The annual free music series has come to define the downtown San Jose experience in the hot weather months. As work ends, the concerts provide a welcome transition from office to nightlife, with a canny mix of old favorites and new surprises in many genres.

This year welcomes back Music in the Park veterans such as renowned Latin percussionist Pete Escovedo and Beatles tribute band White Album Ensemble. Adding to the mix are multiple reggae performances, from the soulful Freddie McGregor to “Queen of Reggae” Marcia Griffiths—perhaps most famous for producing the song that begat the Electric Slide—to the genial Hawaiian group Natural Vibrations. The concert series also serves as a venue for local talent to share their music with a wide audience.

The semi-finalists of PinUp Productions/’s local Battle of the Bands will get to open for The English Beat on July 21, while San Jose-based The Holdup will open for alternative rock band Dredg on August 4. The most electrifying local act is likely to come from San Jose DJ crew The Bangerz. At last year’s SubZERO festival the six-man crew teamed up with San Jose Taiko to bring their bass-thumping electronic act to a crowd of hundreds. This year, they will pump up the crowd for Natural Vibrations on June 30.

As in years past, on-site vendors will provide food and drinks for concertgoers. Guests can nosh on their favorites from Pizza My Heart, Asmara’s Hot Dogs, Peggy Sue’s, The Blue Chip, and Angelou’s Taqueria. Farenheit’s Lounge in the Park will offer some upscale goodies for guests with a hankering for hoisin barbeque ribs, sangria or chocolate cake. This year, ice cream truck cum karaoke party Treatbot will travel to Plaza de Cesar Chavez to serve up its locally made and sustainably served scoops. The local food truck features flavors such as The 408 (decadently delicious vanilla with caramel, fudge, and Oreos) and Eastside Horchata.

Additionally, this year biking to the Plaza is encouraged by offering bike parking at Market Street and Park Avenue.

Music in the Park 2011 Lineup
June 2: Greg Kihn Band with The Houserockers
June 9: The Original Stone City Band with So Timeless
June 16: Freddie McGregor with Tchiya Amet
June 23: White Album Ensemble (Beatles Tribute)
June 30: Natural Vibrations with The Bangerz
July 7: Led Zepagain with ZeBop!
July 14: Neon Trees with 5606
July 21: English Beat
July 28: Cracker
Aug. 4: Dredg with The Holdup and Trophy Fire
Aug. 11: Marcia Griffiths with Reggae Angels
Aug. 18: Sergent Garcia
Aug. 25: Pete Escovedo Orchestra