Free Summer Concerts in Buffalo, NY

The city of Buffalo, NY is no stranger to free entertainment, especially when it comes to free summer concerts. There are no less than five major free concert venues for the 2011 season, not to mention all of the smaller free concert gigs. So grab a cold one and revel in the best of the Queen City’s abundance of free shows.

Thursday at the Square

This wildly popular free concert series has been drawing crowds for 25 summers. Held in Lafayette Square, Thursdays at the Square are a family-friendly way to spend a summer evening in Buffalo. Shows kick off at 5 pm and end around 9. This year we’ll be seeing a shift, as more than half of the concerts will play at the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf. Opinions seem to be split over this relocation, but when you consider the extra space and the enhanced lakefront view, I see no reason for complaints. This season’s lineup includes:

June 2: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
June 9: Morris Day and the Time
June 16: Blues Traveler with special guest Willie Nile
June 23: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals with special guest Fitz and the Tantrums
June 30: Lowest of the Low with special guests Hey Rosetta! and Ron Hawkins & the Do Good Assassins (*note: this is the first Square show to be held at the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf)
July 7: Sloan
July 14: Court Yard Hounds
July 21: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes
July 28: George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
Aug 4: Tokyo Police Club with special guest The Sheila Divine

Tuesdays in the Park – Artpark

Artpark in Lewiston features free outdoor concerts every Tuesday night from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. An eclectic mix of nationally renowned artists will perform an a stage overlooking the Niagara River Gorge. Two summers ago, I saw The Machine perform Pink Floyd – an amazing show that will be repeated as a perfect end-cap to the 2011 season. Here’s a rundown of Artpark’s free Tuesday concerts:

June 14: Blue Oyster Cult
June 21: Creedence Clearwater Revisited
June 28: Peter Frampton
July 5: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo
July 12: .38 Special
July 19: Cheap Trick
July 26: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Aug. 2: ZZ Top
Aug. 9: Edgar Winter
Aug. 16: Ted Nugent
Aug. 23: George Thorogood & The Destroyers
Aug. 20: The Machine

Artpark also offers a free outdoor concert series for their Coors Light Wednesdays at the Park. Wednesday shows also start at 6:30 pm. The 2011 schedule includes:

June 29: Umphrey’s McGee
July 6: The Trews
July 20: moe.
July 27: Bright Eyes
Aug. 3: O.A.R.
Sept. 7: Greg Allman

Molson Canal Concert Series

The largest free waterfront concert series in Western New York, the Molson Canal Concert Series (located at eh Ulrich City Center in Lockport, NY) has shows every Friday night from 5:30 pm – 11. Parking is free. Shows this year include:

June 24: Steven Page
July 1: Dennis DeYoung
July 8: Burton Cummings
July 15: John Butler Trio with the Ragbirds and One World Tribe
July 22: The Tea Party with The Pretty Reckless
July 29: Puddle of Mudd with Rev Theory
Aug. 5: The B-52’s
Aug. 12: Queensryche
Aug. 19: Grand Funk Railroad

Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls

The Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls offers free concerts for 7 weeks during the summer. Performances run every Saturday at 6 pm. The 2011 schedule:

July 2: Our Lady Peace
July 9: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
July 16: The Psychedelic Furs
July 23: The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performs The Song Remains the Same – the music of Led Zeppelin.
July 30: Hawkley Workman
Aug 6: 54-40
Aug 13: Blood Sweat and Tears

Hamburg Fairgrounds

With your paid gate admission to the Erie County Fair, you can enjoy a few free concerts as well. Highlights this summer include:

Thursday, Aug. 11: Randy Houser
Monday, Aug. 15: America
Wednesday, Aug. 17: Ace Frehley (founding member of KISS)

With such a promising free concert lineup for the 2011 season, the city of Buffalo certainly has reason to celebrate summer. Go ahead – catch a talented headliner, enjoy some Labatts, and meet up with old friends. Rock on!