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Something (good) for nothing 

Click for larger image • Schooner at Tir Na Nog

Photo by D.L. Anderson

Click for larger image • Schooner at Tir Na Nog

The following venues host free shows on a regular or semi-regular basis

ARMADILLO GRILL (DURHAM): Sometimes the location changes, but the Campus Concert Series typically puts together three-band bills that draw heavily from Durham's quirky, strong rock scene. Fridays, 5:30 p.m. See schedule at

BROAD STREET CAFE (DURHAM): A mix of lesser-known artists and bigger draws like Jon Shain and Lucy Wainwright Roche contribute to an eclectic schedule of jazz, reggae, blues and Americana acts. Rarely a cover. Tuesdays through Sundays. See schedule at

LOCAL 506 (CHAPEL HILL): The venue canceled its Free for All series last year, but it continues to present CD release shows and other free local events on a sporadic basis. See schedule at

THE POUR HOUSE (RALEIGH): Monday and Tuesday nights generally bring free sets from acts both touring and local, including Brooklyn-based indie rockers Lowry's four-week residency. See schedule at

TIR NA NOG (RALEIGH): Established locals, such as Goner and Hammer No More The Fingers, headline alongside newcomers and, occasionally, out-of-town guests. Bills generally fit in the indie rock spectrum. Thursdays, 10 p.m. See schedule at

The following venues typically operate in a pass-the-hat fashion to collect donations for bands

THE CAVE (CHAPEL HILL): Weeknight rock and Americana shows are generally donation-based, while weekend and late-night shows may charge a cover. Sundays-Saturdays. See schedule at

THE RESERVOIR (CARRBORO): Metal and rock bands passing through town or looking for a local gig get paid from your tips. See schedule at

SADLACK'S HEROES (RALEIGH): Enjoy roots rock acts and throw your dollars in the bucket while eating one of the best sandwiches in Raleigh on Sad's back porch. See schedule at

During the summer, an abundance of music series scattered throughout the Triangle—from the Rivermill Series in Saxapahaw to Back Porch Music at American Tobacco in Durham—offer free tunes.

  • Free shows; pass the hat shows; summer music series


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