Local Current Blog

Summer in Rochester: Finding free music on the banks of the Zumbro

Big crowds turn out for Thursdays at First and Third. Photo courtesy Rochester Downtown Alliance.

Here in Rochester, summer is marked by the arrival of free music events. You can get a taste of anything from local music to Grammy-winning national artists—just make sure you keep your eyes peeled! Here are some free music events taking place in Rochester this summer. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, you can always make yourself at home and discover something new, like that one obscure indie-rock band you never knew you loved so much or that Gaelic harpist whose music you listen to on lonely nights.

Thursdays on First & Third

Thursdays on First & Third is a big deal in Rochester, and quite honestly, you’re probably living under a rock if you’ve never heard of it before. The weekly, summer downtown market and music festival stretches for two blocks and extends throughout the Peace Plaza. Take a trip downtown on a Thursday and experience food, shopping, art, and music all at once. Live music performances occur two times a night on two different stages, and there’s even more music entertainment if you count the street performers. There’s a great variety of music genres represented in the lineup, both local and international, and the best part is that it’s free.

For more information on Thursdays on First & Third, click here.

Interlude: Acoustic & Open Mic

C4, a local non-profit organization dedicated to connecting artists and the community, hosts a weekly open mic event every Thursday at the Creative Salon. Open mic gives local artists and creatives a chance to gather, socialize, and perform. The Salon is located at 324 1st Ave. S.W., making it a convenient destination to hit up once you’ve finished checking out what’s up at Thursdays on First & Third. The event opens up with a local folk/instrumental/acoustic band or performer from 7:00-8:30 p.m., and then the mic is open for the audience. Performers must sign up by 8:15 p.m. Pretty much anything is fair game, but typically you’ll see musicians, poets, and spoken word performers.

For more information on C4 events, click here.

Civic Live Events

Another popular source of free summertime music entertainment is right outside the Civic Theatre. The Civic Theatre hosts a variety of music events, including free Friday concerts and jazz jams on the patio. Free Friday concerts feature local musicians and bands every week during the summer; among them are LP & the 45’s, KnuFunk, and After School Special. Jazz Jam on the Patio occurs once a month during the summer, on June 18, July 30, and August 20. The Patio Bar & Grill opens at 5 p.m., and music goes from 5:30-9:00 p.m. for all events. Happy Hour is from 5 – 6 pm.

For more information on Civic Live events, click here.

Down by the Riverside

Down by the Riverside is a free summer concert series that takes place on Sunday nights at 7 p.m. during the months of July and August at Mayo Park. The concert series boasts a number of big acts and is a popular hangout for families. Enjoy a blast to the past with bands like the sibling trio Los Lonely Boys, 90s alt-rock pioneers Cracker, and classic rock band Grand Funk Railroad. Or, enjoy more recent acts such as country singer-songwriter Charlie Worsham and rock band J. Roddy Walston & the Business.

To get the full Down by the Riverside lineup, click here. Watch J. Roddy Walston and the Business perform “Marigold” live in the Current’s studios:

Rochester native Brenda Tran is a student at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.