Trail of tunes

Music al fresco at summer fests
By CLEA SIMON  |  June 9, 2009

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Bettye LaVette plays the Museum of Fine Arts on June 24

The best summer music festivals take something from the season: the smell of the surf, the sight of the mountains, fireworks, lawn seating — or, at least, fried dough. Perhaps because of the brevity of the season here in New England, our region abounds in such festivals. Here's a smattering of regional favorites.

MASSACHUSETTS
MFA CONCERTS IN THE COURTYARD | JUNE 24 THROUGH AUGUST 26 | Boston's own Museum of Fine Arts brings the world to its lovely Calderwood Courtyard, Wednesday evenings throughout the summer. The series kicks off June 24 with soul great Bettye LaVette and closes August 26 with Cajun innovators Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, with lots of Cuban, African, and even flamenco in between.

465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts | 617.369.3306 | mfa.org

GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL | JULY 17 AND 18 | Celebrating its 23rd year, the Green River Festival will present a full range of roots music on the grounds of Greenfield Community College, with headliners ranging from the soul/R&B of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings to zydeco's CJ Chenier, folk star Chris Smither, and singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards. The festival features two stages and a wide variety of other activities, including hot-air-balloon rides.

One College Drive, Greenfield, Massachusetts | 413.773.5463 | greenriverfestival.com

LOWELL FOLK FESTIVAL | JULY 24 THROUGH 26 | Close enough to home to be taken for granted, the Lowell Folk Festival is still the largest free folk festival in the country, offering concerts on six stages throughout downtown, night-time dance concerts, and a parade to boot. Lowell always pulls a good variety of international acts under its folk banner. This year, that means that indigenous genres, such as bluegrass (Sierra Hull and Highway 111) and zydeco (Rosie Ledet), are joined by the utterly weird sounds of Tuvan throat singing (Alash) and Congolese dance music (Samba Ngo).

Various locations in Lowell, Massachusetts | 978.970.5000 | lowellfolkfestival.org

CONNECTICUT
LITCHFIELD JAZZ FESTIVAL | JULY 31 THROUGH AUGUST 2 | Now in 13th year, this festival brings performers such as singer Jane Monheit, guitarist Lionel Loueke, and traditionalists the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to the main tent on the grounds of the Kent School for a weekend of music in bucolic surroundings. Starting with an opening night "friends" gala, and continuing with daytime concerts, the festival concludes with an "after party and open jam," at the nearby Fife 'n Drum Restaurant. A student stage features the students of the Litchfield Jazz Camp, who have spent the last month practicing their art.

One Macedonia Road, Kent, Connecticut | 860.567.4162 | litchfieldjazzfest.com | after party at Fife 'n Drum, 53 North Main Street, Kent, Connecticut | 860.927.3509 | fifendrum.com

MAINE
NORTH ATLANTIC BLUES FESTIVAL | JULY 11 AND 12 | Featuring two days of all-ages blues, with the Saturday night "club crawl" for 21-plus blues fans in between, this 16-year-old festival brings artists from Bobby Rush to Super Chiken to the Public Landing, overlooking Rockland Harbor.

Public Landing, Rockland, Maine | 207.593.1189 | northatlanticbluesfestival.com

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