BMS Guide to New England Summer Music Festivals

, Staff

Summer and music festivals go hand in hand. Were you planning on traveling to major festivals like Lollapalooza or Outside Lands until you ran out of cash? Well, you can still get your fix of music by staying home and enjoying one of the many music festivals in your own backyard. New England boast several multi-day festivals throughout the region with music for all ears: rock, folk, jazz, roots, christian and more.

With that in mind, we thought we would bring you a comprehensive guide on all the major multi-day music festivals taking place in New England this summer. Here you’ll find all the necessary info: who’s playing, where it is, and how much it costs. Are you the camping type, will you need a hotel, or can you stay at home and drive? We’ve also got that, but we recommend either taking loads of deodorant for camping or checking TripAdvisor for your hotel stay.

Here are this summer’s multi-day music festivals in New England in chronological order:

Solid Sound Festival: June 24-26
MASS MoCA – North Adams, MA
Headliners: Wilco, The Levon Helm Band,
Supporting Cast: Thurston Moore, Pajama Club, Syl Johnson & the Sweet Divines, The Autumn Defense, Jaime Lidell, Glenn Kotche, Pillow Wand, Pronto, Here We Go Magic, Dave Douglass & Brass Ecstasy, The Handsome Family, Liam Finn
New England Bands: none
Ticket Prices: $124.50 for 3-Day Pass / Single-day tickets available – $65 for Friday, $78 for Saturday, $65 for Sunday
Lodging: $80 for tent, $100 for RV
Why you should go: A pleasant surprise in 2010, we’re expecting even greater things in 2011. It goes without saying, this is an absolute must for any Wilco fan.

Green River Festival: July 16-17
Greenfield Community College – Greenfield, MA
Headliners: Toots and the Maytals, Emmylou Harris
Supporting Cast: JJ Grey & Mofro, Wanda Jackson, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Old 97’s, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Grupo Fantasma, Terry Adams & the New NRBQ, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, Thomas Mapfuno & the Blacks Unlimited, Rosie Ledlet & the Zydeco Playboys
New England Bands: Eilen Jewell, Rubblebucket, Patty Larkin
Tickets: Until July 15: $65 for 2-day pass, $45 for single day ticket, At the gate: $55 for single day ticket
Lodging: Home / Multiple hotels in the area
Why you should go: Great music and hot air balloons make this a unique treat.

North Atlantic Blues Festival: July 16-17
Harbor Park – Rockland, ME
Headliners: Robert Cray Band, Brooks Family Reunion
Supporting Cast: Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Eric Bibb, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Billy Ranch & The Sons of Blues, James Armstrong, Toni Lynn Washington, Trampled Underfoot, Nellie Tiger Travis, Dave Gross
New England Bands: n/a
Tickets: $50 for weekend pass, $25 for single day
Lodging: Multiple hotels in the area
Why you should go: A solid lineup of blues greats on the scenic Maine shoreline.

Gathering of the Vibes Music and Arts Festival: July 21-24
Seaside Park – Bridgeport, CT
Headliners: Furthur, Jane’s Addiction, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, John Butler Trio
Supporting Cast: Levon Helm Band, The Rhythm Devils’, .moe, Dr. John & the Lower 911, Toots and The Maytals, Perpetual Groove, The New Mastersounds, Big Gigantic, Dark Star Orchestra, Tea Leaf Green, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, The Mother Hips
New England Bands: Taj Mahal Trio, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Ryan Montbleau Band, Roots of Creation, McLovins, Rubblebucket
Tickets: $205 for a weekend pass, $40-$75 for single day ticket
Lodging: On-site camping included with weekend pass
Why you should go: A longtime staple for jam band fans, the Connecticut festival boasts one of its most diverse lineup in years.

Newport Folk Festival: July 30-31
Fort Adams State Park – Newport, RI
Headliners: The Decemberists, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch
Supporting Cast: Gogol Bordello, Earl Scruggs, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Tegan and Sara, Mavis Staples, The Felice Brothers, Delta Spirit, Amos Leee, M. Ward, Wanda Jackson, Middle Brother, Justin Townes Earl, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Civil Wars
New England Bands: David Wax Museum, Dar Williams, Ellis Paul
Tickets: $125 for weekend pass, $69 for single day
Lodging: Home / Multiple hotels in the area
Why you should go: A New England tradition that everyone needs to experience. If you haven’t, make this the year you enjoy music at Fort Adams State Park. If you already have, we’re sure you’ll be back.

