Live music is back: Here’s where to go in June

30 events that signal the start of summer and the return of the local music scene in Madison
People dance to live music at a WORT Radio block party in Madison, Wisconsin.
Photo courtesy of Ali Eminov of Creative Commons.
Live music has returned this summer.

We endured a summer without much live music in 2020, but the local music scene is coming back to life this season with bands booking gigs left and right around town. Get ready for singing, dancing, outdoor hangs, happy hours, good food, shared camaraderie and musical talent of all kinds. There are plenty of shows — many free of cost! — to choose from in June. Here are a few that made our list:

YOUR Lunch Time LIVE, June through August
The free outdoor concert series “Your Lunch Time LIVE!” is hosted by Downtown Madison and Madtown Mannish Boys on Capitol Square. The Madison Central Business Improvement District recently released a summer schedule for weekly concerts every Tuesday from June through August. This month’s lineup has already been announced, with performances by The Tooles, The Mark Croft Band, the Madtown Mannish Boys, David Hecht and the Who Dat, and Hip-Hop producer DJ Pain. All one-hour concerts will be held near the North Hamilton Street walkway of the Wisconsin State Capitol. Bring a friend, unplug and enjoy. Free, noon, Capitol Square

Open mic nights at The Bur Oak, June 2, 9, 16, 30
Beginning June 2, the Bur Oak will jumpstart its open mic nights every Wednesday. Perform in front of an audience at this free event that welcomes people of all abilities and identities. Free, sign up at 6 p.m., performances start at 7 p.m., 2262 Winnebago St.

BlueStem Jazz shows at Garver Feed Mill, June 4, 9, 25
BlueStem Jazz —  a volunteer group that books “progressive, avant-garde, experimental music” around Madison — brings three performances to Garver Feed Mill in June. Hear the sounds of Jamie Breiwick (trumpet), John Christensen (bass) and Devin Drobka (drums) of Lesser Lakes Trio on June 4, enjoy jazz/funk tunes from Dirk Quinn Band on June 9 or stop by on June 25 to check out the Tony Barba Quartet (which includes Christensen and Drobka along with Matt Gold on guitar and Barba, who is a “Madison jazz scene pioneer”). $15, 7 p.m., 3241 Garver Green

Dearth (with Andy Ewan and James the Magician) at The Bur Oak, June 5
Kick off the start of concert season at The Bur Oak with a full bar and delicious eats from Frabonni’s, El Sabor de Puebla and Babcock Ice Cream. Local experimental party rock band Dearth will be rocking the house this month alongside a guitar-slinging Andy Ewen and James the Magician, so get ready to bang your head (or whatever the kids do these days). $7, Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m., 2262 Winnebago St.

Summer Launch Party at Doundrins Distilling, June 5
Enjoy food, live music and bottle releases at this Cottage Grove distillery’s Summer Launch Party. Opening acts include Travis Agnew from noon to 2 p.m., Pete Henry from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and John Gay 5 to 6:30 p.m., which lead up to headlining act, Michael Mikrut Band, from 7 to 10 p.m. Free, 9 a.m. to midnight, 300 Progress Drive, Cottage Grove 

Sweet Delta Dawn Brunch at Garver Feed Mill, June 6
Brunch is getting a psychedelic twist with the help of blues rock four-piece Sweet Delta Dawn on June 6 at the always hopping Garver Feed Mill. These jam enthusiasts are poised to bring a fun-filled, high energy night of music for their first live show in over a year. $5, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 3241 Garver Green

Happy Hour with The Acoustic Charlies at Garver Feed Mill, June 10
The Acoustic Charlies are tenured in the Madison music scene, with Chuck Gates, Chuck Bayuk from The Drunken Sailors and Jeff Laramie of Free Hot Lunch making up the ensemble. Enjoy drinks on the patio, move to the groove and relish in that sweet sunshine during happy hour. Free, 5:30-7:30 p.m., 3241 Garver Green

Angela Puerta

Photo by Madison Magazine

Angela Puerta is one of the performers getting back into the concert scene this month in Madison.

Angela Puerta at River Arts Inc.’s Al Fresco series, June 11
Downtown Prairie du Sac is hosting Colombian singer-songwriter Angela Puerta for an evening of high-energy, Latin American-inspired music. The outdoor green space will transform into a concert venue throughout the summer as part of River Arts Inc.’s Al Fresco series, so look over the schedule to ensure you never miss a beat. $15, 7-8 p.m. 590 Water St., Prairie du Sac

Bad Philosopher’s Very Terribly Bad CD Release Show at Garver Feed Mill, June 11
In the mood for some smooth jazz? Catch percussionist Tom Ross, vocalist Elena Ross and Bad Philosopher’s jazz stars Tony Barba, Josh Cohen, Chris Di Bernardo and Jason Kutz on June 11 at Garver Feed Mill. The event is kickstarting the Madison Jazz Festival, which will continue through June 20. Don’t miss some of Bad Philosopher’s tunes from its debut album, BADHALLA, along with some other surprises. $20, 8 p.m., 3241 Garver Green

