The summer outdoor concert season is already in full swing, bringing all types of music - including bluegrass, big band, rock 'n' roll and classical jazz - to regional parks and other outdoor venues.
Sponsored by various organizations and local businesses, all concerts are free. Folks need bring only folding chairs or blankets and picnic baskets.
Something more is required of the volunteers who arrange these outdoor concerts. Now in her 22nd year as performing arts chairman for the eight-concert series sponsored by the Woman's Club of Linthicum Heights, Jo Barker said her committee starts pursuing bands as early as January or February.
"After 27 years we have become a tradition," Barker said. "When people see me in March, they ask me about the coming season."
She was delighted with the audience response to Sunday's season opener by the Young Columbians.
"Sunday's weather couldn't have been more perfect for the Young Columbians, a group of 13- to 16-year-old performers," Barker said. "I've been calling for three years to try to get them, and people who remembered when they came before kept asking for them. Because they start over every three years with a new group of young people, we had to wait until they were ready, and were they ever ready."
Entertainer, Toby's Dinner Theatre proprietor and educator Toby Orenstein founded the Center for Theatrical Arts and the Young Columbians 35 years ago at the request of Columbia developer James Rouse, who asked her to create a school of theatrical arts for the young city.
In charge of the group performing at Linthicum Park at Benton Avenue off Route 170 last Sunday was Orenstein's niece Beth, who brought a program of Broadway songs.
These free concerts are held at 6 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 19. This weekend will bring the Bayside Big Band; July 8, the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition; July 15, the Federal Jazz Commission; July 22, Bobby and the Believers (featuring Randy Nielson, who grew up in Linthicum); and July 29, the Crabtowne Big Band. For more information on the Linthicum Heights season, call Barker at 410-859-3308.
Elsewhere you should be able to find concerts every weekend that suit your musical tastes in venues that often include a water view.
Tomorrow (with a Sunday rain date) brings the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra to Anne Arundel Community College's stadium for a fourth annual Fourth of July Spectacular concert, to be conducted by Jose-Luis Novo.
Those who arrive early for the festivities that begin at 4 p.m. can stake out the best location for the performance and the fireworks.
At 6:30 p.m. an Annapolis favorite, the Doug Segree Band, will entertain until 8 p.m. when Maestro Novo leads the orchestra in a selection of movie and Broadway tunes and patriotic favorites. The evening concludes with Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" and Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" march accompanied by a 20-minute professional fireworks finale.
Other outdoor concerts include the Bayside Concert Series at Downs Park in Pasadena, already running for over a month and continuing through Sept. 2.
In mid-June, the Navy's contemporary group, the Cruisers, entertained a large crowd with Top 40 and Motown hits.
This Sunday's concert features Zim Zemarel, followed by the Commodores on July 8, and Loose Cannon at 1 p.m. and Mike and the ECB at 6 p.m. July 15. For more information and a brochure listing all concerts, call 410-222-6230.
The Glen Burnie Improvement Association is continuing its Friday evening concert series held at the Corcoran Pavilion at the Glen Burnie Town Center with the Esquires on July 6, Jennifer Rose on July 13 and the Crabtowne Big Band on July 20. Information: Betsy Slicker 410-647-0057.
Upcoming concerts at Quiet Waters Park include the Kelly Bell Band on July 7, Fisher Street on July 14, Timbason on July 21, Jay Henley and the Stone Broke Band on July 28. The series continues through Aug. 25. Information: www.friendsofquietwaterspark.homestead.com.
Other Annapolis-based outdoor concerts include the Annapolis Maritime Museum Wednesday evening concerts on the museum grounds in Eastport and Thursday noon concerts at City Dock on the Market House Pier. The series continues Thursday with Scurvy Crew at noon, and Steve Keith offering his salty songs at 7 p.m. July 11 and noon July 12. Geoff Kaufman offers folk music at 7 p.m. July 18 and noon the next day. A complete listing of all concerts in this series can be found at www.annapolismaritimemuseum .org.
Naval Academy "Summer Serenade" concerts take place at the Annapolis Harbour Center on Wednesday evenings starting with an Independence Day concert by the Concert Band at 8 p.m. next week. The concert band will also perform on July 10 and July 24. The Electric Brigade plays on July 17, and The Next Wave will offer classic and contemporary big band jazz on July 31.
Crofton's Summer Concert Series continues at 6 p.m. Sundays on the Village Green across from Crofton Country Club with Big Band Caliente this weekend, Pure Luck (contemporary) on July 8, and the Bay Jazz Project on July 15. Information: 410-721-2301.
With so many choices, everyone should be able to find at least one free outdoor concert every weekend to sweeten their summer season.