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Summer Festivals - 6 Degrees of Bela Fleck

April 19, 2006

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones are out promoting their new album (Hidden Land) and, by the looks of things, they're going to be very tired by summer's end. Fleck & co. will be hitting most of the major festivals - and if they aren't attending events in person, chances are that at least one act is on a bill with Bela at some point during the season. Think of it like a giant jam/jazz/folk tree with the Flecktones at the center. Click through for a sample of what you can be a part of - if summer fest touring is your thing (this is in no way a complete listing of performances or summer festivals - feel free to add your favorites below):

MerleFest (4/27-30, Wilkesboro, NC - Bela sighting? YES):
The country's biggest bluegrass festival - look for unusual pairings as headlining musicians play together just for fun. Also on the bill, The Mammals, Nickel Creek, Sam Bush, Hot Tuna, the Duhks, Emmylou Harris, and Tony Rice.

Wakarusa (6/8-11, Lawrence, KS - Bela sighting? YES):
Like several of the big name jam-band festivals, Wakarusa is expanding its reach with acts like The Flaming Lips. Gov't Mule, Keller Williams, Railroad Earth, the Benevento-Russo Duo and Yonder Mountain String Band also entertain.

Telluride Bluegrass (6/15-18, Telluride, CO - Bela sighting? YES):
Bluegrass in the mountains of Colorado. Big names like Emmylou Harris, John Prine and Grammy Award-winner Tim O'Brien are joined by popstars Barenaked Ladies, who are newly totally into the mando and banjo (they've always had an acoustic bass). On hand as well: Sam Bush, Nickel Creek, Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer.

Bonnaroo (6/16-18, Manchester, TN - Bela sighting? YES):
Last year's festival was so huge they actually put up fewer tickets for sale this summer. With acts like Elvis Costello, Death Cab for Cutie, Tom Petty and Bonnie Raitt on stage, it's surely not going to be less frenetic. One word: hydration! Also on the Bonnaroo list: Oysterhead (with Trey Anastasio), Phil Lesh, Bright Eyes (with Conor Oberst), Disco Biscuits, Jerry Douglas, Nickel Creek, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and Umphrey's McGee.

High Sierra Music Festival (6/29-7/2, Quincy, CA - Bela sighting? YES):
A different vibe than Bonnaroo - and still much more jammy with performances from Keller Williams, Umphrey's McGee, the Drew Emmitt (from Leftover Salmon) Band, and My Morning Jacket. Also, Joe Craven, Railroad Earth, Nickel Creek and Disco Biscuits.

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival (7/13-16, Ancramdale, NY - Bela sighting? NO):
No Bela, but plenty of topnotch bluegrass hosted by Dry Branch Fire Squad - including Uncle Earl, Ricky Skaggs, Railroad Earth, Jerry Douglas, Steve Earle and Tim & Mollie O'Brien.

10,000 Lakes Music Festival (7/19-22, Detroit Lakes, MN - Bela sighting? NO):
So far, this is the only big festival String Cheese Incident is playing this summer. Bela will be in Spain, but there will be plenty of old-school jamming from Phil Lesh and Trey Anastasio. Keller Willliams will make the trek to Minnesota, as will Umphrey's McGee, the Benevento-Russo (who are joined by Mike Gordon) Duo , and Hot Buttered Rum.

Calgary Folk Music Festival (7/27-30, Calgary, AB - Bela sighting? NO):
Oh, Canada! Their artist line-up is being released slooowly, but it already looks great. The Mammals (who cross paths with Bela at Merlefest), Dan Bern, Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams and a reunited Roches are excellent "seed" for the festival weekend.

Lollapalooza (8/4-6, Chicago, IL - Bela sighting? NO):
Perry Farrell's groundbreaking traveling show puts down roots in Chi-town for a one-off this summer. Fest favorites Nickel Creek, Umphrey's McGee and the Benevento-Russo Duo will pay a visit, along with folk music legend Ella Jenkins (performing in the kids tent, natch), The Flaming Lips, Wilco, Iron & Wine, Death Cab for Cutie and Gnarls Barkley.

Philadelphia Folk Festival (8/26-28, Philadelphia, PA - Bela sighting? NO):
The end of August really signifies the end of summer - the Philly Folk Fest is a wonderful opportunity to put on your bell bottoms and swirly skirts and sway to the music one last time this season. Jackson Browne headlines and all three Roche sisters perform together. Plus, Hot Tuna (who also show up at the top of this list at Merlefest), the Duhks, the Horse Flies, Arrogant Worms and Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at April 19, 2006 6:45 PM


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