Photo: Roger Gupta
The Blue Ridge boasts a full calendar of fests through the fall.
Beale Street Music Festival April 29-May 1 — Memphis, Tenn. This must-do fest in Memphis features 60 acts on 4 stages in scenic Tom Lee Park where Beale Street meets the Mississippi. Line-up this year includes John Mellencamp, MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, the Avett Brothers, and Mumford & Sons.
Shenandoah Riverside Festival May 6-8 — Strasburg, Va. Join this three-day jam on the banks of the Shenandoah with a range of roots music from bluegrass to reggae to experimental rock.
Cheat River Festival May 7 — Albright, W.Va. This low-key fest with some paddling fun and local string bands helps protect one of the Mountain State’s favorite rivers.
Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival May 7 — Charlotte, N.C. Three of God’s greatest inventions come together at Symphony Park. Additional versions of this fest take place in Richmond, Va., on June 4 and National Harbor, Md., on June 17 and 18.
White County Cork and Keg Festival May 14 — Helen, Ga. Drink regional beer and wine while hearing tasty tunes from Georgia Godfather of Jam, Col. Bruce Hampton.
Trail Days May 14-16 — Damascus, Va. The mother of all hiking gatherings wakes up the sleepy town of Damascus for a long weekend of Appalachian Trail celebration. Thru-hikers reunite to trade trail stories, march in a parade, soak each other with water guns, check out a variety of gear booths, and sip a little moonshine.
Xtremefest of the Blue Ridge May 14 — Waynesboro, Va. This one-day festival celebrates all things mountain sports, including climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking.
New River Rendezvous May 20-22 — Fayetteville, W.Va. Come out for crazy climbing comps and campsite revelry in the Gorge. The most interesting thing on the schedule this year is the “Mountain Khakis presents: Pants to Panties, Drop Your Drawers and Win” event.
Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival May 21 — Thomson, Ga. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue headline this annual festival that commemorates Georgia blues legend Blind Willie McTell.
Dr. Ralph Stanley’s 41st Annual Memorial Weekend Bluegrass Festival May 26-28 — Coeburn, Va. The Good Doctor is well into his 80s, and he’s still touring like a spry youngster. He also hosts this traditional bash at his old home place. This year features help from Dailey & Vincent, Blue Highway, Larry Sparks, and the Lonesome River Band.
Abbey Road on the River 2011 May 26-30 — Louisville, Ky. If you love the Fab Four, get to Louisville for what brands itself as the world’s largest Beatles-inspired music festival. Another version takes place in Washington, D.C., on September 1-5.
Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Bluegrass Festival May 27-28 — North Augusta, S.C. Dig into a plate of the South’s finest BBQ and dig the sounds of Doc Watson, Old Crow Medicine Show, Chatham County Line, Frontier Ruckus, and Charlie Parr.
Rooster Walk May 27-28 — Martinsville, Va. This annual event at the idyllic Blue Mountain Festival Grounds remembers two fallen friends with a big weekend of regional roots music including Folk Soul Revival, The Mantras, Big Fat Gap, and many more.
White Squirrel Festival May 29-30 — Brevard, N.C. Brevard pays tribute to its favorite neighbor with a street festival that includes White Squirrel walking tours, a box car derby, craft and food vendors, and a solid line-up of live music.