They say less is more, but we believe that when it comes to music festivals, more is more. Ask anyone who’s ever been to a festival featuring more than just music – such as feature speakers, film and interactive keynotes and workshops – or up and coming festivals. Last week, we shared our Music Designer’s favorite music festivals. Now, we focus on their favorite events that venture beyond the typical weekend festival.
For Janica Chang, Eric Martinez and David Sheyda, it’s South by Southwest (SXSW). Austin is a “cool city,” David says, with “great food and a ton of new music.” Janica loves the diversity of music and venues. This set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences takes place in mid-March in Austin. Launched in 1987, the music festival saw 700 attendants – today, the music festival sees up to 28,000.
Missed out on the fun? Relive SXSW 2014 here.
Did you know? Each band covers their own travel and lodging expenses for the event. They are offered a small performance stipend – $100 for solo artists, $250 for bands – or a full-access wristband.
Mark Shapiro prefers Detroit Jazz Festival. It’s the world’s largest free jazz festival with some of the “greatest jazz musicians each year.” Held every Labor Day Weekend at Hart Plaza, it has hosted performers such as Dave Brubeck, Mulgrew Miller, Regina Carter, and Tower of Power. Aside from the greatest performers, Mark says it’s home to a “beautiful audience of jazz fans” and “wonderful jam sessions in the hotel bar after the concerts each day.”
You can see Mark’s recap of the 2014 Detroit Jazz Festival here.
Did you know? The Detroit Jazz Festival was founded by Robert McCabe in 1980 and was known as the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival until 2000. In 2005, Ford declined to continue sponsorship and its name was changed again to the Detroit International Jazz Festival. In 2006, the Charman of Mack Avenue Records founded the Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation, which took over the production, management and name.
Jose Brown is from Milwuakee, so the annual Summerfest holds plenty of memories for him. “I used to go to this with my family back in the day. Now Summerfest is one of the largest music festivals in the world,” he says.
Spanning eleven days on eleven stages each June at the Henry Maier Festival Park, this festival sees over 800 bands annually. 1968 marked the first Summerfest, held at 35 different locations throughout Milwuakee, and it was met with success. 1969’s Summerfest was less successful due to weather and debt, but by 1970, the festival found its feet with the permanent venue that hosts the festival to this day. In 2014, 840,356 people ate at 45 food and beverage stands and watched acts such as Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga perform. This year, just as many – if not more – people will sing along with acts such as The Rolling Stones, Carrie Underwood, and Pat Benatar.
Did you know? Attracting anywhere from 800,000-1,000,000 per year, Summerfest promoted itself as “The World’s Largest Music Festival.” This was proved by the Guinness World Records in 1999.
If you crave warmth and music every winter, you’re not unlike Randy Schlager, who says, “The Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival are still my favorite gatherings of electronic music sensations and up-and-comers here in America.”
In 1985, Louis Possenti and Bill Kelly – then DJs and record pool directors – came up with the idea to host a weeklong conference, during which up to 100,000 music lovers unite to listen to their favorite DJs. The first Winter Music Conference took place at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott in 1986 with only 80 people in attendance. Today, a variety of talent from over 70 countries, along with entrepreneurs and electronic companies enjoy over 500 events.
Relive 2014’s WMCwith Eric Martinez here.
Did you know? The Winter Music Conference was named as “one of the most anticipated clubbing events in the country” by The New York Times.
Not long after The Winter Music Conference debuted, the Ultra Music Festival came to life in 1999 with 10,000 attendees gathering at Bayfront Park in Miami. A one-day festival until 2006 grew to a two-day festival in 2007, and two days grew to be three in 2012. Its popularity was so impressive that in 2013, the Ultra Music Festival took place across two weekends, but returned to a one-weekend format in 2014. Despite Miami almost refusing to hold the festival in 2015, acts such as Skrillex and Diplo headlined.
Did you know? Miami isn’t Ultra’s only home. The festival also happens in cities across the world such as Ibiza, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Santiago, Cape Town, and Tokyo.
Still can’t figure out why The Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival are Randy’s favorite? Take it from him: “The Miami Beach backdrop definitely plays a role.”
Heading to the cold, Bill Spencer was blown away by a “Beatle Band” called American English at Heritage Festival in Downers Grove, Illinois. He describes their performance as being taken on a trip, “starting with the roots, changing costume to fit each era.” The band’s sound, licks, and looks were so real, that he was brought to “tears of joy.”
Did you know? Though the festival was a staple of Downers Grove for 28 years, the village chose to end the festival due to financial burden in 2010. It has since been replaced with the annual Rotary GroveFest.
Mark Shapiro isn’t the only fan of jazz – Michael Griffin’s dream is to attend the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland “one day – or six.” This unique festival is held each fortnight of July on the Lake Geneva shoreline. Although it used to be feature only jazz with performers such as Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald, it opened its doors in the 1970s to artists of every genre to wow more than 200,000 people for two weeks every July. It has since hosted acts such as Van Morrison, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, and Etta James.
Did you know? The Montreux Jazz Festival is the second largest jazz festival in the world – beaten only by the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Its original venue, the Montreux Casino, burned down in 1971 during Frank Zappa’s performance. It would later be referenced in “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple.
If you want to relive the same festivals, head over to our recap page.
– Compiled by Kylie Moore, Marketing