As I enjoyed last week’s Outlaw Festival in Philadelphia this past week, listening to Gov’t Mule with Warren Hayes, Alison Krauss, Bonnie Raitt and Willie Nelson, I thought about how festivals offer music so much more to those that attend. The value of the cost to attend and variety of music played are two factors along with so other elements that will continue to draw large numbers to the music festival events.
Music festivals have been around for centuries. However, they were just called festivals back then. If broadly describing a “music festival” as an event with music, then technically the ancient Greek Olympic-like games opening and closing ceremonies could be counted. Villages, towns and cities celebrated many things throughout history with musical minstrels and other forms of music of the day played as a form of entertainment. Throughout the ages, from cultural celebrations throughout the globe to 18th century choir festivals to the jazz fests in the 1950’s, music festivals and events that offered a musical component or draw seem to have been a constant.
The modern music festival as we know it today took rise in the nineteen sixties with the Monterey International Pop Festival in California, Woodstock in New York and the Atlantic City Pop Festival held in Southern New Jersey. Of course, the number of large scale music festivals has grown as have the smaller regional festivals.
For decades many bands and artists have embraced the festival atmosphere with their concerts and tours, bands like the Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, Phish and country music’s Kenny Chesney are just a few with Chesney sticking closely to a true music festival model of multiple acts joining him on tour. All of the above have created a huge following, enough so that the crowds that follow the tours and attend the concerts have been named; Deadheads, Parrotheads, Phish-heads and members of Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes Nation”. An interesting side note is that the late sixties music festival concert-goers were just called Hippies.
Atlantic City and South Jersey has been fortunate to have a number of Music Festivals make stops in our region. Of course the Atlantic City Pop Festival had an amazing lineup, but for more modern times the Dave Matthews Caravan, Metallica’s Orion Music Festival to Bader Field and this past summer’s Warped Tour on the Atlantic City Beach all brought music variety, value and more. Also worth mentioning is the amazing job Appel Farm Art and Music Festival in Elmer had offered for many years along with the Deerfield Township Harvest Festival outside of Vineland.
As I make my way up to the Sea.Hear.Now Music Festival in Asbury Park this weekend (September 21st and 22nd) to see Dave Matthews Band, The Lumineers, Dropkick Murphys and B-52’s and dozens of others, I thought the time was right to share a few reasons to continue to support and attend music festivals.
Music Variety – Whether it is a one, two or three day music festival, you are going to be exposed to a solid number of artists and acts. In the multiple day shows, it may be difficult but I would strongly encourage you to see as many of the artists and bands as possible. Especially the bands you don’t know or have not seen, I have discovered some of my favorite bands and artists by seeing them at a festival.
Music Value - Today’s ticket prices for music festivals are expensive, especially compared to the early days of festivals. However, if you divide the ticket price into the number of hours of live music you will have access to, you will actually be paying a lot less than a ticket you bought to see a single artist or band. That is what I call music value.
Musical Conversation – The cool thing about music festivals is the time between bands and artists playing. That is a great time to talk about music with the people you are with or even fellow festival goers you just met. Again, it is another great way to discover new bands. Share your favorites and be sure to find out what other people are listening to.
Food, Finds and Festivities - Almost every music festival I have attendee has brought me some sort of joy in all three areas. With the explosion of food trucks and popularity of craft beers and other adult beverages, there are plenty of tasty eats and delicious drinks to enjoy. Tents selling anything and everything to help capture and remember the festival memories are for sale. If you look, you will find “a find” in the treasure trove of offerings for sale. Add to that the other elements that are included in some music festivals like art shows, demonstrations, free sponsor giveaways and new products to try and sample and that can add up to a great day or days at a music festival.
So Listen Up! and head out to a music festival near you. If you are already a music festival-goer, I will see you there with the thousands of others that enjoy music variety, value and more. You may find me along with other music “freakers” down by the speakers.