We’re in the midst of a cold but dry winter, so what better time to start thinking about summer music festivals? As the music business has changed, so has the number and quality of festivals across the county. There is a festival for every age and musical taste, all you have to do is a little searching on the web to find the best music for you. Recently, a band lineup list emerged on the internet for the Coachella Festival out in Palm Springs, CA. The lineup featured a crazy assortment of bands, none of which I had ever heard of. Turns out a group of artists who use artificial intelligence took previous Coachella lineups and had the computer generate a new lineup that included such bands as Hoop of Gob, Horse Choir, Dryps, Automute, and Slaw Bomb. This created quite the ruckus online until folks realized that we had all been tricked by a computer. More on the stunt here: https://tinyurl.com/y86zrkrd
More seriously, this is the month that the festival lineups are announced, and thus far, things are looking amazing. We are lucky — this region features some of the very best music every year, with the venues all within a three or four-hour drive of Middleburg. Here’s a selection for your consideration.
Delfest, in Cumberland, Maryland, is becoming “Telluride East” while still having an identity all of its own. With two stages along the Potomac River, plenty of room for camping, and the very best bands, this is the easy choice for the beginning of the season. This year’s lineup is remarkable, with the hosting Del McCoury Band joined by David Grisman, Sam Bush Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jerry Douglas, Ricky Scaggs, The Wood Brothers, Sierra Hull, and Fruition, just to name a few. A new special event this year will be The Bluegrass Congress, where many of the big names above will join the 79-year-old Del and family for some celebrate jams of bluegrass music. This set alone will be a must-see. I do an annual Delfest playlist, so watch for it later in the Spring. More at www.delfest.com
Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival features more traditional bluegrass music twice a year in nearby Gettysburg. This May, the great mandolinist, Rhonda Vincent, appears with her group, along with the great Seldom Scene, Flatt Lonesome, Breaking Grass, The Grascals, and many more. You can camp or rent a cabin at the host venue, Granite Hill Camping Resort. More info at www.gettysburgbluegrass.com
Watermelon River and Roots, located on the Shenandoah in Berryville, VA, is the beginning of the summer event at Watermelon Park, held in late June. The lineup has yet to be announced, but the Shepherds Ford Productions staff have been bringing out great acts for years now. Keep an eye out for the lineup at riverandroots.com.
FloydFest, located several hours down the Blue Ridge, in Floyd, VA, is in its 18th year and will be held at the end of July. Floydfest’s lineup is always a good indicator of where the music is headed, and this year is no exception. Featuring the recent Grammy-winning Infamous Stringdusters, the great Leftover Salmon, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Lil Smokies, Jason Isbell, Keller Williams, and Old Crow Medicine show. Keller Williams will join the Hillbenders to present a pretty grass set, a tribute to Tom Petty. You can hear some of these tunes on Keller’s Soundcloud site at https://soundcloud.com/kellerwilliams. As with most festivals nowadays, there is onsite camping and a variety of ticket packages to choose from. Find out more and get your tickets at www.floydfest.com.
Lockn’ The great Lockn’ Festival is held in August on a farm just south of Charlottesville, VA, and is a musical highlight of the summer in the East (and maybe the country). This year’s lineup includes four sets of Dead & Company, two sets of Umphrey’s McGee, two sets of Tedeschi Trucks Band, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Widespread Panic, Spafford, Lettuce, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, and many others. The sprawling venue is located in Arrington, VA, and accommodates a variety of camping options, great local food and beer, and Participation Row, an exhibition area featuring program booths on many social and environmental topics. Go to the Lockn’ website for more information at www.locknfestival.com.
This month’s Spotify playlist features some of the music from a band playing at these festivals. Listen to it here, where you can also follow my Spotify feed: https://tinyurl.com/y727k7pj
Steve Chase lives in Unison and plays the music loud.