The wet, hot American summer that you dream of all winter is only 150 days away, but the festival season kicks off sooner. Here’s a rundown of the latest news from some of our favorite festivals.
- MerleFest (April 25 – 28 in Wilkesboro, NC) – Doc Watson died just a few weeks after last year’s MerleFest – the festival that he hosted since its founding in 1988, three years after his son Eddy Merle Watson died in a farm tractor accident. As a tribute, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who featured Doc on the band’s classic Will The Circle Be Unbroken album, and a special all-star band assembled by mandolin virtuoso Sam Bush will remember Doc with special sets on Saturday. MerleFest leans more traditional than the overall tastes you read about here, but it’s an event that is unmatched in Appalachia and uncovers many great acts every year. The lineup also includes some of our favorites like Chatham County Line, Della Mae, The Honeycutters, Pokey LaFarge, Tift Merritt, Brian Sutton, The Avett Brothers, and more.
- Telluride Bluegrass Festival (June 20-23 in Telluride, CO) – There’s a completely different type of vibe and crowd at the 40th Anniversary of Telluride, which coincides with the Summer Solstice (Thursday night); the full moon (Saturday night); and the longest day of the year which begins the Colorado summer. It’s hard to find a more picturesque place for a festival than this one. Legends like Emmylou, Sam Bush, Jackson Brown, Bela Fleck and jammygrass folks like Yonder Mountain String are all regulars here, but we’re excited to see some fresh meat on the bill, including newbies from around the nation: Colorado’s Elephant Revival, our fellow Brooklynites, Lake Street Dive, and Georgia’s BlueBilly Grit.
- Newport Folk Festival (July 26-28 in Newport, RI) – There’s no lineup like Newport. It defines the tastes of this blog and I have no doubt that it will again hold the best lineup of the summer. That said, we have no clue what that lineup is yet. Regardless, folkers aren’t holding back. The Festival sold out of Early Bird Discount Passes and Three Day Passes the same day they were made available. While we wait for more details, get a taste of what’s to come with this video of First Aid Kit singing “Emmylou” last year, which was produced by the Festival’s brilliant documentarian Ryan Maestro.
- FloydFest (July 25-28 in Floyd, VA) – My hometown of Richmond, Virginia is only hours away from the fiddle town of Floyd, but you’ll always find me in Newport on the last weekend of July. However, FloydFest is making that decision harder every year. While its lineup leans slightly more to the jam band and poppyfolk crowd (though not anywhere close to the level of Bonnaroo), it’s looking very strong, including damn fine acts like Edward Sharpe, The Lumineers, Yonder Mountain String, Trampled by Turtles, Jason Isbell, Ben Sollee, Blitzen Trapper and more. Wow.
Being that we are based in Brooklyn, we can’t post without mentioning The Great GoogaMooga, which held its inaugural event in 2012 a few blocks from my apartment in Prospect Park. The festival has not announced anything beyond that it will again take place in May of this year. There were some serious highs and some serious lows last year. The lines were unbearable and the cell service was nonexistent, but the overall event and concept was tons of fun and we’re hopeful about this year.
More to come.