Music does not need to be an activity at all. Spread out a blanket, open a bottle of wine, and let the music wash over. Or, heck, if that's even too much, the music can just be a backdrop for a summer evening.
Peak Summer Nights at the Athletic Club of Bend are spot-on for an early evening lounging on the grass. There is nothing too aggressive for music choices, but always big-name performers; nothing too flashy, but all imminently likable. Gregg Allman (5:30 pm, Tuesday, June 30, $43-$88), Melissa Etheridge (5:30 pm, Wednesday, July 22, $45-$90), and Punch Brothers (5:30 pm, Friday, September 4, $34-$79).
Although most of the Les Schwab Amphitheater shows this summer are get-up-and-go (Wilderness, Michael Franti, Phish), Pink Martini returns for the umpteenth summer for its big band orchestral soundscapes; couples perfectly with white zinfandel (6:30 pm, Saturday, July 25, $35-$65).
Likewise, most of the Oregon Zoo Concert series in Portland has a bit more bounce in its step than layback and relax attitude (albeit a bit dated, Huey Lewis? Chris Isaak? What is this, 1989?), but the Sweet Harmony Soul show features Patty Griffin's beautiful, soothing twang, although Mavis Staples, who also headlines the show, may unapologetically shake you from any slumber (7 pm, Saturday, July 25, $35-$70).
For other easy-going concerts, Tuesdays in July and August are reserved for Munch & Music (5:30 pm, Drake Park, free) and the summer concert season wraps up with Sisters Folk Festival, where most of the musicians are the type of performers who age like fine wine—which is to say that long-time traveling acts like The Subdudes are only deepening their sound the longer the play, and Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys who, already mid-career, are increasingly upping the sass of their elegant Country & Western songs. The festival also spices in newer acts, like The Stray Birds, Pennsylvania newcomers who play bluegrass with sharp precision and have been traveling steadily for the past two years and are at the beginning of a long career. (September 11-13, Sisters, $120.) (PB)