Sarasota never ceases to amaze me.

During the height of the fall & winter seasons, one can find a multitude of indoor and outdoor concerts, plays, operas, dances, and much more. But in the dead of August? WHO KNEW that Sarasota’s music scene would THRIVE? Something for everyone (some free, some a nominal fee). Enjoy the compilation I researched and head out to enjoy, despite the heat wave. Sarasota is a HOT city in every season!

Sundays at The Bay

From Jazz fusion and marimbas to guitar and gospel (and more). Top performers can be found at Bay Park (downtown) every Sunday from 2-3pm. It’s a one hour, free weekly music and performance program. Bring a lawn chair to The Bay’s Civic Green on the north side of the Municipal Auditorium for free weekly concerts featuring all local talent ranging from Sundays at The Bay is a free, outdoor weekly music and performance program offered from 6-7pm. Come to The Bay to experience a different local artist each week, from jazz, rock, jazz and marimbas – to guitar and gospel.

Tips for an enjoyable visit:

Some events attract large crowds: Arrive early, be kind, and please be patient.

Who’s playing?

Friday, August 11, 7:30pm: Grateful Dead Set
Get ready to jam out with the Grateful Dead at Big Top Brewing Company SARASOTA GRATEFUL DEAD SET NIGHT on Friday, August 11th! This FREE event is the perfect way to kick off your weekend with some killer tunes. Join us at 975 Cattlemen Road in Sarasota, FL for an unforgettable night of music and good vibes. The show starts at 7:30pm, so don’t be late! Free tickets here.

August 6, 6pm – 7pm Amanda Jantzen
Amandah Jantzen, a native of San Francisco, has been singing jazz professionally since 1986, performing additionally as a solo pianist/vocalist since 1997, and touring extensively in over a dozen countries throughout Asia since early 2004. She’s been featured in Scott Yanow’s digest, “The Jazz Singers,” of the top 521 jazz singers of all time and has opened for several name acts during her adventurous career, including McCoy Tyner, Charlie Byrd, and Kevin Mahogany, to name a few, as well as entertaining for Prince William in the Maldives, and Billy Joel on a private island in the Florida Keys. No stranger to performing, Amandah has lit up countless venues with her delightful stage presence and witty banter, warming an audience up to experience her exceptional vocal renditions of the Great American Songbook and other classic and current gems spanning the past 100 years and multiple genres. Bouncing from Cole Porter to Coldplay and everything in between, she’s often asked of her preferred musical style: “Playing audience requests,” which is why she happily offers music menus to help guests choose their favorite tunes during her shows.

August 13, 6pm-7pm, Jennifer Real

When it comes to captivating sounds, Jennifer Real is the real deal. Her trained musical talent inspires all who happen to hear her vocal prowess. Jennifer’s genuine enthusiasm and commanding stage presence wow audiences and make for a memorable performance. Her soulful tone and powerful vocal delivery — reminiscent of Nina Simone, Annie Lennox, and Céline Dion — has made Jennifer one of the most sought after female vocalist, concert performer and studio musicians, in the Tampa Bay Area.

August 20, 6pm-7pm, Jeff James

Enjoy a free performance by Jeff James at The Bay!

Based out of Sarasota, Florida, Jeff James is a Na Hokuhanohano award winner (Hawaiian Grammys). Born and raised on the islands of Hawaii, instantly you’ll feel the Island vibe in Jeff’s music. His musical roots come from his father Chuck James, who is a famous jazz drummer in Hawaii.Jeff is an accomplished singer songwriter,and multi instrumentalist. He plays the guitar, ukulele, piano, drums, and a variety of other instruments. He is a full-time professional musician and music educator.​

Throughout his songwriting career Jeff has had dozens of placements in Japan, USA, and Philippines. Including Netflix’s popular show “Terrace House, Aloha State”. Most recently, Jeff’s song “Good” and “2 days in Hawaii ” were placed in CBS hit TV show Hawaii 5-0.

August 27, 6pm-7pm, The Wandering Hours

The Wandering Hours are a rare group that is not only fun and engaging with the audience, but absolute tops on their instruments, drawing from folk traditions and metamodern thinking alike with topics ranging from the perpetuity of time to some good ole drinking songs. Banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar and upright bass underscore the band’s thoughtful lyrics and story telling. A staple in live music circles and the festival circuit, they were named Creative Loafing Tampa’s Best of the Bay in 2019 and 2020.

