Melody Makers: Scene's Mixtape of the Live Music You Should Go See in Cleveland this Summer

Few things in life pair better than live music and sweet, sweet summertime. Thankfully, Cleveland boasts plenty. (Well, more music than pure summer weather, but we're taking what we can get here.) The city's multifaceted music scene will be blooming in familiar places and unexpected spots as the hot months truck onward. You'd do well to snag a brewski or two and sidle up to the stage — wherever you find yourself this summer. The shows are gonna be great.

We've gathered a mere sampling of the live music offerings around Cleveland in this year's Summer Guide. As the weeks roll on, we'll be featuring more — but g'head and stack your calendar with these varied corners of our cultured city.

Jamboree in the Hills

July 17 to 20

The Jamboree has gone huge this year. With a line-up that boasts Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and Brantley Gilbert, this is Country Central for the month of July. (Check out the Blossom Country Megaticket for all other related needs.) The Jamboree brings music lovers and campers to bucolic Belmont, Ohio, just a quick two-and-a-half hours down I-77/70. This event has been going on for decades and its 100,000+ annual attendees can all vouch for its cred. If you've got a cowboy hat that needs a few days in its indigenous habitat, then you've no choice but to pick up a nice four-day pass to the Jamboree.

Painesville Party in the Park

July 18 to 20

Billed as the largest free music festival in Ohio, the party in Painesville kicks off in late July with a host of entertainment including food and vendors and family fun. But this is about music, and we can't wait to see what they have in store. We'll have to wait a little longer, though, as organizers are still putting together the schedule. Check out for more information and, ya know, the schedule.

Burning River Festival

July 25 to 26

For more than 10 years now, the Burning River Festival (and its philanthropic offshoot, the Burning River Foundation) has pursued ecological mindfulness and conservancy for our region. The fine folks behind this event also know how to highlight good beer with good music and more than a little Cleveland sunshine. This year's installment, which will take place 6 to 11 p.m. each night at the Historic Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island, features some of the area's top musical artists and bands from all sorts of genres. Mo' Mojo brings zydeco heat; Brent Kirby (routinely ranked among the city's top performers by Scene readers) rolls solo and teams up with Jack Fords, Hey Mavis and New Soft Shoe; Jah Messengers get all rootsy on us; and many, many more bands will light up the event's three stages.

Front Porch Concert Series

Fridays July 11 to Sept. 5

This free concert series takes place aptly on the front porch of Lakewood Public Library, 15425 Detroit Ave. Following the revamp of downtown Lakewood, these weekly musical events have really helped highlight what's become a dynamite dining/entertainment district. This summer's schedule features, in order, Cletus Black, Carlos Jones & the Plus Band, Vance Music Studios' Rock Ensembles (two weeks in a row), the Hollywood Slim Band, Mo' Mojo, the Syncopated Sin Swing Band, Steev Inglish and Drumplay. The shows run from 7 to 9 p.m.

Coventry Village Summer Series

Tuesdays through Aug. 5

These pop-up concerts will bring an excellent line-up of artists to Lot #15 in Coventry for the next month or so. The schedule features, in order beginning June 24: Oldboy; Cellar Door Records' Anatomy of a Song with Tom Evanchuck, Jason Patrick Meyers and Joey Beltram; an as-yet-unannounced band on July 8; Carrie Ryan; School of Rock; Vernon Jones Blues Cartel; and Heights Jazz Group. Every show is free, and the music rolls from 7 to 9 p.m.

E.S.T. Fest

July 31 to Aug. 3

You know what to do by now, Cleveland: Lace up! The second annual E.S.T. Fest will bring Northeast Ohio's own Machine Gun Kelly and some 3,000+ fans back to Nelson Ledges Quarry Park this summer. As of press time, the full line-up hadn't been announced, but MGK & Co. are promising a huge one-up over last year's inaugural shindig.

Lazy Daisy Aug. 9 to 10

This 12th annual tribute to Jerry Garcia's life will once again see Jimiller Band helming the stage and throwing down an all-Grateful Dead set at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park. The music starts at 12:30 p.m on Saturday, and weekend passes run a cool $30. Vibe and Direct, Rusty Haywackers and the Alex Hall Project will round out the bill.

Weapons of Mass Creation Aug. 15 to 17

While the organizers are incorporating more of a multimedia vibe at this year's installment of WMC, the three-day festival still brings together a really dynamic line-up of bands and artists. This year, they're hooking up attendees with sets from Mr. Gnome, Hawkeye, Smoke Noises, These Knees and plenty more. The whole thing takes place at Cleveland Public Theatre, and pre-sale tickets for all three days (you must do all three days) run $85 through July 31. (Any weekend passes purchased in August jump to $100.) "Entering its fifth year, WMC has generated comparisons to TED and SXSW, but it's truly one of a kind," organizers say, and we couldn't have drawn a finer class of apt comparisons.

Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
Scroll to read more Summer Guide articles

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.