With the uncertainty of the Fort Reno concert series and the Washington Postending two decades of free concerts at Carter Barron, it certainly feels like D.C.’s long tradition of outdoor summer concerts is waning. Not the case. There are still plenty of options—both longstanding and new—for music fans of all genres to catch live tunes on a balmy evening this summer. From jazz to folk to experimental, there’s something for everyone this summer. Best part? All free.
Read more from our summer guide here.
Petworth Jazz Project
Petworth Recreation Center Lawn, 8th and Taylor streets NW. Through Sept. 24.
Now in its sixth year, the Petworth Jazz Project has firmly established itself as a new summer tradition in D.C.—and not just because of the jazz. Sure, a performance by some of the District’s best musicians is the undeniable highlight, but the Petworth Jazz Project strives to offer activities for everyone: A yoga session, a dance performance, and a special children’s concert precede each headliner. This year’s schedule exclusively features women vocalists, including the soulful stylings of Cecily Bumbray, Rochelle Rice, and Lena Seikaly.
Adams Morgan Summer Concert Series
Northwest corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW. Saturdays through June 25.
The plaza at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road in Adams Morgan is a ripe spot for foot traffic, and thanks to the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District, a great place to catch some live music on Saturday evenings. The lineup is an eclectic array of some of D.C.’s finest: The inaugural concert featured the experimental maximalist guitar collective Boat Burning. And shows end at 7 p.m., so you still have your night ahead of you.
Washington Folk Festival
Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo. June 4–5.
For more than 30 years, the Folklore Society of Greater Washington has put on an annual festival at the idyllic, wooded Glen Echo Park. With eight stages of programming over two days, the Washington Folk Festival isn’t just a musical showcase of folk, bluegrass, and fiddle music; there are storytellers, dancers, and craftspeople from all over the world representing their cultures. Think of it as a more manageable and less crowded version of the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival held every summer on the National Mall.
Capital Fringe Music Festival
Old City Farm & Guild, 925 Rhode Island Ave. NW. June 25–26.
When Capital Fringe celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2015, founder Julianne Brienza said she wanted it to be much more than just a theater festival. Mission accomplished: In the past year, Fringe has established itself as one of the most unique cultural entities in the city, with programming that far extends its thespian background. With the help of curator Jim Thomson, Fringe has been putting on some of the best, most eclectic live music shows in D.C.—both at its Trinidad headquarters and elsewhere. Fringe and Thomson are taking that to the next level with the first annual Capital Fringe Music Festival, to be held outdoors at the Old City Farm & Guild in Shaw. It’s a stellar and eclectic lineup, as Thomson is known to curate, with a mix of locals and out-of-town musicians including surf-rock quartet Shark Week, the neo-soul of Rufus Roundtree and Da B’more Brass Factory, and Virginia primitive guitar picker Daniel Bachman.