Haul out the blankets and the cooler. It’s festival season again. These musical marathons are blossoming literally from coast to coast — from MerleFest in North Carolina to the Stagecoach blowout in California.
Virtually every major country act is working the giant outdoor stages this season, including Reba McEntire, who is scheduled to make several appearances, including her first CMA Music Festival appearance in 11 years. Bon Jovi will trot out its country creds at a couple of the big events.
Among the hot newcomers festival-bound are Kellie Pickler, Danielle Peck, Jason Michael Carroll, Heartland, Sarah Buxton, Chris Young and the Wreckers. Sawyer Brown — country music’s original boy band — will be busy, too, and Alabama’s melodious front man, Randy Owen, is soloing on a few dates. Trick Pony will be trotting out its new edition as well.
In addition to the mainstream country gatherings, there will be plenty of bluegrass being played this summer. In chronological order, here are some of the biggest festivals and the acts they’ve announced so far:
Country Thunder, April 12-15, Florence, Ariz.
Trace Adkins, Jo Dee Messina, Lorrie Morgan, Chris Young, Cowboy Crush, Reba McEntire, Randy Owen, Blake Shelton, Tanya Tucker, Heartland, PovertyNeck Hillbillies, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Steve Holy, Sarah Buxton, Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar, Neal McCoy, Trick Pony.
MerleFest, April 26-29, Wilkesboro, N.C.
Doc Watson, Alison Krauss & Union Station with Tony Rice, Jim Lauderdale, Laurie Lewis, Blue Highway, Sam Bush, the Del McCoury Band, Cherryholmes, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Elvis Costello, the John Cowan Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, RobinElla, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Earl Scruggs, Pam Tillis.
Stagecoach, May 5-6, Indio, Calif.
George Strait, Alan Jackson, Sara Evans, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Jamie O’Neal, Jason Michael Carroll, Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Raul Malo, Neko Case, Robert Earl Keen, Richie Furay, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, Earl Scruggs, Nickel Creek, Yonder Mountain String Band, the Grascals, the John Cowan Band, Riders in the Sky, Red Steagall, Waddie Mitchell, Sons of the San Joaquin, Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn, Sugarland, Gary Allan, Pat Green, Jason Aldean, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Junior Brown, Drive-By Truckers, Alejandro Escovedo, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Del McCoury Band, the Flatlanders, Garrison Keillor, Baxter Black, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Don Edwards, Roger Alan Wade.
Ralph Stanley’s Memorial Weekend Bluegrass Festival, May 23-26, Smith Ridge, Va.
Barter Theatre presentation of the musical play A Man of Constant Sorrow, Porter Wagoner, Cherryholmes, Jim Lauderdale, Marty Raybon & Full Circle, Randy Waller & the Country Gentlemen, the James King Band, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys.
Country Thunder, May 24-27, Ennis, Texas
Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Phil Vassar, Reckless Kelly, Pat Green, the Randy Rogers Band, Neal McCoy, Trick Pony, Chris Young, Corb Lund, Lantana, Bomshel, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Reba McEntire, Sawyer Brown, Lorrie Morgan, Heartland, PovertyNeck Hillbillies, George Strait, Montgomery Gentry, Ronnie Milsap, the Charlie Daniels Band, Steve Holy.
CMA Music Festival, June 7-10, Nashville
Pam Tillis, Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Reba McEntire, Gretchen Wilson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Alan Jackson, Oak Ridge Boys, Josh Gracin, Trent Tomlinson, Sugarland, Emerson Drive, Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood, Big & Rich, Little Big Town, the Wreckers, Chris Young, Julie Roberts.
Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, June 9-16, Bean Blossom, Ind.
Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, the Grascals, Jim Lauderdale, Cherryholmes, Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press, J. D. Crowe & New South, Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys, IIIrd Tyme Out, the Lewis Family, Alecia Nugent, Ronnie Reno & Reno Tradition, Eddie & Martha Adcock, the Chapmans, Special Consensus, the Charlie Sizemore Band, Honi Deaton & Dream, the Larry Stephenson Band.
Bonnaroo, June 14-17, Manchester, Tenn.
(Country performers only listed) Gillian Welch, the Old Crow Medicine Show, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Dierks Bentley, Junior Brown, Charlie Louvin.
Country USA, June 20-24, Oshkosh, Wis.
