I have to admit that summer days in the Vegas heat can be hard to bear. But once the sun goes down, the temperature drops to a more comfortable level, too. That’s when we locals come out to play. Warm evenings in the open air create the perfect atmosphere for enjoying a bit of live music.
Of course, Vegas is a place where entertainment is taken very seriously, and you can pay for pricy musical reviews and concerts on The Strip. But it’s not hard to find free entertainment in the valley. In fact, every summer weekend offers a choice of two or three locations where you can spread your picnic blanket and enjoy all kinds of music. It’s healthy, it’s convivial and, best of all, this entertainment is all free.
I live in the Water Street District in Henderson, in the southeast part of the Vegas valley, and I can walk to one of the newest concert venues. Originally built to house workers for World War II industries, the Water Street District is emerging as a revitalized downtown area, resplendent in its revival of Art Deco style. The Henderson Events Plaza Amphitheatre, located downtown at 200 Water St., opened last year. This year, the city is again sponsoring two summer performance series: “Thursday Night Live,” which features local and emerging talent, and “Fridays at 8,” which showcases touring performers. The music scheduled for the 2008 season varies widely, ranging from classical to country to reggae.
Set behind the Henderson Convention Center, the Amphitheatre offers something not always found in open-air concerts: actual chairs to sit on. But there are some patches of lawn, too. Picnics, blankets and personal coolers are all permitted at this family-friendly locale.
A short drive takes me to the Montelago Village at Lake Las Vegas. Lake Las Vegas is a resort and residential community, also in Henderson. The centerpiece of the resort is the man-made Lake Las Vegas, which was created by diverting water from the Las Vegas Wash. Tucked in next to the lake is Montelago Village, a miniature Mediterranean-style town complete with quaint shops, fountains and cobblestone streets.
But the sleepy village rocks during summer evenings. Every Friday and Saturday night offers a chance to picnic on the lawn by the lake while enjoying a concert. “Friday Night Music” features local rock talent and tribute bands like Tommy Rocker and Southern Stue. On Saturdays, things are a bit more mellow with “Jazz on the Lake,” featuring such jazz musicians as Bobby Cottonwood, Dotsero and J’Nae.
If you like your music interspersed with a bit of fancy shopping, The District at Green Valley Ranch, also in Henderson, is the place for you. This open-air shopping mall also offers concerts every Friday and Saturday night. Set up your chair or blanket in the Courtyard and enjoy a rich variety of local and regional talent. If you want to stretch your legs, you can always go shoe shopping, too.
Granted, those long summer days in the Las Vegas heat can be wearing. But one advantage of living in the desert is that your outdoor concert almost certainly will not be rained out. Enjoy!