Planning an out-of-town or out-of-country visit to a renowned music festival is an amazing way to travel. For blues and/or jazz fans, there are plenty of interesting festivals that you can visit on this cultural mission of discovery. The festivals below should be added to your future festival bucket list.
Moab Music Festival
This perfect blend of an intriguing destination and a rich talent pool will help you can discover tons of great new music. The Moab Music Festival takes place in the Utah desert. The lineup is usually a mixture of jazz, folk, classical, Latin, and soul, including the likes of Marcus Roberts, The Requinte Trio, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, and the Pedro Martinez Group. They even offer music hikes in which a limited number of people are taken into the wilderness for an intimate, somewhat surreal concert in the gorgeous desert. It’s rightfully one of America’s most anticipated musical events.
Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival
If the names Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Sam Chatmon, and Big Joe Williams mean anything to you, you absolutely must experience the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival. The grandfather of countless other blues festivals throughout the North American continent and further afield, this yearly celebration collects some of the most promising blues artists, such as pianist Jerry Kattawar and the insanely talented Mamie Davis, in one place. The Mississippi Encyclopedia reveals that this festival was founded and organized by the Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE), a non-profit initiative that focuses its efforts on community development in the poorer areas of the Mississippi delta. Arguably no other music festival understands the roots of the blues quite like this one does.
Glasgow Jazz Festival
This globally popular jazz festival happens every year in Glasgow, a showcase for the obscure as well as for the biggest names in jazz music with the occasional unexpected artist thrown into the mix. So while this is the event where you can hear the likes of pianist Brian Kellock, guitarist Nigel Clark, and saxophonist Helena Kay paying tribute to Bobby Wellins – arguably Glasgow’s greatest ever tenor saxophone jazz export – Glasgow Jazz Festival has also served as a stage for the likes of the soulful Hailey Tuck and the strangely calming Alabaster dePlume. Weird, beautiful, wonderful, and consistently one of the greatest international music festivals to attend, Glasgow Jazz Festival is an uniquely awesome weekend of music.
Chicago Blues Festival
Helmed by the likes of Fantastic Negrito, Mavis Staples, and Vieux Farka Touré, the Chicago Blues Festival has several stages that celebrate the different modern musical directions of classic blues and soul. A multi-genre exploration of how blues bleeds into everything from soul to hip-hop to pop music. As one of the greatest and biggest authentic blues festivals in the country, it is located in one of the original homes of all-American blues.
Reykjavik Jazz Festival
Set in the clean coastal town of Reykjavik, against a backdrop of Iceland’s towering, icy mountains, the Reykjavik Jazz Festival is one of the best orchestrated live tributes to jazz. Jones Around the World lists the different genres regularly explored at this annual festival: avant-garde jazz, Latin jazz, big band, and gospel. Expect to hear talents like the Ingi Bjarni Trio, Scott McLemore Quartet, Ralph Towner, and the Arctic Swing Quartet taking jazz to new heights – all while you’re in the middle of one of the most gorgeous locations on the planet. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for more than just a musical experience.
Before You Go Anywhere, Do Your Homework
As we are sure you already know, these festivals are just a small percentage of the countless interesting music events held annually in the US and around the world. But this list is definitely a good place to start. When it comes to choosing which events to visit, Lottoland suggests creating a rough draft of your bucket list first, and this can include all the music festivals that you want to visit in the next two years. While a short-term festival plan looks cheaper from the onset, putting together a long-term plan can allow you to save money in the long run, especially if you strategically plan your festivals from a geographic standpoint. Our own list of ‘The World’s Best Cities For Jazz’ can help in this regard.
You can turn your festival bucket list into an awesome cross-country road trip with your friends. Alternatively, you can also take this opportunity to find out how to commute to the cities you’re planning to visit. Either way, remember to pack accordingly. Buzzfeed lists several must-have items for anyone who wants to make their music festival experience easier and generally more fun. As you’re packing and planning your trip, do your homework and find out everything you can about the time and place including the expected weather, accommodation and hygiene facilities, nearby lodges and restaurants, and the commuting situation. If you want to ensure a breathtaking experience, these logistical concerns are just as important as knowing what type of music to expect.