As we reach the end of 2016, we wanted to look back at some of this year’s highlights in music. Though the year was marked by the deaths of many famous musicians, there was much to celebrate in the world of music, and what better place to celebrate music than at a festival. So many great festivals continue to flourish in 2016, as each event finds its own creative niche within the vibrant community of fans. With that in mind, we wanted to look back at some highlights from festivals throughout the year of 2016. Enjoy!

1. Jam Cruise: January 20-25


As usual, the festival season launched with Jam Cruise, the annual gathering of music fans and stalwarts of the jazz and funk scene for five wild days at sea. With the spirit of New Orleans during Jazz Fest thanks to artists like Dr. John, Trombone Shorty and Galactic with jam stalwarts like Lotus, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Keller Williams the music was top notch as always. What truly separates Jam Cruise from any other experience is the fellowship that is born from the sharing of the adventure among friends and musicians alike.

One of the best sets of the weekend was from Joe Russo and the Almost Dead crew. As we prepare for Russo to return on Jam Cruise with the old Benevento Russo Duo in 2017, we wanted to look back at their great “Help on the Way > Slipknot! > The Wheel” from 2016.

2. Fool’s Paradise: April 1 – 2


After years of building a rock solid reputation as America’s premiere funk band, Lettuce earned a true honor, the chance to host their own festival, Fool’s Paradise!  Inviting friends like GRiZ, Vulfpeck, Chris Robinson and more the band gave the nation a wonderful reason to flock to St. Augustine, Florida for a weekend of fun in the sun. With special band excursions around the city and jam packed days of incredible jams all who made the journey for the inaugural, sun drenched spring fling happy with their decision and ready for more.

One of the highlights of the festival was the first-ever collaborative set with Lettuce and GRiZ. Watch the video, below.

3. Wanee Festival: April 14-16


This year’s Wanee Festival was chock full of familiar faces and unique collaborations. The 2016 event sported a fun lineup that featured Allman Brothers alum Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes/Gov’t Mule, Les Brers, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band alongside jam scene staples like Widespread Panic, Billy & The Kids and more. With so many rock and roll superstars, it’s no surprise that the collaborations were bountiful throughout the weekend, as guitarists like Haynes and Eric Krasno joined Billy & The Kids, and Haynes also played with Les Brers for a mini-Allman Brothers reunion.

In that spirit, watch Warren Haynes, Oteil Burbridge, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Marc Quinones, Jack Pearson and more perform “Same Thing” from the 2016 Wanee Festival.

4. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival April 15-17, 22-24


While making fun of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival is a source of easy comedy for late show hosts and music critics alike. the impact the festival has on the nation’s culture is truly powerful. The mainstream leaning event brings in fans from all corners of the world expecting to see something glorious, and from AC/DC‘s Angus Young sitting in with a reformed Guns N’ Roses to Bernie Sanders introducing Run The Jewels, they got that and more. With music ranging from Ice Cube to Sufjan Stevens, there was something for everyone at a festival that also offered all those in attendance an amazing opportunity to expand their musical horizons.

5. New Orleans Jazz Fest: April 22-24, April 28-May 1


Since 1970, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has set the gold standard for what a city-based festival can mean to a populace. Over the course of back to back weekends, some of the world’s biggest acts come to a city that is known far and wide as a mecca for music. Though the weather might have wreaked havoc with some of the scheduled acts, artists like Stevie Wonder managed to find a way to get their musical message to the people. So much more than just jazz in 2016, acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Van Morrison and Snoop Dogg shared the stage with local legends like Trombone Shorty, Aaron Neville and Galactic for a parade of stars that filled the nearly dozen stages.

Jazz Fest serves as an ambassador event for the culture of the city of New Orleans as well as a destination musical event. The populace is so dedicated to letting the good times roll that the influx of a hundred thousand some odd revelers only serves as reinforcements for the never ending party. One of the biggest moments of the 2016 was when the Chili Peppers brought out NOLA legends George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste, and Ivan Neville for a funky take on “Give It Away”. Check it out below.

