The sound of music is bursting out all around Lake Lanier this summer with outdoor performances on stages, in amphitheaters, on city blocks, and near the water. The soundcheck hits on many levels. Country music? Check. Symphonic sounds? Check. Patriotic? Check. Rock? Check. Southern? Check. Beachy? Bluegrass? Check. It’s all coming through a microphone near you.
Among the annual tuneful events returning this year is the Summer MusicFest presented by The Arts Council of Gainesville. The series kicked off in June with Banks & Shane to break in the new Gladys Wyant Performing Arts Pavilion at the Smithgall Arts Center in downtown Gainesville. Up next, July 3, the outdoor venue will boom with patriotic selections from hometown favorite, Northwinds Symphonic Band. On July 17, The Highwaymen Live conjure three country legends, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.
“We’re so proud of our new outdoor stage and pavilion,” said Arts Council Director Gladys Wyant, for whom the pavilion is named. The 50 feet by 50 feet covered stage can accommodate a large orchestra or handle 300 people on a dance floor.
Wyant likened the downtown Gainesville music experience to that of Atlanta’s Chastain Park, but without the traffic, hassle, and huge crowds that never stop talking. People can bring their own picnics or dine from charcuterie boards and get drinks from a local vendor on site. Or, attendees can order dinner from restaurants around the square and have food delivered at the gate.
Concertgoers can purchase table seating for eight or bring their own comfy chairs, “anything short of a Lazy Boy (recliner),” Wyant chuckled. She’s excited about bringing live music back to town after the arts center outdoor stage was quiet last year. Two concerts next month from hometown Riverstreet Aug. 7 and beach, rock and soulsters Back in Time Aug. 21 round out the summer series.
In mid-June, Wyant was busy contracting bands through October. “The new venue has so many more opportunities than we’ve had in the past,” she said. “I think it’s special for several things. It’s right downtown where you can eat at restaurants or order and have meals delivered. There’s access to parking.” She added that the center is down the street from construction around the Gainesville square, so accessibility is not an issue.
Another music venue has crescendo-ed into a favorite by the water. Lake Lanier Olympic Park follows up the June charity The Lake Show with Gainesville’s annual Beach Bash July 16 and a new Southern Roots Lake Jam July 24. Food and drink trucks roll in for both.
The Cumming Fairgrounds will rock a solid two days with the Cumming/37 Main Music Fest, with cover bands reverberating from the 60s to the present. The July 24 and 25 rockathon will sizzle with performers channeling Bruno Mars, Elton John, Joan Jett, and many more.
Need to calm down? Settle into a bluegrass Saturday in Dahlonega where pickers bring their fiddles and banjos in tribute to the town’s forbears from the Appalachian mountains.
Here’s a rundown on where to hear live music outdoors this summer:
- First Friday Concert, Dahlonega. Radford Windham & Step Back Cadillac, 6:30-8:30 p.m. July 2, Hancock Park, corner North Park/Warwick St. DahlonegaDDA.org.
- Tribute to America Concert, Braselton. North Georgia Winds performs patriotic tunes, 7 p.m. July 3, Town Green, Davis St. Braselton.net.
- Northwinds Symphonic Band, Gainesville. Hometown favorite band plays patriotic selections, gates open 6 p.m., music starts 8 p.m. July 3, The Smithgall Arts Center’s Gladys Wyant Pavilion, 331 Spring St. SE. $15-$20, $240 for table of 8. TheArtsCouncil.net.
- Beach Bash, Gainesville. Fun in the sand, plus inflatable waterslide, games, food and drink trucks, hula hoop and limbo contest, 5-10 p.m. July 16, Mixtape concert begins 7 p.m. Lake Lanier Olympic Venue, 3105 Clarks Bridge Rd. Free, table reservations for a fee. LakeLanierOlympicVenue.org.
- Summer MusicFest, Gainesville. The Highway Men, country music tribute band, 8 p.m. July 17, The Arts Council Gladys Wyant Pavilion, 331 Spring St. SE. $30-$35, table for 8 $360. TheArtsCouncil.net.
- Cumming/37 Main Music Fest. Tribute bands to Bruno Mars, Linkin Park, Justin Timberlake, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Lynrd Skynyrd, and others, plus food and drink trucks, games, 1-11 p.m. July 24, 3-10:30 p.m. July 25, Cumming Fairgrounds, 235 Castleberry Rd. $19.99-$299.99. Buford.37main.com.
- Queen Nation Concert, Buford. Tribute band Queen Nation performs on concert lawn, gates open 6 p.m., music starts 7:30 p.m. July 24, Buford Community Center, 2200 Buford Hwy. Free. BufordCommunityCenter.com.
- Southern Roots Lake Jam, Gainesville. Concert with headliner Tyler Farr and six other country/southern performers, plus food trucks, vendors, misting stations and more, 12:30-10:30 p.m. July 24, Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Rd. $35-$70. LakeLanierOlympicVenue.org.