By Alicia Dziak

For many, kicking back and chilling out with some live entertainment is one of summer’s quintessential activities. If you’re someone who lives for this kind of activity in the summer months, you’re in luck. Ellicottville and numerous places within an hour’s drive not only offer live, outdoor music by some of the most talented local musicians around, but offer it FREE. The only question is where do you begin?

You could certainly start with The Ellicottville Gazebo Series, sponsored by Five Star Bank and brought to you by the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce. Take your lawn chair and a picnic to the Village Gazebo Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m. for a variety of great performances. Upcoming shows include Gary London (kids show) on July 16, Mirage with Vanessa Elder (Nuevo flamenco and pop fusion) on July 23, Tango Sin (Latin, tango) on July 30 and The Buffalo 5 on Aug. 6.

In addition, the Town Hall/Village Gazebo lawn is the place to be for the Americana Music & Folk Art Fair, July 18-19. The weekend will feature amazingly talented local artists and musicians, including a performance by Red Gray from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Can’t get enough of Allegany State Park (ASP) in the summer? Head to Rock the Park, happening Friday, July 10 on the shores of Red House Lake. Go to the beach area from 3 to 9:30 p.m. to check out the vendor area, grab some dinner at the snack bar and see live performances by Sean Patrick McGraw at 6 p.m., followed by Marshmallow Overcoat at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and family-friendly, so bring the kids, a blanket, and maybe even a pail and shovel, and plan on having fun in the sand while taking in some local music.

Want even more ASP? The annual Full Moon Beach Party is set for Friday, Aug. 7, also at Red House Lake beach. The party will feature live music by Kevin McCarthy and Carnival Kids Steel Orchestra, plus loads of kids’ activities.

In addition, ASP houses artists in residence throughout the peak summer months. Each week, a new artist performs in various locations throughout the park. Pick up a schedule at the Red House or Quaker registration offices or see it on Facebook (www.facebook.com/alleganystatepark).

If rhythm is your thing, join in a free drum circle in Springville. Steve Bell facilitates drummers of all ages in a weekly, free drum circle in Fiddler’s Green Park, located on Franklin and N. Buffalo Streets in Springville. Some instruments are provided—just stop by any Monday evening at 7 p.m. throughout the summer.

Some evenings are perfect for a road trip. This year, think Buffalo’s Canalside, where free Thursday night concerts can get you names as big as En Vogue on Aug. 20. Check out the full lineup at www.canalsidebuffalo.com.

For even more free music, check out these places too: Olean’s Lincoln Park, Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m.; Portville’s Pioneer Park, Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.; South Dayton’s Village Square, Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m.; West Valley’s Firemen’s Banquet Hall, Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m.

There’s just something about awesome guitar riffs and powerful vocals coming at you through the warm summer breeze. And when it’s free, even better! You’ve got nothing to lose—grab some friends, pack up a blanket or chairs and enjoy!