The best spring music festivals close to home and on the road 

Home and Away

Benjamin Starr

Keely Laughlin file

Benjamin Starr

Hit The Road, Jack

Pack the car, leave your troubles behind, and head for one or some of these Southern festivals featuring some pretty jaw-dropping lineups, all just a lil road trip away.

Shaky Knees Festival

Fri. May 3-Sun. May 5
Atlanta
shakykneesfestival.com
Road trip time: 5 hours

The annual Shaky Knees returns to Atlanta's Central Park for its seventh anniversary, raring to go with another mile-long lineup of heavy hitters. This year's three-day extravaganza packs an extra awesome punch with Beck, Cage the Elephant, Tame Impala, Liz Phair, Curtis Harding, Gary Clark Jr., and tons more. Don't forget to check out the late night shows, post-fest parties at local venues featuring more intimate sets from many of the festival's acts. Oh, and the Shaky Knees app is a lifesaver when it comes to navigating and planning your shenanigans.

Savannah Music Festival

Thurs. March 28-Sat. April 13
Savannah
savannahmusicfestival.org
Road trip time: 2 hours

The Savannah Music Festival is back, going strong since 1989 as a nonprofit performing arts organization. Each year brings the best of the best, with 2019 being no exception. Highlights include Cuban sextet El Septeto Santiaguero (Latin Grammy Award winner for Best Traditional Tropical Album), Afro-Cuban jazz singer Daymé Arocena, and folk trio I'm With Her, plus Punch Brothers, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Jeff Tweedy, Robert Earl Keen, and much more.

Indie Grits Film Fest

Thurs. March 28-Sun. March 31.
Columbia
indiegrits.org
Road trip time: 2 hours

The 13th annual Indie Grits looms, with another rich, four-day film, art, and music experience across several venues in our state's capital. The fest encompasses everything from rural projects events (Spells for the Freeman opening and the Rural Project premiere) to a puppet slam to a zine fair. As for tunes, you can catch acts like Rachel Kate, She Returns from War, and DUMB Doctors (Thursday at Curiosity Bar); King Vulture and Jenny Besetzt (Friday at Richland Library); Breathers, ZenSoFly, 10th Letter, and Infinitikiss (Saturday at the Closing Night Dance Party); and lots more. Check the site for all the many deets.

Moogfest

Thurs. April 25-Sun. April 28
Durham
moogfest.com
Road trip time: 4.5 hours

For 15 years now, Moogfest has celebrated art, technology, and music, thanks to the festival's inspiration, Moog synthesizer inventor himself, Robert Arthur "Bob" Moog, the founding father of electronic music. The festival has always been successful at its mission, "to grow a global community of futurists who explore emerging sound technologies and design radical instruments for change." This event is for the coolest nerds out there: the artists, inventors, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Fittingly, the fest, which began in NYC and moved to Asheville, is now in Durham, home to North Carolina's Research Triangle and indie label Merge Records. This year's lineup of radical futurists includes A Place to Bury Strangers, Airspace with Black Box Echo, Astra Taylor, Baseck, and a very long list of others who are sure to put you in the moog.

Save the Gas $ and Go Local

Check out these seven stellar festivals happening in our very own backyard, so you can even leave the car at home and let your favorite rideshare do the drivin'.

Charleston Bluegrass Festival

Fri. March 29-Sat. March 30.
Charleston Woodlands
2479 Ashley River Road. West Ashley
awendawgreen.com

New multifaceted outdoor space Charleston Woodlands debuts with the fifth annual Charleston Bluegrass Festival. It's a fam-friendly (kids under five get free admission) camping affair, where you can wander among the trees to three different stages featuring a healthy helpin' of the kind of sounds you'd wanna hear in a forest. Headliners include Chatham County Line, Town Mountain, and Rachel Baiman, while local serenaders include Red Cedar Review, the Lowhills, Forty Mile Detour, Admiral Radio, Dallas Baker & Friends, Sally & George, and the Hungry Monks.

