Electric Forest and Music Nights in the Great Lakes USA

STORY BY Emmanuelle 23rd November 2018

The Great Lakes USA region, consisting of Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana, is a cultural haven for music lovers from Folk and Blues to Dance and Jam, no one gets left out whatever their taste in music. In 2019 there is a full calendar of musical events; here are some of the highlights:


Folk music doesn’t come better packaged than the Ann Arbor Folk Festival, the event, established in 1977, continues to attract serious headline acts, which this year includes the Grammy nominated Brandi Carlile. The annual fundraiser on behalf of The Ark returns to Hill Auditorium on January 25th and 26th for two nights of dynamic folk music in a stunning setting.

House, Jam, Dance and Electro in an amazing forest setting? The incredible Electric Forest Festival held over 2 weeks is centered on the 2 weekends of June 20th – 23rd and 27th – 30th. It will be an experience that you will never forget. Also known as the Rothbury Festival, this is an amazing feast for the senses; sets featured on several sound stages throughout the forest will blur day into night, and the party continues until sunset becomes dawn.

Jazz lovers, keep an eye open for the Detroit Jazz Festival, the lineup is yet to be announced but previous headliners such as Chick Corea and 3 times Grammy winner Terri Lyne Carrington, suggest this is a major festival for those who have Jazz in their soul; August to September 2019.


Fancy a free Jazz weekend? How about Jazz under the Dome? Swing and sway to classic, hot, cool, swing, bebop or hard bop; this roster of great jazz artists will entertain and impress. From check-in on Friday to check-out on Sunday, the best regional musicians will take to the stage for 20 hours of live jazz in the elegant grandeur of West Baden Springs Hotel’s atrium. This weekend-long event is free and open to the public; March 15th to 17th 2019 West Baden Springs Hotel.


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has a full programme of world classical and contemporary music throughout 2019. This orchestra, founded in 1895, is the sixth oldest orchestra in the United States and represents the evolution of 200 years of musical tradition in the Queen City. The hard working and talented group of musicians’ interpretation of the classical cannon, is second to none, while the effective crossover into popular music and film scores has established them as firm favorites with serious music fans.


Bob Dylan fans will know that the artist was born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1941. The City celebrates his music and work every year with the Duluth Dylan Fest. The artist was born on May 24 and the yearly festival spans this date over 9 days; 2019 looks like being the best yet; and the festival of music poetry and associated artistic performances are currently being finalised. Those making the pilgrimage will also want to consider the Homegrown Music Festival that takes place late April to early May. With up to 200 high quality acts, locally sourced; performing on 30 different stages, this is a massive music party. This 8 day extravaganza is the perfect curtain raiser for what will be a perfect summer in a fantastic setting for lovers of great music.


For Blues fans, Chicago is the iconic destination, with a vibrant music scene that is peppered with small intimate clubs, restaurants and bars offering jazz and blues; it is a music lover’s paradise.

Visit B.L.U.E.S. Bar in Lincoln Park for local atmosphere and national touring bands, or Buddy Guy’s Legends on South Loop for New Orleans style acts and memorabilia. If you fancy Sunday brunch with Gospel Music, try House of Blues Chicago on River North. Good food and great music is on offer at Kingston Mines, Lincoln Park, where they have live bands nightly and a superb Barbecue menu, or try Rosa’s Lounge, known as Chicago’s Friendliest Blues Lounge; it offers traditional and modern blues served along with an outstanding drinks menu.

Festivals your thing? Then keep an eye open for the annual Chicago Blues festival held around June 2019 in Millenium Park. “Sweet Home Chicago” was a beacon to blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta, who helped make it one of the biggest spots in the country for urban blues music. The Chicago Blues Festival welcomes music fans with lakeside lounging for three days of free outdoor concerts in early summer. The lineup is always outstanding and, with the city as the backdrop, no music fan can afford to miss this experience of a lifetime.


Country Fest in Cadott is the largest 3-day Country Music & Camping Event in the US and takes place 27-29 June 2019. Legendary names in Country Music have graced this sacred Main Stage, including: Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, & Waylon Jennings.

The Big Bull Falls Blues Fest in August is Wisconsin’s LONGEST running Blues Festival featuring fantastic regional and national acts. Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Indigenous, Joe Bonamassa, Tommy Castro and E.C. Scott have all played there. Besides the amazing music, nothing beats the venue. Located on Fern Island, you cross a footbridge to the event grounds and the coveted VIP section.

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