In 1968, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and subsequent rioting in Boston, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs under then Mayor Kevin White (with help from state legislator Katherine D. Kane, and artist/activist Adele Seronde) launched Summerthing, a city wide summer arts program aimed at easing tension and unrest. The program started with making murals as a form of expression, and later included more than 1200 musical and artistic events.
According to Michael Russell, who was part of a team that was considering a similar program in Washington DC, “In one summer, rock music resounded in 18 concerts at Harvard Stadium, including: The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and the Supremes. B. B. King, James Cotton Blues Band, Miles Davis, Ike and Tina Turner, Voices of East Harlem, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ramsey Lewis, Percy Mayfield, Jose Feliciano and Janis Joplin (Her last concert.) all played to Summerthing crowds, for FREE!!"
Here's a 1975 photo of a Summerthing event in Chinatown called, Under the August Moon,from photographer Nick DeWolf.