During a summer 2022 concert, two-time Grammy Award winner Terrance Simien leads his 5-piece Zydeco Experience band in an celebration of zydeco music. Photo by Robert Zimmerman.

It’s hard to imagine summer in Durham without outdoor music; luckily, Duke’s Music in the Garden series—long a fixture for third dates, music aficionados, and child-friendly picnics—is returning with another round of concerts. And this time, the shows are free.

A link to reserve a free spot at the garden will go live before each concert. The series is a partnership between Sarah P. Duke Gardens and That Station.

The showcase kicks off on June 7 with a performance by Rebecca Todd and continues through July 5 with weekly Wednesday performances by Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, XOXOK, Melissa Carper, and Christian Lopez.

For XOXOK’s Keenan Jenkins, participating in the tradition is a dream come true.

“In the summer of 2014—before I even considered myself a serious musician—I went to see one of my favorite bands, The Rosebuds, perform at Music in the Gardens,” Jenkins says. “While I was watching, I was also fantasizing about one day performing at the same event; I say “fantasizing” because I did not believe it would ever actually happen.”

“One decade later, I am so excited for XOXOK to be playing at Music in the Gardens,” Jenkins continues. “My bandmates and I are looking forward to putting together a special performance for the audience. We’re honored and grateful to be part of the event.”

Food will be available for purchase on-site from The Palace International and Scoop Local (which is replacing longtime vendor LocoPops this year).

Other summer concert series are also heating up: Earlier this week, the North Carolina Museum of Art announced its summer concert series lineup, which includes Shovels & Rope, Kenny G, and Nickel Creek, along with a jazz showcase. Raleigh’s Live After Five music series is also back, with three more performances on May 17, June 21, and July 19, and in Carrboro, Music Maker’s Freight Train Blues series runs on Friday evenings through June 23.

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