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    Boston comes alive with summer fests

    Australia’s Strange Fruit will perform at the Outside the Box festival.
    Strange Fruit
    Australia’s Strange Fruit will perform at the Outside the Box festival.

    Los Lobos, Ricky Skaggs, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Angélique Kidjo are among an eclectic mix of performers slated to descend on Boston this July for a pair of festivals, one brand-new, the other entering its second summer. Philanthropist and arts booster Ted Cutler’s Outside the Box performing arts festival is set to debut July 13-20, followed by the Boston Globe WGBH Summer Arts Weekend, returning to Copley Square July 26-28 .

    Cutler is hoping Outside the Box will become an annual event to showcase the city’s arts and culture, while drawing artists and visitors from around the world. The first season’s lineup features more than 200 performers on Boston Common, on City Hall Plaza, and elsewhere, outdoors and in, beginning at noon each day. All outdoor performances will be free.

    Mauro Pagani and La Notte della Taranta, from Italy, are headed to Outside the Box, as are Skaggs, Los Lobos, and Australia’s Strange Fruit, a troupe that performs its blend of theater, circus, and dance atop 16-foot flexible poles. Local talent will include Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Buffalo Tom, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, and performers from Emerson College, Berklee College of Music, and Boston Ballet School. The American Repertory Theater, meanwhile, will co-program the Spiegeltent, where performances will also be free.


    Many scheduling details are still being worked out. For more information, visit

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    Big Easy musical heroes
    Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be the featured acts the first night of the Summer Arts Weekend, July 26, along with the women of Boston-based Americana quintet Della Mae and young Italian bluesman Noé Socha, a newly minted Berklee graduate.

    July 27 in Copley Square, family-oriented performers begin at 11 a.m. Daytime performances will include Carlos Núñez, the Galician pipes performer; ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro; bhangra band Red Baraat; and Kidjo, a master of Afro-Caribbean rhythms. The night’s closing act is the Boston-based ensemble Session Americana, with a yet-to-be-finalized list of Boston performers sitting in. Both of those days, the music begins around 2 p.m.

    July 28 will feature the Handel and Haydn Society, followed by Boston Landmarks Orchestra performing the music of Spanish composers in a collaboration with Núñez.

    The festival on Copley Square is free, but there is also a series of ticketed events. Plans are still being finalized. For more information, visit

    Joel Brown can be reached at

    Correction: Because of incorrect information provided to the Globe, a previous version of this story erroneously included a SpeakEasy Stage Company production in the lineup of the inaugural Outside the Box festival.