FREE FOR ALL
This summer, there are more ways than ever to check out the latest bands – and even old favorites –without worrying about tickets.
CENTRAL PARK SUMMERSTAGE
Each year, some of the biggest acts in music stop by Central Park for the (mostly) free SummerStage concert series. The season kicks off with a performance by sultry singer Cassandra Wilson on June 15. Through Sept. 16, more than 100 artists perform hard rock, hip-hop and everything in between.
Picks: Neko Case, July 20; Brazilian Girls, July 22; “Wild Style” 25th Anniversary Reunion, July 29
LINCOLN CENTER OUT OF DOORS
More than 100 acts gather at Lincoln Center’s outdoor plazas for this summer-long festival with a sleek uptown flair. The fun starts in June with the Midsummer Night Swing concert series and continues in August when Lincoln Center celebrates the ‘60s in “Summer of Love.” During summer’s dog days, a July art show keeps the open-air culture flowing.
Picks: George Gee Orchestra & David Berger’s Sultans of Swing, June 19; The Harlem Renaissance Orchestra, July 21
RIVER TO RIVER FESTIVAL
The summer’s biggest – and most environmentally-friendly – festival brings music to venues throughout Lower Manhattan, from Governors Island to the South Street Seaport. From June through September, over 500 free events guarantee there’s something for everyone going on downtown. Check rivertoriver.org to see if free tickets are needed and for bad-weather locations.
Picks: Booker T & the MG’s, June 13; Spoon, July 11; A Night of Billie Holiday Remixed and Reimagined, Aug. 3.
SEAPORT MUSIC FESTIVAL
The South Street Seaport
Avant-garde acts and soulful favorites could have even locals rushing to one of the city’s most touristy destinations, the South Street Seaport, for this edgier side of the River to River Festival. As you catch the breeze off the East River, be glad the Fulton Fish Market moved to the Bronx. The eclectic festival runs from June 1 through Aug. 31.
Picks: Brooklyn Philharmonic, June 16; Fujiya & Miyagi, July 6; Ruben Studdard July 19.
Pier 54 (Hudson Street at W. 14th Street)
Head to the West Side from June through August for four riverside concerts spread throughout the summer. The free fun started May 24 and things have already gotten weird. Rockers Cartel have been living in a “bubble” for three weeks as they record their new album live on the pier. The band breaks free June 12 and celebrates with a free concert.
Pick: Joan Jett and the Blackhawks, June 28
Even with so much going on for free, there are still some concerts worth the price of admission this summer.
FAMILY PICK: SUMMERTIME CLASSIC SERIES
Avery Fisher Hall
The New York Philharmonic shows its lighter side in the Summertime Classics series. June 28-July 6 the orchestra performs popular songs, including two special Fourth of July concerts full of festive and patriotic favorites from John Philip Sousa, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein.
Madison Square Garden
On June 30, former Smiths’ front man Morrissey takes the stage at Madison Square Garden. Expect a stirring performance by the outspoken British singer and a crowd of Moz’s fanatical followers.
Madison Square Garden
Let your inner teenybopper loose as Justin Timberlake takes the stage at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 15–16 to support his second solo album, the grown-up “FutureSex/LoveSounds.”
CENTRAL PARK SUMMERSTAGE BENEFITS
To raise money for a season of free music, the summer’s biggest stars come out for the Central Park SummerStage benefit concerts. This year, the fundraising season starts June 8 with a show by Joss Stone and Common, before wrapping up with an Aug. 18 performance by crooner Rufus Wainwright.
Picks: The Levon Helm Band, June 28; The Decemberists, July 16; The Black Crowes, Aug. 9