Friday, May 13, 2016

Alternatives to the Newport Folk Festival

Let's face it. Nobody you know got into the Newport Folk Festival. Putting tickets on sale just before Christmas pretty much guarantees anyone with kids or over the age of 30 got shut out. Plus, while there are some fantastic artists playing this year, some of the announced bands seem kinda questionable. Unfortunately, some other festivals are out this year: Tweed River called it quits, Gathering of the Vibes is taking the year off, Solid Sound only runs on odd years. So what else can you do with your festival going time this summer?

One Providence Experience
Where: Providence, RI
Dates: June 4
Tickets: Free!
Why you should go: First of all, it's free, and we all love free! It takes place in the "shadows of the ruins of the Providence National Bank," which is about the most Providence way you can describe a venue. For a free show the line up is ridiculous, with Screaming Females, What Cheer? Brigade, Rough Francis, Last Good Tooth, The Low Anthem, Death Vessel, and more! Did I mention this is all free?
Official website: I don't think there is one, but there is a Facebook event

Mountain Jam
Where: Hunter Mountain, NY
Dates: June 2-5
Tickets: Four day pass $235, single day $55-$90
Why you should go: Mountain Jam used to be much more jam bandy, and while the jam bands are still front and center, they've brought in enough alternative and indie folk acts to get our interest. This year features Beck, Wilco, Gov't Mule, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Courtney Barnett, Houndmouth, And the Kids, Quilt, and more. Yeah. Pretty insane.
Official website:

The Thing in the Spring
Where: Peterborough, NH
Dates: June 9-12
Tickets: Weekend pass $50, individual events $8-$15
Why you should go: The tiny town of Peterborough hosts its own SXSW style show, with stages set up outside and in various venues around town. While there are no big name headliners, they always get a shockingly great array of artists. 2016 is no exception, with appearances by Pile, Julie Rhodes, Sunburned Hand of Man, O'Death, Coke Weed, The Huntress & The Holder of Hands, Bunnys a Swine, Vapors of Morphine, and more!
Official website:

Green River Festival
Where: Greenfield, MA
Dates: July 8-10
Tickets: All weekend $119, single day $30-$65
Why should you go: The bands are amazing this year. In its 30th year, Green River has just outdone themselves. Throughout the weekend, you'll see favorites like Peter Wolf, Dawes, Shakey Graves, Shovels & Rope, The Suffers, Margo Price, The Felice Brothers, And the Kids, Oh Pep, and more. Plus, there are bands I wouldn't normally go see like Tedeschi Trucks Band and Los Lobos, but am still looking forward to. Last year Green River was the highlight of my summer, and I'm thrilled to go again.
Official website:

XPoNential Music Festival
Where: Camden, NJ
Dates: July 22-24
Tickets: $140-$296 (Pricing seems confusing)
Why you should go: Put on by Philadelphia's WXPN (who knew radio station festivals still existed?), XPoNential seems to be blatantly targeting Newport fans who got shut out or are looking for alternative to Newport. It's taking place the same weekend, and it has a ton of artists that are playing or have played Newport. This year includes Ryan Adams and The Shining, Tommy Stinson, Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark Jr., Brandy Carlile, Old Crow Medicine Show, case/lang/veirs, Father John Misty, Colvin & Earle, The Felice Brothers, David Wax Museum, The Suffers, and more!
Official website:

Amourasaurus II
Where: Northampton, MA
Dates: August 27-28
Tickets: Both days $90, single days $50
Why you should go: It's put on by the team behind Green River. Amourasaurus started off last year as a way to still have bands that couldn't play Green River, and they're at it again this year. Lake Street Dive curated the event and headline both nights. They also booked Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, The Suitcase Junket, and a special guest that is unannounced (although I'm pretty sure she was in some previous announcements, if you want to do some research.) 
Official website:

Where: North Adams, MA
Dates: September 16-18
Tickets: Weekend passes $96, single day TBA
Why you should go: Mass MOCA is an amazing art museum that's worth the trip alone. But every September they host a festival that while it's rooted in bluegrass, it still has a varied enough line up to make it one of the best of the summer. This year includes Old Crow Medicine Show, Glen Hansard, The Devil Makes Three, Roseanne Cash, The Infamous Stringdusters, Aoife O'Donovan, and more, with more to be announced next week.
Official website:

Grand Point North
Where: Burlington, VT
Dates: September 17-18
Tickets: Both days $79, one day $59
Why should you go: I've never really been able to get into Grace Potter, but she can sure curate a festival. Grace Potter and The Nocturnals headline both nights, and the other bands include Old Crow Medicine Show, Guster, The Wood Brothers, And the Kids, and more.
Official website:

Prescott Park Arts Festival
Where: Portsmouth, NH
Dates: Various dates June-September
Tickets: Suggested donation of $8-$10
Why you should go: This isn't a true festival that takes place over the course of a weekend, but a series of shows throughout the whole summer. Since Prescott Park is a public park, they can't officially charge admission. Instead they charge a suggested donation of $8-$10 at the gate. Since most of the bands playing normally charge $25 and a lot more, you'll happily pay the donation. This year is just an absurd line up with shows by Sara Watkins, The Tallest Man on Earth (with Lady Lamb!), Shovels & Rope, Dawes, Shakey Graves, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Felice Brothers, and a lot more. Seriously, plan a day to hit the beach, head to Prescott Park for a show, and wander Portsmouth in between.
Official website:

1 comment:

  1. This place is absolutely gorgeous, beautiful and stunning. Even though a few halls are equally appealing and fascinating in their decor, food and aesthetics, I'm tempted to still give these venues in San Francisco slight edge.