American History Review: Summer Stage Music | HistoryNet MENU

American History Review: Summer Stage Music

By Gene Santoro
6/6/2017 • American History Magazine

Four of our oldest and most respected music festivals make fun family trips—for the sites as well as the sounds.

The half-century-old Clearwater Festival is set for June 15-16 in idyllic Croton Point Park on the Hudson River—one of the former toxic landfills reclaimed thanks to festival founder Pete Seeger, who put great music in service of environmental awareness. Tents highlight alt technologies, artisanal food and farmers markets. But the stage is the big draw; performers include Mavis Staples, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Hot Tuna, Son Volt, the Travellin’ McCourys, Judy Collins, Kris Kristofferson and the Klezmatics. Kids under 12 free.

Seeger co-founded the Newport Folk Festival, held at Fort Adams Park, where audiences look over the bay and ocean from a 18th-century redoubt. On June 26-28, Beck, the Avett Brothers, Feist, Andrew Bird, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Tift Merritt and Justin Townes Earle are among the top-flight acts. The storied island is well worth touring for its coastline trails, relics from slave-trading and fishery times, and ostentatious Gilded Age mansions.

On August 2-3, the Newport Jazz Festival takes the Fort Adams stage with Wayne Shorter, Natalie Cole, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding, Marcus Miller and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, among others.

September 20-22 marks the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 56th birthday at the gorgeous oak-lined 20-acre fairgrounds where it was born, a mile inland on one of the California coast’s most glorious stretches. Among the 500 artists on the fest’s eight stages: George Benson, Bobby McFerrin, David Sanborn, Diana Krall, Wayne Shorter, Ravi Coltrane and the Brubeck Brothers. All proceeds go to music education.

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