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Jazz News

A Brief Tour of Summer Music Festivals

The summer of 2005 may not go down in history as another Summer of Love, but Woodstock's legacy includes a summertime routine of music festivals across the country. Weekend Edition Sunday music director Ned Wharton lists some of the best bets.

Bonnaroo: Since 2002, a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn., has hosted bands that throb with extended grooves born in the music of the 1960s. The party gets under way June 10, with dozens of bands, including the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, Trey Anastasio from Phish, and relative newcomers such as the Kings of Leon.

Summerstage: The show in New York's Central Park is off and running with a truly hip lineup. Groups include Death Cab for Cutie, the Decemberists and Modest Mouse. Aside from a few benefit concerts, many of the shows are free.

River to River Festival: Also in New York, the River to River Festival runs through September, with free shows including this throwback to the Woodstock era: Arlo Guthrie, as part of the 40th Anniversary "Massacree Tour," plays his magnum opus "Alice's Restaurant." And Richard Thompson, a folk rock hero for nearly as long as Guthrie, plays later in June at the World Financial Center.

JVC Jazz Festival: This year performers have a gorgeous new venue to play in: the Rose Theater at New York's Lincoln Center. Carnegie Hall and the Beacon Theater, too. The music begins June 14 next week, and highlights include a 90th birthday celebration for guitar innovator Les Paul, and tributes to singer Rosemary Clooney and bass player Jaco Pastorius.

Monterey Jazz Festival: John Scofield pays homage to the late great Ray Charles. Mavis Staples will share the stage with Scofield — they also play together on Scofield's new CD That's What I Say. The show runs from Sept. 16-18.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival: Great music in a beautiful setting: the snow-peaked San Juan Mountains of Colorado. From June 16-19 there'll be some fine pickin' — not to mention fiddlin' and singin' — with Leo Kottke, Earl Scruggs and Alison Krauss & Union Station.

Aspen: Classical music fans have flocked here for more than half a century. The lineup features Scottish percussion superstar Evelyn Glennie, Kronos Quartet, violinist Joshua Bell and a world premier by American composer Steven Stuckey.

Ojai Music Festival: Two conductors are stepping in to sub for music director Oliver Knussen, who underwent abdominal surgery. But on the docket at the festival north of Los Angeles are world premieres by John Adams, Steve Reich and Bobby McFerrin, as well works by Lucas Foss and Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky was once a guest conductor at Ojai. Peter Serkin will perform Stravinsky's "Movements for Piano and Orchestra" this year.

Skaneateles Festival (Chamber Music by the Lake): The gathering in upstate New York hits the quarter-century mark. Violinist Hilary Hahn has attended practically every summer since she made her debut there at age 12. This year she plays music by Ravel, Sibelius and Dvorak.

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