Summer is also a time for music festivals. One of the biggest, Bonnaroo, takes place on a scenic 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, just a shade over an hour’s drive south of Nashville.
Bonnaroo started as a three-day event in 2002 featuring roughly forty acts that included Norah Jones, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Bela Fleck. This year’s festival, headlined by megastars Phish and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band boasts a lineup of more than 150 acts.
Bonnaroo is truly an eclectic music experience pulling together some of the best performers in rock, jazz, Americana, bluegrass, folk, hip-hop,and electronica. Among the attractions offered in the festival’s 100-acre entertainment village are film, comedy club, theater performers, a beer festival and a music technology village.
Music acts include Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, TV on the Radio, Elvis Costello, Beastie Boys, Robert Earl Keen, The Del McCoury Band, Erykah Badu, MGMT, Wilco, Ani DiFranco, Justin Townes Earle, The Decemberists, David Byrne, Bon Iver, Al Green and Lucinda Williams.
Bonnaroo runs from June 11-14 and offers performances on its on site venues: What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, The Other Tent and Sonic Stage.
Visit www.bonnaroo.com for more information. The property is also available to companies interested in holding other events, festivals, competitions and retreats. Visit www.greatstagepark.com for a virtual tour and area information.
B-52’s To John Mayer
The city of Athens, Georgia plays host to Athfest which was started by executive director Jared Bailey in 1997. The event was inspired by Bailey’s trip to South By Southwest, a music festival held in Austin, Texas, America’s live-music capital. The event celebrates the music of that region. Bailey wanted to create an event that honors the rich music and culture of the Athens area.
The New York Times has called Athens “Live Music Central,” and Rolling Stone Magazine has named the city the number one college music scene in America. Athens has been a hotbed of musical talent including the likes of John Mayer, R.E.M. and the B-52’s. As a virtual unknown, Mayer performed at the festival in 1999.
AthFest is a 501(c)(3) non-profit annual music and arts festival in downtown Athens, Georgia that largely showcases the Athens area musical and artistic community. Much of AthFest is free while wristbands or cover charges are required for certain events. AthFest’s mission is to educate citizens and visitors about music and arts in general, and about Athens music and arts in particular.
Athfest runs from June 25-28 and offers a festival of music and arts for kids as well as a variety of arts and crafts. Visit www.athfest.com for more information on this event that has been named as a Top 20 Event for June 2009 by the Southeastern Tourism Society.
The First Fifty Years
What may well be seen as the granddaddy of all festivals, even eclipsing Woodstock, is George Wein’s FOLK FESTIVAL 50, known to many as the Newport (Rhode Island) Folk Festival. Folk icon Joan Baez made her debut at the festival’s kickoff back in 1959.
This summer, Baez, along with Pete Seeger will celebrate 50 years of musical magic along with such greats as Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie.Other artists include The Decemberists, Neko Case, Fleet Foxes, Gillian Welch, Guy Clark, Mavis Staples, The Avett Brothers, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Iron & Wine, and Ben Kweller.
Touches of bluegrass, country, R&B, gospel, Cajun, political songs, storytelling, shape note traditional hymns and sacred steel music are among the festival’s many offerings. The festival runs August 1-2 in Newport, R.I. at Fort Adams State Park from 11:30 am – 7:00 pm each day. Visit www.folkfestival50.com for more information.
These are just a few of the many music and arts festivals that lift the hearts and spirits of America. If you can’t make it to one of these festivals this summer, why not turn your backyard, high school gym, or church hall into your very own neighborhood arts festival. Celebrate the creative spirit of our country as we push on through these hard times.