As I write this in my downtown office overlooking the Square, I can see that the free outdoor music celebration that is Madison in the summer has hit its stride. Hordes of volunteers are setting up for the first Concerts on the Square of the 2010 season, and the crowds will soon come.
But this is not the beginning of open-air music this year; it's been under way for about a month. There was the Isthmus Jazz Festival on the Memorial Union Terrace, for one; that happened on June 4 and 5. We followed that up with the first Isthmus Block Party on West Main Street on June 10, featuring the Cash Box Kings. We keep it going next Thursday, July 8, at 5 p.m. at the top of State Street, the Carroll and West Mifflin corner, when the Midwest Beat and Elf Lettuce are the featured musicians.
We're not the only ones in the free outdoor music business - not by a long shot. The aforementioned Concerts on the Square will continue for another month on Wednesday evenings, featuring the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and their programs of classics and pops on the King Street side of the Capitol. When that ends, the jazzers take over on the opposite corner of the Square, as Jazz at Five kicks off its run of Wednesday night entertainments at the top of State Street. They go from Aug. 11 to Sept. 9.
On Thursday evenings, beginning at 7, you can catch the Capitol City Band and their traditional outdoor fare at Rennebohm Park, through Aug. 26. Something a little lighter earlier in the day? Then it's Lunch Time Live every Tuesday at noon, on the King Street side of the Square, through Aug. 3. This short concert showcases popular local bands.
There's other free or very low cost tunes being spun around town during summer. You just have to know where to look. And that would be in the Isthmus Guide under the "Other Music" listing. One of the things you'll eventually find there is the third Isthmus Block Party (sponsored by Wisconsin Distributors) on Aug. 19 starring Mighty Short Bus. That's on East Main Street. Again, right out my window.