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Best Upstate NY Summer Music Festivals, 2012

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Gas up the Car and Break out the Tents: The Music Festivals Have Arrived

Best 2012 Summer Music Festivals in Upstate NY & the Adirondacks

Mountain Jam at Hunter MountainIt’s that time of the year again. It’s time to pack up your tent (and all the other camping accoutrements you’ll most definitely need) and head out to hear your favorite bands at the numerous area music festivals in Upstate New York. This summer season is offering a bunch of exciting music festivals coming to the area, so start making your travel plans!  

Mountain Jam, an annual festival held at Hunter Mountain ski resort will run from May 31-June 3 this year. With a lineup of roughly 50 bands on four stages, you can catch great music from Steve Winwood, Gov’t Mule – who will perform a tribute to the late Levon Helm, as well as appearances by The Roots, Ben Folds Five, and Lotus among others. In addition to the music and plethora of vendors, there will be numerous art installations on display throughout the festival. Mountain Jam is limited to 15,000 fans with only 5,000 camping spots permitted. Fortunately, there are many area hotels nearby if you find yourself unable to camp.

Located at Dodd’s Farm at the foot of the Berkshires approximately one hour south of Albany in Hillsdale, NY, the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival is one of the largest, festivals in the US and takes place on July 27-29. It boasts three stages featuring dozens of acts. This year’s lineup includes Aztec Two-Step, Eclectic Dance Orchestra, Holly Near, The Grand Slambovians and many others. Performers will also give workshops on a variety of topics on the festival’s Workshop Stage. In addition, there will be a children’s area where budding musicians can play instruments as well as practice arts and crafts.

Camp Bisco is back again, as popular jam band the Disco Biscuits return once again to the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, NY from July 12-14. In addition to the Biscuits, this year’s festival will feature appearances by Bassnectar, Shpongle Presents the Masquerade, Holy Fuck and Zoogma. Be prepared to party all weekend long if you plan on attending.

The Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance is an extensive festival with a wide and diverse line up that features something for everyone. Held from July 19-22 at the fairgrounds in Trumansburg, country legend George Jones, Jill Sobule, Donna the Buffalo, and Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited are just a few of the many, many performers taking the stage this year. You can camp on site for the run of the festival, but keep in mind that it’s sold in advance and there’s tons of stuff to do for kids as well during the course of the festival.

moe.down 2011. Photo by Ben LaphamMoe.down is back again as well, running from August 10-12 at the Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, NY. The music festival held by the band moe. will feature three days and nights of music, including Umphrey’s McGee, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Aqueous and Timbre Coup, among others. A family friendly event, Moe.down has a “quiet camping” section as well as a popular children’s tent.

Now in its sixth year, the Backwoods Pondfest will take place August 17th and 18th in scenic Peru, NY. The lineup features an interesting mix of some innovative rock and jam music, featuring performances by Max Creek, Lucid, Break Science, Spiritual Rez, The Alchemystics and Capital Zen, among others. There are several different options available for camping at the Twin Ponds Campground, including within listening distance of the

In addition, there are plenty of summer long festivals featuring great music taking place throughout the Capital Region and the Adirondacks:

Albany’s annual Alive at Five summer concert festival will once again take place at the Corning Preserve at the Albany Riverfront Park, every Thursday from June 7th to August 9th. This year’s line-up will include former Traffic guitarist Dave Mason on June 7th, Bootsy Collins on June 14th, Buckwheat Zydeco with Captain Squeeze & The Zydeco Moshers on July 19, and Smash Mouth with The Dylan Emmet Band on July 26. Call 518-434-2032 for more info.

Lake George’s Free Fridays at the Lake summer music series in Shepard Park features a diverse group of performers including Max Creek on June 15th, Sirsy on July 6th, Rev Tor on August 3rd and Wild Adriatic & Closer Still on August 10. All shows are free and start at 7pm.

Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary this year at SPAC on June 30th & July 1st, with music via two stages (SPAC’s Amphitheatre & the Gazebo stage). The festival features headliners Diana Krall, Chris Botti, the Yellowjackets and the legendary funkmeister Maceo Parker, among others. In addition to the music, you can also find an arts and crafts fair, a full-service bar in the Hall of Springs, food vendors, as well as a kid’s

Forgefest returns to Old Forge on August 11th with a full day of tribute bands. This year the focus is on arena rock as Kashmir performs the music of Led Zeppelin, Canadian band Blaze of Glory pays homage to Bon Jovi, while Completely Unchained bring the sounds of Van Halen to life. This year there’s the addition of a Rock & Soul Train aboard the Adirondack Scenic Railroad that travels from Utica to Thendara which will also have live music during the course of the trip.

Upper Hudson Bluegrass FestivalIf you happen to be a fan of classical music, the Lake George Music Festival will feature free open rehearsals and public concerts at various locations in the village from August 17-23.

Running August 17-19 is the 9th annual Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival. Located at Ski Bowl Park in North Creek, the festival brings some of the best bluegrass, country and roots music to the Adirondacks. This year’s lineup includes the legendary Smokey Greene, the Atkinson Family, Cedar Ridge, Dave Nichols & Spare Change, the James King Band, and Rivergrass among others. This is a great place to camp, meet people and just hang out and listen to some damn great music.

SAW Music & Arts Fest in Salem is set for August 18th this year with four bands hailing from the Capital Region, all converging for one night of music. SAWFest features an eclectic mix of rock, electronic and indie, featuring performances by My Pet Dragon, Railbird, The Red Lions and The Black Ships. Overnight camping is available on the Salem Arts Works’ grounds.

Dave Bower is Co-Publisher of The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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