6. NOLA Crawfish Festival: April 25-27


With two straight weekends of craziness during Jazz Fest insanity most cities would look to the “Daze Between” as a welcome opportunity to rest and recover. New Orleans isn’t most cities though, and Shaggy, The Crawfish King himself decided to do something about the lack of music. He helped found the NOLA Crawfish Festival to fill the gap with his friends Anders Osborne, George Porter Jr. and Papa Mali alongside the Honey Island Swamp Band, Neville-Jacobs and more for a feast for all the senses. Since it has already been announced as returning in 2017 it looks like once again fearful New Orleans residents and visitors alike won’t have to worry about missing any chances to get funky.

One of the festival’s best sets was the Crawfish All-Stars, featuring George Porter, Jr., Terrence Higgins, Billy Iuso, Dave Malone and Anders Osborne. Watch them take on “Papaya,” below.

7. Domefest: May 19-21


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong have quickly garnered a rabid fan base and to help thank their followers they brought touring partners and friends from the scene like Consider the Source, The Mantras, McLovins, The Hornitz, BIG Something and Aqueous for a wet and wild weekend of tunes and fun. While the weekend might have been a little water logged, that didn’t stop PPPP from delivering three straight days of headlining fire that had fans defying the elements and dancing in the rain until the break of dawn!

Check out their medley featuring “Whoopie,” “1999,” “2001” and more from Domefest, below!

8. Summer Camp Music Festival: May 26-29


For the 15th iteration of the Summer Camp Music Festival, promoters Jay & Ian Goldberg wisely decided to follow the successful formula that got them this far: plenty of moe. and Umphrey’s McGee. The beautiful weather helped bring out a massive crowd of thrill seeking music fans who were ready to embrace the sun after a particularly cold winter. Lucky for them, the heat was way up all weekend long thanks to incredible performances from headliners like Tom Petty with his band Mudcrutch, STS9, The Roots, Thievery Corporation and Emancipator. Summer Camp regulars Keller Williams, Yonder Mountain String Band, Chicago Farmer and The Family Groove Company were on hand too, to help keep the continuity from years past.

The late night shows held in the Red Barn steamed up the night and hosted one of the most impressive Everyone Orchestra shows to date. Umphrey’s delivered a packed weekend of reworked tunes and whip sharp jams while moe. debuted a quadraphonic surround sound system with a host of classic covers that included hits from the Who, Pink Floyd and the Talking Heads. Fans who have come to love their yearly trip to 3 Sisters Park were pleased to hear recently that the fest will be returning next year for what is sure to be another epic chapter in the nearly two decade long history of Summer Camp.

Watch moe. start their Saturday night second set off right with a three song jam featuring Pink Floyd‘s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” their own dark classic “Opium” and their take on Talking Heads fave “Making Flippy Floppy” with special guest Kyle Hollingsworth from String Cheese below:

9. Mountain Jam Festival: June 2-5

Twenty-five years ago festival organizers brought in Warren Haynes to help them honor the 25th anniversary of Woodstock Radio with a day long concert called Mountain Jam. In the years since, Haynes has kept the party going, and this time around he got help from rock legends Steve Miller, Peter Frampton and Tom Petty, as well as a diverse group of acts like Beck, Wilco and Umphrey’s McGee.

Sadly, storms cancelled the last few bands on Sunday and Gary Clark Jr. was forced to bow out at the last moment. His set was covered, to delight of everyone, was taken by a incredible solo set by the living spirit of the festival, Haynes himself. Check out some of the much anticipated headlining set from Haynes and company, Gov’t Mule, below.

Gov’t Mule – “Hunger Strike>Dear Mr. Fantasy”

10. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival: June 8-11


No festival has evolved more significantly over its lifespan than Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. While some lament the loss of the jam band spirit that served as the foundation, there is no denying that it now serves as a complete cross section of nearly every musical genre, over the course of a single four day weekend. You can travel the music scene as you wander the grounds, with two gigantic stages showcasing the biggest bands in the land like Pearl Jam and LCD Soundsystem, genre favorites like Con Brio, Jason Isbell and Papadosio, as well as epic super jams led by the likes of Kamasi Washington and Ed Helms.

Though storms briefly silenced the stages the interruption was brief and, in one case, gave the audience at the Claypool Lennon Delirium show a chance to truly prepare for one of the best sets of the year. While the sprawling size and epic crowds can make Bonnaroo a challenge for even the hardiest of festival goers, the fun is well worth it. No other festival boasts the sheer variety of experiences, from high tech virtual reality simulators to the simple act of laughter in the comedy tent ‘Roo had all the bases covered.

