Roadside Americana: Iowa – Massachusetts

50 States IA-MA


The Iowa Women’s Music Festival in Iowa City has showcased talented female performers annually for 20 years, with no shortage of great acoustic acts. Suzanne Vega, Milk & Eggs, and Jillian Noah are among the gifted performers who have graced the stage. The festival is scheduled for September 27–28 right around harvest time.

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One Acoustic Guitar editor asked a Nebraska musician to name the must-see event in the Cornhusker State. His answer? The legendary Walnut Valley Festival National Flatpicking Championships in Winfield. This must-attend Kansas event is a sure bet for any fan of bluegrass and traditional music, no matter where you’re from. It’s held annually on the third weekend of September, this year September 17–21.


Meanwhile, in the Bluegrass State . . . Lexington hosts the Festival of the Bluegrass every year during the second weekend of June (that’s June 12–15 this year). In addition to showcasing solid bluegrass acts and celebrating Appalachian culture and heritage, the fest also provides a music camp for bluegrass players between the ages of six and 18. Music, laughter, campfires, good times.


Let the good times roll. The annual Le Cajun Music Awards and Festival, founded in 1984 in Lafayette—in the heart of Cajun country—combines food, music, dancing, and a Grammy Awards–style ceremony. The August fest kicks off on the banks of Bayou Vermilion, a Cajun and Creole Folklife and Heritage Park, before moving to Blackham Coliseum (for, among other reasons, its “powerfulair-conditioning system”). Past performers have included Paul Daigle & Cajun Gold, Don Fontenot & Les Amis de La Louisiane, Walter Mouton and the Scott Playboys, and Wayne Toups and Friends, among others. The festival is sponsored by the nonprofit Cajun French Music Association and is dedicated to promoting Cajun music, language, and culture. If you’re looking for something spicier, check out the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival in June.


Fans of Celtic music should check out the Saltwater Celtic Music Festival, held annually in July at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick. This festival hosts Celtic bands in all their forms, including Enter the Haggis, Screaming Orphans, the Paul McKenna Band, and more. Did someone say clambake?


AG Facebook friend Mike Fekula nominated the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society’s concert series. So far this season, the nonprofit organization has hosted Göran Söllscher and Xuefei Yang; look for Pepe Romero (2/22) and Aniello Desiderio (4/26). The society also hosts free and low-cost master classes.


Decidedly more sophisticated than a clambake, the New England Guitar Ensembles Festival, is a Boston Classical Guitar Society event scheduled for April 26. Each year a featured artist is chosen to headline the festival, with Roland Dyens slated to head this year’s bill. Workshops, concerts, and recitals are included in the program.

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