An aerial look at a First Thursdays concert. Photo by Will Cocks, via WTMD.

First Thursdays are coming back to Canton Waterfront Park with an extra stage to feature even more artists.

Towson-based rock station WTMD 89.7, host of the monthly harborside concerts, will add an additional stage after what it called a “record-setting 2016 season” in which up to 15,000 concertgoers came out each month. The new stage will allow for six bands to play on the first Thursday night of each month, up from three in past years.

“We simply wanted to provide more space for people to attend. It was very crowded last year,” station general manager Scott Mullins said. “We decided, why not add a second stage to that area? There’s room for it.”

To make room for that stage, the station will expand the concert section into the parking area, a move he said will free up ground space for attendees. Vendors will be relocated into a new area “functioning like a food court,” he said.

“It’ll definitely create some traffic flow and give us some more room to grow even more,” Mullins said.

The first show on May 4 will feature Philadelphia indie folk trio Good Old War, Craig Finn & the Uptown Controllers (yes, featuring the lead singer from The Hold Steady), garage rock group The Districts, Nashville blues rock band Muddy Magnolias, Annapolis indie pop trio Pressing Strings and Baltimore’s own Sun Club. The kickoff concert will start at 5:30 p.m.

Other artists slated to play First Thursdays this summer include Chicano Batman, the Marcus King Band, Margaret Glaspy, the Wild Reeds, Susto, Nikki Lane and Hollis Brown. Lineups for the June, July, August and September concerts haven’t been announced yet.

Mullins said the mix of bands is a continuation of First Thursdays’ focus on exposing artists to new audiences – “a reflection of our format here at WTMD,” he added.

First Thursdays have been around for 12 years now, starting off at Mount Vernon Place and moving to Canton Waterfront Park in 2014, when the Washington Monument was being renovated. The station estimates its average crowd for each concert was around 1,200 people as recently as 2010. Today, it’s Baltimore’s largest free outdoor concert series.

The Brewer’s Art will return as the beer sponsor, while Homeslyce will be serving up pizza and Cazbar its authentic Turkish food.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...