Music Festivals are a great excuse to travel and see other parts of the country that you otherwise might not get to. Take Cincinnati for example – it doesn’t exactly spring to most people’s mind as a vacation destination, and I probably never would have thought to go there on vacation, but we went last year for the Tall Stacks festival. It’s a confluence of steam boats from all over the United States – kind of like the “Tall Ships” events on the East Coast. Because of the logistics involved, it only happens every few years. The last few times, they have expanded it to include a top notch roots music festival, and last year it was 5 days, with such diverse bands as Beausoleil, Del McCoury, Wilco, Old Crow Medicine Show, Blind Boys of Alabama, Sonny Landreth, Tea Leaf Green, Over the Rhine, Roseanne Cash, Mountain Heart, Sonny Landreth, Big Sandy and the FlyRite Boys, Tim O’Brien, Marcia Ball, Buddy Guy and many more. We found out about it on the Petdekat and Jazzfest message boards. The festival was in a city park on the banks of the Ohio. Between festing, we learned about the region, saw some Civil war demonstrations, rode on a steamboat, walked to Kentucky several times for food and fun, and passed a good time with friends from Ohio and Canada. There are a lot of Germans in that area so the food is of the meat and potato variety, but they also had an authentic Hofbrau house. They eat chili on top of spaghetti and have some of the best ice cream in the world. ….who knew?
In 2002 we went to Lafayette for Festivals Acadiens, then drove to Austin for the first ever Austin City Limits festival. Being fans of Cajun and Zydeco music, we love Lafayette and had visited it a few times, but had never been to Texas. Austin is a great music city and when we went for that first ACL fest (which we also found out about on the Petdekat board), we arrived on a Monday and spent a few days visiting and touring Austin, San Antonio (the Alamo, Riverwalk), Fredericksburg and other areas. By the time our other friends from RI arrived on Thursday we knew the area pretty well. People at the visitors’ center were surprised that we had come all the way from RI for it – I think they had no idea it would catch on the way it has.
New Orleans Jazzfest is the “reason” for our trip to New Orleans every spring, although that one is so much more than a music festival, and over the years we’ve met so many friends there that it is almost like a reunion or convention more than a music festival. New Orleans is such a unique and wonderful place to visit any time, and they seem to have a festival for one reason or another almost every weekend. But during Jazzfest, there is so much going on at the fairgrounds and in the city, it makes your head spin. Fear of Missing Something (or FOMS, as it is called in the Jazzfest forums) is contagious. There is the food, the clubs, arts and crafts, Mardi Gras Indians, parades and secondlines, in-store performaces, meeting up with friends, and other “daze between” happenings that make the week just fly by so fast you need a vacation from the vacation when you get home!
While we have many excellent festivals in the Northeast all summer long, and one of the best(Rhythm and Roots) is yet to come, I find myself wanting to plan another festival trip, which can help alleviate the melancholy feeling that comes every Labor Day when you pack up and say goodbye to Rhythm and Roots for another year.
These are some of the ones I'm considering:
Festivals Acadiens, Lafayette and/or Voice of the Wetlands Oct 13-14.
We love Lafayette/ Acadiana, but haven't been there since 2002; and just saw Tab last night so after looking on his website today, I see VOW is the same weekend as Lafayette. Maybe one day of each and a little travelling around.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass San Francisco Oct 6-7 . The lineup is not posted but pollstar lists alot of great acts and its free, and San Francisco is a very cool place to visit.
Blues Cruise out of San Diego Oct 6-13. We have never been on a cruise before, but this is the type of cruise I'd go on, if not now, maybe another year.
IBMA World of Bluegrass / Fan Fest Nashville Oct 5-7 - an indoor bluegrass festival with an unbelievable lineup. Haven't been to Nashville in a while, but that is also a good city to visit, lots of good music there anyway. There's also some kind of Americana conference in Nashville, later in the month, that looks intriguing.
Arkansas Blues and Heritage (aka King Biscuit) Oct 4-7. I have heard so many great things about this one, but don’t’ know much about the area… although I guess its not far from Memphis, and Memphis is pretty cool.
Magnolia fest, Florida Oct 26-29 – a camping festival at Suwannee music park in Northern Florida. We went once in 2000 , and passed a good time with some of the PetdeKat Krewe.
Fred Eaglesmith Roots Music Train from Albuquerque New Mexico - to Durango Colorado. A rail cruise! I came across this while browsing the web, but that is already sold out. Maybe another year.
and perhaps some other candidates will emerge....too bad Tallstacks isn't every year, that was a great time in Cincinnati last year!