Grant Park Music Festival

Crowds gather each summer for free concerts during Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival.

Local residents interested in venturing beyond Kenosha for their free, live music fix will find plenty of options in Milwaukee and Chicago.

Free music can be found within a 45-minute drive to the north or a 90-minute Metra ride to the south. Here is enough free, live music to keep you foot tapping until Labor Day.

In Milwaukee


Lake Park Friends’ Music in the Park series continues with its 22nd season of Musical Mondays from July 8 to Aug. 26 at the Lake Park Summer Stage, 2975 N. Lake Park Road.

This year’s performances are Robbie Fulks (July 8), the Mark Davis Quartet (July 15), Kevin Gordon (July 22), De La Buena Five (July 29), R&B Cadets (Aug. 5), The Tritonics (Aug. 12), Extra Crispy Brass Band (Aug. 19) and Sista Strings (Aug. 26). For more details, go to


Humboldt Park’s Chill on the Hill takes place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays from June 4 to Aug. 27 at the Humboldt Park Band Chalet, 3000 S. Howell Ave. in Bay View.

Live acts include the Bay View and Parkside Drum Line, Mortgage Freeman and Telethon with Bum Alum (June 4), Dale Kellison, Raine Stern and Zach Pietrini (June 11), Rose of the West (June 18), Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (June 25), Kids From Wisconsin (July 4), The Comrades (July 9), World Music Night (July 16), Vincent Van Great (July 23), Versio Curs (July 30), Kids and Family Night (Aug. 6), Kinsella Academy of Irish Dance (Aug. 13), Jazz Night (Aug. 20), and Buffalo Gospel (Aug. 27). Carry-ins are allowed, and food and beverages are available for purchase. Smoking is not permitted. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome. For more information, visit


Pere Marquette Park, 950 N. Old World Third St., is hosting River Rhythms from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays beginning on June 12.

This year’s lineup includes Bad Medicine (June 12), Shonn Hinton (June 19), Radio Radio (June 26), Natty Nation (July 10), Leroy Airmaster (July 17), Cigarette Break (July 24), Mellencougar (Aug. 7), Brother (Aug. 14), De La Buena (Aug. 21) and Five Card Studs (Aug. 28). For more details, visit Note: No concert on July 3.

Wisconsin State Fair Park, 640 S. 84th St., brings back its free Wednesday Night Live concert series at the Budweiser Pavilion from May 29 to Aug. 28.

Concerts include Rebel Grace (May 29), Cherry Pie (June 5), The Toys (June 12), Bella Cain (June 19), Almighty Vinyl (June 26), The Cheap Shots (July 10), The Love Monkeys (July 17), The Crisis (July 24), The Now (Aug. 21) — and the final concert on Aug. 28 is still TBA. For more information, visit


Jazz in the Park returns for its 28th season from May 30 to Aug. 29 at Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St. Happy hour starts at 5 p.m. with music beginning at 6 p.m.

Here is this year’s lineup: Altered Five Blues Band (May 30), Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound (June 6), Bonifas Electric Band (June 13), Radio Free Honduras (June 20), Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal (July 18), Dylan Schneider: Jazz Goes Country (July 25), The Jimmey’s (Aug. 1), Plaid Hawaii: DJ Night with the Brew City Brass (Aug. 8), The Claudettes (Aug. 15), Abby Anderson: Jazz Goes Country (Aug. 22) and the Eddie Butts Band (Aug. 29). For more information, visit


Starry Nights runs June 28 to Aug. 16 at the Wilson Center Gerlach Outdoor Theater, 19805 W. Capitol Drive in Brookfield. Concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and range from classic rock, Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz, bluegrass, country and more. Audience members should bring lawn chairs and are welcome to bring food and beverages.

This year’s performers are Jason Gillette and the Showtime Big Band (June 28), The Rockin’ Robins (July 12, also Classic Vehicle Night), The Squeezettes performing “power polka music” (July 19), De La Buena 10-piece Latin jazz group (Aug. 2), Irish Fest Sound Sampler with Frogwater (Aug. 9) and the Guitar Festival Celebration (Aug. 16). For more information, visit

n Saturdays

The Summer Concert Series at the Rock Sports Complex, 7900 Crystal Ridge Road, in Franklin features a wide variety of acts in June. Concerts are from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

This year’s lineup includes The Toys (June 1), Superfly (June 8), King Solomon (June 15), Stetsin & Lace (June 22) and Failure to Launch (June 29). For more information, visit

In Chicago

Millennium Park Summer Music Series: A wide variety of genre-defying music from top local, national and international artists is featured from June 13 to Aug. 15 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph St. The big news is the venue’s $2.5 million upgrade to the outdoor venue’s concert sound system. Concerts are on select Mondays and Thursdays, June 13 through Aug. 15. Concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. The lawn and general seating area of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion are free on a first-come, first-served basis. Concerts are rain or shine. For more details, visit

Grant Park Music Festival: The Festival’s 85th season, featuring the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, offers outdoor concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph St. This year’s season runs June 12 through Aug. 17.

Highlights include: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 (June 12), Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 (June 14-15), A Night in Vienna (June 26), Independence Day Salute (July 4), “The Wizard of Oz” movie on a big screen while the orchestra plays the score live (July 10), A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch and John Williams (July 12-13) and the Mambo Kings (Aug. 7). The lawn and general seating area of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion are free on a first-come, first-served basis. You can also purchase seats in the reserved section. For a complete season schedule, go to

The 36th annual Chicago Blues Festival: The largest, free blues festival in the world is June 7-9 at Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph St. This year’s festival features a diverse lineup celebrating the blues’ past, present and future — along with celebrating the genre’s contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock, hip-hop and more. The event begins at 11 a.m. each day. For more details, visit

Navy Pier: Enjoy live music at Navy Pier’s Miller Lite Beer Garden, 700 E. Grand Ave. For a complete schedule and transportation information, visit