Check out a full video of headliner Dead & Company’s performance, which even featured a surprise sit-in from Donna Jean Godchaux, below.

11. Disc Jam Music Festival: June 9-12

This year’s Disc Jam Music Festival brought so many delicious musical acts to Stephentown, NY, including artists like Dopapod, Electron, Kung Fu, TAUK, Pink Talking Fish, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Nth Power, Consider The Source and so many more. Nestled in a picturesque setting, the festival not only brought their annual disc golf tournament, but treated fans to a weekend-long celebration of music and life.

Of the many performances, Dopapod’s “Orchestra” set stands out as one of the finest. The band recruited the West End Blend horns and more, building an incredible ensemble for fresh takes on their original music. Watch pro-shot footage of “Nerds” from that set, as captured by MKDevo, below.

12. Electric Forest: June 23-26


Electric Forest continues to grow each and every year, earning an incredible reputation for its stunning visual displays and outstanding lineups. This year was no exception, as the festival offered a way array of live and electronic artists including host band The String Cheese Incident and the festival’s resident DJ, Bassnectar. So many people wanted to go to EF2016 that the festival actually decided to expand to two weekends in 2017, so get ready for double the party.

The 2016 event brought three shows from host band The String Cheese Incident, who spent time paying tribute to the late David Bowie and Prince during their Saturday night performance. Watch how it all went down below.

13. High Sierra Music Festival: June 30-July 3


Northern Californian music fans never miss the annual High Sierra Music Festival, which returned for the 26th year running. Bands like Tedeschi Trucks Band, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, and Thievery Corporation highlighted this live music friendly event, which drew in fans from across the country for the one-of-a-kind event. Lettuce brought the funk, Chris Robinson Brotherhood brought the soul, and Greensky Bluegrass brought some finger-licking picking for the fine folks in attendance.

One of the highlights was surely Tedeschi Trucks’ headlining set, as the ensemble delivered their unforgettable, soul-stirring sound for those assembled. Check out their performance of “Let’s Go Get Stoned” here.

14. Camp Bisco: July 14-16


Die hard fans are still talking about the sets of pure fire that The Disco Biscuits laid down over the course of the four day jamtronica and DJ heavy Camp Bisco featured this year. Lotus, Big GRiZMATIK (Big Gigantic, GRiZ, and Gramatik) set, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Odesza, STS9 and lots more performed throughout the weekend. Though everyone on the bill turned in rock solid performances ,clearly the Biscuits were aware that the main responsibility for the weekend’s success was squarely on their shoulders.

With inversions, deep dives into their catalog and their well known willingness to take chances, the Disco Biscuits showed the poise and preparedness that has marked their career. Once again they faced the challenge of hosting thousands of loyal fans with a hunger and willingness to swing for the fences that paid off with a truly incredible weekend. Check out the Biscuits  kick off set that clearly paid off the promise of the fun to come below.

The Disco Biscuits Set 1

15. Northwest String Summit: July 14-17

nwssyondercoverimageOregon’s beloved nature preserve Horning’s Hideout hosts a only one or two events a year, and the Northwest String Summit is Yonder Mountain String Band‘s annual visit to the picturesque setting. The members of Yonder took their hosting duties seriously, leading workshops, sitting in with their guests and even forming all girl super groups like the aptly named Sideboob! Getting help from friends like Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller Williams, The Steep Canyon Rangers and more, the beloved concert bowl was packed with a sea of shining, happy faces.

Since Horning’s rests so close to the city of Portland the area’s finest, including Fruition and the Shook Twins were sure to be on hand to nail wonderful sets. The MarchFourth! marching band led a wild parade through the tree lined environs to the delight of those who joined in and the grinning audience cheering them on. Yonder also put on a full Pink Floyd tribute set, and you can watch their take on “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” below.

16. The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival: August 4-6


Once again Thornville, Ohio played host to native sons The Werks‘ three day weekend of hot days and even hotter music. With huge acts like STS9 and Lettuce adding major star power, and contemporaries like Dopapod, The Motet, and Twiddle and more filling out the undercard, the festival was a well balanced diet of big jams, funky solos and smiling faces. In addition to delivering a series of blistering sets that showed them truly deserving of their own showcase festival, The Werks also showed off their sense of humor and sharing. They joined forces with Twiddle and Dopapod to form the Voltron-like “Twerkapod” for a jam band salute to the nineties, which had listeners marveling at the re-invention of seminal classics from their younger days. With the announcement of a winter off-shoot it looks like next year is truly going to be a year to Werk things out!

