Free music all summer long in Durham
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 www.durhambulls.com.
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
At Southpoint, its Music on Main series is held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Cinema Stage.
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 americantobaccohistoricdistrict.com.
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 http://durhamnc.gov.
Follow on Twitter: @dawnbvaughan.