The steam has picked up on Wichita’s music scene so much that the Sedgwick County Zoo is bowing out of its summer concert series this year, zoo director Mark Reed said.
“There’s been a massive rebirth of music in Wichita, between Intrust Arena, Hartman Arena, Old Town, the Orpheum, the Cotillion,” Reed said. “It’s not our core business. We made money last year, but we made a heck of a lot more money three years ago. We will continue to have concerts, but not a series.”
Several other summer concert series in the great outdoors are still on tap for the summer in the Wichita area — with two already started — and many of them are free.
Radio station KEYN, 103.7 FM, moved its classic-hits concerts from Old Town to the WaterWalk last summer, and people loved it, said Brad Horning of the radio station. “The parking is incredible,” he said. This year, the free concerts on six consecutive Friday nights in July and August will have an added element — Market Off Main, featuring food and drink, cooking demonstrations, a flower market and art booths.
“The idea is getting people down to WaterWalk earlier in the night and expanding on the whole free-concert experience with a market,” Horning said. The market will start at 6 p.m., a couple of hours before the concerts that start July 6. There also will probably be more opening acts featuring local talent and more of a dance floor at the concerts, Horning said.
He only hopes that the steam the music scene has picked up does not translate to the ultra-hot nights that plagued most of the concert series last summer.
Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine will be the leafy backdrop to several Sunday concerts this summer, including on holidays, and including Sunday, Mother’s Day. The scheduling is intentional, arboretum steward Robin Macy said. “After you’ve carved the spiral ham, the family wants to go do something,” Macy said. The events all will be family-friendly concerts that start at 4 p.m.; gates will open at 3. Tickets are $10 at the gate. Barbecue from the Lyon’s Den and Tuscan food from Luciano’s will be for sale, and picnics are welcome (dogs are not allowed). For more information, see http://www.bartlettarboretum.com/.• Sunday: Robin Macy and the Cherokee Maidens on Mother’s Day
• May 27: Grammy Award-winning bluegrass singer Tim O’Brien, former mandolin player for Hot Rize
• June 10: Singer-songwriter Darrell Scott• June 17: Pop and The Boys, accordion-tinged bluegrass, on Father’s Day
• Sept. 9: Driven, a bluegrass band that will perform here just before being showcased at the Winfield bluegrass festival• Sept. 30: Kelley Hunt Band, a Kansas R&B icon
• Oct. 21: Slaid Cleaves, an Austin, Texas, troubadour
Twilight Garden Theater
Scenic Landscapes Water Garden Nursery at 5911 W. Maple has started an outdoor concert and movie series at a new amphitheater built where the nursery’s store sat before it burned down two years ago. (Another store eventually will be built.) A family-friendly movie is shown the first Saturday of the month at dusk, and a concert is featured the last Saturday of the month at 7 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 316-942-4861. Scheduled so far:
• May 26: The Jukes with Clif Major
Tuesdays on the Terrace
Botanica, 701 N. Amidon, has live music every Tuesday night of the summer starting in June during Tuesdays on the Terrace. Music and beverage service run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and the gardens are open until 8. The Bar’s Open will serve cocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. Picnics are welcome. Regular admission is charged for nonmembers ($7 for adults); members get in free. For more information, call 316-264-0448 or visit botanica.org.• June 5: Mark Horton
• June 12: Flatland String Band
• June 19: Jim Conner
• June 26: RKO Blues
• July 3: Knocknasheega
• July 10: Piper Leigh• July 17: Cherokee Maidens
• July 24: Curt Mitchell• July 31: Carrie Nation and The Speakeasy
• Aug. 7: Marta & Tanya Belly Dancing
• Aug. 14: Thor Bonner
• Aug. 21: Emily Rhiannon Gilliam
• Aug. 28: Torin & Georgia Anderson
• Sept. 4: Kandace Mars
• Sept. 11: Bruce Huss
• Sept. 18: Nikki Moddelmog
• Sept. 25: The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band (music starts at 6 p.m.)
Art for Your Ears
One night each month, June through August, the Ulrich Museum of Art will bring musical acts to the Wichita State University campus, 1845 Fairmount. The free concerts — free refreshments included — will be on the McKnight Outdoor Plaza between the museum and the School of Art and Design. The shows are from 7 to 9 p.m. Bring a lawn chair.• June 7: Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen, 2011 Blues Challenge finalists who put on a foot-stomping family-friendly show that includes stories and humor
• July 12: singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters, who wrote the Martina McBride hit “Independence Day”• Aug. 2: The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band
Bradley Fair summer concerts
Bradley Fair will host five free jazz concerts on the Thursdays of June and the first Thursday in July. Concerts are from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Bradley Fair Plaza overlooking the lake at Rock Road and 21st Street. Fireworks will follow the final concert on July 5. Newport Grill will have soft drinks and cocktails for sale. Bring a lawn chair. For more information, visit www.bradleyfair.com or call 316-630-9990.
• June 7: Joseph Vincelli
• June 14: Marcus Anderson• June 21: Brian Simpson
• June 28: Alexander Zonjic
• July 5: Celebrate America concert and fireworks featuring Dotsero.
KEYN Summer Concert Series
Free concerts featuring classic hits of dance music with a party atmosphere will be held on six consecutive Fridays in July and August off Main and Waterman streets west of the WaterWalk condos. Concerts are from 8 to 10 p.m., and the new Market Off Main will precede them at 6 p.m. There will be light hors d’oeuvre-type food for sale as well. Bring a lawn chair.• July 6: King Midas
• July 13: Stallion
• July 20: Rain
• July 27: Big Fat Fun
• Aug. 3: Annie Up
• Aug. 10: Lucky People.