One of the pleasures of summer is spending more time outside — not just for high-energy activities like hiking and biking but for just being. Outdoor leisure time in the warm weather is magical, whether you’re savoring a picnic, lying on the beach or watching the world pass by from a city plaza.
Among the best ways to spend time outdoors this season is with live music. Just as food cooked on an outdoor grill always seems to taste better, music heard under the stars (or the waning sunlight) on a warm summer night seems inexplicably more enticing than the same program would be indoors.
Numerous communities are hosting outdoor concert series over the summer, and these informal programs often provide a great way to hear some local talent that may not often get invited to the bigger clubs or coffee houses.
One ensemble that will appear at several outdoor venues in this region this summer is the Tom Nutile Big Band, and its leader says there are many reasons he looks forward to these homegrown events.
“Along with our predecessor, the Roy Nutile Big Band, run by my father, we have played outdoor summer concerts for more than 30 communities around Boston since my father started the group in the 1970s,” Nutile commented.
“For a professional musician, there’s really nothing like an outdoor summer concert.
“We get to play a wide variety of music that appeals to all ages, from 2 to 92. Most of our other work is at galas, weddings, corporate events, or swing dances. The audience isn’t as diverse — often they’re there to dance, or to hear a specific style of music. At a summer concert, it’s a great joy to see children, some just toddlers, dancing around as you play. They may never have heard swing music or big-band music, and they’re clearly smitten with the sound.
“It’s equally joyful to have people in their 70s and 80s come up at intermission or after the concert and tell you how much they enjoy hearing the music they grew up with, performed professionally and with enthusiasm, just a few feet away.”
Places to hear the Tom Nutile Big Band this summer include Needham, launching the town’s Arts in the Park series on July 12, and at Payson Park in Belmont on Aug. 1.
For all the venues listed below, concerts are free unless otherwise noted; blankets or lawn chairs, picnics and insect repellent are encouraged. Note that some of these series do not have indoor venues in case of rain, so if the weather is questionable, check first.
Acton’s Recreation Department kicked off its much-loved summer series on the hillside at NARA Park on Thursday. The weekly series includes popular performers from past years such as the Help Wanted Band, the Hootchies, and the Hot Tamale Brass Band. Nights of the week vary for this series and some performances require ticket purchase; call 978-929-6640 or go to www.acton-ma.gov and click on the Recreation Department link for a full schedule. 25 Ledge Rock Way.
Concerts on the Common, Thursdays at 7 p.m. on the town common. Upcoming headliners include Brass Connection, Grupo Fantasia, Jumpin’ Juba, Garden Party, and the John Penny Band. For more information, go to www.bedfordrecreation.org.
Payson Park Music Festival is Wednesday evenings (except July 4) through August. Start time is 6:45 p.m. in July and 6:15 p.m. in August. Acts include Java Jive, Joshua Tree, the Tom Nutile Big Band, the John Baboian Quartet, and Four Guys in Tuxes. The park is on Payson Road. For details, go to www.ppmf.org.
Music on the Lawn series is Wednesdays at 7 p.m. starting July 11 on the Concord Free Public Library lawn, 129 Main St. The series begins with Sol y Canto. (Rain location: Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts.) For more information, go to www.concordlibrary.org.
Concerts on the Common, on the town green (or inside the Town House in the case of rain) at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays starting July 10. Scheduled performers include Something with Digby, the Centre Streeters, Nowheremen, the Cocabanana Band, and Eddy’s Shoe. For more information, call 508-785-0476 or go to www.doverrec.com.
Concerts on the Green, on Edgell Street in Framingham Centre, Fridays at 7 p.m. Upcoming acts include Off the Hook, XRB, the Reminisants, Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters, Heritage Pops, Broadsword. For more information, go to www.framingham.com/rec/concerts-2012.htm.
The Concord Band, a symphonic wind ensemble, returns once again to the grounds of Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Road, on Thursday evenings through July 26. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for picnics; concerts begin at 7:15 p.m. Admission is per carload; $10 for museum members, and $15 for nonmembers. The Harvard Lions Club will sell hot dogs and hamburgers. The Concord Band’s weekly themes will include “At the Movies – Music from the Silver Screen,” “Americana,’’ “Around the World in 60 Minutes,” “BrassWind – Featuring Brass and Woodwind,” and “Summer Retrospective.” For more information, call 978-456-3924, ext. 292, or go to www.fruitlands.org.
