Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Musical Notes: Hot Town

As much as we want to enjoy the warmth and sunshine forever, summer eventually has to come to an end. What you might not know is that, even though you might be returning from vacations and getting back in the swing of work, there’s still plenty of entertainment to unwind with in Harrisburg this month. There are lots of fests, shows and parties to close out the summer in style.

On Aug. 2, Dauphin County hosts its Cultural Fest on the corner of 2nd and Market streets downtown for a free night of dance, musical and cultural performances, headlined by Sheila E. After that, SoMa has its summer block party on Aug. 29 at Blackberry Tech behind the International House. Expect a chill evening in one of Harrisburg’s coolest neighborhoods, complemented by local food and beverages and featuring a performance by DJ Cashmere. Next up, XL Live hosts its End of Summer 90s Jam on Aug. 30. Prepare to dance your face off to the tunes of DJ Sizzors, back again after his hot DJ set for Vanilla Ice.

To round it all out, don’t miss a true a Harrisburg tradition with the 103rd annual Kipona Fest from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, taking place on the riverfront and at City Island. If you haven’t been before, check out the food, live bands, canoe races, festival of colors, powow and even an annual “Duck Derby” rubber duck race in our own Susquehanna River to benefit Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Whew, there’s still lots to do!


When they’re not on tour, the Soul Rebels can be found every Thursday night in their favorite hometown venue: Le Bon Temps Roule. Luckily for us, they’re coming to XL Live for quite an unforgettable performance. Since 2009, this musical tour de force of New Orleans has made an international name for themselves as an eight-piece, genre-bending brass group. Starting out sans name, “Soul Rebels” stuck thanks to Cyril Neville, who bestowed it on them when they opened for his performance at the well-known Nola venue Tipitina’s. Since their start, they’ve rocked many solo shows, collaborated with famous artists like Marilyn Manson, Metallica and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, opened for Lauryn Hill, Cee Lo Green, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg, just to name a few, and they’ve also performed on several television networks like CBS, HBO and NBC. Come on out to appreciate their musical energy and a soulful style that just won’t quit.


City Island is a staple for summer fun in Harrisburg, so it’s the logical place for the ultimate local band festival of the season. Featuring 10 bands, the Finding Freedom Festival at FNB Field starts at noon with the M80s and ends at 9 p.m. with Maiden America. It’s organized by Just for Today Recovery, a local nonprofit from Lemoyne that aids local recovery communities and veterans, with proceeds from this all-day concert going towards purchasing instruments and other musical accessories for their Recovery Through Music program. If you’d like to help those suffering from addiction or just want to sample some local talent, this show’s the one for you. Be sure to hit the concessions stand throughout the day for optimal festival food.


This is another one of my “not quite a musician but still quite noteworthy” shoutouts. Thanks to Harrisburg University’s concert series, the triple-threat actor, rapper and comedian Jay Pharoah is coming to the city. Best known for his work on NBC’s comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live,” he’s famous for his impressions of former President Barack Obama, Kanye West, Jay Z and countless others. He got his start with stand-up comedy and was a regular cast member on SNL from 2010 to 2016. Since then, he’s appeared in some films like “Lola Versus” and “Ride Along” and is even in the works of his first album alongside record producer Myles William. Since this is HU’s “Welcome Back Show” for the fall semester, tickets are free for students. You don’t want to miss a night of delightful laughs and impressive impressions with this iconic SNL alum.

*Editor’s Note: the Jay Pharaoh show, originally scheduled for Aug. 28, has been changed to Oct. 23. 


Exmag, Aug. 3, XL Live;
Joe Olnick Band, Aug. 3, River City Blues Club;
Sean Rowe, Aug. 9, Greystone Public House;
Liliac, Aug. 9, H*MAC Capitol Room;
Shrimp Ryan’s Jig Band, Aug. 9, The Millworks rooftop;
Blues Cruise on the Riverboat, Aug. 11, Pride of the Susquehanna;
Opera in the Park, Aug. 11, Italian Lake;
The Queers, Aug. 17, H*MAC Stage on Herr;
Tommy D. Trio, Aug. 24, River City

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