Make Music

Ink and watercolor image of Madison's lakes with the isthmus defined by a sillhouette of a trombone player, and a city skyline in bright watercolors across the bottom. Artist, Ali Brooks
Featured Artwork for Make Music Madison 2016, from Ali Brooks


What is Make Music Madison?

Make Music Madison is an annual citywide, free, outdoor day of music held on the summer solstice, June 21. Initiated in 2013 as Madison’s entry into the international summer solstice music celebration, we join over 700 communities around the world in kicking off summer by filling the city with music. Make Music Madison turns the city into a stage, and offers a full spectrum of performers the opportunity to display their musical skills.

In 2018 our celebration takes place on a Thursday. Coffee shops, restaurants, front porches, and businesses all over Madison will fill their locations with song. Lunch patrons may find themselves serenaded by a middle school string quartet. And after 5, the city will ring with music.

Make Music Madison is:

  • Performed by Anyone, Enjoyed by Everyone.
  • A way for all Madisonians to celebrate the summer solstice, enjoying the longest day of the year, while sampling a buffet of musical merriment.
  • A DIY city-wide celebration when almost any way to make music can and will happen.
  • Open to music makers of all ages, skill levels, and musical persuasions.
Paul Filopowicz playing guitar in a shiny yellow jacket, dancing on top of a wooden picnic table while he plays. Audience members are smiling up from their seats on the benches, and snapping photos.
Paul Filipowicz performing at Make Music Madison 2015. Photo by Hedi LaMarr Rudd.

When and where will Make Music Madison take place?

The next Make Music Madison will take place on the summer solstice, Thursday, June 21, 2018.

Who is Make Music Madison?

Make Music Madison may be Performed by Anyone, Enjoyed by Everyone, but it still takes a dedicated team of volunteers to bring it all together. We have a small board comprised primarily of group leads for larger teams of volunteers who focus on venues, musicians, matchmaking, mass appeal events, technology, publicity, and fundraising. In addition we have a single part-time paid position for our executive director.

Current board members include Elizabeth Simcock (president), Mark Fairchild (treasurer and mass appeals), Jamie Kember (musicians), Beth Mastin (matchmaking), and Kelsey Miles (venues). Beyond this we have a great and growing volunteer team of planners. To join the fun and help grow Madison’s musical kickoff to summer, email us at

performance view in a park, looking out to the audience from stage right. Sunshine, warm grass, and smiling faces. The back of a cellist and music stands can be seen at the edge of the stage.
Photo: Diane K.




If you participated last year, use your same login to renew your information.

Make Music Madison is a citywide, street level music making celebration. There is a role for everyone and every organization in this DIY celebration – musicians, social media makers, businesses, restaurants, bars, neighborhood organizations, and non-profits. If you have an idea about how to add to the Make Music Madison merriment, and you have the time and skills to make your vision happen, we want to hear from you. Email us and we’ll hook you into the planning team.


Mass Appeal Events for 2018!

When we say, Performed by Anyone, Enjoyed by Everyone, we really mean it. And for 2018 we’ve put together a number of special events to draw even greater numbers of musicians and appreciators into the fun. You’ll be able to join in on mass appeal shows designed to bring together dozens — no, hundreds — of artists to perform pre-selected pieces together.

* * * * * * * * * *

100 Harmonicas

Madison Children’s Museum, 100 N. Hamilton St., 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Mr. Harmonica Man, DeWayne Keyes, returns to lead a lesson and a group performance. Free harmonicas for the first 100 participants!

Bluegrass Jam Session with Barefoot Hollow

Northeast corner of Rennebohm Park, 115 N. Eau Claire, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Calling all bluegrass musicians! Bring your stringed instruments and join the jam lead by banjo player Steven Sams and Barefoot Hollow.

Walk over to the park shelter at 7:00 to enjoy the Capitol City Band concert as they celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Breakdance with Jarius King!

Alumni Park, between Memorial Union and Red Gym, 734 Langdon St., 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM

Enjoy a hip-hop performance and a free interactive workshop on the basics of Breaking (“breakdancing”) with award-winning artist Jarius King ’09. Stick around to hear music by greenTONE a cappella at 3 PM.

