Ames-area outdoor music series are heating up. Here are 7 free and low-cost series to check out this summer

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards staff member Ashley Freund shows the Corn Crib stage, which hosts the outdoor live music event at the Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards in Ames, Iowa.

It was a long year without live music. Now that COVID-19 vaccination numbers are up and recorded cases are declining, area residents are showing their support for outdoor music events.

From wineries to city parks, the Ames area offers several free and low-cost music series for concertgoers to enjoy a variety of genres.

Roosevelt Summer Sundays kicked off June 6 with an audience of about 400 people showing up for bluegrass group Iowa No Mountain Boys

"It was an amazing turnout," Jeff Hart of the event's committee said. "People spread out quite a bit throughout the whole field. Usually there are people playing frisbee out in part of the field and people sit closer to the stage, but people took it upon themselves to distance themselves from one another."

"It's great to see people's faces and actually have live music again. It's fantastic," said Ashley Freund, events manager for Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards. "Last year was kind of different. We still were able to have some live music occasionally throughout the weekends. But this year, it will be a great re-addition."

More:Summer is here! Check out these ideas for travel, fun, concerts and more across central Iowa

At Stephens Auditorium, the Goldfinch Room singer-songwriter series is moving to the lawn.

"With the positive feedback we received from moving Goldfinch Room concerts outside last summer so we could still offer live music safely during the pandemic, we returned with an expanded Goldfinch Room on the Lawn series," said Tammy Koolbeck, executive director of Stephens Auditorium.

With a new stage and increased funding, Koolbeck and her staff have scheduled nine Tuesday nights with double-billed Iowa artists on six nights and solo artists from outside of Iowa on three nights in June, July, August and September. 

Goldfinch Room on the Lawn kicked off June 8 with musicians Patresa Hartman and Sara Routh playing to an enthusiastic audience, Koolbeck said. 

Here are lineups for some summer music events in the area:

Roosevelt Summer Sundays concert series saw a record crowd on June 6. The free concert series continues each Sunday through the end of the summer.

Roosevelt Summer Sundays

It's the 18th season for the free Roosevelt Summer Sundays concert series, which is held at 7 p.m. each Sunday through the end of August at Roosevelt Park, located at Ninth Street and Roosevelt Avenue. Audience members should bring blankets or lawn chairs.

“The concert series is a great crossroads of live music and community,” Hart said.

Roosevelt is a city park and alcohol is not allowed, but concertgoers are welcome to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages. 

There's an area in front of the stage for dancing, "and you can pretty much dance anywhere you please" in the park, Hart said. 

The park was the Roosevelt Elementary School playground before the school closed. At that time, about two decades ago, The Friends of Roosevelt Park petitioned the city to keep the green space as a park. The nonprofit group supports the Roosevelt Summer Sundays series through donations. Free-will donations are also collected at the concerts, said Hart, who is also a member of the Friends board. 

The lineup for Roosevelt Park:

Roosevelt Summer Sundays concerts are held each Sunday through the end of the summer and have free admission.

Ames Municipal Band

The Ames Municipal Band performs for free at 8 p.m. every Thursday night through the end of July at Ames' Bandshell Park, 125. E. Fifth St.

The concerts are family-friendly, and concertgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets since the park has limited seating. The band is led by director Michael Golemo and features different soloists each week. 

Following is a tentative schedule of soloists:

  • June 17 – Chris Johnson, baritone
  • June 24 – Mindy Phomvisay, soprano; Keley Mueller Spude, horn
  • July 1 – Patriotic Concert - Salute to Veterans
  • July 8 – Simon Estes, world-renowned bass-baritone; Ames City Council Night
  • July 15 – Miles Morgan, baritone
  • July 22 – Tina Haase Findlay, jazz, blues, soul Superstar
  • July 29 – Emil Polashek, baritone
Opera singer Simon Estes performs with Ames Municipal Band under the direction of Michael Golemo at Bandshell June 13, 2019, in Ames. Estes is scheduled to return to perform with the band this year on July 8.

Ames on the Half Shell

Ames Jaycees host free Ames on the Half Shell concerts at 5 p.m. on Fridays at Bandshell Park, 125. E. Fifth St. 

Usually held on Fridays in June, the concerts were delayed until July this year due to COVID-19. Beer, water, soda and food will be available for purchase.

This year's Ames on the Half Shell lineup:

The Goldfinch Room on the Lawn outdoor music series will feature several singer-songwriters from Iowa as well as from out of state. Concertgoers, like those shown in this event from last year, are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.

Goldfinch Room series on the lawn

Stephens Auditorium offers concerts on its front lawn in its singer-songwriter series named for its Goldfinch Room listening room venue. Tickets are $10 at the door and concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. in June and July, and 5:30 p.m. in September.

Doors will open about 30 minutes before showtime. Attendees may bring outside food and non-alcoholic beverages.

"It’s a great atmosphere for live music," Koolbeck said. "Audience members bring their own lawn chairs or blankets and can enjoy great food from The Traveling Pig food truck and cold beverages from the bar."

The Goldfinch Room lineup:

Corn Crib stage is the spot for musicians during outdoor music events at Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards in Ames, Iowa.

Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards

Just north of Ames, Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards hosts "Sunday at the Moon" concerts in its yard. Live music goes from 3-6 p.m. The cost is $5, which also gets each concertgoer a glass of sangria. 

"We usually have our original red sangria, and then another sangria option as well," Freund said. "We have a plethora of different flavors of sangria that our bar manager has come up with."

Located at 3801 W. 190th St., Ames, Prairie Moon offers a variety of wines, a selection of several Iowa craft beers, domestic beer and soft drinks. 

Matt Nissen is the business manager at the winery and oversees the pizza oven.

“We also have our great staff that puts together our recipes. Becky Ringsby, one of our staff members, does great with the specialty pizzas recipes each week," Freund said. "She also helps with the dough along with our other employees that run a great tight ship over there at the pizza oven. Turns out great every time.”

Outside food and non-alcohol beverages are allowed at the Prairie Moon during concerts, but outside alcohol is prohibited. Kids are welcome, and dogs are allowed if they're leashed.

Prairie Moon's lineup:

Snus Hill Winery

Located near Madrid, Snus Hill Winery features free live music in its yard on Friday and Sunday nights during the summer. Outside food and non-alcoholic beverages are permitted, and food is regularly available for purchase. Outside alcohol is not allowed.

Snus Hill, 2183 320th St., Madrid, has a limited number of chairs and tables available, and concertgoers are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets. 

This season's lineup, according to the winery's website:

Ames-based rock band Burnin' Sensations is a popular band at several outdoor music series.

The Cellar at White Oak

Located in rural Cambridge, The Cellar at White Oak is holding a Sunday Music Series this summer. Established in 2015 by John Barber and Barb Hokel, the winery's address is 15065 NE White Oak Drive, Cambridge. 

There is a $5 cover charge for the Sunday Music Series concerts on the lawn. Bands play from 4-7 p.m. Bring your own blankets or chairs. Food will be available for purchase. 

This season's lineup, according to the winery's website: