Firefly isn't the only festival in June. Music across the state, in Sussex, Kent and New Castle counties.
Festival season is upon us. ‘Tis the season for donning a sweat-soaked smile outdoors while consuming a palette of some of the most delicious tunes your ears can handle.
With a handful of popular fests right around the corner, including Firefly, the Saint Georges Blues Festival and The Freeman Stage Bayside (which technically isn’t a fest, but is still worth checking out) — we’ve rounded up some of the sweetest June sounds from all over the state.
New Castle County
1. St. Georges Blues Fest
WHEN June 8 and June 9
WHERE Fort DuPont State Park, 260 Old Elm Ave., Delaware City
MORE INFO bluehorizonpromotions.com or 547-0913
Some of the top blues artists from around the country have served the Saint Georges Blues Festival with finger-licking, slow-roasted performances for almost a decade.
This year’s family-friendly festival at Fort DuPont State Park in Delaware City June 8 and 9, will include savory highlights on opening day such as the female-fronted Amanda Fish Band and a headline performance by The Bobs of The Blues.
That band features Bob Margolin (former guitarist for the legendary Muddy Waters), Bob Stroger (another former guitarist for Muddy Waters) and Bob Corritore (a beast on the harmonica).
Performances to check out on day two include the Delaware favorite Nothin But Trouble, the young guitar prodigy Christone “Kingfish” Ingram from Mississippi and headliners Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials.
Gene Fontana, co-founder of the Saint Georges Blues Festival, said Lil’ Ed is “one of the hottest blues bands out of Chicago.” He also praised the killer guitarist Kingfish, an artist who’s not old enough to drink yet.
“He’s like a freight train. He doesn’t stop,” the festival co-founder said. “In his voice, it sounds like he’s a 40-year-old man. He does ‘Purple Rain’ like I’ve never heard anyone else do ‘Purple Rain.’ I’m selling a lot of tickets because of this kid.”
A harmonica workshop for kids will be presented by Seth Holzman on both days, in between sets.
Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs to better enjoy the festivities.
And contrary to popular belief, listening to the blues won’t make you feel sad, the co-founder said.
“The reason for blues music is when you are sad it’ll bring you out of the dump you’re in,” Fontana said. “The blues gets you boppin’ and moving. People think of B.B. King and how he played some slow music. But he also played some music that kept you grooving, too.”
2. Clifford Brown Jazz Festival
WHEN 5:30 p.m., June 19-June 21; 1 p.m., June 22
WHERE Rodney Square, 1000 N. Market St., Wilmington
MORE INFO cliffordbrownjazzfest.org
Jazz cats will get four days of bliss, for free, at the 31st annual Clifford Brown Jazz Festival at Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington.
The lineup is filled with over a dozen posh acts, including Jeff Bradshaw, Kendrick Scott Oracle, The Jenkins Project and more.
The festival is named after of Wilmington’s own Clifford Brown, a trumpeter whose life ended tragically in 1956.
3. Smyrna at Night
WHEN 3 to 10 p.m., Saturday
WHERE Downtown Smyrna
MORE INFO Visit Smyrna at Night on Facebook
Two dozen musical acts will storm Kent County, raining down diverse sounds in block-party fashion, at the sixth annual Smyrna at Night Saturday.
It’s town-wide, it’s free and offers live music across multiple stages, food trucks, beer garden, Kids’ Zone and more.
Headliner is the soulful Robert Randolph & The Family Band.
Other notable outfits include Smyrna outfit Country By Night, the rock-pop and soulful twins Nalani & Sarina and the indie-blues crew Hoochi Coochi, featuring Smyrna native and frontwoman Danielle “Brown Sug” Johnson.
Sug said she played Smyrna at Night in 2016 and 2017. Her band couldn’t make 2018 because it fell on drummer Chelsea Grant’s birthday.
This summer, however, the stars aligned and Sug is stoked to return. She said one thing that stood out from her 2017 performance was peering out into the crowd and noticing a pair of old faces.
“I saw the owners of the McDonald’s where I used to work at as a teen in Dover, and they didn’t even recognize me,” the 28-year-old said. “They were rocking out.”
Johnson said she had to give her former employers a little shout-out during her set.
“They were beaming,” she said. “I told them I appreciate you for giving me a job, even though I know I was pretty bad at running the drive-through.”
