By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 16, 2021 at 11:02 AM

After 17 years on hiatus Milwaukee’s original outdoor music and entertainment series is making a comeback at the Marcus Performing Arts Center.

Rainbow Summer, which debuted in 1975 as the Alewives Jazz Festival and was renamed in 1981, hosted local and national musical and other talent at (first a tented stage and later) the Peck Pavilion alongside the river, near Kilbourn Avenue, pre-dating Jazz in the Park and River Rhythms.


The new Rainbow Summer will include weekly free and discounted concerts, plus family-friendly films and other entertainment from July 15 through Sept. 16 at the Peck Pavilion’s outdoor stage, which has gotten audio and visual improvements, including a 9x16-foot LED video wall.

There’s also new lawn seating where the chestnut grove once stood.

The series was discontinued in 2003.

“We could not be more excited to be among the first to bring back free and discounted, live outdoor entertainment to the Milwaukee community this season,” said Marcus Center President and CEO Kendra Whitlock Ingram.

“Rainbow Summer Reimagined gives us a sense of nostalgia — both for those who remember Rainbow Summer from decades ago, as well as those who have been craving this return to normal over the past 16 months.”

Here is the lineup:

  • July 15: MPAC Summer Movie: Cinderella (FREE)
  • July 22: Marc Broussard
  • July 25: Kids from Wisconsin (FREE)
  • July 29: MPAC Summer Movie: Center Stage (FREE)
  • Aug. 5: Chicken Wire Empire
  • Aug. 12: MPAC Summer Movie: Footloose (FREE)
  • Aug. 19: Billy and the Downliners
  • Aug. 26: KLASS & The Student Body present "Back 2 Skool": (KLASSIK)
  • Sept. 2: De La Buena
  • Sept. 9: DLC Dance
  • Sept. 16: Terrance Simien and The Zydeco Experience

For more information go to

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.