Summer in the Triangle means music in the streets. And parks. And parking lots. And porches. And pretty much anywhere you can set up a stage and a PA in an outdoor area, with the promise of music fans gathering like fireflies to soak in the sounds under the sun and the stars.
Weekly and monthly music programming stretches from the heart of Raleigh to the far reaches of Saxapahaw. Old reliables such as the N.C. Museum of Art concerts by top touring acts and the N.C. Symphony's Summerfest shows at Koka Booth return alongside a growing contingent of free civic events in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary. Most notable is the rise of two series in Durham—Find Your Cool at CCB Plaza downtown and GB Live at the Golden Belt complex—programmed by Tess Mangum Ocaña, an Indies Arts Award winner whose departure from Carrboro's ArtsCenter last winter is Durham's gain this summer.
The lowdown, from east to west:
Concerts in the Museum Park at N.C. Museum of Art, various Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 6, starting times and ticket prices vary: One of the Triangle's longest-running and most carefully curated outdoor music series, with well-known touring bands and singer-songwriters mostly in the Americana genre. Highlights include Glen Hansard on June 15, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers on Aug. 3 and Tift Merritt on Aug. 17. ncartmuseum.org.
Oak City 7 at Raleigh City Plaza, 5 p.m.–10:30 p.m. every other Thursday, May 30–Aug. 22, free: This relatively new but ambitious series features 4–5 bands at each show, mostly locals with a couple of touring acts mixed in. Highlights include Cracker and Justin Robinson & the Mary Annettes on June 27, Southern Culture on the Skids and Hammer No More the Fingers on July 25, and Toon & the Real Laww and Young Cardinals on Aug. 22. oakcity7.com.
Music on the Porch 2nd Fridays at Mordecai Park and 4th Saturdays at Peace China Parking Lot in Seaboard Station, 7–9 p.m., through Oct. 11, $7 (kids free): Slightly misnamed, perhaps, this park and parking-lot series in Raleigh features local acts in a vareity of genres. Highlights include Andy Coats & the Bank Walkers on June 22, Acoustic Manner on July 12 and Peter Lamb & the Wolves on Sept. 13. musicontheporch.com.
Sunday in the Park at Pullen Park and Fletcher Park, 6 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 25, free: Raleigh's Parks & Recreation Department presents free performances by local bands at two of its primary inside-the-beltline parks: Pullen (520 Ashe Ave.) and Fletcher (820 Clay St). The full lineup hasn't been unveiled yet, but June offerings include the Milagro Saints on June 2 at Fletcher and Ed Stephenson & the Paco Band on June 15 at Pullen.
N.C. Symphony Summerfest at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Saturdays at 7 p.m. through July 6, $33–$35 (under 12 free on the lawn): The Symphony's annual pops-oriented outdoor series includes guest artists and multidimensional programs. Highlights include "At the Movies" with Oscar-winning music on June 1, "Broadway Blockbusters" on June 22 and "Holst's The Planets: An HD Odyssey" with video accompaniment on June 29, plus the traditional Independence Day gala on July 4. ncsymphony.org.
Summer Sertoma Series at Bond Park, various dates and times through Aug. 10, free: The Town of Cary presents entertainment from area acts such as Old North State Brass (June 1) and Triangle Wind Ensemble (June 14), plus three Saturday shows presented by the trad-music organization PineCone. townofcary.org.
Music in the Gardens at Duke Gardens, 7 p.m. Wednesdays, June 5 through July 31 (except July 3), $10–$12: Duke Performances presents top-tier local and regional acts. Highlights include Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba on June 26, American Aquarium on July 10 and Matthew E. White on July 24. dukeperformances.org.
GB Live at Golden Belt, every other Saturday from 6–9 p.m., June 7 through July 19, free: Highlights of this new series include local acts Michael Rank & Stag on June 7, Kim Arrington on June 21 and Brand New Life on July 5. goldenbeltarts.com.
Find Your Cool at CCB Plaza, Thursdays (except July 4) from 7–8:30 p.m. through Aug. 8, free: The new Downtown Durham series serves up locals including Mel Melton & the Wicked Mojos on June 13, Orquesta GarDel on June 27, the Cyril Lance Collective Arkestra on July 11 and Birds & Arrows on July 25. downtowndurham.com.
