How to fill summer with free (or at least affordable) music

Live music can complete a perfect summer evening spent with friends and good food. And there’s nothing better or more family- and wallet-friendly than free concerts put on by cities and businesses across the region. There are also some that, though not free, are more affordable than plunking down a credit card to see the big names at the big venues.

From Woodstock, north of Marietta, to downtown Atlanta and out to Gwinnett County, there are bands playing in the next few months that will please every ear and dance style. With no or low ticket costs, and most of the concerts welcoming picnickers, these events are worth the drive.

Woodstock Wing and Rock Fest

This free festival kicks off the summer season, and the name says it all. Wings. Rock. More than 20 live acts. The three-day event starts Friday and continues through Sunday. Kidzone with jumpies and slides. Art and crafts with 30 local vendors.

6-10 p.m. Friday. Noon-10 p.m. Saturday. Noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Park at City Center, 101 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock.

Atlanta Balalaika Orchestra Concert

It’s not free, but it’s cheap and unique. Balalaikas, domras, bayans — all the traditional instruments from Eastern Europe playing folk, classical and traditional tunes from old Russian, scattered gypsy nations and other Eastern European countries.

3-5 p.m. June 2. Members $10, nonmembers $15. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. 678-812-4002.

Hot 109.7FM Birthday Bash 18 Block Party

Atlanta’s hip-hop radio station throws a free party featuring live entertainment from local and national artists.

Noon-5 p.m. June 15. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Centennial Olympic Park Drive, Atlanta. 404-223-4412.

Marietta Glover Park Concert Series

Bring a picnic, blanket or lawn chairs to Marietta Square after 4 p.m. for the free summer concerts through September. Set up tables in the street on North Park Square after 6 p.m. May 31, the Glow Band (variety and classic rock). June 1, GSO Jazz. June 28, Atlanta Pleasure Band (R&B). July 26, the Grapevine (beach music and oldies). Aug. 23, A1A (Jimmy Buffett tribute band).

Concerts begin at 8 p.m. 50 N. Park Square, Marietta. 770-794-5601.

Woodstock Summer Concert Series

One of the best free summer concert series in the region plays Saturdays here. Plenty of food in walking distance of the downtown park, or bring a picnic. June 8, Yacht Rock Revue, Friday Night Fever (’70s light rock). July 13, Ed Roland, the lead singer for Collective Soul, brings his Sweet Tea Project to town (Americana). Aug. 10 features the Dazz Band (’80s R&B/funk). Sept. 14, the Marshall Tucker Band (Southern rock).

Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Park at City Center, 101 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock.

Gwinnett County’s Moonlight & Music Concert Series

Downtown Lawrenceville’s historic courthouse lawn tunes up with free music the last Friday of each month through September featuring a variety of musical genres. May 31, Grogus (salsa/Latin jazz). June 28, Abbey Road Live (Beatles tribute). July 26, Randall Bramblett Band (Americana singer-songwriter). Aug. 30, Yacht Rock Schooner (’70s FM radio hits/variety).

Concerts begin at 8 p.m. 185 Crogan St., Lawrenceville. 678-226-2639.

Jazz on the Lawn at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center

Not free, but affordable. Callanwolde’s Jazz on the Lawn showcases a lineup of Atlanta’s finest jazz players performing a mix of classic and contemporary jazz, swing, fusion, Latin and blues. Guests can bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy these special concerts under the stars. Second and fourth Fridays of each month. June 14, Ike Stubblefield and Friends (soulful R&B jazz). June 28, Serenata Band (Latin jazz, samba and salsa). July 12, Scott Glazer’s Mojo Dojo (jazz, blues and Southern soul). July 26, Ted Howe Trio with vocalist Karla Harris (the music of James Bond). Aug. 9, Madoca & Company (contemporary fusion jazz).

Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. $15 in advance or $20 at the door, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-872-5338.

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