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South Dakota outdoor music venues kick off summer season

The crowd listens to Slamabama at the opening night of Rapid City Summer Nights.
Dakota Love Photography
The crowd listens to Slamabama at the opening night of Rapid City Summer Nights.

With warmer weather underway, various outdoor concert venues around the state are starting their summer programming for the year.

Sioux Falls

Levitt at the Falls, an outdoor music venue in Sioux Falls, kicked off its season this past weekend. Performers were The Burroughs, a soul music band, and folk and Americana group The Clover Fold. Future performers include Venezuelan music from the Joropo Band, rapper and singer Dessa and local group Janitor Bob and the Armchair Cowboys.

The Levitt plans to hold 50 free concerts this summer. There will be three concerts each weekend through September 10. There will also be five Friday morning family shows throughout the summer.

“One of our goals at the Levitt is that our music choices are reflecting the diversity of our community and the diverse musical tastes of our community,” said Rose Ann Hofland, director of communications and community engagement for the Levitt.

The venue is also hosting Innoskate, a national festival celebrating the history and culture of skateboarding. The festival takes place July 7-9.

Food trucks and drinks are available during performances. Hofland urges guests to bring blankets and lawn chairs for limited lawn seating. Lawn chairs can be rented, as well.


The Levitt is not the only East River outdoor music location. Aberdeen’s Summer Concert Series will host three free concerts June 16, July 14 and August 26 on Main Street and in the Malchow Plaza. Food and beverages will be available.

The performances are family friendly and include a kids zone and pet-friendly areas. Games are available for both children and adults.

Shelley Westra-Heier, executive director of the Aberdeen Downtown Association, says this year's first performer will be '80s tribute band Xpedition. They play music from popular bands like Styx, Foreigner and Journey. Later acts will feature different genres.

“You’ve kind of got to try and get that whole broad, wide base that fits all genres and kind of plays to all the masses,” Westra-Heier said.

Rapid City

On the other side of the state, Rapid City Summer Nights started its season June 2 with Slamabama, a country music band. Performances will continue in downtown Rapid City each Thursday through September 1.

Summer Nights features modern country and rock music. Future performers include country singer Johnny Cochran, classic rock from the MBJ Band and '90s rock group Flannel.

Rapid City Summer Nights President Judd Nielsen says the program runs through volunteer help both from individuals and local nonprofits, which the event then donates back to.

“We have so many different groups that come and help us on a weekly basis, so that’s what makes it unique, is we’ve got 70 to 80 volunteers every night that we put this event on,” he said.


One of the newer venues in the state is Outlaw Square in Deadwood. Opened in 2019, the venue hosts both live music and other free events like movie nights, historical programs and other educational activities.

This year, Outlaw Square has free, live music every Wednesday evening. Some scheduled bands include country rock group Jagertown, rock, pop and metal singer Jasmine Cain and '50s, '60s and '70s rock band Surfin Safaries.

“We try to cover as much a variety of music as we can here,” Outlaw Square Director Bobby Rock said.

Outlaw Square is also hosting Deadwood Live!, a series of ticketed concerts throughout the summer. Performers include Shinedown, Chris Young and Big and Rich.

In September, the venue will host Deadwood Jam, the last outdoor concert of the season for more than 30 years. The lineup features a variety of genres ranging from rock to bluegrass to metal.

Jordan is a senior English and journalism major at SDSU in Brookings. She is from De Smet, South Dakota. She is based out of the Sioux Falls studio.