Locally Grown at Wallace Parking Garage, 8 p.m. on the final Thursdays in June, July and August, free: The popular annual music-and-movies series on the parking garage's rooftop includes concerts by hip-hop acts Kooley High and JSwiss on June 27 and indie rockers Virgins Family Band, Morning Brigade and Clockwork Kids on Aug. 29. locally-grown.com.
Multiple series at Southern Village, various dates and times, free: A smorgasbord of series on the Village Green in the heart of the south Chapel Hill planned community includes Swinging Big Band Thursdays, the Music Maker Foundation's Roots and Leaves series on Fridays in June and the self-explanatory Sundays at Six. Highlights include Boo Hanks and the Branchettes on June 14, Magnolia Klezmer Band on July 21 and the Durham Ukulele Orchestra on Aug. 18. southernvillage.com.
Bynum Front Porch Series at the General Store in Bynum (off Highway 15-501 between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro), 7–9 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 30, free: The small-town vibe can't be beat at this long-running weekly series that features top local talent. Highlights include John Howie Jr. & the Rosewood Bluff on June 21, Mipso on July 5 and Dark Water Rising on Aug. 9. bynumfrontporch.org.
Saturdays in Saxapahaw at the Saxapahaw Farmers Market, 6–8 p.m., free: Have a seat on the grassy hillside of the natural amphitheater by the market and hear tunes by the likes of Loamlands on June 1, Dexter Romweber & the New Romans on June 15, Django Haskins on July 27 and Frank Fairfield on Aug. 10. rivermillvillage.com.
Here's a limited sampling of prominent shows at larger area venues; check individual websites for times and ticket prices:
June 7: Mary J. Blige at PNC Arena; June 8: Brad Paisley at Time Warner Cable Walnut Creek; June 8–9: Widespread Panic at Red Hat Amphitheater; June 10: The National, Dirty Projectors at Red Hat Amphitheater; June 13: The Lumineers at Koka Booth Amphitheatre; June 16: Kings of the Mic Tour with LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Public Enemy and De La Soul at Durham Performing Arts Center; June 22: One Direction at PNC Arena; July 11: Black Keys at Walnut Creek; July 18: Living Colour at Lincoln Theatre; July 18: Kurt Vile & the Violators at Cat's Cradle; July 27: Lil Wayne at Walnut Creek; July 28: Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five, Guster at Red Hat Amphitheater; Aug 3: Sheryl Crow at Durham Performing Arts Center; Aug 7: Matchbox Twenty, Goo Goo Dolls at Walnut Creek; Aug 22: John Hiatt at Carolina Theatre; Aug 24: Superchunk at Cat's Cradle; Aug 30: Allman Brothers Band at Walnut Creek.
Outdoor summer movies go hand-in-hand with outdoor concerts—quite literally in a few cases, with film and music events sharing a program. Here's an overview of where to find screenings in the open air:
Movies in the Museum Park at N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh, various Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. (8:30 p.m. late summer), $5: Count on the NCMA to cover the quality box-office draws of the past year in cinema, with a few classics sprinkled in along the way. Top Oscar winners from the past year include Life of Pi on June 14, Argo on July 20 and Lincoln on Aug. 10. Also of note is an Aug. 24 screening of Beasts of the Southern Wild that's paired with a 7 p.m. concert by the Lost Bayou Ramblers ($9–$18). ncartmuseum.org.
Movies by Moonlight at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, various Fridays through Aug 30 at 8:30 p.m., $3 (under 12 free): Highlights include The Hunger Games on June 21, Wreck-It Ralph on July 19, Secretariat on Aug. 9 and Les Miserables on Aug. 16. boothamphitheatre.com.
Locally Grown at Wallace Parking Garage in Chapel Hill, 8 p.m. Thursdays, July 11–Aug. 22 (except July 25), free: When this garage-rooftop series isn't presenting local bands, it's showing movies. Highlights include Ghostbusters on July 11, The Avengers on Aug. 1 and Psycho on Aug. 22. locally-grown.com.
