Looking Back At The Inaugural Editions Of Five Renowned Festivals

first_imgIf all this talk of the magic that can be found exploring the unknown has you ready to for an adventure, there are still a few tickets left for this weekends Fool’s Paradise in St, Augustine, FL. With funk super stars Lettuce playing a special set with GRiZ, Chris Robinson bringing George Porter Jr., Ivan Neville and Neal Casal out for a once-in-a-life time set, Snarky Puppy‘s Corey Henry acting as artist-at-large and so many more opportunities to catch the unexpected, if you don’t go you’re risking a lifetime of knowing, “you weren’t there.”Tickets and information about Fool’s Paradise are available HERE The Summer Camp Music Festival grew out of the Summer Sessions touring jam band concert series stop in Peoria, IL, by the father and son team Jay and Ian Goldberg. The senior Goldberg started booking shows in the Illinois area in 1971, and his son brought his love of the Grateful Dead and the jam scene with him. The younger Goldberg and his college friend Don Sullivan had enjoyed working with the band moe. on their previous concert series, and decided to pitch putting on a similar event at the location of the Summer Session, Three Sisters Park. The senior Goldberg was instantly sold, and Summer Camp was born.The band moe. had worked with the Goldbergs on multiple occasions at this point, and were their first choice to serve as the host band for the festival. The band readily agreed, and Memorial Day weekend was selected to give everyone the best chance to attend. Besides moe., bands like Ekoostik Hookah, JGB featuring Melvin Seals, ulu, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and more were selected to kick off one of the first real jam band festivals. Ticket prices were low and energy was high that first weekend. Attendance was higher than expected thanks to good weather, great tunes and the festival’s prime site between several major cities. By the time the weekend had ended the production team was already planning for round two.Over the years, Umphrey’s McGee was added as a second host band, and the entire festival has grown into an event that regularly attracts close to 30,000 people for close to a hundred bands a year spread out over a variety of stages. That growth is a direct result of the seed planted fifteen years ago by a father, a son, and a group of friends who wanted to share the music they loved with like minded people. But none of it would have happened it it wasn’t for the fans who decided to take a chance on something new.Here’s moe. with fellow Summer Camp veteran Allie Kral performing “Plane Crash”:Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival – 2002Festival founder Ashley Capps and the brain trust at Superfly Productions set out to give people a great time when creating their version of the music festivals that they had come to love. Finding a massive farm to host their event in Manchester, TN, the partners pulled together some of the biggest names in the jam scene, including Trey Anastasio, Ben Harper, Phil Lesh, Galactic, moe., Ween, Keller Williams, String Cheese, Gov’t Mule and many more for a non stop party that sold out fifty thousand tickets in two weeks.Anticipation was high for those heading into the festival, and, once inside, the fans caught their first glimpse of Bonnaroo’s now iconic arch, and beyond it the massive main stage that had been built for the occasion. Though the sun was hot that weekend the bands were even hotter, from the first moments to the final notes there was a sense that every band was giving it their all. Galactic brought the spirit of Jazz Fest to the farm, moe. played straight through the night, Ben Harper sang in the light while Anastasio wailed in the dark. The grounds were filled with art installations, the food and art vendors were varied and unique, and despite some trouble with traffic, the operation went smoothly.After the festival, word spread like wildfire of the amazing performances, zany environment and welcoming vibe.  The next year saw an increased capacity, as the fest edged past the 70,000 mark, though again increased demand made tickets quickly disappear.  That pattern of growth and sellouts has held through to today, as Bonnaroo is now America’s largest camping festival. The festival’s lineups have evolved with the times as well, to the delight of some and the lament of saddened early fans. Though still a presence on the bill, the jam bands have seen their dominance give way to a more broad range of acts and a level of star power, like rapper mogul Jay-Z, Skrillex, Beatles’ Paul McCartney, Radiohead, metal heads Tool and Slayer, all the way to the rocking polka parodies of Weird Al Yankovic. Bonnaroo has grown into a way for music fans of all tastes to come together, with opportunities for adventurous minds to sample artists from around the world and dance together under the Tennessee skies.Let’s check out the pair of performances from the first Bonnaroo that bookended the weekend. First off, here’s a cover of King Crimson’s “Thela Hun Ginjeet” from Les Claypool’s Flying Frog Brigade’s opening salvo:The final set of the weekend belonged to Trey Anastasio. Watch “Push On Til The Day,” below:Mountain Jam – 2004The WDST radio station started broadcasting in April of 1980, offering a free form mix of music to the upstate New York area listeners. The station has served a trusted friend to the community, earning the nickname Radio Woodstock and thousands of devoted listeners. Gary Chetkof, owner of the station, was looking for a good way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his beloved station, and, along with legendary Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes, the idea was born to throw a celebratory daylong festival. Knowing that they needed to stay close to the station, a ski resort on Hunter Mountain, just two hours north of New York City, was chosen for the festival.Deciding to keep the lineup tight and rockin’, the bluesy Gov’t Mule was joined by three other bands, jazz mavericks Medeski, Martin and Wood, sacred steel purveyor Robert Randolph and The Family Band and Australian born world music impresario Xavier Rudd. The day was a resounding success. Longtime listeners were delighted to not only pay homage to the station that had provided them with so much wonderful music over the years, but also to celebrate with them at a festival full of great music.The decision was quickly made to make this an annual event, and in the days and years since the festival has grown from one day to four and from four bands to dozens. Acting as a host, Warren Haynes and his band have taken every opportunity to set their party apart from the last while keeping the spirit of rock and roll alive at its core. While WDST continues to promote the festival and its own local concert series, Mountain Jam has grown beyond anything they ever dreamed. Now, like the station itself, Mountain Jam has become a guardian of rock, a trusted ally for music fans looking for a chance to jam on into the night. Grace Potter joined Gov’t Mule for an exception rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman,” which you can check out below. Everything has a beginning. No matter how ancient a tradition, there was always a time when it was brand new. There was a first time the sun rose, a first time we fire sparked to life, and a first time we raised our voice in song. This weekend marks the debut of Fool’s Paradise, bringing musical curators Lettuce to St. Augustine, FL with GRiZ, Chris Robinson’s Soul Revue, Vulfpeck, The Nth Power, and Goldfish. Music fans are getting a chance to get in on the ground floor of something new and exciting. With a lineup heavy on improvisational bands, every song will be a new thing; a unique creation of the moment that can only exist in that time and that place. Over the years, many festivals like Bonnaroo and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival have become institutions. Before they became household names, however, they were fledgling entries full of promise and possibility. With Fool’s Paradise fast approaching, we thought we’d take a look at some of the other notable festival debuts that have happened over the last few decades, and look at why they shouldn’t have been missed either. Look at the following entries as cautionary tales, warning you of the level of magic you could miss by not taking a chance.New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival – 1970When a city known for its music and festivals sees one rise above the rest like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival managed to, you know that it must be something special. Now known as one of the biggest annual gatherings of seemingly every musician in the world, Jazz Fest spilled out of its humble beginnings to include two consecutive weekends, with hundreds of bands on their grounds’ endless stages, as well as an entire city full of after shows and parties. But when they first opened the gates, they weren’t interested in booking the biggest names; they wanted the best players.George Wein and his company, Festival Productions, established a solid reputation with their work on the Newport Jazz Festival, and upon receiving the contract to put together the new festival in New Orleans, he wanted to keep the focus on talent. Wein put together an advisory committee of music scholars and scoured the clubs for talent to fill the stages. Following his guiding vision of showcasing and encapsulating the spirit of the indigenous music forms, Wein and his team brought in a broad spectrum of regionally influenced acts, including Duke Ellington, Mahalia Jackson, The Meters, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Clifton Chenier, Fats Domino, brass band parades, Mardi Gras Indians, and actual street performers who had caught their eye. In all, over seven hundred musicians played the first year of Jazz Fest. The only set back is that only 350 people attended.Obviously the first year’s light turnout was just the beginning, as now hundreds of thousands flock to the Big Easy for a ten day celebration of music and life itself. In announcing the festival, Wein stated, “The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival represents a new and exciting idea in festival presentation. This festival could only be held in New Orleans because here and here alone is the richest musical heritage in America.” He also noted, with great prescience, “New Orleans, in the long run, should become bigger than Newport in jazz festivals. Newport was manufactured, but New Orleans is the real thing.” History has shown how right he truly was.Since filming the event wasn’t a priority in the first year, let’s watch a bit of the Tedeschi Trucks Band set from last year’s Jazz Fest:Telluride Bluegrass Festival – 1973The Telluride Bluegrass Festival was born in a very real way, out of the birth of our nation. The small Colorado mountain town of Telluride had begun its life as a mining outpost, but in the early seventies, it was seeing a boom in tourism dollars thanks to the opening of a ski resort. After some of the more rowdier newcomers caused several incidents during the 1972 Fourth of July Celebration, town elders decided to cancel the following year’s festivities. This didn’t sit well with the townspeople, and dedicated Telluride native, Scott Brown, decided to do something about it. He offered to plan the celebration and foot the bill, raising money and enlisting local volunteers. To help make a break from the more competitive nature of the previous years, he decided to make it more family friendly and bring in a bluegrass band to get the people dancing.The spirit shown amongst the town that day convinced Brown there was potential for more than just a fireworks show with a band in his community. Brown’s first lineup featured the Black Canyon Gang, Jeff Cerwinski, Jim Cynbell, Denver Bluegrass Band, Fall Creek, Normal Heights Lounge Lizards, Sunset Harmony Boys, and Steve Westphal. With family activities, craft and food vendors throughout, Telluride Bluegrass captured the spirit that had made his previous gathering such a success. Wandering the festivities, Brown knew that there was a need for events that unite people, and a tradition was born. Over the past 43 years, what Brown and his friends started has grown into the most prestigious bluegrass festival in the country.  Each year an all-star house band is selected from attendees, with Sam Bush, Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer being regular participants. The best and the brightest descend on this sleepy mountain town once a year to share stories and the stage with their contemporaries in the most idyllic setting imaginable in front of a teeming crowd of serious fans.   No footage of the first Telluride exists, but there is some incredible video of The Telluride House Band showing why they’re among the best of the best below:Summer Camp Music Festival – 2001last_img

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