Lowell Folk Festival: July 29-31
Downtown Lowell – Lowell, MA
Headliners: Dervish, Shemekia Copeland
Supporting Cast: Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun, The Birmingham Sunlights, Eden Brent, Debo Band with Fendika, Eddie & Alonzo Pennington, George Soffos, Grupos Rebolu, La Exelencia, Hector del Curto’s Tango Quartet, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Nukariik,  Stanky & the Coal Miners
New England Bands: The Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band
Tickets: Free
Lodging: Home / Multiple hotels in the area
Why you should go: The longest running festival in America and its free!

Soulfest: August 3-6
Gunstock Mountain Ski Resort – Gilford, NH
Headliners: Switchfoot, Third Day, Chris Tomlin, Skillit
Supporting Cast: Jars of Clay, Ed Kowalczyk (of Live), Red, Emery, Jason Upton, The Almost, Sanctus Real, Petra, Leeland, Tenth Avenue North, Flatfoot 56, Brian Welch, Paul Colman, Kevin Max, Thousand Foot Krutch, Brit Nicole
New England Bands: Boston Night of Worship, Jake Armerding
Tickets: $120 for multi-day pass, $35 for single day
Lodging: On-site camping available for $145-$290
Why you should go: Probably the best (maybe, only) way to see the best of christian rock together in one place.

Newport Jazz Festival: August 5-7
International Tennis Hall of Fame/Fort Adams State Park – Newport, RI
Headliners: Wynton Marsalis, Angelique Kidjo, Esperanza Spalding, Michael Feinstein
Supporting Cast: Regina Carter, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, New Black Eagle Jazz Band, John Hollenbeck, Mingus Big Band, Brubeck Brothers, Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Hiromi, Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band, Ravi Coltrane Quartet
New England Bands: Grace Kelly, Mario Castro Quintet
Tickets: $125 for weekend pass, $69 for single day
Lodging: Home / Multiple hotels in the area
Why you should go: Another must for any New England music fan. A truly historic event that always delivers a good time and great music.

Salem Jazz and Soul Fest: August 20-21
Salem Willows – Salem, MA
Headliners: Bonerama, Big Sam’s Funky Nation
Supporting Cast: Charles Neville & Harvey Diamond Quartet, Goldberg, Mikisis, and Langone
New England Bands: Club D’Elf, Nicky Egan, Thaddeus Hogarth, Bobby Keyes Trio, Salem High School Jazz Band, North Shore Jazz Project Allstars
Tickets: Free
Lodging: Multiple hotels in the area
Why you should go: See a pair of New Orleans’ best with several local standouts for free!

Rhythm & Roots Festival: September 2-4
Ninigret Park – Charlestown, RI
Headliners: Steve Earle and The Dukes & Dutchesses, Red Stick Ramblers
Supporting Cast: Delbert McClinton, Richard Thompson, Marcia Ball, 7 Walkers, Raul Malo, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Nation Beat, Mitch Woods & His Rocket, GreelySavoyDuo, Harper & the Midwest Kind, Corey Ledet & His Zydeco Band, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble
New England Bands: n/a
Tickets: $120 advance (through August 15) $145 at gate for 3-Day pass, $25 advance $35 at gate for Friday, $50 advance $60 for single day Saturday/Sunday
Lodging: On-site camping available for $160 advance, $175 at the gate
Why you should go: Enjoy Labor Day weekend by going camping in Rhode Island and enjoying some great music at the same time.

Newport Waterfront Irish Festival: September 3-5
Newport Yachting Center – Newport, RI
Headliners: Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, The Screaming Oprhans
Supporting Cast: The Makem & Spain Brothers, Pogey, Calley McGrane & The Exiles, The Tartan Terrors, The Town Pants
New England Bands: n/a
Tickets: $35 for 3-Day Pass, Single-day Tickets are $14-$17 before August 26, $17-$20 after
Lodging: Multiple hotels in the area
Why you should go: A perennial favorite every Labor Day weekend, this festival celebrates Irish culture with great music along the scenic Newport Harbor.

Life is good Festival: September 24-25
Prowse Farm – Canton, MA
Headliners: Ray Lamontagne, The Avett Brothers, Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Levon Helm Band
Supporting Cast: The Hold Steady, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Raphael Saadiq, Ingrid Michaelson, Maceo Parker, Brandi Carllile, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Imagination Movers, Laurie Berkner Band, Keller Williams
New England Bands: Martin Sexton, Ryan Montbleau Band, Jenny Dee and The Deelinquents
Tickets: $120 for a weekend pass, $65 for single day (discounts available for children)
Lodging: Multiple hotels in the area
Why you should go: Truly the most unique festival in the country as all proceeds go to childrens charity. Enjoy an awesome lineup of music and support a great cause at the same time. This is a win-win!

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