Polkafest, June 11-12
In memory of polka king Roger Bright, the city of New Glarus is putting on a two-day polka extravaganza with dancing, music and local beer. Stop by the tent for refreshments, or watch and learn on the dance floor and you’ll be able to tell the difference between regional and Bavarian styles of dance in no time. Free, 5-10 p.m., downtown New Glarus

Madison Jazz Festival, June 11-20
The Madison Jazz Festival is celebrating its return with 10 straight days of all things jazz. Highlights include Bad Philosopher, Isaiah Collier and the Chosen Few, The Acoplados Latin Project and Donna Woodall performing at various venues across town. Things kick off with staggered performances in the Capitol East neighborhood in the 8th annual Strollin’ Capitol East seres on June 11. Nate Smith + KINFOLK perform at 6 p.m. on June 13 at Breese Stevens Field. Various prices, times and venues

Seckond Chaynce at The Annex at the Red Zone, June 12
Rapper, singer and song-writer Seckond Chaynce will perform live at the Annex at the Red Zone. Seckond Chaynce is based in Tampa, Florida, and previously released multiple mixtapes and an E.P. Reloaded, Ricochet and No Room to Breathe. $20, Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m., 1212 Regent St.

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society Virtual Festival, June 12, 19, 26
This four-part “Brave New World” online series offers classical music through the lens of some of the most famous writers of all time. June 12 hails Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” Dickens’s “Great Expectations” is celebrated on June 19 and the theme on June 26 is “The Master and Margarita.” $60, released online

Latin Jazz Night with Acoplados at Garver Feed Mill, June 17
Enjoy sounds from Venezuela, Cuba and Lima, Peru, with the Acoplados Latin Project. Enjoy the melody and rhythm of the cajón, guitar and other instruments played in this Latin American and Caribbean folk/pop music performance. Note that seats at the patio are first come, first serve. $20-$30, Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m., 3241 Garver Green

Make Music Madison, June 21
Streets and storefronts of Madison will be filled with the sounds of music makers come June 21 in the citywide Make Music Day that’s celebrated internationally. Sidewalks, public parks, community centers and partner businesses (see the complete location map on the website linked above) transform into impromptu stages. In 2019, the event tallied 100 venues, and this year planners anticipate this event to take place outdoors all throughout the city of Madison. Watch out for a complete schedule, which is set to come out in early June. Donations are welcome, 8 a.m.-9 p.m., various locations

Make Music Madison at The Overture Center, June 21
One Make Music Madison event that’s already set is the Overture Center performances. Various artists will perform at the Fairchild Street stage from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on June 21. The stage will feature artists with a diverse range of styles and backgrounds, including Michael Darling, Eric De Los Santos, Beni Daiko and Kat and the Hurricane. Darling is a multi-genre singer-songwriter, De Los Santos is a multi-genre marimbist, Daiko is a Japanese Taiko drummer and Kat and the Hurricane is a queer synth pop rock band. Free, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 111 N. Fairchild St.

Marbin at The Bur Oak, June 24
Head to The Bur Oak to catch Marbin, a Chicago-based, jazz-rock band that has performed in jam and jazz festivals all across the U.S. The performance is hosted by WSUM 91.7 FM. $15, or $20 at the door, doors open at 7 p.m. 8 p.m., 2262 Winnebago St.

Summer Breeze at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, June 24-25
When the evening light streams in, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens will transform into a garden party for all ages in its new “Summer Breeze” event. Lawn games and live music go well with bites from Banzo, La Taguara, Taco Local and MIJO Frozen Treats and hyperlocal microbrews. DJs with spin records and local musicians will take to the mic in this scenic venue. $15 general admission, $10 for Olbrich members, $5 for children ages 6-12, free for children 5 and younger, 4-9 p.m., 3330 Atwood Ave.

The Pray Trio at The Cider Farm, June 20, 26
Music, cider and food … say less. Catch jazz cover band The Pray Trio two times this month at The Cider Farm. Make a reservation to attend Father’s Day Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 20, or stop by the west-side tasting room for a 6 p.m. show on June 26. The Cider Farm hosts live music every week on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6-8:30 p.m. And there’s no need to worry about chilly summer nights — there are heaters and blankets in this cozy, semi-outdoor space. Free, 8216 Watts Road

Flower Folk Fest at the Sun Prairie Historical Museum, June 26
Join the fun at this free, family-friendly event featuring heritage crafters and live music. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 115 E. Main St., Sun Prairie

Drag Brunch at The Rigby Pub and Grill, June 26
Drag brunch is back and we’re positively parched for bottomless mimosas and a lively show. The performance features Michael Lynn, Kendra Banx$, Lucy Von Cucci, Montell Infinity Ross, Zon Legacy Phoenix and Chasity Valentino. Be entertained by local drag queens while enjoying brunch at The Rigby Pub and Grill. Mimosas will be available for $10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. $25 (admission and meal), doors open at 11 a.m., show starts at noon, 119 E. Main St.

Music on the Deck at Otto’s Restaurant & Bar, June 29
Relax to some good music by Westside Andy and Glenn Davis at Otto’s Restaurant & Bar. Make a reservation today by phone for this fun dining event. In case of incliment weather, Otto’s will post by 3 p.m. to notify followers of a cancellation. Free, 5:30 p.m., 6405 Mineral Point Road

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