The festival season for 2020 was looking pretty awesome for those of us living in the Piedmont. DelFest in Cumberland, MD has a lineup as good as Telluride Bluegrass; Lockn’, just south of Charlottesville is strong; Floydfest, several hours down the Blue Ridge Parkway looks simply amazing; and in September, Watermelon Park Festival is bringing in some of the best acts, including Bela Fleck and the Infamous Stringdusters. Wolf Trap also announced an amazing Spring and Summer lineup of fine artists that would appeal to everyone.
Then came COVID-19, the novel virus that has turned our world basically upside down. With the virus has come a whole mess of tour and festival cancellations, band members of some groups have resorted to advertising online lessons to try to make up for some of the money they will lose as the gig economy collapses (only for the time being, we hope).
Make no mistake, canceling or postponing big festivals like MerleFest or NOLA Jazzfest, closing venues, and cutting band tours short is the right thing to do. The only way to keep the toll of this virus down is to flatten the infection curve in order to minimize the strain on our health care system and the heroic workers therein. And we still don’t know much, including how long we will deal with this, and when planned events can safely be held.
Karen and I have a condo and tickets for Telluride Bluegrass Festival. We are unsure if the Festival will happen in mid-June, so we are monitoring things and hope we don’t have to cancel – we will see.
So, with our public health emergency in mind, here’s a list of some of the great music festivals and shows coming up through the end of the summer.
DelFest – May 21-24, 2020
I call this Festival, “Telluride East,” and it is truly that. They put up a formidable lineup every year, and have a loyal following. Headliners this year include Anders Osborne, Billy Strings, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Del McCoury Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sam Bush, Leftover Salmon, Jerry Douglas, The Infamous Stringdusters, and many more great acts.
Delfest recently posted this on their website: “Currently we are working under the assumption that we will be able to hold DelFest as planned. We will be taking a proactive approach to ensure our environments are clean, safe, and that your health and well-being is a top priority.”
Keep an eye out on their website for more information and status updates as we move forward. www.delfest.com
LOCKN’ – June 19-21, 2020
The great bassist Phil Lesh just celebrated his 80th birthday, and LOCKN’ is making a big deal of that landmark with three consecutive nights of Phil in different bands. Other headliners include David Crosby, Railroad Earth with Peter Rowan, Govt’ Mule, Bruce Hornsby, and the Noisemakers, Midnight North, to name a few. It will be a crazy few days in the Virginia countryside, and well worth the visit.
As with Delfest, the LOCKN’ folks have a message on their website regarding COVID-19: “The safety of our guests, artists, team members, their extended families and of course the community of Nelson County remains our top priority. At this time, we are monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus and planning contingencies and additional safety precautions as advised by government agencies and CDC guidelines. We will share any updates on our socials and via email. Thank you for your patience and support of LOCKN’. We are grateful! Stay safe and healthy.”
Hopefully, things will be better in June. www.locknfestival.com
Floydfest – July 22-26, 2020
Held high in the mountains of Patrick County, Floydfest continues to evolve into a world-class event. This year, the lineup has a jam band theme, with my favorites Umphrey’s McGee headlining, along with String Cheese Incident, Grace Potter, Turkuaz with the great Adrian Belew playing The Talking Heads, the always amazing, Leftover Salmon, and Robert Randolph, and many others. I almost got VIP tickets for this fest – this includes backstage passes, onstage viewing, band craft services, and drinks, as well as backstage camping. Too good to pass up.
As of now, their website has no notifications of the public health crisis, so let’s hope COVID-19 does not have the best of this event, ‘cause it’s going to be a doozy. www.floydfest.com
Watermelon Park Festival – September 17-19, 2020
This amazing local Festival is just over the ridge in Berryville, along the Shenandoah. It has a long history of being a foundational bluegrass festival. This year we’ll see a new project from Bela Fleck, who has been doing amazing things with his banjo for four decades. Fleck is heading back to his roots with a new bluegrass band. To counter the elder Fleck, the Infamous Stringdusters will electrify the crowd with the musical energy only they can deliver. A bunch of other fine regional bands makes it to the Watermelon stage each year, and it is a not-to-miss event that’s just minutes from Middleburg. www.watermelonparkfest.com
Check out my 2020 festival playlist at https://tinyurl.com/rzm9h8p; even if your Festival is not held due to COVID-19, you can still boogie to the music.
Steve Chase is washing his hands in Unison, VA.