In most metropolitan areas, the music festival season starts and ends over the summer. But honestly, in South Florida, who wants to play music outdoors at 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the sweltering heat?
Winter and spring aren’t much cooler, actually, but nonetheless, they have come to represents the best season for local festivals. Here’s the scoop on four of them, which will entertain audiences from West Palm Beach to Miami and satisfy all tastes in the process.
Right now, it’s a single-day affair, but if attendance bodes well, the inaugural Sunshine Blues Festival, which hits Mizner Park Amphitheater Jan. 19 as part of a three-day Florida jaunt, may become a cherished tradition. It will be headlined by Jacksonville favorites Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Grammy-winning group spearheaded by husband-and-wife virtuosi Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. Their concerts are epic, jam-filled affairs, as evidenced by their excellent 2012 live album “Everybody’s Talkin’.” Versions of album tracks that run 10 to 12 minutes long are commonplace, as are unique covers from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Muddy Waters and Joe Cocker.
They’ll be joined by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dr. John, a septuagenarian New Orleans bluesman who has won five Grammys for his eclectic stew of blues, pop, jazz, zydeco and boogie woogie music; Walter Trout, a prolific blues guitarist formerly of Canned Heat; acclaimed slide guitarist Sonny Landreth, a regular at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival; and seven other talented groups and players. The music starts at 11 a.m. across two stages, and there will be a beer sampling and barbecue food on hand for purchase. Tickets run $49.50 through Ticketmaster.
For country music fans, the fourth annual WIRK Rib Round-Up is Palm Beach County’s answer to WKIS’ longtime Chili Cookoff. It runs all day March 9 at the Cruzan Amphitheater, headlined by Josh Turner, the bass country singer whose star has been ascending since his professional debut at the Grand Ole Opry in 2001. He has achieved four No. 1 singles and will support his fifth and latest album, 2012’s “Punching Bag.”
The lineup also includes Rodney Atkins, a singer-songwriter named the Top New Male Vocalist of 2006 at the Country Music Awards and who has enjoyed six No. 1 singles; brash young country rocker Justin Moore; and Chris Cagle, Lauren Alaina, Kip Moore, Florida Georgia Line, Greg Bates and Jon Pardi. Tickets cost $31-$36 from Ticketmaster.
An annual slice of pounding, throbbing, strobing heaven for audiences from around the world, Miami’s Ultra Music Festival has established itself as the globe’s premiere electronic music festival. Now in its 15th year and selling like hotcakes, the Bayfront Park fest will run, for the first time, across two weekends, from March 15-17 and 22-24.
Only a portion of the lineup has been announced as of now, but lovers of electronic, techno, dance and indie-rock music are already salivating over David Guetta, the house-music icon and deejay with his hands on a plethora of Top 40 singles; Swedish House Mafia, the legendary dance music trio that will play its final live shows at Ultra; Fatboy Slim, the English deejay known for his eccentric beats and music videos; Deadmau5, the Canadian progressive house-music artist known for the scary-funny mouse costumes he dons onstage; Crystal Castles, the inventive electronic duo from Ontario who achieved worldwide success with “Not in Love,” a collaboration with the Cure’s Robert Smith; plus Carl Cox, Bassnectar, Thievery Corporation, Matt & Kim, Calvin Harris, Tiesto and many other luminaries. Tickets run some $370 for three days of music, which is an astronomical price, but fans swear that you get what you pay for. Call 866/433-4594.
Ultra will compete with Jazz in the Gardens, the eighth annual jazz festival running March 16-17 at Sun Life Stadium, in what will be a noisy weekend for Miami-Dade residents. More than 45,000 turned out for the festival last year, and this year’s lineup looks just as impressive.
Continuing to expand its definition of jazz to include hip-hop and R&B artists, the festival will feature music from Babyface, a crossover musician and producer who has worked with everyone from Whitney Houston to Eric Clapton to Kanye West; Fantasia, an “American Idol” alum and eight-time Grammy nominee; Ne-Yo, one of the great R&B talents of the last decade, known for his silky-smooth vocals; Monica, a singer, actress and entrepreneur who has sold more than 10 million albums; and Earth, Wind and Fire, the classic pop group whose music bridged the gaps of soul, disco, R&B, funk, jazz and rock. Charlie Wilson, New Edition, Najee, Rachelle Ferrell and Mary Mary round out the bill. Tickets run $57 to $370, depending on how many days and the location of the seats. Call 877/640-5299.