Look at it this way: If it's going to be hot and sticky this summer, would you rather be in a stuffy nightclub or under blue skies with the wind whipping through your hair? That's the question as we get further into the season and outdoor music series begin in earnest. Here's a sampling of what's happening around the region.
Through Aug. 27, Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m., DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. Free. 617-987-2000, www.landmarksorchestra.org
Under the direction of conductor Christopher Wilkins, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra is a familiar sight this time of year on the Esplanade, with spectators coming for both the music and a glimpse of the Charles River. This year's programming includes an evening of Latin music and dance with "Fiesta sinfónica" (July 23); "From the New World: The Legacy of the Spirituals" (Aug. 13); and collaborations with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra (July 30) and Boston Lyric Opera (Aug. 6).
Through Aug. 29, Wednesdays at 6 p.m., Fridays at 12:30 p.m., Central Library in Copley Square. Free. 617-536-5400, www.bpl.org/news/concerts.htm
Various strains of jazz, folk, classical, and world music fill the courtyard at Boston Public Library throughout the season, giving you a good excuse to pack a lunch and head over there Friday afternoons. The Wednesday-night performances are perfect for the post-work crowd, too. Among the highlights: local roots-rocker Patrick Coman (July 23), chamber ensemble Cardamom Quartet (July 25), Berklee professor and country spitfire Susan Cattaneo (July 30), contemporary jazz combo Properly Unprepared (Aug. 1), indie-folkers Darlingside (Aug. 6), and Brazilian singer-songwriter Fernando Holz (Aug. 20). In the event of crummy weather, the shows move indoors to the Commonwealth Salon.
Through Sept. 11, Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m., next to Club Passim in the alley between Church and Brattle streets, Cambridge. Free. 617-492-7679, www.clubpassim.com/summer-concert-series
Through Aug. 19, select Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Danehy Park in Cambridge, near Alewife and Porter T-stations. Free.
Through Sept. 2, Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m., near Kendall Square T-station. Free.
As if its strong nightly programming weren't enough, Club Passim branches out even more in the summer. The unsinkable Harvard Square venue hosts three free outdoor music series as showcases for local talent. Its Tuesday lunchtime series in Kendall Square is a nice preview of acts who typically play Passim, including Jenee Halstead (Aug. 12) and Dietrich Strause (Aug. 26). New this year, the Danehy Park Concert Series sets up shop through mid-August, and the Passim/Berklee series pays homage to the school's rising talents.
Through Aug. 27, mostly Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets: $30, $24 for students, seniors, and members. 800-440-6975, www.mfa.org/programs/music
A summertime tradition for local music lovers, the MFA's Concerts in the Courtyard series provides one of the more idyllic backdrops to hear bands al fresco. With greenery swaying in the distance and revelers either dancing or sitting cross-legged on the grass, it often feels more like an intimate outdoor festival. This year's lineup is as diverse as ever, as Mariachi singers (Veronica Robles, July 23) and North African funky soul sisters (Noura Mint Seymali, July 30) mingle with Western swing bands (Hot Club of Cowtown, Aug. 13) and young mandolin masters (Sierra Hull, Aug. 14). The series also puts a spotlight on local artists, from singer-songwriter Patty Larkin (Aug. 6) to Jamaica Plain's Ethiopian-pop dynamos Debo Band (Aug. 20).
Through Sept. 6, shows start at 7:30 p.m. Boarding House Park, Lowell. Ticket prices vary. 978-275-1829, www.lowellsummermusic.org
Lucinda Williams, Neko Case, Barenaked Ladies, and Andrew Bird all have already graced the stage at Boarding House Park, as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series. It's easy to see why: Framed by leafy trees in front of a sea of folks in folding chairs and sprawled on blankets, it's a breezy, bucolic spot to unwind. The rest of the season is equally jammed with legends: Marcia Ball (Aug. 8), Gregg Allman with special guests Jaimoe's Jasssz Band (Aug. 9), Lyle Lovett (Aug. 16), and Boston's own Peter Wolf and the Midnight Travelers (Aug. 22).
Through Aug. 11, Mondays from 6 to 8 p.m. Regattabar, Cambridge. Free. 617-661-5000, www.regattabarjazz.com/events/courtyard-series
In the upper courtyard area of the Charles Hotel, which houses Regattabar, the esteemed jazz venue presents a Monday night series in association with Berklee College of Music. With a glass of wine in hand, you'll find it a perfect setting for sassy Australian jazz vocalist and songwriter Sarah McKenzie (Aug. 11), who nearly stole the show at Symphony Hall during a recent collaboration with the Boston Pops. Also on tap are Lampião, a globe-trotting jazz ensemble (July 21), and South Korean singer Song Yi Jeon (Aug. 4), among others.
Through Aug. 29, Fridays starting around 7:30 p.m., Institute of Contemporary Art. Ticket prices range between $15-$25. Through Aug. 28, the Harborwalk Sounds series runs Thursdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Free. 617-478-3103, www.icaboston.org/summer
The Institute of Contemporary Art is already off to a killer start with its outdoor programming, recently hosting performances by former Galaxie 500/Luna singer Dean Wareham and neo-soul crooner Autre Ne Veut. This year brings the arrival of Wavelengths, a new waterfront series of Friday nights featuring DJs and indie bands performing against the panorama of the harbor. Get ready for a DJ set and performance by trash-talking provocateur Peaches (July 25) and a concert by Hooray for Earth (Aug. 22), the Boston-bred electro-rockers who have a new album out later this month. The ICA's Harborwalk Sounds, on Thursday evenings, is devoted to highlighting Berklee students and alumni.