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2011 Festival Guide



Since the late ’60s and early ’70s (Woodstock, Monterey, Altamont, Isle of Wight) warm weather outdoor rock festivals have been crowd magnets. Although a few are struggling, a number of major festivals are parlaying A-list classic rock acts into big ticket sales. Beginning in March and continuing through September, there is ample opportunity to rock in the great outdoors in 2011.

March 11-20: South By Southwest (SXSW)


SXSW is part music festival, part film festival, part “music and media conference.” The musical portion (March 16-20 at various venues around downtown Austin, Texas) is, in a word, huge, with hundreds of panel discussions and nearly 2,000 musical acts of all genres on stages throughout downtown Austin. Irish rocker Bob Geldof will be the keynote speaker and Showcase Performer at the 2011 SXSW Music Conference. This is THE event for hardcore music junkies.


April 15-17: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Coachella Music and Arts Festival

Officially, it’s the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, but everyone refers to it simply as Coachella. 2011 headliners include Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire and Duran Duran. Since the first edition in 1999 (attendance: 25,000) Coachella is now attended by 100,000+ annually.

April 29 – May 8: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The “Heritage” part of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (or, JazzFest, as it is more commonly known) opens the event to artists representing many genres. Accordingly, counted among the dozens of 2011 JazzFest performers are artists like John Mellencamp, Jeff Beck, Arlo Guthrie, and Gregg Allman Blues Band. JazzFest’s roots go back to 1970, when the concept of the multi-day outdoor music festival was just beginning to take hold.

June 8-11: Sweden Rock Festival

Sweden Rock

Since 1992, Sweden Rock magazine has staged an annual festival that caters heavily to hard rock/heavy metal bands, but not exclusively. Confirmed acts for the 2011 edition (June 8-11 in Sölvesborg) include Kansas, Styx, Joan Jett, Thin Lizzy, Molly Hatchet, Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest.

June 9-12: Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

It’s like Woodstock, but with good planning. Since its beginning in 2002 Bonnaroo has grown from a jam band gathering to being named Best Festival by Rolling Stone in 2008. Virtually every musical genre is represented, including classic rock. The 2011 lineup includes Buffalo Springfield, Robert Plant, Bruce Hornsby, Warren Haynes Band and Greg Allman. Bonnaroo 2011 (self-described “four-day, multi-stage camping festival” on a farm near Manchester, Tennessee) is June 9-12.

June 22-26: Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts

Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts

The first Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts opened the day after Jimi Hendrix died, in 1970. Three more were staged in the ’70s, and since 1981 Glasto (as it is commonly known) has been an annual event. Is it popular? Tickets for the 2011 version (June 22-26) were sold out shortly after they went on sale in October. Confirmed 2011 artists include Coldplay, Flaming Lips, Jackson Browne, Ray Davies, and Richard Thompson.

June 29 – July 10: Milwaukee Summerfest

Milwaukee World Festival

They don’t make them any bigger than Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Literally. It has been certified by Guinness World Records as World’s Largest Music Festival. Typically, between 800,000 and 1-million people listen to more than 800 bands during the 11-day festival. In recent years, featured festival acts have included Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick and Blondie. In addition to being the largest, Summerfest (aka The Big Gig) is also one of the oldest, having begun in 1968

July 14-16: Moondance Jam

Moondance Events

A purely classic rock fest, Moondance (near Walker, Minnesota) began in 1992 and by 1995 was attracting bands like Kansas, Starship, Three Dog Night and Grand Funk Railroad. Recent headliners have included Journey, Yes, Foghat, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Buckcherry. The venue for the Jam (July 14-16) is Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest, Leech Lake

July 8-9: Rock the Resort

Project Live LLC

Inaugurated in 2004, the two-day (July 8 and 9) Rock the Resort festival at Clay’s Park Resort near Canton, Ohio is heavily classic rock-oriented. Recent headliners have included Survivor, Asia, Kansas, Canned Heat, .38 Special, and Dennis DeYoung.

July 23-24: High Voltage Festival

MAMA festivals / Classic Rock

The folks who bring you Classic Rock magazine have branched out into the festival business. Back for its second year, the 2011 High Voltage festival (July 23 and 24 in London’s Victoria Park) includes acts like Jethro Tull, Black Country Communion, Judas Priest, Dream Theater and Queensryche.

August 5-7: Lollapalooza

Parkways Foundation

Originally a traveling festival, Lollapalooza found a home in Chicago’s Grant Park in 2005. Featuring punk and alternative rock bands, the festival historially includes artists from the classic rock era in the lineup. In recent years, those have included Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Iggy and The Stooges, Billy Idol, Flaming Lips and Phoenix

September 2-4: Bumbershoot

Bumbershoot: Seattle’s Music & Arts Festival

The aptly named Bumbershoot (slang for umbrella, held in Seattle) over Labor Day weekend is one of the oldest (beginning in 1971) and largest festivals. Contemporary rock acts are most prevalent (in recent years Sheryl Crow, Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, Fergie, Kings Of Leon) but once in a while artists with classic rock cred (Steve Miller Band, Blondie, Joe Bonamassa) pop up.


April 23, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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