Virginia has its share of summer festivals and concert series. For my money, the best of these are the multi-day fests with on-site camping. Three that instantly come to mind are Red Wing Roots, FloydFest and Lockn’. Head West!
July 8-10 at Natural Chimneys Park in Mount Solon, VA
This low-key, family-friendly festival presented by The Steel Wheels is now in its 4th year. Red Wing Roots has already made a name for itself, as much for the “hang” as for the annual lineup. With a focus on rootsy Americana performers, Red Wing Roots is like a Shenandoah Valley version of the Newport Folk Festival.
Red Wing’s big score for this year is the California rock band Dawes. That alone is reason enough to attend. The Dawes live show approaches the intensity of a Springsteen concert. Local Richmond favorites The Hot Seats will also be at Red Wing. The festival site (Natural Chimneys Park) gets its name from the stunning 120 foot high limestone rocks that tower over the grounds.
July 27-31 in Floyd, VA
The small Southwestern Virginia town of Floyd is a place where progressive world views intertwine with Blue Ridge traditions. It’s only natural that the big festival held there each mid-summer is going to have a strong commitment to the arts, musical diversity and old school fun.
This year FloydFest features one of its best lineups ever: Anders Osborne, Leftover Salmon, The Wood Brothers, Warren Haynes, Gregg Allman, Greensky Bluegrass and Bruce Hornsby are on the bill. With music all day long on up to nine different stages over four consecutive days, there are innumerable ways to choose your own adventure at FloydFest.
August 25-28 at Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, VA
Some music fans were given an offer they couldn’t refuse when the initial list of Lockn’ performers was announced last month. Phish, Ween and My Morning Jacket as headliners! OK - you got me. Further skimming down the first wave of artists reveals more exciting acts, including Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD) and jammy up-and-comers Twiddle and Vulfpeck.
At a time when other large scale festivals are going more mainstream and/or electronic (or fading altogether), Lockn' continues to cater to the core live music audience. Past Lockn' performers have included Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident and Wilco. Short of a Talking Heads reunion, Phish, Ween and MMJ are arguably the biggest remaining bands Lockn' could reasonably be expected to get. If the words Gamehendge, The Boognish or Okonokos are spoken in your abode, then I'll see you there!