LaureLive, Nelsonville rock fests standing tall


Incuya Music Festival is gone after one year.

Jamboree in the Hills is on hiatus.

And Woodstock 50 is gone before it even started.

But despite these setbacks, summer music festival fans in the region will be just fine.

Incuya premiered last August in downtown Cleveland, with high hopes and a lineup that included the Avett Brothers, Cake, SZA and New Order. It seemed like they did everything right, but attendance did not live up to expectations.

As for Woodstock 50, the festival that was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark event stumbled over its own mass and was canceled. It was to take place Aug. 16-18 at Watkins Glen, N.Y., with a lineup that included Jay-Z, the Killers, Imagine Dragons, Halsey, Robert Plant, The Raconteurs, Cage the Elephant, Janelle Monae, Miley Cyrus and a ton more.

Even Country Joe McDonald was going to be there.

The first Woodstock was all about peace, love and music. This aborted one has devolved into a scrum of lawsuits and finger-pointing.

At least they canceled it before it turned into another Fyre Fest fiasco.

So what’s left? Plenty.

LaureLive is still standing, maybe stronger than ever.

Now in its fourth year, the two-day festival at the Laurel School grounds in nearby Geauga County has been a success since day one and is now entrenched.

This year’s event will be June 6-8, with headliners Hozier and Sheryl Crow, plus Dirty Heads, Moon Taxi, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Lake Street Dive.

The Elevation Group, which puts on LaureLive, is brimming with so much confidence that it started a second music festival this year. Wonderbus will be Aug. 17-18 in Columbus, with Walk the Moon, Ben Harper and The Revivalists.

To the east of Youngstown, Resonance Music Festival has moved from Legend Valley in southern Ohio to Coopers Lake campground near Slippery Rock, Pa. It’s a campout jamfest that will feature Papadosio, Tycho, Tipper X2 and Black Moth Super Rainbow.

Resonance, by the way, is on the same site as last year’s one-and-done Lion Heart festival.

Another significant change this year is that Nelsonville Music Festival – my favorite – moved its dates back a week.

It had been taking place the weekend after Memorial Day, but this year it will be June 6-9. That puts it in direct conflict with LaureLive, which is the same weekend.

That is a shame. There aren’t that many rock festivals in Ohio, so there definitely doesn’t need to be two on the same weekend.

Nelsonville Music Festival is the grandaddy of Buckeye State rock festivals.

Now in its 15th year, NMF – which is on a bucolic community college campus in the Athens County town that bears its name – always has a great lineup from top to bottom. This year’s headliners are Death Cab for Cutie, the Breeders, Tyler Childers and Mavis Staples.

The 79-year-old Staples (“I’ll Take You There”) still brims with youthful enthusiasm. The leader of the Staples Singers back in the day seems to be back in the spotlight this summer and is appearing on a number of festival lineups.

Here is a sampling of rock and country music festivals in Ohio and elsewhere – all within a day’s drive of Youngstown – that stand out to me.

Sonic Temple, May 17-19, MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. Yes, it’s this weekend. Formerly known as Rock on the Range, this is a premiere hard-rock festival featuring Foo Fighters, a rare appearance by System of a Down and Disturbed.

Hookahville, May 17-18, Newark, Ohio: Smallish but long-lived camping festival with Freekbase, Glostik Willy, and of course, ekoostik hookah.

Dark Star Jubilee, May 24-26, Legend Valley, Thornville, Ohio: Jam-band fiesta with Dark Star Orchestra, Marcus King Band, Leftover Salmon and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

Bunbury, May 31-June 2, Cincinnati: This successful, and large fest in Cincy’s riverfront park always has a sharp and shiny lineup. This year, Bunbury has Fall Out Boy, Greta Van Fleet, the 1975, Girl Talk and Run the Jewels.

Camp Anarchy, May 31-June 2, Legend Valley, Thornville: If there is such a thing as classic punk rock, here’s where you will find it. Rancid, The Offspring, NOFX and Bad Religion are the headliners.

Blame It On My Roots, July 18-20, Belmont, Ohio: With Jamboree in the Hills taking a year off so its owners can mull its future, a substitute will fill the void with a lineup that includes Trace Adkins, Joe Diffie and Tyler Farr.

Firefly, June 21-23, Dover, Del.: Like Chicago’s Lollapalooza, this mega-fest is all things to all people in terms of music, but it’s in a rural setting and has tons of people camping on the site. Headliners: Travis Scott, Post Malone, Vampire Weekend, Death Cab.

Great Blue Heron, July 5-7, Sherman, N.Y.: Small festival maybe a half-hour east of Erie, Pa., with The Wailers, Donna the Buffalo and 10,000 Maniacs.

Country Concert, July 11-13, Fort Loramie, Ohio: A really big country concert with Kid Rock, Kip Moore, Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett and Dustin Lynch.

Pitchfork, July 19-21, Chicago: This one knows how to pick ’em; HAIM, Kurt Vile, Snail Mail, Parquet Courts.

The Peach, July 25-28, Scranton, Pa.: Deadheads will love this festival, with Trey Anastasio, Phil Lesh and Friends, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and the String Cheese Incident.

WYEP Summer Music Fest, June 29, Pittsburgh: It’s just one day but it has an intriguing lineup featuring Devotchka and Cautious Clay.

Forecastle, July 12-14, Louisville, Ky.: The Killers, The Avetts, Anderson Paak and Tyler Childers along the Ohio River.

Flood City Music Festival, Aug. 1-2, Johnstown, Pa.: Americana festival with headliners the Gin Blossoms and Cowboy Mouth.

Country Jam, Aug. 16-17, Legend Valley: Old Dominion and Jason Aldean will be there.

Bellwether, Aug. 23-24, Waynesville, Ohio: In its second year, this small indie-flavored festival near Dayton features Beach House, Cake and Guided by Voices.

Breakaway, Aug. 23-24, Columbus: Rap and jam-funk flavored with Bassnectar, Future and Young Thug.

Bourbon and Beyond, Sept. 20-22, Louisville, Ky.: With a massive lineup full of classics, this is one of the best festivals in the country. Headliners: the Foo Fighters, John Fogerty, Robert Plant, Hall and Oates, Zac Brown Band, ZZ Top, Flaming Lips, Trey Anastasio.

Sea Hear Now, Sept. 21-22, Asbury Park, N.J.: This beachfront festival was such a hit in its freshman outing in 2018, that it sold out five months in advance this year. The lineup includes Dave Matthews Band, the Lumineers, Dropkick Murphys and the B-52s.

Lost Lands, Sept. 27-29, Legend Valley: Electrifying lineup features Excision, Zeds Dead and Flosstradamus.

Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator. Follow him on Twitter at @VindyVibe.

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