Classic Summer Festivals
Long before Bonnaroo, Burning Man and all the other newfangled Summer Festivals, there were others of distinction, many were one-off type events and some were (and are) glorious traditions. If you're looking for Altamont, the Miami Pop Festival, the Monterey Pop Festival or Cal Jam, I'm sorry to say those festivals were not held in the Summertime and, therefore, did not qualify.
Here are eleven big ones. They're not the only festivals to remember fondly. The one where you hooked up with that other person was light years better than the ones you only read about. Nothing beats personal experience.
They don't let me leave the Yahoo! basement long enough to attend concerts, but if they did, I would still let Lyndsey Parker and Dave DiMartino handle it. There's nothing like seeing Dave whine about having to wear pants!
11) Newport Folk Festival: The Newport Folk Festival continues to this day, having taken a few years off in the 1970s and 1980s. Established in 1959, the Festival brought many performers to the attention of its well-mannered and well-dressed audiences, including Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and many others in the folk, blues and country fields. The 2012 Festival is being headlined by that beloved folk group My Morning Jacket and 1970s star Jackson Browne. True folkies ain't got no home in this world anymore!
10) Live 8: Sometimes called "Live Aid 2," since Sir Bob Geldof had his hand in it and many Live Aid performers offered their services, Live 8 featured ten concerts, most held simultaneously on July 2, 2005. Pink Floyd reunited with Roger Waters. Brian Wilson appeared in Berlin. Deep Purple played in Canada. Philadelphia had Will Smith and Stevie Wonder. While poverty wasn't completely eradicated, many of the poorest nations had their debt canceled. No truth to the rumor that helicopters dropped U2 Visa cards into the deserts of these struggling nations. Most vendors only accepted Amex.
9) Farm Aid: Farm Aid doesn't always happen in the summer. But when it does, it's noticeably better than the Fall concerts, since the back to school crowd make for a less than joyous audience. Farm Aid 2011 was held on August 13 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas with the usual suspects from the Board of Directors, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews throwing in their annual support. Who doesn't love food? And, therefore, the people who grow it! Take a Keebler Elf home today!
8) Woodstock '94: OK, so 1999 proved to be a disaster, but Woodstock '94 wasn't bad. Once again, the festival wasn't held in Woodstock, but this time neighboring Saugerties, NY, which, for the record, is a much cooler town than Woodstock anyway. While detractors claimed it was too commercial -- welcome to the modern world, folks! -- the musical line-ups were pretty good considering what the options were. Bob Dylan was decent. Peter Gabriel was cool with his abbreviated set. Who didn't want to see Zucchero? They even let crappy local bands play!