Movies on the Green at Southern Village in Chapel Hill, 8:30 p.m. Fridays–Saturdays through July 6 (except May 31), $4: Highlights include Skyfall on June 7–8 and Iron Man 3 on June 21–22. southernvillage.com.
NC Gay & Lesbian Film Fest at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, Aug. 9–18: It's not outdoors, but this annual event is one of the biggest of its kind in the country. Schedule and ticket details should be up soon at carolinatheatre.org/ncglff.
This summer's movie season is more crowded than ever, with one would-be blockbuster opening after another. Even for those who approach the multiplexes with trepidation at this time, fearful of CGI and 3D overload, there are some promising titles.
In particular, we're intrigued by Pacific Rim (July 12), the latest effort from Guillermo Del Toro, in which Earth is under attack (ho-hum) and the only hope of salvation is giant robots operated by the likes of Idris Elba (oh yes). Another Big One: Elysium (Aug. 9), a tale of a future in which the overclass lives on a space station while the rest of us grunt and sweat on a despoiled Earth. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to his rabble-rousing District 9.
Some of us are immune to Johnny Depp, but his effort to start a new franchise with The Lone Ranger hits theaters July 5. Elsewhere, there are middling superhero run-outs, including Man of Steel (June 14), Zack Snyder's effort to animate DC Comics' stolid man from Krypton, and The Wolverine (July 26), with Hugh Jackman again.
Elsewhere on the summer apocalypse front, World War Z (June 21) is zombies in outer space, and White House Down (June 28) is Roland "Day After Tomorrow" Emmerich's latest celebration of excess. After blowing up the White House in his 1996 film Independence Day, Emmerich makes amends by having Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx defend the Oval Office from something or other.
On the art house front, we're extremely excited about Frances Ha (June 7), the latest low-key comedy from Noah Baumbach, starring Greta Gerwig as a New York City dreamer. Sometime in mid-June, expect to see Before Midnight, Richard Linklater's third installment of the romance between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy).
Sofia Coppola returns to theaters on June 14 with The Bling Ring, about a group of teenagers who rob celebrities' homes. Pedro Almodovar's I'm So Excited (June 28) is set aboard an imperiled aircraft and promises a return to the antics of his early career. Not much is known about Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's annual star-packed extravaganza that opens July 26, although Louis C.K. and Cate Blanchett are in the cast.
In August, look for The Spectacular Now, a tale of awkward teen romance that stars Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), which got raves at Sundance. David Gordon Green returns to his indie roots with Prince Avalanche, a quirky buddy tale with Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. And Terence Malick protégé David Lowery appears with Ain't Them Bodies Saints, a film starring Rooney Mara and Ben Foster that sounds suspiciously like Malick's Badlands.
Summer onstage in the Triangle brings Theatre Raleigh's "Hot Summer Nights," along with a couple more series and a handful of highlights from local companies—plus the 80th-anniversary season of the region's major modern dance event.
American Dance Festival, various venues, June 13–July 27: Under new management, ADF shakes programming up a bit with shows at DPAC, Duke's Reynolds Industries Theater—and Motorco. Highlights include Pilobolus at DPAC June 20–22 (8 p.m., $15–$54), Mark Haim's This Land Is Your Land at Duke's Nasher Museum of Art June 25–26 (7 and 9 p.m., $15) and Footprints at Reynolds Theater July 22–24 (8 p.m., $32). americandancefestival.org.
Theatre Raleigh's Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy Theatre, through Aug. 25, $22–$37: Pro expats return from NYC to work with gifted locals. Highlights include the vintage musical I Do! I Do! (May 29–June 9), Gods 0f Carnage (June 19–30) and Urinetown (Aug. 6–11). theatreraleigh.com
Theatrefest at N.C. State's Titmus Theatre, May 30-June 30, $5–$16: NCSU's University Theatre presents family-friendly fare in rotating rep, with Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got The Will (through June 14), Murder At The Howard Johnson's (June 6–23) and Agatha Christie's Black Coffee (June 20–30). ncsu.edu/theatre/theatrefest.
Snow Camp Drama, July 4–Aug. 24, $8–$16: On the outskirts of the Triangle at Wilson Amphitheater in Snow Camp, this long-running outdoor series features rotating-rep performances of the historical drama Sword of Peace and Pathway to Freedom, about Quaker pacifism and the underground railway in the region. snowcampdrama.com.
