Summer is here and the time is right… for blues festivals! Grab some sunblock, a case (or two) of beer, and your favorite concert tees because we are in prime-time festival season. Since we have been talking about some of the best festivals and concerts to attend for a while, by now I’m sure most of you are aware of the consistently popular summer festivals that happen all over our country and even the world. It is a fun time to relax, unwind, and enjoy great tunes.
A lot of fantastic festivals have already passed like Joe Bonamassa’s spectacular Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea IV. Fans have such a great time that the 5th annual cruise set for February 2019 is already sold out! If you like 0 responsibility and non-stop blues music, you have to check this out!
Since the popularity of multi-day music fests has exploded in the past 10-15 years, promoters have been aiming to push concerts year-round instead of just saving them for the summer months. However, the sunny time of the year is still the best time to catch premium events. Although it is already June and it will be fall before we know it, there are still plenty of music festivals out there.
Here is a rough guide of incredible blues-based music festivals to make your summer vacation even better!
Greely Blues Jam
Where: Greely, Colorado
When: June 8 – 9
Over the past few years, Colorado has become an increasingly popular vacation and living destination for millennials due to a number of perks… Located in the historic downtown district of Greely, the Blues Jam boats that it’s “Ain’t Nothin’ But a Party” and is featuring great acts like the Devon Allman Project w/Dickey Betts, Danielle Nicole, Ronnie Earl, and more. This festival is also specially endorsed by Joe Bonamassa’s charitable non-profit Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation which aims to keep music education in schools. For more info about the organization and how you can get involved please visit https://keepingthebluesalive.org/
Russian River Festival
Where: Johnson’s Beach | Guerneville, California
When: June 9-10
California is generally regarded as one of the greatest areas in the United States for a multitude of events and activities and is even credited as the “beginning of “Summer of Love” and hosted the first major festival, Monterey Pop. The Russian River Blues Fest is held in Johnson’ Beach which is a postcard worthy location right on the Russian River with gorgeous scenery and crystal-clear water. The 10th annual two-day festival is a perfect mix of genres for all fans with bands like Goo Goo Doll and California Honeydrops on the 9th and Robert Cray, Eric Burdon, and Taj Mahal on the 10th.
Blues on the Fox
Where: Aurora, Illinois
When: June 15-16
When the music is good, fans will travel long distances no matter what. This is what the Blues on the Fox Blues Festival in Illinois has been experiences for the past 22 years. The festival is held at Riveredge Park which has a beautiful state-of-the-art live setup and overlooks the Fox river. This year, the lineup is stacked with some of the greatest blues artists including Samantha Fish, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Sonny Landreth, and Toronozo Cannon. Their glowing motto for this year’s festivities is: “Pay tribute to the past, rock out with the present and prepare for the future of blues at Blues on the Fox.”
Blues From the Top
Where: Winter Park, Colorado
When: June 23 – 24
For the next event, we head back to Colorado to the Blues from the Top Festival nestled in the gorgeous mountains. Sponsored by Grand County Blues Society, the sixteenth-year installment of this event features a hot lineup including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Southern Avenue, North Mississippi Allstars, Vintage Trouble, and other greats.
Mississippi Valley Blues Fest
Where: Davenport, Iowa
When: July 6 – 7
Why are so many festivals held on river banks? Not sure, but they make awesome locations for cool weather and fun water activities! The Mississippi Valley Blues Society funded this festival with the goal to “enhance appreciation and understanding of the native artform of blues.” Every year, thousands of music fans gather on the river banks to enjoy great tunes and this year Walter Trout and Jonny Lang are the main headliners!
Where: Scranton, Pennsylvania
When: July 19-22
What do you think of when I say Peach? Ok, probably the fruit, that’s fair, but what about the phrase eat a peach? The Allman Brothers of course! The ultimate blues jam band had a great 45-year run and gave us some of the greatest blues, jam, and rock tunes ever. The surviving members of the band established the Peach Music Festival in 2012 to keep good music alive and to pass on the torch to new generations of musicians. Now, with the unfortunate passing of Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks last year, the festival will still continue as we keep remember these pivotal musicians. This year’s lineup has an array of jam bands like veterans Umphrey’s McGee, Moe, Leftover Salmon, and Moe, as well as blues staples like Gov’t Mule, Dickey Betts, and Black Berry Smoke.
Where: Mammoth Lakes, CA
When: August 2 – 5
Alcohol and music, has there ever been a better pairing? Nope! Now that micro-breweries are all the rage there is an excuse to make “Blues and Brews” festivals and things of the like. Crack open a cold brew and toast your favorite bands at the Bluesapalooza festival which is hosting Taj Mahal and Keb Mo, Reverend Shawn Amos, ZZ Ward, Eric Gales, Danielle Nicole, and many more!
Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival
Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan
When: August 17-18
Around the same time Jimmy Hendrix, the Who, and a bunch of other amazing musicians gathered in New York for the most popular music festival in history, there was a much smaller party going on in Ann Arbor Michigan. In a small athletic field in August of 1969, some standout musicians came together for the very first Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. Miles Davis, B.B. King, Count Basie, Taj Mahal, Howlin Wolf, and other great stars have played the festival over the years. After closing up shop in 2006, a committee reconvened and decided to reestablish the festival in 2017. This year will feature Ana Popovic, Shemika Copeland, Bob Margolin, Sue Foley, and others!