The Hopkinton Center for the Arts resumes its Sunset Jazz Series on Saturdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in July and August (except for Aug. 4) featuring a variety of jazz groups in its outdoor amphitheater at 98 Hayden Rowe St. In case of rain, the concerts are held the next day. Scheduled groups include Kaoruko Pilkington, Jean Mancini Gough and Friends, Shimon Ben-Shir, Erik Caldarone, John Funkhouser, and InterTrip. For more information, go to www.caahop.org.
There are seven concerts left in Hudson’s summer concert series. Concerts will be held in Wood Park at 6:30 p.m. on July 11, 18, 25, Aug. 1, and 8, and in Cellucci Park at noon on July 19 and Aug. 16. The July 11 concert — the Arts Alliance Summer Celebration — will be moved into the auditorium at Hudson High School in the event of rain. All other concerts will be canceled if there is inclement weather. A full concert lineup is available online at www.hudsonrecreation.org.
The annual Friday evening concert series sponsored by the Lexington Chamber of Commerce begins on July 13. Concerts are held at 6:30 p.m. on the Lexington Visitors Center lawn, 1875 Massachusetts Ave., weather permitting. Scheduled performers include the Benjamin Road Band, Ben Rudnick and Friends, the Porch Rockers, Three of a Kind, Strictly Overtime, Soft Touch, Jumpin’ Juba, and Boston Black Thorne. For more information, visit www.lexingtonchamber.org.
A concert series will be held at Choate Park this summer on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Performances will begin July 10 and run through Aug. 7 and feature acts including the Southeastern Massachusetts Community Concert Band and Fab4Ever. The series is run by the town and the Friends of Choate Park with help from a grant from the Medway Cultural Council. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Claflin Hill’s Family Night at the Bandstand takes place Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., Milford Town Park at Walnut and Congress streets. Upcoming performances include the Fantasy Big Band, the Claflin Hill Symphony Summer Winds, HELP!, Don Iacovelli, 8 Misbehavin’, John Burrows and the Cocabanana Band. For more information, call 508-478-5924 or go to www.claflinhill.org.
Arts in the Park, Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Park gazebo (rain location: Needham High School auditorium). On the schedule are the Tom Nutile Big Band, Groovy Afternoon, Needham Community Band, Olde Kids on the Block, and Grupo Fantasia. For more information, call 781-455-7550, ext 3.
Newton Community Pride offers a variety of summer series. Free concerts for children take place at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Newton Centre Playground, with performances planned by Johnnie the K, Rolie Polie Guacamole, Stacey Peasley, or David Polansky. Heritage festivals are on the calendar for Sunday evenings this summer as well, featuring Klezmer music, Afro-pop, and Chinese culture. Or bring your dancing shoes for a Wednesday evening “Dancing in the Parks” event (locations vary). For more information on any of the events, go to www.newtoncommunitypride.org.
Summer Concert Series Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., Town Hill, 139 Main St. Performers to include the Sharon Concert Band, the Reminisants, Destination Dreamland, Franklin School for the Performing Arts, Black and White Band, Garden Party, and the Locals. For more information, call 508-520-1315 or go to www.virtualnorfolk.org and click on the Recreation tab.
Waltham Arts Council offers its Concerts on the Common on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Waltham Common at Main and Moody streets. Scheduled performers include the Jazzabelles, Continentals, the American Legion Band, the Tom Bruhl Trio, and Mystique. Call 781-893-2787 or go to www.walthamarts.org.
Summer Concert Series on Thursdays at 6: 30 p.m. in Saltonstall Park, 149 Main St. Rain location: Watertown Free Public Library, 123 Main St. Performers include Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphires, Billy Novick and Shades of Swing, Phil Wilson’s Berklee Rainbow Band, Made in the Shade, and Eight to the Bar. For more information, call 617-972-6431 or go to www.watertown-ma.gov.
Nancy Shohet West can be reached at nancyswest@ gmail.com.