Trace Adkins, Josh Gracin, Craig Morgan, Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Sawyer Brown, Danielle Peck, Dierks Bentley, Tracy Byrd, Tracy Lawrence, Trent Tomlinson, Julie Roberts, Montgomery Gentry, Joe Nichols, Darryl Worley, Emerson Drive, Alan Jackson, Little Big Town, Keith Anderson, Heartland, Trick Pony.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival, June 21-24, Telluride, Colo.
Counting Crows, Emmylou Harris, Telluride House Band , Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Darol Anger, Bryan Sutton, Chris Thile, Los Lobos, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Alison Krauss & Union Station with Tony Rice, New Orleans Social Club, Yonder Mountain String Band, the John Cowan Band, Chick Corea & Bela Fleck, the Douglas MacLean Band, Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet.
Country Jam, June 21-24, Grand Junction, Colo.
Steve Holy, John Michael Montgomery, Gary Allan, Jake Owen, Phil Vassar, Kellie Pickler, Taylor Swift, Jack Ingram, Brad Paisley, Ray Scott, John Anderson, Sarah Buxton, Terri Clark, Trace Adkins, Tracy Lawrence, Rodney Atkins, Toby Keith.
Chicago Country Music Festival, June 30-July 1, Chicago
Lineup not yet announced.
Hodag Country Festival, July 12-15, Rhinelander, Wis.
Mickey Gilley, Trent Tomlinson, Trace Adkins, Blaine Larsen, Danielle Peck, Neal McCoy, Rodney Atkins, Kellie Pickler, Montgomery Gentry, Lonestar, Bomshel, Dierks Bentley, Chris Young.
Country Thunder, July 18-22, Twin Lakes, Wis.
Reba McEntire, Trace Adkins, Steve Holy, Kellie Pickler, Corb Lund, Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Keith Anderson, Trick Pony, Chris Young, Sarah Buxton, Martina McBride, Randy Owen, Neal McCoy, Little Big Town, Bomshel, Montgomery Gentry, Larry the Cable Guy, Sawyer Brown, Lorrie Morgan, Billy Dean, PovertyNeck Hillbillies, Kenny Chesney, Sugarland, Pat Green, Heartland, Jake Owen.
Country Jam , July 19-21, Eau Claire, Wis.
Joe Diffie, Mark Chesnutt, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, Ray Scott, Aaron Tippin, Gary Allan, Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry, Sarah Buxton, Jake Owen, Randy Owen, Dierks Bentley, Bon Jovi.
Cheyenne Frontier Days, July 20-29, Cheyenne, Wyo.
Bon Jovi, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, LeAnn Rimes, Neal McCoy, Los Lonely Boys, Ronnie Milsap, Big & Rich, Cowboy Troy, Gretchen Wilson, Def Leppard.
Jamboree in the Hills, July 19-22, Morristown, Ohio
Toby Keith, the Wreckers, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Jack Ingram, Taylor Swift, Sawyer Brown, Neal McCoy, the Outlaws, the Marshall Tucker Band, the Charlie Daniels Band, .38 Special, Jason Michael Carroll, the PovertyNeck Hillbillies.
Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, July 19-22, Ancramdale, N. Y.
Dry Branch Fire Squad, Sam Bush, Nickel Creek, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Bela Fleck, Claire Lynch, Mountain Heart, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Duhks, the Greencards, Michael Cleveland & Flamemaker, the Steep Canyon Rangers.
RockyGrass, July 27-29, Lyons, Colo.
Del McCoury Band, David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet, the Greencards, Three Ring Circle, Kruger Brothers, Cadillac Sky, Long Road Home, Sam Bush Bluegrass Band, Claire Lynch Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Chris Thile & the How to Grow a Band featuring Bryan Sutton, Laura Love Bluegrass Band, Bearfoot Bluegrass, Mark Schatz & Friends, Nickel Creek, Marty Stuart & the Fabulous Superlatives, Cherryholmes, Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys, Peter Rowan, the Biscuit Burners, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
WE Fest, Aug. 2-4, Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Keith Urban, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, Trace Adkins, Sheryl Crow, John Anderson, Josh Turner, Sawyer Brown, Heartland, the Wreckers, Willie Nelson and Family.
Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival , Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Brunswick, Maine
Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Peter Rowan & Tony Rice, Sierra Hull, Randy Waller & the Country Gentlemen, Michael Cleveland & Flamemaker, the Lewis Family.