Free concerts at Monona Terrace

Wide range of music draws big crowds on rooftop in summer, indoors in winter

Photo by Mary Bergin

Local and regional bands fuel the free Dane Dances from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Fridays in August at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Dr.

Pack a picnic or buy a quick dinner from Lake Vista Café, which serves burgers, fries and many surprises (make mine Lemonade Pie) on the rooftop garden. Bring a lawn chair or blanket; seating is limited, but not those gorgeous Lake Monona views from the top of the 90-foot-tall Monona Terrace, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and facing the lakefront.

The music at Dane Dances is a mix of genres: funk, jazz, hip hop, reggae and more. Organizers need volunteers and donations to continue these gatherings as free-admission events.

In the 2012 lineup are Streetlife, Orquesta De Kache and DJ VPS, Aug. 2; the Davis Family, Primitive Culture and DJ Pain 1, Aug. 9; a href="">Christopher's Project, a href="">MadiSalsaa and DJ Pain 1, Aug. 16; Nabori, V05 and DJ VPS, Aug. 23; and Eddie Butts, Grupo Candela and DJ VPS, Aug. 30.

In July, the free musical interludes are called Concerts on the Rooftop from 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays. The 2013 performers include country/rock by Chasin' Mason, July 11; blues/rock by a href="">Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, July 18, and The Landsharks, a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, July 25.

The music moves inside if weather doesn't cooperate. The equally popular Concerts on the Rooftop draw family-friendly crowds on Thursdays in June and July at Monona Terrace.

In September, the free music is called Tunes on the Terrace, 5:30-7 p.m. on select Wednesdays, and the events move to the indoor Exhibition Hall only if weather is troublesome. Performers in 2012 included:

The Doo-Wop Daddies, 1950-60s selections, Sept. 19.

PianoFondue, a sing-along with dueling pianists, Oct. 10.

Ladies Must Swing, Big Band tunes and a Halloween theme, Oct. 31.

Peter Oprisko, a Tony Bennett Tribute, Nov. 14.

What else happens on the Monona Terrace rooftop? Free T'ai Chi sessions, noon to 12:45 p.m., happen on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Sept. 4-27. The first 100 participants get a free fruit smoothie on Sept. 4. Beginners to longtime T'ai Chi practitioners are welcome to join instructor Terri Pellitteri. Class is canceled when weather is uncooperative.

Monona Terrace, which overlooks Lake Monona, opened in 1997, almost 60 years after architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed it. The $67.1 million project was financed with city bonds, hotel room taxes and state, county and private-sector contributions. The building was the nation's first convention center to earn silver-level certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

The building, a part of which extends 90 feet over the lake, is a popular site for weddings and conferences. Guided tours of the facility start at 1 p.m. daily.

Volunteers are trained to lead these tours, provide office support and answer questions posed by Monona Terrace visitors. To learn more about these opportunities and the training requirements, call 608-261-4015 or click here.

The Wright Design Series, free lectures about design and creativity, occur monthly in the Monona Terrace Lecture Hall.

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