Free LA: LACMA Jazz Concerts

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LACMA Lamps, Jazz Concerts, Los Angeles, California museums
Families and Instagram stars arriving early to play in the lamp exhibit.


If you have been reading me around the web for a while, you know that I love the classical music concert experience that can be had at LACMA every Sunday night. What you might not know is that I have found a deep appreciation for the Friday night Jazz concerts, too. Why should you care?

First, it is good music. LACMA invites incredibly talented artists to the BP Entrance stage, and even if you aren’t into Jazz (I was not when we first discovered this), it is a good bet that you will find yourself tapping your toes and looking into ways to hear more of what they are playing. There is simply nothing like discovering music when it is played live. During a special Memorial Day event, we discovered Ethio Cali, a group that celebrates the golden age of Ethiopian music filtered through a uniquely LA vibe.


LACMA, Ethio Cali, Jazz, Ethiopian Music, Concert, Los Angeles, Museum
Crowd starts to settle in to listen to Ethio Cali at LACMA.


Second, it feels like all of Los Angeles attends the events when the height of summer is upon us. Families, couples on dates, girls nights out and the start of wedding rehearsal dinners (that was us) happen here. It’s an amazing cross-section of humans that arrive here for these concerts, and I can’t think of another event that brings such an interesting array of people together.

Third, it’s free – as in, totally, 100% free. You can find free street parking. You can bring your own picnic. There is no entrance ticket. The concerts usually last about two hours, and it can be a marvelous time that can cost you nothing (we can walk to the concert, so it doesn’t even cost us gas).

Why did it take me so long to embrace the Friday night (and sometimes holiday Monday) concerts? Parking can be a pain in the ass, and I didn’t always live in the neighborhood. I have driven around for more than 30 minutes looking for parking before deciding to park many, many blocks away (because the museum parking is expensive, so I rarely give in to it). It can be wildly crowded with every patch of grass, chair, and ledge filled with concert-goers – getting here early, or meeting people who can get here early will save you. If you buy food, it is pricey. I let all of those inconveniences overwhelm the joy of the music. But Andy and I have found ways to make it work for us now (planning is key), and the annoyances seem minor in comparison to the experience.

LACMA hosts free Jazz on Friday nights during a significant portion of the year, Latin music nights on Saturdays during the summer, and classical music every Sunday night throughout the year in the Bing Theater. If music makes your heart sing, check their website for upcoming concerts: LACMA Music.



LACMA, Stark Bar, Pizza, Los Angeles
Pizza and zinfandel at the Stark Bar was our splurge at the Ethio Cali concert at LACMA.

Pro tip: If you get to the concerts very early, and you feel a splurge coming on, sample the Stark Bar. We went full splurge during the holiday concert with a glass of Saldo zinfandel and a tasty wood-fired pizza that served as both lunch and dinner. That was not the cheap way to do the concert, but it was worth the over-spend.

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