Tripping over outdoor music (now until fall)

June 1, 2009

What a perfect day this first official day of summer vacation is turning out to be! Temps breaking 90, cloudless sky, a lemonade stand on the agenda for this afternoon … and, perhaps best of all, the kids are already at day camp …

Actually, our summer vacation is already a scheduling nightmare; it’s been ages since my datebook was this full. For example, I’m very sad that the start of hockey lessons conflicts with Twilight Tuesdays at the Missouri History Museum. The good news, though, is that many of the penciled in dates involve meeting up with friends at other free outdoor music series. Several good ones kick off this week — maybe we’ll see you at one or two of these!

The weekly Whitaker Music Festival in the Missouri Botanical Garden, which starts Wednesday (June 3) and runs until Aug. 5 is one of the city’s most beloved outdoor events. Part of the allure is the free admission to the garden from 5 p.m. until concert time, 7:30 p.m. — and this includes the children’s garden, which is open until 7 p.m. But don’t delay in setting up your picnic until then! This is the Old West, folks, where you stake a claim and leave someone to guard your valuable land. The series is heavy on jazz, particularly on the first few weeks — but it’s a great opportunity to hear folks who aren’t typically on the free concert circuit (and to expose your kids to a new genre). First up is pianist Peter Martin.

A jazz artist inaugurates the Kirkwood Summer Concert Series too: Two Times True features Carolbeth True, whose name may be familiar to those even remotely acquainted with the local jazz scene. The downtown Kirkwood series starts Thursday (June 4) and runs weekly into September. Concerts run from 6:30 to 9 p.m. If you’re not into packing a picnic, there are plenty of eateries nearby, making this an easy event to come to without a previously arranged plan.

Saturday (June 6) brings Lafayette’s Concerts in the Park with one of our perennial favorites, Javier Mendoza. These concerts are offered every other week until the end of August in one of the shadiest, most comfortably cool parks in the city. At three hours, 6 to 9 p.m., the concerts are also among the longest.

Finally, Sunday (June 7) is the first of South City’s dual concerts series at Carondelet and South St. Louis Square parks. These draw an older crowd, particularly when there’s ragtime or swing or traditional German music on the slate, but the audience still tends to be quite tolerant of bouncy little kids. Be aware that the Carondelet bandstand is just above the pond, which holds great allure for water-loving youngsters. The Sunday concerts are from 6 to 8 p.m. (this week it’s the Bob Kuban Band); the Monday concerts are from 7 to 9 p.m. (Michael Lacey‘s New Orleans swing).

And that brings us to the end of our new concert series roundup.  Whew!  I’ll close with a photo of the new Old Post Office Plaza location downtown, where the Thursday evening concert series continues every week in June, but with a new sponsor, The Sheldon Concert Hall, and a new time, 5:30 p.m. It’s another jazz show — if you’re an aficionado, you’ll be in heaven this week! — with the Jeff Anderson Trio.5.28.09_opop

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