Of course, 2016 wasn’t an easy year for The Werks with the passing of Norman Dimitrouleas, a founding member and brother of current bassist, Dino Dimitrouleas. In Norman’s memory, The Werks led an emotional “Carry Me Back Home” near the conclusion of the event. Watch the heartfelt video, below.

17. Outside Lands Music Festival: August 5-7


San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park hosts a pair of the largest musical gatherings in the nation, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and the beloved Outside Lands Music Festival. By booking one of the worlds biggest bands, Radiohead, to top their bill, it was clear that Outside Lands was set on establishing themselves as the premier genre spanning festival in the nation. Though the park itself was unseasonably chilly, the music from the far flung stages was hot! Past superstars Lionel Richie and Duran Duran rubbed elbows with the hottest acts in the world right now, like Lana Del Rey and J.Cole.

There was something for everyone over the course of the weekend, but one of the biggest performances of the weekend came from a band that was not only heart felt but actually MADE of felt, Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem! With a willingness to not only book the biggest names but to think beyond the borders of the box, Outside Lands once again proved while so many music fans over the years have left their hearts in San Francisco.

18. Peach Music Festival: August 11-14


Another famed festival in the Allman Brothers family is The Peach Music Festival, which returned to Montage Mountain in Pennsylvania this year. This year’s Peach started off on a difficult note, as headliner Gregg Allman cancelled his performance, as well as a scheduled tour, just days before the event was set to begin. Fortunately, a number of musicians came to his aid with heartfelt tributes across the park, saving the day with some great music. The Allman Brothers Family Incident saw the String Cheese Incident collaborate with ABB members, and groups like Trey Anastasio Band, Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Claypool Lennon and more kept spirits high.

Check out the Allman Brothers Family Incident take on the classic tune “Jessica”, below.

19. Hoxeyville: August 18-21


The string musicians of Michigan have a true home at the Hoxeyville Music Festival. Homegrown super stars Greensky Bluegrass were on hand alongside national touring partners-in-crime like Elephant Revival and Railroad Earth but the real focus was on the regional musicians who make their own wonderfully unique music. With Billy Strings, Airborne Or Aquatic? and Sweet Water Warblers leading a strong slate of talent from the many area up and comers. In a crowded music scene it is a true pleasure to see acts that aren’t world shaking super stars have the level of production and appreciation that Hoxeyville brings to the north Michigan forests.

Check out Railroad Earth giving a rocking version of “Head” below.

20. LOCKN’ Festival: August 25-28


Announcing Phish as their headliner spoke volumes about the quickly earned respect that LOCKN’ Festival has earned. Their two nights of crowd pleasing jam fireworks set the tone early and helped cement the weekend’s status as one of the best of the year. The festival featured an emphasis on non-stop music provided by the cream of the jam and classic rock crop, in some cases remixed in imaginative new ways. My Morning Jacket turned in a sense shattering show that had fans abuzz while Umphrey’s, Ween, Vulfpeck, Charles Bradley and more helped fans ignore the heat and get up off their seats and dance the days and nights away.

The LOCKN’ spirit of collaboration was held down by Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, who brought a monster cast of collaborators to the stages as part of his pair of high stakes “Friends” sets. With a spinning stage to speed changeovers and a packed crowd of returning revelers, the LOCKN’ Festival easily lived up to the promise made by the incredible line up and the magic of years past.

Watch the entire glorious set from My Morning Jacket, below:

21. Catskill Chill Music Festival: September 23-25


Though the location may have changed, the Catskill Chill Music Festival didn’t alter the winning formula of a wide mix of artists, from Phish bassist Mike Gordon’s eclectic funk rock, to Greensky Bluegrass‘ psychedelic take on roots music, to one of the forefathers of funk himself, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. The festival recruited an under card of bands like Kung Fu, Pink Talking Fish and Turkuaz on hand to keep the die-hard regulars moving and grooving, while acts like Roosevelt Collier and The Heavy Pets pulled off sensational super jams and tribute sets.

