A lot has changed in Columbia City since the early ’90s, when longtime resident Ken Nicholas remembers hearing gunshots in the street. “This place was in bad shape,” he says. But the cleanup began after trailblazing business owners moved in and the townhome market heated up to serve the single scenesters and young couples who came next. —Matt Halverson, 2010 Best Places to Live

It’s no secret that Columbia City is a new haven for first-time homebuyers. But local arts organizations are certainly making the ’hood more enticing: first with a successful word-of-mouth effort to save—and revitalize— Columbia City Cinema, and now with the grand re-opening of Columbia City Theater on Friday, June 25.

The historic vaudeville venue has new tenants, a new lease on life, even a new sprinkler system. CCT—once a haunt for Jimi Hendrix, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington—now boasts a renovated concert hall with exposed brick and a quality bar (a big plus) that will host a diverse lineup of local bands this summer: hip-hop act Mash Hall (June 25), orchestral pop crew Grand Hallway (June 26), and roots rockers the Maldives (July 2), to name a few.

Even better: Those shows are free.

Here are the acts we’re most excited about (all starting at 9pm, unless otherwise noted). For the full lineup, go to columbiacitytheater.com.

FREE June 25 Mash Hall, Cloud Nice, DJ Suspence

FREE June 26 Grand Hallway, Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives, Kelli Schaefer

FREE July 2 The Maldives, Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers

FREE July 3 The Whore Moans (last show), Lesbian, Chinese

July 10 Too Beautiful To Live ($35)

FREE July 23 Star Anna & The Laughing Dogs, Ryan Purcell

August 6 Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground, Head & The Heart ($12)

August 7 Thee Satisfaction, OC Notes & Chocolate Chuck as The Black Power Rangers ($10)

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