Music festivals and summer go together like burgers and fries. Some people spend their vacations traveling from one festival to another. There’s nothing like getting your groove on in a field of teeny boppers and aging hippies.
Travel and music are my passion. As a musician for the past 25 years, I try to keep my finger on the pulse of all things music.
The lineup of music festivals for this summer includes the old standbys like Bonnaroo — a four day romp on 700 acres in Manchester, Tenn. This festival’s reputation is solid — Rolling Stone magazine calls it “the best music festival in America”. Sorry, you just missed it this year (June 12 – 15) so make plans to check it out in ’09.
Another much anticipated extravaganza is the famed Lollapalooza, an American music festival featuring alternative rock, hip hop, and punk rock bands, dance and comedy performances and craft booths in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park. (August 1-3)
Not into rock, metal, country or punk? Then you may want to Bang on a Can! “The Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival” at MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) is dedicated entirely to adventurous contemporary music. We will write it. We will perform it. We will think about it and we will talk about it. We will spend three weeks immersed in recent music that has changed the world.” (July 8 – 27)
Talk about changing the world, the tiny town of Rothbury in west central Michigan is jumping into the world of music festivals with vigor. This sleepy area within a few miles of Lake Michigan off US 31 will be swarming with festival goers over the already busy 4th of July weekend. The Dave Matthews band will lead the bill at the inaugural Rothbury Festival. (July 3 – 6)
Drive west and find a Midwest tradition — Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Billed as “The World’s Largest Music Festival”, this event really is huge with mega acts such as Stevie Wonder who opens the festival on June 26 to John Mellencamp, Rush, Tim McGraw, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and closes with the far-reaching popular tween sensation The Jonas Brothers. (June 26 – July 6)
Got a Hog? Come back to Milwaukee August 30th to see the Boss! Join Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for a special concert at the Roadhouse at the Lakefront to celebrate the . (August 28 – 31)
Heading north and later east, Sir Richard Branson is at it again — what is he NOT into? — . With three venues — Calgary, AB June 21 and 22; Baltimore, Md., August 9 & 10 and Toronto, on September 6 & 7 — you’ll experience dozens of acts including Stone Temple Pilots, The New Pornographers, Bob Dylan, Iggy & the Stooges, Foo Fighters and Kanye West. Wonder if these musicians will utilize Virgin Charter for their transportation?
Tired of all the screaming crowds? Venture across the pond to the “Dance Village” where a new craze — peace and quiet — unfolds as dancers get down wearing radio-controlled headphones tuning into various music channels — some heavy rock; others cheesy disco. Nick Stevenson, news editor of Mixmag, explains: “It is novel and something a little bit exciting and you don’t know how it will work or whether it will be any good or not. It is also a very good way of getting round this country’s ridiculous laws on playing music late at night.” (June 27 – 29 Worthy Farm, UK)
Back in the U.S., three mega festivals of note:
Stacked with bands known for turning out exemplary live performances. August 8 – 10 Liberty State Park, Jersey City.
With over 20 stages, attendees could become overwhelmed. August 30 – September 1 Seattle Center
— World class Hip Hop platform - 10 dates in major cities. Beware; the Jones Beach site is alcohol-free?! July 19 – August 30
I couldn’t possibly leave out my favorite summertime state, Colorado, where music festivals abound — way too many to mention — so check out “a gazillion links to ”.
We can’t list ‘em all here so get online and search for a festival in your neck of the woods. Fill up your tank — yikes — load up the supplies and enjoy a long musical weekend getaway and please leave a comment with your favorite music festival venue.