Other prominent plays on local stages this summer include: June 7–14: Bare Theatre presents Let Them Be Heard, an adaptation of oral histories by North Carolinians living at the end of slavery, at Historic Stagville in Durham (baretheatre.org); June 14–30: The Justice Theater Project presents Ragtime, a sprawling musical adaptation of the E.L. Doctorow novel that is the company's most ambitious project to date, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Raleigh (thejusticetheaterproject.org); July 12–21: NC Theatre's Broadway Series South presents Altar Boyz, a touring version of the off-Broadway send-up of boy-band Christian pop music, at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh (nctheatre.com); July 26–Aug. 4: Theatre in the Park presents Psycho Beach Party, Charles Busch's comic fusion of '60s teen surfer flicks with Alfred Hitcheock and Joan Crawford, at its venue in Raleigh's North Pullen Park (theatreinthepark.com).
Fearrington Village presents its annual Art in the Village soiree June 2 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., with dozens of booths featuring works by residents of the village plus live music and food. Admission is free; fearringtonvillage.com. ... NC Fresh Catch comes to Raleigh's Moore Square Park on June 8 from 1–7 p.m., with seafood platters, craft beers, live music and exhibits by local artists. Admission is $5; h2h2o.org. ... INDY Week gets into the summer party act on June 15 from 4–10 p.m. with our Best of the Triangle throwdown at the old Bulls ballfield, Durham Athletic Park. We'll celebrate the winners of our annual readers' poll with live sounds in the evening from The Old Ceremony and Morning Brigade plus afternoon fare from children's music band Baron Von Rumblebuss and Girls Rock group La Bete Magique. Admission is free. ... Also on June 15 is the ninth annual Juneteenth Celebration at CCB Plaza in downtown Durham, starting with a Unity March at 12:30 p.m. and continuing with live music, a health fair, children's entertainment and more. Admission is free; spectacularmag.com. ... On June 25, Miniature Curiosa, a Pittsburgh puppet troupe, brings its touring spectacle Tonight a Clown Will Travel Time to The Carrack Modern Art in Durham (8 p.m., $10). The show integrates projection technology, toy theater and "a canopy filled with LEDs"; it's not intended for young audiences.
Independence Day celebrations highlight midsummer's offerings, with downtown Raleigh's "The 'Works" extravaganza at the top of the list. The free event along Fayetteville Street and at Red Hat Amphitheater starts at noon and includes live music, children's activities, street performers, eating contests and, of course, fireworks, which will fill the sky above the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts around 9:30 p.m. ... The 34th annual Festival for the Eno is July 4 and 6 (with a day of rest in between) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at West Point on the Eno Park in north Durham. The Eno River Assocation event features live music, local arts and crafts and plenty of food. A two-day pass is $25; visit enoriver.org/festival. ... The Durham Bulls present a fireworks show after their 6 p.m. game against the Norfolk Tides at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Just north of the stadium at the new Diamond View Park, The Art of Cool Project sponsors free performances by The Beast + Big Band and Apple Juice Kid from 5–8 p.m. ... At Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, the NC Symphony's Summerfest features its annual free July 4 program at 7:30 p.m., with patriotic favorites, all-American classics and a fireworks display. Cary Town Band precedes the Symphony's performance with a 5:45 p.m. show; they also present their 26th annual "On the 3rd Again" free concert at 7:30 the night before at Sertoma Amphitheatre in Bond Park. ... The Carrboro July 4th Celebration begins on the Weaver Street Market lawn at 9:30 a.m., followed by a parade to Town Hall. Face painters, games, food and live music provide entertainment on the Town Hall Commons; a full schedule is at carrborojuly4th.com. ... Chapel Hill marks July 4 with Fireworks at Kenan Stadium on the UNC campus. Gates open at 7 p.m., with music and family activities preceding the 9:30 p.m. show in the sky. ... Beyond Indepencence Day, Cirque du Soleil brings a seven-show run of is mega-popular show Quidam to Raleigh's PNC Arena July 10–14 ($35–$95). The cast includes a full deck of 52 acrobats, musicians and other performers.