Catskill Chill prides itself on the strong vibe of caring and sharing that permeates the entire weekend, and the ChillFam All-Stars encapsulated that spirit wonderfully with a tribute to the music of Michael Jackson. Clearly The Catskill Chill has found the perfect mix of fans, fun and family.

Electron – “Home Again”

22. Austin City Limits Music Festival: September 30-October 2, October 7-9


Celebrating music without boundaries, the Austin City Limits Music Festival has showcased the finest bands and musicians in the world alongside homegrown arts and culinary delights. Since 1976, the PBS concert series Austin City Limits has helped the city get weird, and since 2002, the music festival has only expanded that reach. With close to half a million music fans flocking to the south Texas city over the course of back to back weekends, there was no shortage of great music, as Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Mumford & Sons, Willie Nelson, St. Paul & The Broken Bones and so many more all performed. It is safe to say organizers have found a formula for success.

Watch LCD Soundsystem get down on “Us v Them” in the video below.

23. Desert Trip: October 7-9, 14-16


Rumors swirled around the mythical proposed lineup for the new festival being thrown by the promoters of Coachella, Desert Trip. When the dreams became a reality and the murders row of bonafide musical legends Neil Young, Roger Waters, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney were confirmed, music fans across the nation bought tickets so quickly that an entire second weekend had to be added. What followed was an unprecedented parade of arguably music’s most influential voices, sharing the music that is written into the actual DNA of many a fan.

Both weekends went off perfectly, and the tales of sit-ins and bucket list jams are built steadily. No one knows if the Coachella brain trust is thinking of another attempt, but, as it stands, they pulled off the largest gathering of music’s most influential voices since the original Woodstock, so they can rest well.

Roger Waters – “The Great Gig In The Sky”

24. Brooklyn Comes Alive: October 22


In a clear move to break from the crowded festival pack, Brooklyn Comes Alive focused far more on recruiting the finest in musicians rather than bands, challenging them to create something unique. With pairings like Kofi & Oteil Burbridge with Alan & Neal Evans as The All Brothers Band, [Br]eaking [Bi]scuits featuring Break Science‘s Borahm Lee and Adam Deitch and The Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner, BCA delivered on the promise of all the talent on the roster. With a second consecutive sell out, it is safe to say that music fans are more than happy to explore the far reaches of jam with the artists, regardless of convention or configuration.

The model for the festival shows true genius as it trusts the players ability create something new outside of their comfort zones rather than relying on the name recognition of their more traditional band homes. It is a concept that can be replayed infinitely without repeat and will surely see many more singular sensational moments in the years to come.  Check out Breaking Biscuits managing to make good with “Little Fluffy Clouds” below:

25. Suwannee Hulaween: October 27-30


For the second year in a row, the Suwannee Hulaween festival was the biggest event in SOSMP history, all thanks to The String Cheese Incident and their promotional partners. Bringing in mainstream superstars like My Morning Jacket and Disclosure, wile peppering the rest of the line up with acts ranging from rappers like Anderson .Paak to psychedelic juggernaut The Claypool Lennon Delirium all the way to the rootsy end of the spectrum with Greeensky Bluegrass and Fruition.

Halloween is a perfect time to host a festival, with the costumes and the music scene’s embracing of covers and musical tributes to their heroes and various passions. Cheese performed a riotous set of 80’s classics, unleashing multi-story inflatable Rubik’s Cubes, fire works, dancing girls, confetti and even the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The wildness even carried over to the landscape, as the park and its lake were remade with art installations and pulsing light to help bewilder the senses.

Suwannee Hulaween has earned the reputation as a “Can’t Miss” event by doing everything right, and once again it hit all the right notes with fans. Check out Greensky Bluegrass having some fun with their lyrics and The String Cheese Incident nailing a wild and energetic cover of The Eurythmics classic “Would I Lie To You” below:

Greensky Bluegrass – “Back That Ass Up > Don’t Lie”

The String Cheese Incident – “Would I Lie To You?”

As you can see, the magic was strong on stages from all corners of the country. So many impressive moments were made all the more wonderful by the gathering of friends under the sunny skies of days and under blankets of stars come night. Whatever it is that makes the experience so wonderful one thing is for certain: as long as there are musicians exploring their passions and fans ready to jam, then there will be incredible opportunities like these to gather and share the love, joy, and music that unites us all.