9 free concerts you have to see this summer

Posted at 11:00 AM, Jun 06, 2016

There are a lot of ways to while away the hours checking out music during the summer. The bad news is that most of them will cost you.

The good news is that Cincinnati has tons of free shows, too, ranging from country and pop to jazz, classical, rock and soul. Here are nine recommendations.

Salsa on the Square

One of the most popular weekly events on the Square is this sweaty dance marathon featuring hot salsa bands, expert dancers and instructors who are happy to show you the way. 

7-10 p.m. every Thursday through Sept. 22. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown.


Canadian "folk popgrass" rockers the Strumbellas broke out this spring with the super catchy "Spirits," the first single from their recently released third album, "Hope." Their unique mix of indie rock, pop and folkie overtones has landed them some primo pay gigs this summer, including spots at Lollapalooza and Las Vegas' Life is Beautiful festival. 

7 p.m. June 17. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine.

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra

Whenever you have a chance to see the Pops live you should do it. But when the opportunity comes to see them for free, in a beautiful woodland setting, what is stopping you? This special event with Pops conductor John Morris Russell will feature hits from Broadway, the movies and classic American anthems. 

8:15 p.m. June 29. Miami Whitewater Forest, 9001 Mount Hope Road, Harrison.

Sonny and the Sunsets

Sometimes it feels good to get out of the sun and into a dark nightclub for some kid-free entertainment. While Over-the-Rhine's MOTR has free music every night of the week, this show by San Francisco musician/poet Sonny Smith is sure to be one of the most rockin' things you can do for zero dollars this summer, thanks to Smith's patented blend of doo wop, beach pop and a touch of wink-wink humor. 

Time TBD, July 8. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine.

Kentucky Symphony Orchestra Summer Series

The KSO performed its first summer park concerts in 1995, and they've become a family-friendly Northern Kentucky tradition. The KSO’s Boogie Band kicks off this year's three-concert series by recreating the studio sounds of a half century of Top 40 hits — from 1966-2016 and from the Beatles to Bruno Mars. There'll be food trucks on hand, too.

7:30 p.m. July 9. Devou Park, Covington.

Guided By Voices

Though leader Bob Pollard is technically from Dayton, Cincinnati always has kind of considered his band Guided By Voices to be something of a hometown treasure. With more than 80 releases under his belt (Pollard is the only constant member since 1983), Pollard has rebooted the band once again with a new lineup that includes guitarist Nick Mitchell and Bobby Bare Jr., along with longtime GBV drummer Kevin March. 

7 p.m. July 15. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown.

Robert DeLong

This summer's Indie series on the square has a ton of great shows featuring major national acts (Cloud Cult, Civil Twilight, Rev. Horton Heat), but few have drawn such huge, enthusiastic crowds lately as EDM star DeLong. A popular festival party starter, DeLong has been rocking from coast to coast over the past year, hitting festivals such as Outside Lands in San Francisco, Louisville's Forecastle and Milwaukee's legendary Summerfest.

8 p.m. July 22. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets,

The History of Nathan Best Concert: I'm Back Tour

Nathan Best

Grammy Award-winning Cincinnati native Best comes home for a party in the park with special guests Teresa Teri and Unique, Kim Walker and Vision Ministries, Rameco Lattimore and TWC. The former O'Jays and Levert member has focused his energies on contemporary gospel over the past few years.

7:30 p.m. July 29. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine.

Hickory Robot

The Hamilton County Park District's Sizzlin Summer Concert series features free live music by local bands on Saturdays in parks throughout the district. This week's show features beloved Americana band Hickory Robot, who blends bluegrass, folk, jazz, country and Celtic music for a unique sound guaranteed to move your feet. 

7 p.m. Aug. 10. Miami Whitewater Forest Harbor Point, 9001 Mount Hope Road.