Community Open Jam Session with Orchard Ridge Teachers and Parents

Orchard Ridge Elementary Outdoor Mosaic Stage, 5602 Russett Rd., 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Bring your instruments and join in the community jam session lead by art teacher Joshua Ludke on guitar.

Drumming Jam Session with Eric de Los Santos

The Percussion Zone at James Madison Park, 614 East Gorham St., 4:00 PM -5:00 PM

Bring along your percussion instruments and join in the rhythmic jam session from 4:00-5:00 hosted by Eric De Los Santos on marimba.

Arrive early or stay late to enjoy a full afternoon and evening of performances along the waters of Lake Mendota. We will kick off with jazz-punk band Meat Jelly at 2:30, Anaguma Aisa: UW Taiko Drumming Club at 3:15, the Madison Japanese Taiko Drummers at 5:00 and Wongai Africa Community Drummers and Dancers at 6:00. Our site host, Eric De Los Santos, finishes the day’s line up at 7:30 on marimba.

Kids Make Music Open Mic

Nakoma Park, 3801 Cherokee Dr., 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM

Sign up starts at 12:45. For youth 18 and under. Bring your instruments, sing a song, go freestyle, play a piano piece, etc. 1-2 songs per performer, more if time permits.

Several mics and a keyboard available. Adult musical accompaniment welcome. If the schedule fills up, stick around to listen.

Kids’ Open Mic

Chris’ Front Yard on Yahara Place, 1824 Yahara Pl., 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Kids open stage with keyboard. Open to anyone under 18. Bring your songs or other instruments. First come, first serve. Sign up just before.

Public Piano

Alumni Park, between the Red Gym and Memorial Union, 724 Langdon St., 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Drop by to make your own music at a public piano in the Alumni Park Welcome Plaza! Maybe even start a sing-along! Also, enjoy a performance by Black Star Drum Line at noon on the Memorial Union Terrace.

Swinging Sing Along

Arboretum Cohousing, 1137 Erin St., 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Love to sing? Pack up grandma, teens and toddlers to join five, fun-loving country gals who know their harmonies better than they know their husbands. Familiar songs plus some new cool ones. Beautiful space and summer patio at Arboretum Cohousing.

Wingra Boats Sing Along

Wingra Boats, 824 Knickerbocker St., 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

It’s flat out fun to belt out a song! Join Mad Music Singout friends Rex Loker, Tim Sharpe, and Steve Sanborne in a community singalong by the beautiful shores of Lake Wingra. Access lyrics online at

2018 Listings: Thursday, June 21st



Make Music Madison is a volunteer-organized event and thrives on the support of our community.

What does it cost and where does the money go?  The cost of bringing more than 400 concerts to over 100 venues across Madison in one day is roughly $45,000. Less, we like to say, than the cost of installing a traffic light. Far less.

The work of small army of volunteers makes it possible to pull this off on such a limited budget, but unavoidable costs remain, including: publicity and advertising that are critical to the success of the event, software development for the matchmaking system, a part-time managing director to coordinate the many volunteers and handle the administrative aspects of the nonprofit organization, and many smaller items such as insurance and event permitting.

Help cover these costs, and be part of bringing the musical merriment to the summer solstice!

Donate via PayPal

Or checks can be sent to:
Make Music Madison
PO Box 5311
Madison, WI 53705

Make Music Madison is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; all contributions are 100% tax deductible.


Our partners benefit from co-marketing with an event that has become a summer highlight, and receive extensive exposure through print (including an Isthmus event program insert) and radio advertising, prominent placement on a highly trafficked website and mobile app, and on posters and banners at more than 100 venues. When the Solstice rolls around, we are everywhere.

To learn more about sponsoring this event, please contact us at

2018 Sponsors

Platinum Partners

Madison Arts Commission logo

Gold Partners

Silver Partners

Media Partners

Isthmus Logo     WORT Logo        WPR Logo    

Fox47 logo     WSUM logo



Thanks to the generosity of QuestionPro and its online survey platform, we are able to collect responses and distribute vital information to participants.


Find more of our photos from last year on Flickr: