RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

The Music Festival Guide, by Jon Pruett & Mike McGuirk

The Music Festival Guide

This brand new guide to musical festivals written by Jon Pruett and Mike McGuirk is an incredible resource for anyone seeking road trip adventures in North America. While the authors have included information for special events in Australia and Europe, the primary focus of The Music Festival Guide: For Music Lovers and Musicians is on festivals in the United States and Canada. This work includes events that pretty much run the gamut of musical offerings each year. Twenty-three genres of music ranging from avant-garde jazz to zydeco, including classical, bluegrass, folk, reggae and world music, shape the scope of the book. The authors have profiled over 600 festivals and provide information about how and when to attend as well as application information for musicians seeking to perform at the listed festivals.

In addition to the index by genre of music, there are lists of festivals by month and by state and provinces. What I found truly astounding about this guidebook is that the authors apparently visited every one of the listed festivals and have provided engaging details about the events that could only be acquired in person. Take the Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, Wisconsin that holds a "clean campsite" contest each year, or the Champlain Valley Folk Festival in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, that features four hours of contra dancing every night. The authors also compiled twelve tips that every festival-goer should include in their preparations before setting off for their festival destination of choice. Each of the listings provides a brief discussion of the types of musical performers to be expected, the range of ticket prices, and suggestions for local accommodations including camping options.

Some of the festivals profiled are huge events like the Ford International Jazz Festival held every Labor Day weekend in Detroit and Mountainfest, a country music extravaganza held in Merrit, British Columbia, each summer. Others are as small as groups of performers entertaining locals on porches in back-wood cabins like the Riverbend Bluegrass Festival near Ocilla, Georgia, in October. Some are relatively new events, while others like the Maritime Fiddle Festival in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia have been held for over fifty years.

After reading this book, I really want to attend next October's Puckerama in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a free festival that celebrates the art of whistling. Others I found intriguing include the Frostbite Music Festival held outdoors in mid-February in Whitehorse, Yukon, Reggae on the River in Piercy, California, and the Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Festival in Sidney, Maine. The only criticism I have is that the authors did not include one the festivals I have always wanted to attend -- the fiddling festival in Galax, Virginia. Perhaps they will add it in a future edition. The prose is fun to read and the entire guide is a superb resource for musicians and roadtrippers alike.

Mark Sedenquist

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