Performing Arts Concerts at Bloomington Parks, Events Kicking Off in May

The first Peoples Park concert of 2022 is scheduled for May 12, when Radio Abyss, a local singer-songwriter, kicks off a busy season of concerts and other outdoor events at several local parks.

Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department’s Free Performing Arts Series has been an annual warm weather tradition for more than three decades. Local musicians visit area parks to offer the following: Thursday Concerts at Peoples Park, Friday Happy Hours on the Switchyard Park Lawn, Friday Night Concerts at Switchyard Park Main Stage, Sunday Concerts at Bryan Park and annual community performances by the Bloomington Band, Monroe County Civic Theater and the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra.

The different locations aren’t active every week, so keep the following list handy to avoid missing something or showing up on an empty stage.

In 2020, the series expanded to Switchyard Park, Bloomington’s newest park. Last year, the series added “Happy Hours on the Lawn” on the second Friday of June, July, August and September. These take place in conjunction with some of the Bloomington Food Truck Fridays, which take place at Switchyard Park every Friday through October. Locally prepared meals are available from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Seating is limited or non-existent, depending on location, so bring lawn chairs and/or blankets to make sure you can listen comfortably. Drinks and picnic food are also good takeaways, especially at events without food trucks.

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Last year, the series’ most popular concerts were at Switchyard Park. Bloomington Food Truck Fridays had moved into the park by then and may be the cause. “It’s a wonderful complement to Switchyard Park and the performing arts series,” said Julie Ramey, Community Relations Manager for the Parks Department.

The food trucks, the vast park and the free live music form a natural harmony.

“We are always looking for ways to expand the (series) and provide exciting events for the community,” Ramey said. One thing that has helped is getting community feedback. She welcomes suggestions and invites people to complete a survey at https://bloomington.in.gov/parks/events/concerts.

Potential series performers should apply by the December before the May kickoff. A jury selects acts based on genre, quality, availability, past performance and cost.

The performing arts series, free for all, is made possible through the support of several generous local businesses. Find more information at https://bit.ly/3vOMVhP.

Being outdoors, bad weather may force the postponement or cancellation of these events. If conditions seem uncertain, call the Performing Arts Series Helpline to see if there’s an update: 812-349-3754.

Charlie Jesseph performs at Peoples Park on East Kirkwood Avenue in a previous season of the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department performing arts series.

Peoples Park

Concert Series, Thursdays 4:30-6 p.m. at 501 E. Kirkwood Ave.

May 12, Radio Abyss, alternative music, singer-songwriter.

May 19, Martinie & Handel, small piano, big drums.

Coot Crabtree will perform at Peoples Park on May 26.

May 26, Coot Crabtree, Americana music.

June 2, Solomon Keim, pop saxophone.

June 9, Witness Protection, local pop-rock originals.

June 16, Matixando, original group of tropical Latin fusion.

June 23, Syd, Mak and Annie: Rain on the Rocks, singer-songwriters.

June 30, Jan Bell, Americana, folk & country.

July 7, Derrick Weidner & Olivia Doyle, acoustic folk, pop, country.

July 14, Will Holler, acoustic folk, rock, Americana.

July 21, Russian Cowboy, indie rock.

July 28, Limestone Nomad, bluegrass and folk duet.

Linton's Kade Puckett will perform fingerstyle guitar at Peoples Park on August 4.

August 4, Kade Puckett, funky fingerstyle guitar.

August 11, Sofia Crespo, flamenco, traditional Spanish dance.

August 18, Anneliese and Ali, acoustic, country, 1990s all varieties.

August 25, Otto & the Moaners, cosmic folk rock.

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Waldron, Hill and Buskirk Park

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK

7 p.m. June 2-4, 2 p.m. June 5: Monroe County Civic Theater will perform “Henry IV, Part 1” at Waldron, Hill and Buskirk Park (formerly Third Street Park), 331 S. Washington St.

A group gets people dancing in Bryan Park as part of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department's Performing Arts Series.

Bryan Park

Sunday night shows with back-to-back performers, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at 1001 S. Henderson St.

July 10, The Superchief Band, rock, blues, jam, funk; Phree Band, a Phish tribute band.

July 24, Daily Bread and Butter, traditional European folk dance music; Amanda Biggs & Co., a song cabaret.

August 7, SoundR LampN, groovy rock and roll; Otto & The Moaners – cosmic folk.

August 21, Cuadros Quartet, jazz “makes our way”; Sophie Faught + Premium Vintage, jazz.

Switch Park

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE FESTIVAL CONCERT

11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Thursday, June 9, in conjunction with the Bloomington Boys and Girls Clubs Auxiliary’s annual Strawberry Shortcake Festival at Switchyard Park. The band is Kid Kazooey and the BallRoom Roustabouts will perform upbeat songs for families, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 1601 S. Rogers St.

HAPPY HOURS ON THE LAWN AT SWITCHYARD

From 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Fridays, the music is on the pavilion lawn at Switchyard Park, 1601 S. Rogers St.

The Dynamics will perform at Switchyard Park on June 10.

June 10, The Dynamics, classic R&B and funk.

July 8, Busman’s Holiday, groovy rock & roll.

August 12, Ross Hollow, a mix of rock, folk and Americana.

September 9, Will Scott, acoustic blues and soul-Americana.

SWITCHYARD PARK CONCERT SERIES

Opens at 6 p.m. Fridays on the Switchyard Park Main Stage; 1601 S. Rogers St., main acts at 7:15 p.m. each evening.

Jenn Christy will perform at Switchyard Park on June 24.

On June 24, the main act is Jenn Cristy, high-energy pop rock. Opener is Kade Puckett, funky fingerstyle guitar.

July 22, The Brothers Footman, country, rock, hip-hop, soul “Summa Music”. The opener is The Long Seasons, the heart of American (electric) folk.

August 26 Hank Ruff, country. The opener is Anneliese and Ali, country, 1990 any variety.

October 7, King Bee and the Stingers, blues. The opener is Will Scott, acoustic blues and soul-Americana.

EVENING WITH THE BLOOMINGTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

7 p.m. on Sunday, August 28, on the main stage at Switchyard Park.

EVENING WITH THE BLOOMINGTON COMMUNITY BAND

6 p.m., Sunday, September 18, on the main stage at Switchyard Park.