Named after a Muddy Waters song, Hoochi Coochi was founded in 2015 and has been making a ruckus lately.
The crew is tapped to play more fests this summer, including the Delaware Pride Festival in Dover, and they’ll headline the Shady Grove Music Fest in Arden July 14.
Sug said Smyrna at Night is nice because it’s offering much-needed entertainment for her hometown.
“I would’ve killed to have something like this when I was a kid in Smyrna,” she said.
4. Pride Festival
WHEN 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday; parade from 9 to 10 a.m.
WHERE Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover
MORE INFO delawarepride.org or 265-3020
Delaware will host its first-ever Pride Parade at Legislative Hall Saturday, as part of the Delaware Pride Festival.
Hoochi Coochi, a band that started in Dover and features the lesbian couple Sug and Grant (drums), will return by popular demand.
“Growing up, there was a type of secrecy [if you identified as LGBTQ],” the 28-year-old Sug said. “When I was younger I’d go to Rehoboth and see the rainbow flags, but I didn’t quite know what they meant. So it’s important to get this representation out there.”
WHEN June 21 to June 23
WHERE The Woodlands, 1131 N. Dupont Highway, Dover
MORE INFO fireflyfestival.com
The Woodlands will see Firefly turn eight, with over 100 artists, boasting headliners Travis Scott, Panic at the Disco and Post Malone.
The festival, held June 21-23, has also attracted the likes of Passion Pit, Tyler, The Creator and Griz.
Since this year’s fest runs to three days, unlike four in 2018, weekend warriors should feel a little less like zombies when the Monday after the festival rolls around.
6. June Jam
WHEN 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., June 15
WHERE G&R Campground, 4075 Gun and Rod Club Road, Houston
MORE INFO junejam.com
June Jam specializes in enough rock to make Gibraltar smile. The camping festival isn’t limited to that style.
Headlining the 41st festival in Houston will be AC/DC tribute band Shoot to Thrill, with all female members.
Other bright spots on the lineup are the country outfit Triple Turn (formerly Philbilly) and blues band Nothin But Trouble.
Though providing memorable music is a priority for June Jam organizers, their focus at the family-friendly festival is also on raising funds for needy people and organizations.
Current beneficiaries include Toys for Toys and Friends of Delaware Veterans, according to the festival’s website.
7. Freeman Stage
WHEN 7 p.m., Saturday (The Fab Four concert)
WHERE The Freeman Stage at Bayside, 31750 Lakeview Drive, Selbyville
MORE INFO freemanstage.org or 436-3015
With a seating capacity of 2,700, The Freeman Stage Bayside offers a mix of entertainment this summer with 60 shows.
The 11th season opens Friday with a free concert showcasing local acts. Saturday will feature Beatles band The Fab Four - The Ultimate Tribute.
Other standouts this month will include Grammy Award-winning country band The Mavericks Friday.
Also hitting the stage will be: Firefly alum American Authors with O.A.R. Saturday; the free puppet musical “Zoo In My Room” June 15; old-time Canadian banjoist Kaia Kater June 27; and a sold-out gig by blues legend Boz Scaggs June 29.
Freeman Stage spokeswoman Alyson Cunningham said they take pride in presenting an eclectic lineup each summer. Part of that involves tribute acts like The Fab Four, a band that excited revelers last year.
“They’re a fan favorite,” Cunningham said of tribute shows. “They’re nostalgic for a lot of people — whether you as a kid remember the music you grew up with or a special time in your life. That’s what makes tribute acts so special.”
The Selbyville venue’s ability to land a sold-out show with Boz Skaggs, with a month to spare before his concert, is also special.
“Boz is one of those performers that I think is probably on a lot of people’s bucket list to see live,” Cunningham said. “We’re excited to be able to offer that caliber of artist here.”
The Freeman Stage is a nonprofit and 40 percent of the programming is free, the venue’s spokeswoman said.
“Not everyone is going to be able to buy a ticket for a show, so we want to make sure everyone and anyone has access to the arts,” Cunningham said.
Other notables: a sold-out concert with Motown legend Diana Ross July 1; blues great Buddy Guy with Tom Hambridge July 15; funk masters Kool & The Gang Aug. 4; comedian Jim Gaffigan on the “Secrets and Pies” tour Aug. 23; and acclaimed rockers The Beach Boys Aug. 24.
Capping the 2019 season will be a performance by the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra Aug. 31.