Pop Rocks: From Rucker to Revivalists, which music fest draws you?

A Thousand Horses will perform along with crowd-favorite Darius Rucker at Rock Fore! Dough on April 7.

There is no season quite as finite and fleeting as spring in the South. While it has only officially begun, after a few truly spectacular days and the inevitable appearance of the Golden Ticket van on Washington Road, it feels like we are already halfway to the dog days of summer.


So, as our coats have been hung, beer preferences are migrating from porter to pilsner and half the city’s dogwoods have already bloomed, it is time to make plans. It is time to organize a fair weather assault on those outdoor activities – both local and regional – properly planned for that too-small window between too cold and too hot. Here are a few favorites I plan on checking out.


ROCK FORE! DOUGH – (April 7, Lady Antebellum Pavilion) – Darius Rucker loves Augusta and, apparently, the feeling is mutual. Attendance is always higher when this rock-and-country journeyman appears at this annual benefit. He headlines again this year. And while I still find his show entertaining, I’m more eager to hear middle-of-the-lineup act A Thousand Horses.


THE MAJOR RAGER – (April 9, Augusta Common)While some felt I was unjustly critical of this event last year, the truth is I’m happy to see another big concert succeed during Masters Week and I think this one has real potential. This year’s lineup includes jam-centric acts Gov’t Mule, Lettuce and The Revivalists. Hopefully the storms that forced the event indoors last year will stay away.


SHAKY KNEES – (May 8-10. Central Park. Atlanta) – Although based in Atlanta, this festival has managed to maintain a relatively intimate vibe. While it remains to be seen whether this year’s event, which features indie rock acts such as The Strokes, Pixies, Ride and Wilco, can keep that vibe in the middle of the big city, this is a relatively new event that has shown real promise. Country fans may want to check out Shaky Boots, held the following weekend. It will feature performances by Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley and the Band Perry. Look for my interview with Shaky founder Tim Sweetwood later in April.


PAPA JOE’S BANJO-B-QUE – (May 22-23, Lady Antebellum Pavilion) – While Trampled by Turtles and Leftover Salmon may not yet be household names, among their fervent and enthusiastic fanbase, they represent live string band music at its finest. The a­bility to book demographically specific acts like this are a real reason this annual meat-and-music event remains incredibly popular. I always leave this one feeling intensely fat and happy.


BONNAROO – (June 11-14, Manchester, Tenn.) – Four days. 85,000 fans. More than 100 acts. Events don’t get much bigger than Bonnaroo. The inspiration for the now-vital American music festival industry, Bonnaroo has the unique ability to book the biggest acts – the famously festival adverse legend Billy Joel headlines a night this year – and keep sellout crowds of fest goers streaming through the gates.


So there is my spring. What does yours look like? Will you forgo the raucous rock of Shaky Knees for the more rural vibe of Blind Willie (another favorite) this year? What outdoor events – musical or otherwise – will enable you to spring forward. Let me know at uhlestide@gmail.com.

Who knows, you might even add something to my shopping list. Here’s hoping.



Pop Rocks: Augusta, my Christmas wish list has one thing

My family often accuses me of being a difficult person to Christmas shop for. While it is true that my tastes run toward the particular and tend to lean heavily on easy-to-wrap standards such as books and records, I believe that as I get older, I’m less concerned with the item than the idea. Give me something I believe you have thought about and carefully considered, and I’m happy. The present clearly purchased at the drug store the day before is met with considerably less enthusiasm.

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