The ever-innovative crew of performance artists at Historic Interpretations brings The Hollow Crown to Setroma Amphitheatre in Cary's Bond Park for 6:30 p.m. performances Aug. 1–4 (free, donations accepted). The show about English kings and queens includes music, poetry, speeches, letters and other writings. historicinterpretations.org. ... Finally, Paperhand Puppet Intervention brings its late-summer show to UNC-Chapel Hill's Forest Theatre and Raleigh's N.C. Museum of Art Aug. 9–Sept. 15. This year's large-scale pageant is yet unnamed but will focus on how evolution and human nature interact over time. paperhand.org.
Carrboro's stalwart troupe Transactors Improv celebrates its 30th anniversary on May 31 at the ArtsCenter (8 p.m., $7–$16). Technically, they don't always do comedy: As their slogan puts it, "If you don't [laugh], we're doing drama." There have been 45 company members over the past three decades, and at least 14 of them will perform, including old-timers Regina Bartolone, Zach Hanner, Nancy Pekar, Eric Singdahlsen, Dan Sipp and Kathy Williams, along with original member Martha Brown (pictured below, at far left, in 1983). ... The laugh track spikes into the red on June 5 in Durham when two well-known TV comics bring their stand-up routines to competing venues: Tracy Morgan (30 Rock, Saturday Night Live) is at Carolina Theatre (8 p.m., $36–$56), while Kevin James (King of Queens) is across town at DPAC (7:30 p.m., $45–$65). ... Cat's Cradle in Carrboro gets into the act with a June 21 appearance by Kevin McDonald, co-founder of the Canadian troupe Kids in the Hall (8 p.m., $16–$20). ... June 28–29 finds Mad About You star Paul Reiser doing multiple shows at Goodnights Comedy Club in Raleigh ($25). ... Also at Goodnights for several shows, from July 5–7, is one of the Original Kings of Comedy, D.L. Hughley ($25). ... Expect a more political perspective from Bill Maher when the host of HBO's Real Time show visits DPAC on Aug. 1o (8 p.m., $48–$78).
Kabul-born Khaled Hosseini, who'll be at Raleigh's venerable Quail Ridge Books on June 15 for a ticketed event, was a full-time physician in 2001. But the novel he wrote by waking up at 4 every morning, The Kite Runner, became an international smash when it appeared in 2003. He followed that with A Thousand Splendid Suns and now has 10 million books in print. His latest novel is And the Mountains Echoed, a multilayered tale that globetrots from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to Greece. ... David Sedaris' latest got roughed up a bit in The New York Times, with Janet Maslin even taking aim at the volume's clumsy, nonsensical title, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. But Sedaris is a big deal in his hometown, so expect long queues June 7 at Quail Ridge. ... Wilmington author Rebecca Kee visits Chapel Hill's Flyleaf Books on June 18 for her Algonquin Books short-story collection Bobcat and Other Stories. ... George Packer, a New Yorker staff writer, appears at Quail Ridge on June 25 to promote The Unwinding: A History of the New America, his deeply pessimistic, tapestry-like account of a once-great nation coming apart. ... Aug. 27 brings Wilton Barnhardt to the Regulator in Durham to discuss Lookaway, Lookaway, a family narrative set in high-society Charlotte.
Sesame Street Live brings its Elmo Makes Music production to Raleigh's PNC Arena May 31–June 2 ($15–$60). ... Starting June 11 and continuing every Tuesday–Thursday through Aug. 15, the Northgate Mall Stadium 10 theater in Durham presents its Free Summer Kids Movie Series, with 9:30 a.m. screenings of a different children's film each week. Check ecemovies.com/summer-kid-series for the full schedule. ... DPAC's late summer offerings include an Aug. 16 Pirate & Princess Adventure show from the Disney Junior Live on Tour crew (7 p.m., $23–$63).
Compiled by Peter Blackstock, David Fellerath, Byron Woods and Emma Miller.
Corrections: Locally Grown at Wallace Parking Garage takes place the final Thursdays (not Saturdays) in June, July and August. Also, the link for Northgate Mall Stadium 10 theater's Free Summer Kids Movie Series is ecemovies.com (not ece.com).