Friday Fest at Van Wezel

Friday Fest, a free, outdoor summertime concert series returns this August with an exciting lineup of bands who will bring the audience to their feet! The events run from 5-9 p.m. and are located on the lawn of the Van Wezel. Bring blankets or lawn chairs, take in the music and the sunset, and enjoy food and beverage from local vendors!
Note: Bringing in food, beverages and coolers from outside Friday Fest is prohibited.
August Artist: TEN-76
TEN-76 is a powerhouse high energy band that covers classic and modern rock. From the Lakewood Ranch homebase, TEN-76 regularly plays many of the local venues and are expanding in the Southeast Region. They have volunteered their time and entertainment for charities (ex. Breast Cancer, Fire Victims, Veterans, First Responders, and Children in need) to help raise funds and awareness.

 Jazz Thursdays @  Sarasota Art Museum

Sarasota Art Museum (SAM) is partnering with the Jazz Club of Sarasota to present Jazz Thursdays at the SAM. Join them on the 2nd Thursday of the month at the Marcy & Michael Klein Plaza for this outdoor concert series. The galleries, bistro and shops will be open. August 10 entertainment features the outstanding trumpeter, James Suggs and Friends. Joining Suggs are Alejandro Arenas, Robin Swenson and Paul Gavin.Museum members FREE, $20 for non members. Tickets available: bMuseum members FREE. Guests $20.

Each second Thursday of the month features a different style of jazz–from straight-ahead to free jazz, bebop to swing–programmed in partnership with Jazz Club of Sarasota. Galleries are open until 7 pm on Jazz Thursdays.

Here’s what to do: Enjoy The James Suggs Group performance on the Marcy & Michael Klein Plaza at Sarasota Art Museum from 5:30 to 8 pm. James Suggs serves as adjunct professor of jazz trumpet/ensembles at the University of South Florida, in addition to performing as a jazz artist. Suggs earned a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at YSU and a Master of Music in Jazz Performance at USF Tampa.

Grab a really casual dinner and drinks at Bistro, which opens at 5 pm, serving a special evening menu, beer, wine, and cocktails, on premise.
Explore the exhibitions in Sarasota Art Museum’s awesome galleries, with hours extended to 7 pm. Check-in begins at 4:30 pm, and seating opens in the Plaza at 5 pm. For guest safety, personal chairs are not permitted on-site.

James Suggs began playing the trumpet at nine years of age. At fifteen, he started playing professionally with jazz groups.


This highly talented trumpet player began playing the trumpet at nine years of age. At fifteen, he started playing professionally with jazz groups in the Northeast Ohio area. At sixteen, James was selected to tour with THE CONTINENTAL SINGERS where he toured Switzerland, Holland, Germany and the US. James attended Youngstown State University in Ohio. In his junior year, he was selected to perform with a jazz quintet at three conservatories in Beijing, China.nBetween 2000 and 2006, James was employed for six contracts with Norwegian and with Royal Caribbean cruise ships. In 2005 he toured and recorded with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and then with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

Later that year, he moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina where he played professionally, taught privately, and toured all over the world with Argentine bands for 8 years.

His first album under his name, was recently released on Arbors Records. “You’re Gonna Hear From Me”, was recorded in the summer of 2018 at the legendary Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey and features jazz giants- Lafayette Harris, Lewis Nash, Peter Washington, and jazz legend Houston Person on saxophone as well as album producer.

James Is currently a professor at the University of South Florida, where he teaches jazz trumpet and leads jazz ensembles.

About Sarasota Art Museum

Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art + Design is a catalyst for appreciation and understanding of the art of our time. As a platform for education, exposure, and experimentation, the Museum inspires new ideas and new ways of being through an endless rotation of transformative, relevant, and pioneering exhibitions and programs designed to elevate and empower all.

UTC Live at the Green

This free concert series takes place every Thursday in August at 6:30pm on The Green at UTC. The lineup features a variety of local and regional bands, including Sugar Vibe (August 4), The Revivalists (August 11), and The Tams (August 18).

Music on Main Street

Music on Main Street 8100 Lakewood Ranch Blvd, Bradenton.

This free monthly street party takes place in downtown Bradenton on the first Friday of every month from 6-9pm. The lineup features a variety of live music, food trucks, and vendors.

George McVey River Road Concerts – This free concert series takes place in downtown Venice on the second Friday of every month from 7-9pm at Centennial Park. The lineup features a variety of local and regional bands.

OK, folks! That’s my roundup for August. Reminder: It’s hot! Stay hydrated and bring bottled water.

~ Andrea Martone