Summer Fun 2012
Summer Music

Miller Time: 5 free shows not to miss at Houston's favorite al fresco amphitheater

Miller Time: 5 free shows not to miss at Houston's favorite al fresco amphitheater

Events_Miller Outdoor Theatre_night_April 10
Photo by Leroy Gibbins
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Chubby Checker
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Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns/Facebook
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Joe Sample Photo by Tom Beetz
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News_Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns_band
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Nothing in life is free, but Houston audiences can always count on Miller Outdoor Theatre to offer great shows in the city's favorite al fresco venue — free of charge to you.

The amphitheater is truly a part of the fabric of Houston, as it's been standing proud since 1923, rebuilt in 1968 and overhauled in 1996. Today, it presents more than 140 professional productions per season, more than some indoor theaters in town.

We've put together a list of five not-to-miss concerts: A bit of oldies, jazz, rock and plenty of musical fun.

Just remember some of Miller's golden rules: Lawn chairs on the left, picnic blankets on the right, alcohol is cool but absolutely no glass containers — just be respectful of your concert going neighbors. While you're at it, why not share some of your goods? It's the Southern thing to do.

Shake your moneymaker: Chubby Checker on June 9, 8:30 p.m.

This dance lovin' reporter thinks "The Twist" will never go out of style. It's as bitchin' now as it was in 1958 when Chubby Checker's happy tune topped Billboard's charts. 

True story: Initially, Checker wasn't too keen of the song's popularity, claiming that it thwarted his chances of becoming a big nightclub star, but followup dance numbers like "The Fly," "Dance the Mess Around" and "Pony Time" faired well for the singer-songwriter.

Chill the heat: Houston's Juneteenth Celebration with Joe Sample on June 19, 7 p.m.

Smooth jazz hipsters, this one is for you. Houston-native and Texas Southern University graduate Joe Sample is bringing his cool style for a musical celebration of Texans learning about the end of slavery in the U.S. 

With 19 albums spanning more than 43 years of jazz history — his latest, Live, with Steve Gadd, Nicolas Sample and Randy Crawford released this year — Sample is showing no signs of slowing down, keeping a busy touring schedule abroad and in Houston.

Tex-Mex fun: Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns with Brownout on June 30, 7:30 p.m.

Cumbia, calypso, salsa, surf, reggae and Latin-tinged polka with a hint of south-or-the-border funk — sounds like good saucy fun to us. Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns emerged from Austin's seedy clubs and have been inducted in the Austin Music Hall of Fame twice — last in 2012 at the Austin Music Awards. The group is just as jovial turning out songs for MTV and Saturday Night Live as it is on public stages.

Carrasco hangs out mainly at Puerto Vallarta's restaurant Nacho Daddy. Reunited with his original band members, organist/accordionist Kris Cummings, bassist Brad Kizer and percussionist Mike Navarro, this Tex-Mex rock n' roll show brings the best of yesterday and today. 

Opening for Carrasco is Brownout, also from Austin, fresh from New Orleans JazzFest 2012.

Make out session: Kirk Whalum with special guest Nicole Henry on July 6, 8:30 p.m.

Don't take your mom, this is not a safe sax performance. This Grammy-winning saxophonist's "Romance Language" tour promotes Kirk Whalum's 2012 Valentine's Day record release by the same name. Romance Language is a recreation of John Coltrane's 1963 duet recording with Johnny Hartman, with Whalum's brother Kevin taking on the smooth singer's place in this updated version.

It's risky business to reproduce a legendary recording. They pulled it off and critics agree. For this Miller performance he'll be joined by the delicious Nicole Henry, whose voice is sure to make you tingle.

Classic Albums Live presents The Eagles' Hotel California on August 24

Classic Albums Live resurrects the 1976 record that has reached cult status, "note for note, cut for cut." Led by Craig Martin, he promises a concert that's free from interpretive shenanigans and unrealistic impersonations, just like it's done with shows paying homage to Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones.

The events above are ticketed for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (four per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. If tickets remain after 1 p.m., the box office will re-open one hour before showtime to distribute the remaining tickets. Free open seating on the hill is always available.