Whether it's the Americana and indie-folk at MeadowGrass, or the brass bands and gypsy music at Spain's Fiesta of Near-Death Experiences, there's always an excuse to party in public somewhere in the world. And while 2015 is just weeks old, music festivals around the country have already begun announcing their lineups.
First out of the gate here in Southern Colorado is Pueblo's two-day Bands in the Backyard Music Festival, which will be headlined this year by "drunk American" Toby Keith, who's got nearly two dozen No. 1 country singles to draw upon. The mid-June event will also feature 38 Special, the Eli Young Band, and a host of other acts to be announced.
Of course, when it comes to partying in public, no one does it better than the city of New Orleans, whose 2015 Jazz & Heritage Festival lineup was announced last week. Spread out over seven days in late April and early May, this year's event will feature hundreds of acts in an ever-increasing variety of genres, including hip-hop (Pitbull, Big Freedia), country (Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban), and classic-rock/pop icons (The Who, Elton John, Chicago).
There'll also be some interesting collaborations (Galactic with Macy Gray, Christian McBride with Dianne Reeves, Tony Bennett with Lady Gaga), as well as the kind of New Orleans R&B legends (The Meters, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John) and accordion-wielding favorites (Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Buckwheat Zydeco) who got this whole thing started back in the 1970s.
Of course, if huge crowds and frat boys on Spring Break aren't you're idea of a dream vacation, you could fly to New Orleans a week earlier and make the two-hour drive to Lafayette for the Festival International de Louisiane. The five-date event is free and features stages all around town with internationally known artists hailing from French-speaking regions around the world. Acts the year that I went ranged from Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas to Haitian vodou-rock band Boukman Eksperyans. This year's lineup should be announced by early next month.
As for MeadowGrass, the 2015 lineup is under wraps until contracts get worked out. But if all goes as currently planned, I can promise that this year's headliner will be the best in the local festival's six-year history.
In the meantime, MeadowGrass executive director Steve Harris is looking for people to handle four areas of the Memorial Day weekend festival: parking, camping, volunteer coordinating, and running the VIP green room. (I know which one I'd pick.) If you're interested in being considered, you can send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to sheer quantity of performers, this year's award goes, once again, to Austin's South by Southwest Festival. Organizers announced their third wave of performers last week — more than 500 of them — bringing the total to nearly a thousand.
This year's noteworthy talents include Detroit indie-rapper Black Milk (who, at age 31, has already collaborated with artists ranging from Jack White to J Dilla), post-punk forefathers Gang of Four; bleaker-than-thou Canadian band Viet Cong; surf-inspired L.A. pop band Best Coast; and — for those whose tastes lean toward the more pretentious end of the indie-rock spectrum — Arcade Fire's Will Butler.
From the looks of it, no Colorado Springs bands will be playing official shows. Denver, meanwhile, will have a minimal presence, with only SPELLS and Publicist UK making the cut. (Unless you want to count New York-based Son Lux, who was born in Denver, but that would be kind of sad.)
And finally, for those who want to own a piece of music history, there'll be a huge auction Saturday afternoon of memorabilia from Caribou Ranch. In the '70s and '80s, it was a destination studio for the likes of Stephen Stills, Elton John, Frank Zappa, Johnny Cash and countless others. Located in the Boulder foothills (which proved to be an appropriate inspiration for Joe Walsh's massive hit, "Rocky Mountain Way"), the studio was owned and operated for decades by musician and producer Jim Guercio.
The property is now owned by Sam Walton's heirs, who are obviously pretty cash-strapped. Auction items range from a Steinway concert grand to a parka once worn by Michael Jackson to a box of magazine articles about Chad & Jeremy. You can check it all out online at lesliehindman.com/caribou-ranch.