Festival Madness

Hello friends and freaks,  it’s time for another dose of road trip reality from your friendly Road Trippin’ Gypsies. Today’s topic is a question we’ve heard many times from friends, “If I can only afford to go to one festival, which one should I pick?”

The simple answer is, “Well, what kind of music do you like?” There are major festivals for nearly every genre and sub-genre of music today. For example….

1) World’s Loudest Month (ROCK)
My personal preference. This series of concerts cover the eastern half of the US, beginning with Welcome to Rockville in Florida on April 26-27, and ending with Rockfest in Missouri on May 31. Along the way are stops at Fort Rock (FL), Carolina Rebellion (NC), Rock on the Range (OH), and Rocklahoma (OK). While this festival series has many of the same major acts performing at many of the locations, each one has a slightly different… flavor. Rock on the Range is known for heavier metal bands, while Rocklahoma adds 80s hair metal bands into the mix. You can find information at these websites

2) South By Southwest (Multi-genre)
Funky festival in one of the funkiest towns anywhere. If you are a hipster, this is your home. The range of acts is, in a word, ridiculous. Anything you like, there’s a venue showcasing that style of music. Everything from Americana to Classical to Punk to Rap to Tejano…there are hundreds of acts, and dozens of venues. There are also film showcases, guest speakers, and interactive events throughout the March 7-11 schedule. A word of warning, however. SXSW is becoming legendary, but with its massive variety of entertainment options comes the massive size of the crowd. Getting around can be an issue, and if you have your heart set on attending one of the premier events, get there WELL in advance. Prices for all-access badges are high, and hotels in downtown Austin aren’t cheap. Most hotels in the heart of downtown fill up quickly, but shuttles are offered to get around town, and Austin does have a nice public transportation system. The information can be found at http://www.sxsw.com

3) Bonnaroo (Multi-genre)
In a word, legendary. Bonnaroo Festival is four days of muddy, sweaty, camping with 50,000 of your closest friends. Bonnaroo is the kind of event where someone dressed as a fairy unicorn from Mars might offer you a shot of mystery booze and you wake up the next day next to three cheerleaders and a guy in an Elvis suit. If that sounds like your kind of party, then Manchester, TN in June is your place. Be prepared for long lines, no showers, expensive food and drinks, questionable camp neighbors, and an immediate desire to do it all again. See the lineup and other information at http://www.bonnaroo.com

4) New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Multi-genre)
AKA, “Jazz Fest”. April 25 – May 4, New Orleans, Louisiana. A music and food lover’s paradise, Jazz Fest has hosted every major music act in the country for years. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are on this year’s lineup, as are Eric Clapton, Phish, Christina Aguilera, Public Enemy, Robin Thicke, Chaka Kahn, Alabama Shakes, and Trey Songz. I would highly recommend spending time seeking out the jazz and blues artists, such as Sonny Landreth, Irma Thomas, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Wolfman Washington and The Roadmasters, the Branford Marsalis Quartet, the Delta Rhythm Kings, and without question, Allen Toussaint. Information can be found at http://www.nojazzfest.com/

5) Sponsored Tours – Rockstar Mayhem Fest, Rockstar Uproar Tour, Avalanche Tour, Vans Warped Tour

6) Small festivals – Bayfest Mobile, AL; 98 RockFest Tampa, FL; numerous others


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