Last month, I talked about the various streaming platforms, and for a good reason, as streaming comprises more than 80% of the music industry’s revenues in 2021. So I was surprised to read in Variety the other day that for the first time since the mid-1990s, sales and revenue for CDs and vinyl recordings both grew. Vinyl, which has been slowly gaining momentum for a decade and a half, finally exceeded $1 Billion in sales, the highest number since 1986. The sales of CDs increased to half a billion dollars in 2021, the most significant increase in 18 years. What does all of this mean? I have spent time boxing up all of my CDs; I never listen to them, preferring digital files that I can access anytime. I occasionally put on vinyl records as the sound is crisp and clear, the way the artists wanted you to hear them. The pandemic helped, as stores that still sell vinyl or CDs were closed in 2020, and they could open again in 2021. Bottom line, listen to music the way you want to, whether it’s on Tidal or Spotify, your CD player, or that old Technics turntable that still works great. I did make my decision on which streaming service to move forward with. You may recall that I was down to Spotify and Tidal. Spotify has been my reliable go-to streaming service for many years, and I take advantage of almost every feature. I have created a hundred playlists. I also really like the social media side of Spotify, where I can see what friends are listening to and get access to their playlists. It works at home and in the car flawlessly. The controversy regarding COVID misinformation on Spotify led me to look at alternative platforms, and I picked Tidal as my other finalist. Tidal is similar to Spotify, but it does offer a high-fidelity sound that is pretty much unmatched. I gave Tidal a month of use, playing a lot of music and creating some playlists. I found that it did not look into the Bose speakers I have around the house and that the highest fidelity audio would buffer due to my not optimal internet bandwidth--both problems. The user interface was elegant, though, and overall, I liked Tidal. In the end, I chose to continue with Spotify. My big issues were the lack of social media, buffering, and no connection with Bose. I had never listened to Rogan anyways, so his misinformation had never negatively impacted me. I hope that Spotify will take more sections to ensure they are not used as an anti-science outlet, and in the case that the number of misinformation increases, I may finally jettison them for Tidal. Festival Season 2022 is Coming After two long years, I am optimistic that we will be able to see some great music on festival grounds this summer. There are dozens of festivals coming up, but three of the big ones are here. DelFest--Hosted by Bluegrass’s granddaddy Del McCoury, the is the Festival I call Telluride East. Held on the Cumberland Fairgrounds, there is a ton of room to set up a blanket and some chairs and dig the music. Camping is easy if you can get a pass, and you might even see Del cruising the grounds in his golf cart waving as the fans scream, “Del, yeah!”. This year you’ll be able to see Del and his Band, his son’s Travelin’ McCourys, Tyler Childers playing with The Travelin McCourys, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas Band, Bela Fleck’s “My Bluegrass Heart,” with his young players, Leftover Salmon, Anders Osborne and Jackie Greene, Lil’ Smokies, and a bunch more. Cumberland is only a couple of hours from Middleburg, so head on out for a day or the weekend--May 26-29th. More info at delfest.com Telluride Bluegrass Festival--This is the premier music festival in North America. There is always a fantastic and diverse lineup of established and new acts, all performed in Telluride Town Park, a location that cannot be beat. We were heading out in 2020, only to see that year canceled and 2021 curtailed to a small number of people. So we put off our condo until this year, and we’ll be headed out in June to four days of music heaven at 9,500 feet in the San Juan Mountains. This year the headliner is Tenacious D with Jack Black, hopefully, backed up by the Telluride House Band. The lineup includes Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Chris Thile, Tyler Childers, Aoife O’Donovan, Peter Rowan, Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters, Tim O’Brien, Punch brothers, the Drepung Loseling Monks of the Mystical Arts of Tibet, and Phil Lesh and Friends, to name a few. We can’t wait to get back to Town and dig on this great music. Four-day passes are sold out, but you may still be able to find tickets and a place to stay. It would be worth the search. I’ll report back to you in August. More info at bluegrass.com/telluride Floydfest--While it’s a few more hours away than DelFest, this event, held on the spine of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, consistently delivers. This year, the lineup is great, with Marcus King, Lake Street Dive, Turnpike Troubadours, Old Crow Medicine Show, Melissa Etheridge, The Infamous Stringdusters, Ann Wilson Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, and a few dozen others. A highlight should be version seven of the Buffalo Mountain Jam--here’s how the promoters describe it: “...the Buffalo Mountain Jam returns for FloydFest 22, led by Mr. Keller Williams, Leftover Salmon and The Infamous Stringdusters, who will pay tribute to ‘Old and in the Way’ for the Buff Jam’s *seventh-annual installment. Known for its impromptu artist collaborations, super jams and special guests, the Buffalo Mountain Jam’s lineup and surprises are shaping up to be an exceptional moment in musical history for FloydFest 2022 — not to be missed.” The Festival will be held July 27-31 in Floyd, Virginia. For more info, go to floydfest.com. Steve Chase is in Unison, Listening to old Telluride Bluegrass Festival sets.