And the Livin' Is Easy
A primer on summer music in Vermont
Saints of Valory
Summer is short and sweet in Vermont. As such, we’ve grown accustomed to taking advantage of it as best we can. Assuming this summer isn’t a washout — it can’t rain the entire summer, can it? — one way to make the most of those hazy, lazy days is to head for the hills and bask in the splendor of music in the Green Mountains. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there is no shortage of outdoor concerts and festivals designed to help us do just that. What follows is a variety of intriguing options to suit most any musical taste this summer.
Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Midway Lawn
Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex, various dates, highergroundmusic.com
Last year’s experiment hosting concerts on the midway at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds seems to have been a success, as the folks from Higher Ground Presents are at it again with an entire summer full of marquee shows, including Ray LaMontagne (May 27); Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown (May 29); the Avett Brothers (June 3); and Dropkick Murphys (July 29).
Stratton Mountain, June 23 through 26, stratton.wanderlustfestival.com
Billed as an “epic four-day yoga throwdown,” the Wanderlust festival has wandered from its original home in Lake Tahoe to, among other destinations, Stratton Mountain. In addition to “world-renowned yoga instructors,” the fest boasts an impressive roster of musical talent, including Michael Franti & Spearhead, Andrew Bird and Krishna Das, as well as the famed Deepak Chopra as keynote speaker — we’re told he loves a good throwdown.
Screaming for Change Festival
The Bristol Hub, July 1 and 2, bristolskatepark.com
Not every festival has to feature beautiful tunes in idyllic settings, right? Sometimes, you just gotta get angry. And loud. Featuring more than 20 hardcore and punk acts from Vermont and beyond, the Screaming for Change Festival is the snarling antidote to heady jam fests, as well as a benefit for the Bristol skate park. There will be a vegan BBQ, a bonfire and — wait for it — a Slip ’n Slide.
Battery Park Concert Series
Burlington, July 7, 14, 21 and 28, burlingtoncityarts.org/battery_park_concerts
Since 1981, the Battery Park Concert Series has been a summer staple in Burlington. The full lineup for the free July series is still in the works, but a pair of national acts has been announced: British rockers Scars on 45 (July 21), and multicultural, Austin-based ensemble Saints of Valory (July 28).
Bright Eyes & the Mountain Goats
Shelburne Museum, July 29, highergroundmusic.com
Higher Ground Presents and the Shelburne Museum have buried the hatchet following last year’s incident over the museum’s last-minute cancellation of a Furthur concert. Perhaps Conor Oberst’s brand of intimate melancholia really can soothe bruised feelings? Do yourself a favor and show up early for the Mountain Goats.
Champlain Valley Folk Festival
Waterfront Park, Burlington, July 29 through 31, cvfest.org
Entering its 28th year celebrating the region’s rich cultural folk heritage, the Champlain Valley Folk Festival is among the state’s most beloved annual outdoor music events. Notable performers this year include Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, the Brass Balagan, Tony DeMarco, Si Kahn, Ko Shka and Matching Orange.
Plainfield, August 5 through 7, rhinofestvt.com
Held in what is essentially a natural amphitheater in a large field in Plainfield, RhinoFest takes pride in its lovely location, as well as its commitment to balancing major headliners with plenty of local acts. The latter ideal is reflected in this year’s lineup, which includes regional favorites Eoto, Sophistafunk and Roots of Creation and a slew of local bands, including Champagne Dynasty, Wombaticus Rex, Barika and Gold Town. More acts are still being announced.
Tweed River Music Festival
Stockbridge, August 12 through 14, tweedrivermusicfestival.com
Nestled in the rolling foothills along Route 100 in Stockbridge, the Tweed River Music Festival boasts everything you love about an outdoor music festival — namely, lush scenery, great tunes and a swimmin’ hole — without the hassles of larger, more commercial festiroos. Curated by local alt-country stalwarts Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck, the massive lineup features a roosty mix of rock, folk and Americana, highlighted by Session Americana, local truck-stop rockers Waylon Speed and R&B legend Booker T. Jones.
Grand Point North
Waterfront Park, Burlington, August 13 and 14, highergroundmusic.com
Vermont’s reigning rock stars, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, have taken their usual homecoming gig at the annual Lake Champlain Maritime Festival and blown it out, creating a fest within a fest. Grand Point North features two days of music, handpicked by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, including big names such as Taj Mahal, Fitz & the Tantrums and the Wood Brothers, as well as an array of up-and-coming local talent, including Parmaga, Lendway, Maryse Smith & the Rosesmiths, Split Tongue Crow and Chamberlin, among others.
Liberate Music & Yoga Festival
Sheldon, August 18 through 21, liberatevt.com
Vermont’s original music and yoga fest, Liberate celebrates its fourth anniversary with a monstrous lineup, including Conspirator, Rubblebucket, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, Dead Sessions and a host of solid local and regional acts. Stay limber in between sets — in both body and spirit — by attending any of the 15 yoga workshops scheduled for the weekend.
Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Bright Eyes concert at Shelburne Museum was sold out. It's not. Tickets are still available at Higher Ground's website.