Trondossa Music Festival

Sat. April 27-Sun. April 28
Riverfront Park
1061 Everglades Ave. North Charleston
trondossa.com

You're likely to see Charleston crawling with Spreadheads as Widespread Panic headlines the 2019 Trondossa Festival in April. Kids six and under go free with an adult admission, so the whole family can rock out to the sounds of Panic, the Wood Brothers, Umphrey's McGee, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, the Marcus King Band, and Caroline Rose.

High Water Festival

Sat. April 13-Sun. April 14
Riverfront Park
1061 Everglades Ave. North Charleston
highwaterfest.com

Curated by Charleston's Shovels & Rope, the Lowcountry-centric High Water Festival is back for a third year, bringing a diverse lineup of top-shelf talent, with headliners Leon Bridges and the Head and the Heart, plus ShoRo, Jenny Lewis, Mitski, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Phosphorescent, the War & Treaty, and more, including Charleston's own Ranky Tanky. We love that there are never competing shows, so you can soak in every artist. Don't forget to check out all the fest has to offer, including the kickoff party a.k.a. Low Tide Social and the shaded area of the Refuge, where you can grab grub from 20 vendors, including local stars like Platia Food Truck, Roti Rolls, and Lewis Barbecue.

Charleston Songwriters Festival

Thurs. April 18-Sat. April 20
Various venues, King Street.
Downtown
charlestonsongwritersfest.com

The inaugural Charleston Songwriters Festival is unique in that it will take place across multiple King Street venues like Cocktail Club, Vintage Club, Charleston Music Hall, and more — so you can venue-hop and experience the Holy City more fully. Several dozen professional songwriters are on the agenda — look out for Will Hoge, Striking Matches, Jon McLaughlin, Jeffrey Steele (Faith Hill, Tim McGraw), Wyatt Durette (Zac Brown), and more, including local acts.

Cultura Festival

Sat. April 20
The Royal American
970 Morrison Drive.
Downtown
theroyalamerican.com

Cultura is Charleston's premiere hip-hop and R&B festival, debuting at the Royal American on 4-20. The brainchild of hip-hop artist and visionary Matt Monday, Cultura's lineup spotlights some of the most talked-about artists in town: Monday, Shaniqua McCants, Contour, Abstract That Rapper & Slim Soul, Benny Starr, Niecy Blues, Jah Jr, Anfernee, Nory, and DJ SCrib. The night will also include surprises from culture curators IllVibeTheTribe, so this is not one to sleep on. Bet: Cultura will be historical.

Friendly Neighborhood Fest

Fri. April 5- Sat. April 6
The Royal American
970 Morrison Drive. Downtown
theroyalamerican.com

The Royal American is clearly the homegrown festival hotspot, with local alternative hip-hop duo Little Stranger debuting their own two-night Friendly Neighborhood Fest the first weekend in April. In addition to sets on both nights by the guys — John Shields and Kevin Shields — themselves, you can catch local emcee Damn Skippy & DJ FL!P, Long Miles (John's old reggae band), Gorillaz tribute troupe Bananaz, and dreamy synth artist Pip the Pansy. Fun for the whole 'hood.

Dirty Southeast Fest


Sat. April 27
Redux Contemporary Art Center
1056 King St. Downtown
reduxstudios.org

PBR's Dirty Southeast Festival is back, but instead of a week-long deal at several venues, the whole fest will happen in one day on a patio behind Redux — a thing we had no idea existed so experiencing this facet of the art space is reason enough to mark thy calendars. But there are a few other reasons to go, too, namely Benny Starr, Niecy Blues, Royal Tinfoil, Drunk Couples, BKiddo, Abstract That Rapper, and Chew — and the fact that the entire event is free (you heard me). Also, the event will be one big homage to Chucktown PBR's mothership: Recovery Room, celebrating 11 years of business. The fest will erect an installation that you'll recognize as a mini Rec Room, which will, duh, double as a bar. How cool is that?


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