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Summer is in full swing and Reno is alive with activities and events. The Sands Regency in downtown Reno contributes to the action with a full roster of events and shows (link to: and almost all are free.

Comedian Billy Gardell, who stars in the CBS hit television series "Mike & Molly" as Officer Mike Biggs, will perform two raucous stand-up shows each night, Friday, July 24 and Saturday, July 25. His grounded, down-to-earth point of view strikes a strong chord with audiences. Stories about his rough childhood, wild adolescence and new family life are executed with the skill of a master craftsman. Tickets start at $39.99 and are available online or at inside the Sands at the guest service center. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the shows start at 8 p.m.

The Sands Free Summer Concert Series and Downtown Farmers' Market continue every Thursday through August 27. The quality of the bands performing for the Summer Concert Series is pretty amazing. They are all widely-traveled and veteran performers with the savvy, finesse and style to captivate the audience.

The Lil' Smokies bring their progressive bluegrass to the stage on Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m. They've shared the stage with the likes of Stever Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Yonder Mountain String Band, The Travelin McCourys and many others as well as playing many bluegrass festivals over the years. Their blend of bluegrass, "newgrass" and unique original compositions combined with sheer raw energy will rock the outdoor stage.

Thursday, August 6, Dustbowl Revival will continue where the Lil' Smokies left off with their combination of Bluegrass, Americana, Swing and Gospel. This band is known for their roaring live sets and they bravely (and successfully) bring together many styles of traditional American music. They are sure to impress the audience with their youthful take on time-worn American traditions. The show starts at 7 p.m.

The Summer Concert Series roster for the remainder of August is just as impressive. The complete schedule is online.

The Free Live Blues Pool-side Parties continue in August while the days are still hot and the pool is nice and cool. The roster for Wednesday parties in August is full of booty-shaking Reno-based blues bands including Tony Ghiglieri on August 5, Rick Hammond on August 12, Jason King on August 19 and Rick Metz finishing out the month on August 26. Doors open at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Then on Fridays, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., blues musicians gather for live blues jams.

For those not about to spend any more time in the sun than necessary, the Copa Bar & Grill is a great place to be on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for free, live acoustic music with Tyler Stafford. He was named "Reno's Best Songwriter 2013" and his songs often draw comparisons to John Mayer, Paul Simon and John Lemmon. Enjoy an Old Fashion Old Fashion or a craft beer from the Copa Bar while Stafford performs.

For those who want to enjoy a whole night away from home, booking a room at the Sands is just a click away. The current internet special rate starts at $25 per night for a room that will be the largest of any room available in downtown Reno.

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