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Hot to trot: Must-see music festivals for 2014

Pickathon is a large indie-rock event with a vintage folk-fest vibe that takes place the 80-acre Pendarvis Farm near Portland, Ore.

Liz Devine

Coachella has happened, Sasquatch has been sighted, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has blown its last trumpet and the happy campers at the inaugural Mysteryland electronic dance-music exposition in Bethel, N.Y., (on the site of the original Woodstock) are packing up their tents. And yet the season of music festivals has barely begun. Here's a rundown of 10 knock 'em dead events to come, plus 40 more for good measure.

Newport Folk Festival

When Dylan went electric on the breezy grounds at Fort Adams State Park in 1965, the innovation flipped a few wigs. More recently though, everybody seems pretty cool with NPR's newfangled live streaming of the shows at Newport Folk.

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Five must-see acts: Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Jenny Lewis and Valerie June. July 25 to 27, Newport, R.I.,

Don't forget: Stan Rogers Folk Festival (July 4 to 6; Canso, N.S.), Winnipeg Folk Festival (July 9 to 13), Vancouver Folk Music Festival (July 18 to 20) and Edmonton Folk Festival (Aug. 7 to 10).


Music lovers go down to the 80-acre Pendarvis Farm (outside Portland, Ore.) to camp out on the land and to "set their soul free," as the song goes. Creatively set stages and a fierce dedication to sustainability make for a large indie-rock event with a vintage folk-fest vibe.

Five must-see acts: Warpaint, War on Drugs, Valerie June, the Barr Brothers and the Sadies. Aug. 1 to 3, Happy Valley, Ore.,

Don't forget: Pemberton Music Festival (July 18 to 20; Pemberton, B.C.), Squamish Valley Music Festival (Aug. 8 to 10; Squamish, B.C.), Outside Lands (Aug. 8 to 10; San Francisco) and Bumbershoot (Aug. 30 to Sept 1; Seattle).

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

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Ranked as the world's largest jazz festival by Guinness World Records, the reputation of Montreal's annual happening is unassailable.

Five must-see acts: Diana Ross, Keith Jarrett, B.B. King, Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris, and Ginger Baker. June 26 to July 6,

Don't forget: Playboy Jazz Festival (June 14 to 15; Los Angeles), Vancouver International Jazz Festival (June 20 to July 1), Newport Jazz Festival (Aug. 1 to 3; Newport, R.I.) and Monterey Jazz Festival (Sept. 19 to 21; Monterey, Calif.).

Hillside Festival

An indie-rock fest with a laidback folk-festival vibe, the midsummer event is an environmentally sound oasis for Ontario concert-goers.

Five must-see acts: Amelia Curran, Hydra, Kevin Drew, Tegan and Sara, and Pup. July 25 to 27, Guelph, Ont.,

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Don't forget: Field Trip (June 7 and 8; Toronto), Toronto Urban Roots Fest (July 4 to 6; Toronto), SappyFest (Aug. 1 to 3; Sackville, N.B.) and Greenbelt Harvest Picnic (Aug. 23; Dundas, Ont.).

Ottawa Bluesfest

Don't be fooled by the name: Much more than blues happen at this massive capital-city event, which this year celebrates its 20th birthday. Then again, don't be fooled by people complaining about a lack of blues content either; there's always plenty.

Five must-see acts: Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum, St. Vincent, Joe Louis Walker and Paul Oscher. July 3 to 13,

Don't Forget:Chicago Blues Festival (June 13 to 15), Le Festival International du Blues de Tremblant (July 4 to 13; Mont-Tremblant, Que.), Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival (Aug. 15 to 17; Salmon Arm, B.C.) and Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival (Sept. 9 to 14; Fredericton).

OVO Fest

Hip-hop superstar Drake has built it, and anyone who is anyone comes. For his hometown shindig (always held on the weekend of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival), last year Kayne West was one of a slew of surprise guests. This year, who knows?

Must-see acts: Drake, Outkast and friends-to-be-announced. Aug. 3 and 4, Toronto,

Don't forget: Essence Festival (July 3 to 6; New Orleans), Gathering of the Juggalos (July 23 to 27; Thornville, Ohio), Made in America (Aug. 30 to 31; Philadelphia and Los Angeles) and Rock the Bells (to be determined).

High Sierra Music Festival

A jam-band-friendly communal nirvana, noted for clean restrooms, a liberal BYOB policy, reasonable ticket prices and a nearby river for washing off one's happy grime.

Five must-see acts: Widespread Panic, Lauryn Hill, Bill Frisell: Guitar in the Space Age, The Budos Band and Hard Working Americans. July 3 to 6, Quincy, Calif.,

Don't forget: Electric Daisy Carnival (June 20 to 22; Las Vegas), Gathering of the Vibes (July 31 to Aug. 3; Bridgeport, Conn.), Shambhala (Aug. 8 to 11; Salmo, B.C.) and Lockn' Interlocking Music Festival (Sept. 4 to 7; Arrington, Va.).

Boots and Hearts Music Festival

Kids used to like the rock 'n' the roll. Now? Country music is their thing, as evidenced by the young crowds drawn to this third-annual event held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Five must-see acts: Toby Keith, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Hunter Hayes and Paul Brandt. July 31 to Aug. 3, Bowmanville, Ont.,

Don't forget: CMA Music Festival (June 5 to 8; Nashville), Telluride Bluegrass (June 19 to 22; Telluride, Colo.), Forecastle (July 18 to 20; Louisville, Ky.) and Big Valley Jamboree (July 31 to Aug. 3; Camrose, Alta.).


Thought to be the most eclectic of the big-ticket destination festivals, this year audiences have a choice among Elton John, Kanye West, Skrillex or even comedian Hannibal Buress.

Five must-see acts: A Tribe Called Red, Lionel Richie, Master Musicians of Jajouka, Jack White and Bobby Womack. June 12 to 15, Manchester, Tenn.,

Don't forget: The Governors Ball (June 6 to 8; New York), Firefly (June 19 to 22; Dover, Del.), Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival (June 21 and 22; Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.) and Lollapalooza (Aug. 1 to 3; Chicago).

Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts

Canada's Coachella – except for an urban-park setting subbing for a desert.

Five must-see acts: Lorde, Serena Ryder, Outkast, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys. Aug. 1 to 3, Montreal,

Don't forget: North by Northeast (June 13 to 22; Toronto), Le Festival d'été de Québec (July 3 to 13; Quebec City), Pitchfork Music Festival (July 18 to 20; Chicago) and Riot Fest (Sept. 6 and 7, Toronto; Sept. 12 to 14, Chicago; Sept. 19 to 21, Denver).

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Bob Dylan played the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. He played the festival in 1965.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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