After a year without much live music, concerts are beginning to trickle back. 

Some live music will be free, picking up the thread from a year of accessible outdoor concerts. New series Noon Tunes @ City Plaza, which kicks off June 2, will feature local artists and musical performances in downtown Raleigh every Wednesday in June, from noon to 1 p.m.

It’s a lunch-time slot perfect for lingering, and organizers of the series, which is sponsored by the Raleigh Convention & Performing Arts Complex and Downtown Raleigh Alliance, say they hope to bring more foot traffic to local businesses. (Restaurants near City Plaza include Plaza Café and Deli, Crema at City Plaza, and Element Plant-Based Gastropub.)

“Downtown Raleigh has always been a lively place, and our hope is that this will encourage residents and those who work downtown to enjoy live entertainment outside during their lunch break while helping to support local businesses,” Kerry Painter, Director/GM of RCPAC, said in a press release. 

The Noon Tunes series will feature performances from three of Duke Energy Center’s resident companies (Carolina Ballet, NC Opera, and PineCone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music) as well as local music acts like Blue Cactus

Bill King, President and CEO of Downtown Raleigh Alliance, says the concert series is part of a larger effort to use the city’s public spaces to reconnect people with Raleigh’s creative community.

“Our hope is this is just the beginning of regular activities throughout downtown to bring back more energy during our weekdays over the coming months,” King said. 

Noon Tunes may be a rare free summer musical offering (hey, musicians need to get paid!), but there are also plenty of ticketed concerts to choose from (with select social-distancing and preventive measures put in). 

Red Hat Amphitheater, which is also sponsored by RCPAC, launched its Amped Up Music Series last night. The six-show-series began with performances by Kooley High and The Hot at Nights; attendees can purchase $5 individual seating, a $90 six-person table, or a $500 table for the entire series. NCMA also has released two amphitheater concert dates: Big Thief on September 22 and Pink Martini on October 31. 

In Durham, Motorco Music Hall will continue hosting its outdoor, pod-based performances at Motorco Music Hall’s Live! In the Lot series. The series, held in Motorco’s parking lot, will feature movies, stand-up acts, bands and a performance by drag legends Naomi Dix and Stormie Daie.

After a COVID-related pause last year, the Festival for the Eno will take place July 3 and 4 at West Point on the Eno City Park. The festival will feature over 40 live performers and a free virtual concert streamed on Friday July 2 via YouTube.

For those willing to drive a little further, meanwhile, Pittsboro’s Shakori Hills Community Arts Center will continue sponsoring until June GrassRoots Live!. This series of weekly pod-based concerts will feature eight different bluegrass acts through June 12.

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