performances will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. four Fridays this month on the plaza between entrances 2 and 4 at the mall, 1058 W. Club Blvd., Durham. Bring a chair or blanket. No coolers.

May 9: Eric Manning and E-Train & The Rusted Rails

May 16: Jimmy Haggard

May 23: Jimi King Trio

May 30:  Charlley Ward and Friends featuring John Dee Holeman 

For information, visit and

At Southpoint, its Music on Main series is held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Cinema Stage.

The schedule:

May 3: Jason Adamo

May 10: Legacy

May 17: Jim Quick and Coastline

May 24: Hickory Switch

May 31: Holiday

June 7: Will McBride

June 14: TBA

June 21: Castaways

June 28: Davis Messina Band

July 5: Grasscats

July 12: Mint Julep Band

July 19: Lauren Light

July 26: Konnection Band

American Tobacco Campus’ Back Porch Music on the Lawn series will again be held on the lawn under the Lucky Strike tower this summer, May 15 to Sept. 7. Restaurants, food carts and beer and wine for sale on site. Picnics and coolers are welcome, but not glass containers. Concerts start at 6 p.m.

May 15: Southern Culture on The Skids

May 29: Mandolin Orange

June 12: Balsam Range

June 26: The Lee Boys / Love Canon

July 31: Yarn

Aug. 14: Bombadil

Aug. 28: Mipso

Sept. 4: A surprise concert to celebrate American Tobacco Campus’ 10th anniversary.

Brightleaf Square continues its music series in the courtyard at West Main and Gregson streets. Concerts are held from 7 to 9 p.m. No outside food, drinks or coolers. There are vendors on site. Visit

May 9: Little Windows
May 16: Bull City Syndicate
May 23: MikeMickXer
May 30: Carolina Lightning
June 6: Sayer McShane
June 13: Jack Lawrence and Tommy Edwards
June 20: Smile
June 27: Ginger Thompson Band
July 4: Two Hats
July 11: Barry Herndon and the Party Nuts
July 18: Jazziando
July 25: Will Mcbride Group
Aug. 1: The Lids
Aug. 8: Hickory Switch
Aug. 15: Mudbones Blues
Aug. 22: Double Shot
Aug. 29: Johnny White and The Elite Band
Sept. 5: Barleycorn & Rye
Sept. 12: Crush
Durham Parks and Recreation is also planning a return of its annual Rock the Park music and movies series, but has not announced the schedule yet. Movies and concerts will be shown in a different park each time. For information, visit


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