PREVIEW: The 25th Annual Hot August Music Festival

Words by Randy Harris

If you are not familiar with Hot August Music Festival, then I would highly recommend that you change that. Over the years, Hot August has become a staple of the Mid-Atlantic festival scene, but not in the same way that its counterparts have. While new, multiple day camping festivals seem to be popping up every other week, Hot August Music Festival has stuck to its philosophy of the single-day, family friendly environment without sacrificing the integrity of the music or the experience.

The festival takes place on August 19th in Cockeysville, MD, just north of Baltimore. Gates open at 11:00 am, and the music starts at 11:30 am sharp. A team of volunteers, most of whose tenures with the festival outlasts the existence of every major festival currently running, keep the stage production tight every single year. Local beers, food and craft vendors take over the section in between the festivals two stages at the beautiful Oregon Ridge Park, while the music from Hot August’s impeccably crafted lineups echoes throughout the grounds. The festival provides free transportation to the venue from the last light rail stop, which incidentally happens to be just outside the location of the free official afterparty.

Photo by Randy Harris

Hot August Music Festival is celebrating its 25th annual installment in 2017, and they have brought us some incredible surprises in the lineup and beyond. For starters, Old Crow Medicine Show will be headlining on the day’s festivities. The last time they headlined Hot August, the festival sold out. Pennsylvania’s bluegrass sensation, Cabinet, returns to Hot August for their fourth year in a row, after they famously overcame an unexpected loss of power last year by heading into the crowd, performing acoustically amid a massive circle of their devoted East Coast fan base. The Infamous Stringdusters round out the bluegrass portion of the lineup, and funk sensations Lettuce and Turkuaz will be keeping us on our feet.

The Dustbowl Revival may be a fairly new name to the East Coast, but I can tell you from personal experience that they are an absolute crowd-pleaser. The L.A.-based Americana outfit stole the show at this year’s Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival, and I cannot wait to see them again at Hot August. One of the Baltimore jam scene’s absolute favorites, ELM (Electric Love Machine), will return this year, taking on the main stage, and another local favorite, Squaring The Circle, will be making their Hot August debut. Both of these bands are must-sees and are beyond worth making the trip out to the grounds early. Squaring The Circle will also be hosting the free official Hot August Must Festival Afterparty at The Green Turtle – Hunt Valley. Baskery is a new one on my book, but what would a festival be without finding new music?

Finally, the 25th Hot August Music Festival will feature a special treat. The festival started out as Hot August Blues and featured only blues artists at festival founder Brad Selko’s farm in Monkton, MD. In 2017, we will see the return of three blues artists who performed at the very first Hot August Blues festival: John Mooney & Bluesiana, Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials and Memphis Gold.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Here’s what I had to say about last year’s Hot August Music Festival in a portion of my review:

…what I will remember most about Hot August Music Festival is the atmosphere. Having now completed its 24th annual installment, Hot August Music Festival has developed an extremely devoted audience. Even many of their volunteers and workers have been on staff every year since its humble beginnings. Hot August manages to provide the music we all love, while still keeping a family friendly atmosphere, and that is exactly why it has stood the test of time. While there are undoubtedly perks to the full weekend camping festivals that force its attendees to be completely entrenched in the festival experience, there is a certain level of maturity and professionalism in a festival that strives to make its event a comfortable and enjoyable experience for patrons of all ages. Hot August Music Festival has definitely reached this achievement, and, perhaps most importantly, they have not allowed this process to affect their reputation for booking some of the most premier live bands on the scene.

In short, the 25th annual Hot August Music Festival is set to be one for the books. It is one of the most affordable music festivals on the east coast, providing the absolute most bang for your buck, from lineup to experience and beyond. Let us show you how we do it in Charm City and let’s get ready to rage at Hot August Music Festival on August 19, 2017.

Ticket price increases go up this Friday, August 11th so don’t sleep on getting your tickets! They are available for purchase here.

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