Temperatures may be sluggishly rising, but music festival season is right on time.
From our base in Youngstown, there are at least a dozen major, multi-day rock and country music festivals through the end of September that are within comfortable driving distance.
Eclectic lineups are usually – but not always – part of the deal.
At Nelsonville Music Festival, for example, the acts range from folky songwriter legend Emmylou Harris to weirdo rockers Ween to soul man Wesley Bright and the Honeytones.
The jam-band scene, however, usually takes a purist stance and sticks to its own kind. At Dark Star Jubilee, for example, the lineup includes Railroad Earth, Twiddle, Tauk, Greensky Bluegrass and, of course, Dark Star Orchestra. Expect a lot of 7-minute songs.
Back to Wesley Bright and the Honeytones; this eight-piece act out of Akron will do two sets at Nelsonville, and will stand out both times.
In a case of “so old, it’s new,” Bright & Co. produce high- energy throwback soul jams with a gleaming horn section that’s music-school caliber. The songs come out like James Brown backed by a jazzy Vegas big band, with Bright as the vocal and visual focal point.
At Brite Winter Music Festival in Cleveland in February, Bright and his band put on what can best be described as a nightclub floor show at the Music Box upstairs room.
The festival closest to home is LaureLive, in Geauga County, which is without a doubt the most family-friendly rock festival you will ever find. Its solid lineup includes indie greats the Head and the Heart, bluesy Gary Clark Jr. and Michael Franti, who gave the most talked-about set at last year’s inaugural LaureLive.
In Pittsburgh, the Thrival Festival will take an even sharper turn into hipster territory with an electronic and DJ-centric lineup that also includes hometown hip-hop hero Wiz Khalifa as the headliner.
Here’s a chronological look at most of the top music festivals in the next four months in Ohio and western Pennsylvania:
Dark Star Jubilee, May 26-28, Legend Valley, Thornville, darkstarjubilee.com: Dark Star Orchestra, Greensky Bluegrass, Hot Tuna, Railroad Earth, Keller Williams, Twiddle, Tauk, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.
Nelsonville Music Festival, June 1-4, Hocking College, Nelsonville, nelsonvillefest.org: Ween, Emmylou Harris, They Might be Giants, Conor Oberst, Jenny Lewis, Cloud Nothings, Parquet Courts, Wesley Bright and the Honeytones.
Bunbury, June 2-4, Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove riverfront park, Cincinnati, bunburyfestival.com: Muse, Wiz Khalifa, G-Eazy, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, the 1975, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Death Cab for Cutie.
Buckeye Country Superfest, June 10-11, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, buckeyecountrysuperfest.com: Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban, Kip Moore, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Billy Currington.
LaureLive, June 10-11, Laurel School, Chesterland, laurelive.com: The Head and the Heart, Gary Clark Jr., Young the Giant, Needtobreathe, Michael Franti and Spearhead.
Jamboree in the Hills, July 13-16, Belmont County, jamboreeinthehills.com: Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Bellerini, the Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown and Chris Young.
Cincinnati Music Festival, July 27-29, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, cincymusicfestival.com: Usher, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Anthony Hamilton and Bell Biv DeVoe.
The Werk Out, Aug. 3-5, Legen Valley, Thornville, thewerkoutfestival.com: The Werks, Gramatik, the Floozies, Emancipator, Dopapod.
Fashion Meets Music Festival, Aug. 18-19, Fortress Field, Columbus, fmmf.us: Third Eye Blind, Tegan and Sara, St. Lucia, Michelle Branch, DNCE, Fetty Wap, T-Pain.
Breakaway Festival, Sept. 1-2, MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, breakawayfestival.com: Travis Scott, Diplo, Oliver Heldens and Lil Yachty.
Resonance, Sept. 21-23, Legend Valley, Thornville, resonancemusicfest.com: STS9, Beats Antique, Yonder Mountain String Band, Wookiefoot, Tauk, the Motet
Thrival Music Festival, Sept. 29-30, Carrie Furnaces historic site, Pittsburgh, thrivalfestival.com: Wiz Khalifa, Logic, Carnage, GRiZ, Two Door Cinema Club and Kiiara.