The last long weekend of summer will feature lots of musicians hard at work to give fans one last blast before school days and cooler weather kick in.
Folk/punk songstress Ani DiFranco, for instance, will spend the weekend jetting between right and left coasts, as she’s set to appear both at moe.down in New York’s Adirondack Mountains and at the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle.
Blues-rockers Indigenous are set for Atlanta’s Labor Day festivities as well as Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm PigNic in Northern California, while the Del McCoury Band have a shorter trip, bringing their award-winning bluegrass and gospel harmonies to fans at the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival at Brunswick, Maine, and the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Fest in Woodstown, N.J.
Here’s a sampling of what’s in store nationwide:
(Click here for a list of details on Labor Day weekend music festivals.)
The festivities have already begun in Atlanta, where the City Parks and Recreation department hosts a nine-day potpourri of musical events, many with free admission. The 2000 Montreux Atlanta Music Festival, which is marking its 12th year, presents more than 100 acts at venues including Piedmont Park, Chastain Park Amphitheater, Woodruff Park and other sites throughout the city, and generally draws 150,000 people.
Among those joining Indigenous at this festival, which is meant to showcase for Atlanta music legends and up-and-coming artists in a wide range of styles, are Zap Mama, Shemekia Copeland, Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau, George Duke, David Sanborn, Joe Sample, Hugh Masekela, India, Steel Pulse and Angie Aparo.
In Maine, the 23rd Annual Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival at Thomas Point Beach Park offers New Englanders the best of bluegrass in addition to lesser-known regional acts. McCoury is featured, along with Peter Rowan and Tony Rice, the Lewis Family, the legendary Jimmy Martin and his Sunny Mountain Boys and the equally legendary Osborne Brothers.
One feature of this and many other bluegrass festivals is the casual jam sessions open to all comers. One fan put it this way: “The banjo’s player’s idea of paradise is 4 in the morning, coming out of a picking session, with dew on the ground and stopping for a chili dog and hot chocolate.”
Fans at either the Thomas Point festival or out West near the borders of Yosemite Park in Northern California, at the Strawberry Fall Music Festival, can expect a taste of such a paradise.
The Strawberry fest has already sold out, on the strength of such attractions as Texas songwriting legend Guy Clark, guitar master Peppino D’Agostino, country-rockers John Hiatt and the Goners, the Iguanas, Robert Earl Keen, Grammy winner Laurie Lewis and Her Bluegrass Pals, Tim O’Brien, songwriters Jesse Winchester and Rosalie Sorrels and — a last minute addition to the lineup — folk/blues icon Odetta.
For a taste of Cajun and zydeco, New Englanders can take in the Rhythm & Roots Festival at Ninigret Park in Charlestown, R.I. Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie are the designated hosts for what’s billed as “New England’s hottest music and dance fest,” featuring Marcia Ball, Beausoleil, Rowan and Rice with the Texas Trio, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, the Laura Love Band, Duke Robillard, Balfa Toujours and others.
Buckwheat Zydeco will bring bayou music to the Johnstown Folkfest in Pennsylvania, while down in bayou country itself, the Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival will entertain people in Plaisance.
To The West
In Seattle, the massive Bumbershoot festival in Seattle celebrates 30 years with DiFranco, David Gray, Elliott Smith, Iris DeMent, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Deke Dickerson, Ben Harper, Tracy Chapman, Christy McWilson, Elvin Bishop, Bad Livers and Kelly Joe Phelps.
These folk, folk-rock and blues artists are only a smattering of the many performers scheduled, however. Also taking Bumbershoot stages this weekend will be bands such as Motörhead, Death Cab for Cutie, George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, Maceo Parker, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and many more, as well as film and dance festivals.
Interviews with event performers will be broadcast from the festival’s Web site at www.bumbershoot.org.
In Dallas, the 6th Annual Bedford Blues Festival & Art Fair celebrates a new location, at City Hall Plaza, and a lineup of world-class blues artists, including Shemekia Copeland, Jimmy LaFave, Coco Montoya, Chris Duarte, W.C. Clark’s Blues Revue, Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets and LouAnn Barton.
In the mountains outside Santa Fe, N.M., the emerging Thirsty Ear Festival strives to bring listeners a mix of blues, folk and country, with the music of Joe Ely, Corey Harris, Tequila Mockingbird, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Butch Hancock.
The Hog Farm’s Labor Day PigNic is an annual event put on by the Hog Farm. It got its start 12 years ago when Wavy Gravy, an emcee at the first Woodstock festival, asked the late Jerry Garcia if he would play there as a fund-raiser for the commune’s mortgage payments.
Richard Thompson, Odetta, Harper, Jackson Browne and John Trudell will headline this year’s event, at Black Oak Ranch, north of San Francisco on Highway 101 in northern Mendocino County, just outside the town of Laytonville.
Besides the jovial emceeing of Wavy Gravy, the countercultural festival will offer food sold by nonprofit groups such as the environmental activist Earth First! organization and the Redwood School. Solar energy cells power sound for the stage.