Wait. What's that we hear? Actual chirping birds. And that enticing scent wafting over from next door? Wow, the neighbor just fired up the grill. Hey, what about that big, blue, beautiful thing overhead? It was all drab and dull and depressing and gray, like, just a few weeks ago. It's the sky!
If you've been along for the ride these last few years, you know what all of this means: It's time for Chronogram's annual summer music festival round-up. So here are this year's top picks (plus a few extras) from the always-hard-to-narrow-down list of cool multiact musical events happening throughout and around the beatific Hudson Valley during the warmer months. Dig in. Enjoy. And save us a spot on the lawn.
Mountain Jam (June 6-9)
The jam-centric juggernaut of jubilation makes its ninth appearance on Hunter Mountain. Besides the traditional two sets by Gov't Mule, this summer's roster has the Lumineers, the Avett Brothers, Phil Lesh and Friends, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Primus, Widespread Panic, Soulive, White Denim, Amy Helm, Jackie Greene, Big Gigantic, Rubblebucket, Deer Tick, the Revivalists, and many more. As of this writing, premium prepitched tent camping is sold out, but regular mountainside and VIP camping spots remain. For $39, a round-trip bus shuttles jammers to and from New York.
PS21 (June 9-August 31)
Also in its eighth year is PS21 (the acronym stands for "Performance Spaces for the 21st Century"). Held in a futuristic tent in a Chatham apple orchard, this multidiscipline program presents film, dance, and theater, in addition to live music. Among the latter events is the String Theory series, whose acts this year include West African kora king Zal Idrissa Sissokho (June 22) and banjoist Tony Trischka (June 29). PS21's Community Lawn Concerts segment promises rock 'n' roll and R&B by the Chandler Travis Philharmonic (June 23), a tribute to Thelonius Monk by the Berkshire Bop Society (July 28), and rockabilly from the Buzzards (August 21).
Taste of Country (June 13-15)
Country comes to the Catskills in high style with this star-studded new fest at Hunter Mountain. And when you're starting, it's great to start at the top of the charts: The 2013 inaugural Taste of Country lineup boasts such major names as Willie Nelson and Family, Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Billy Currington, Montgomery Gentry, Hunter Hayes, Joe Nichols, Gloriana, Justin Moore, Dustin Lynch, Blackberry Smoke, and much more. The grounds are open for both tent and RV camping, and VIP and Super VIP passes include gourmet food, premium viewing spots, and other enticing amenities.
Clearwater (June 15-16)
One of the most beloved music festivals on the East Coast, Clearwater (also known as the Great Hudson River Revival) is held at Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson and was initially co-established by local treasure Pete Seeger as a fundraiser for the construction of the sloop Clearwater. Along with an appearance by Pete himself, this year's performers include Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Mavis Staples, Son Volt, Hot Tuna, Judy Collins, Kris Kristofferson, Antibalas, David Bromberg, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Toshi Reagon, Dan Zanes, the Dirt Farmer Band (Levon Helm Band members), David Amram, and many others.
Solid Sound (June 21-23)
The Wilco-curated blowout at MassMOCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, took a year off but is back this month with its biggest bang yet. Besides sets by the host band and its members' many side projects, Solid Sound's saliva-inducing reemergence offers a reunion by the Dream Syndicate, "Border Music" featuring Marc Ribot and David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Yo La Tengo, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Low, Neko Case, White Denim, Foxygen, Os Mutantes, the Autumn Defense, the Relatives, Sean Rowe, comedian John Hodgman, and more. Complementing vendors and on-site dining is a new component featuring food and spirits sourced from local farms and prepared by culinary artisans. (MassMOCA's bluegrass-oriented FreshGrass festival returns September 21-23.)
Tanglewood (June 21-September 1)
Since 1936, the Lenox, Massachusetts, festival has been the Berkshires summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which itself is now in its 132nd (!) year. The classical/symphonic interests of Tanglwood's founders remain at the core, with performances of Tchaikovsky (July 5); Harbison's operatic adaptation of The Great Gatsby (July 11); Wagner, Ravel, and Rimsky-Korsakov (July 12); the Boston Pops Orchestra (July 7); and two concerts featuring Yo-Yo Ma: a program of Stravinsky and Dvorak (August 4) and a set by the cellist's genre-splicing Goat Rodeo project (August 15). Pop is well represented by Melissa Etheridge (June 21); Jackson Browne (July 4); the Barenaked Ladies, the Ben Folds Five, and Guster (July 23); and the Steve Miller Band (July 29). For jazz there's Terence Blanchard (June 28) and Esperanza Spalding (August 4), and Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" (June 29) is a Tanglewood tradition.