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Music Flows at Summer Festivals, but Not as Freely in Weak Economy

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Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Bob Doughty.


And I’m Faith Lapidus. Summertime in the United States always means many outdoor activities. They include outdoor fairs, carnivals, theater and lots of music. Many music festivals and concerts are in full swing this summer.

But some have had to cancel or cut back because of the weak economy. For example, organizers of the Street Scene festival in San Diego, California, cancelled this year's event because of poor ticket sales last year. The American Idols Live tour cancelled dates in seven cities.

Rihanna, Maxwell, the Eagles and the Jonas Brothers have also cancelled appearances. Still, there are plenty of performers to see and music festivals to attend. Some music festivals present one hundred or more performers during a weekend.

Summerfest calls itself the World’s Largest Music Festival. It was held for eleven days earlier this summer in a park along a lake in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. More than eight hundred bands performed.

Today we talk about some other music festivals taking place this summer.



That was "Window Seat" by R&B singer Erykah Badu. She is one of many artists performing at this year’s musical festival known as Lilith Fair. The festival features all female acts.

Grammy award-winning singer Sarah McLachlan and a few others created the traveling music festival in nineteen ninety-seven. The singer was upset by what she believed was inequality for women in the music industry.

She created Lilith Fair as a way to bring attention to female musicians. The festival was one of the top money-making music tours during its first three years.

This year, Lilith Fair returned for the first time since nineteen ninety-nine. It has traveled to more than fifteen states before ending this week in Columbia, Maryland.

Lilith Fair was also affected by the current economy. Organizers cancelled twelve of the original dates due to poor ticket sales.

Each stop on the tour featured a different lineup of famous musicians. Singer Sheryl Crow returned for her third appearance at Lilith. Rockers Ann and Nancy Wilson from the nineteen seventies band Heart also took to the stage.

Other top artists included the country duo Sugarland, R&B singer Mary J. Blige, the nineteen eighties band The Bangles and Mexican-American artist Jenni Rivera. The founder of Lilith Fair, Sarah McLachlan, also performed. Here is "Loving You Is Easy" from her new album "Laws of Illusion."



A few days after Lilith bids farewell, another popular music festival begins. Lollapalooza takes place this weekend. The event was formerly a traveling music festival. Now it is held every year in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.

The three-day festival features music by heavy metal, alternative rock and hip-hop bands. The newly reunited rock band Soundgarden is one of the top bands performing at this year’s Lollapalooza festival.

Other big acts include pop star Lady Gaga, the punk rock band Green Day, the alternative rock band from Canada called Arcade Fire and the nineteen eighties techno-rock band Devo.

Other lesser known acts include a fairly new band from Australia called Violent Soho and the Nigerian-German soul singer Nneka Egbuna. Here is her song "Heartbeat."


Lollapalooza also features dance music by live bands and famous DJs like Felix Da Housecat. And, there will be music and activities for people age ten and under. This section of the festival is called Kidzapalooza. Kids can play video games, learn to dance or get temporary tattoos and punk rock hairdos.


Another popular music festival takes place that same weekend in Mammoth Lakes, California. It takes place in the mountains of the Eastern High Sierra near Yosemite National Park. It is called the Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza.

The festival was started fifteen years ago in the parking lot of a store that sold alcoholic beverages.

As the name suggests, the Beers and Bluesapalooza festival features beers from more than fifty breweries across the United States. A number of noted blues musicians and groups will perform.

One of those bands is Los Lonely Boys. The three Mexican brothers from Texas have earned high praise for their mixture of rock, blues, soul and a kind of Mexican-Texan music called Tejano. Here Henry, JoJo and Ringo Garza sing their two thousand five Grammy award-winning song "Heaven."


Other performers at this year’s Bluesapalooza include blues artist Duke Robillard and the Los Angeles-based blues band The Delgado Brothers.

Blues singer Ruthie Foster is also performing. Her album, "The Truth According to Ruthie Foster," was nominated for a two thousand ten Grammy Award. The album is a mixture of blues, gospel and folk. Here Foster sings "Dues Paid in Full."



Jazz music fans will be attending the Long Beach Jazz Festival in California. That festival is being held next weekend. Some of the biggest names in jazz will be performing. They include saxophonists Boney James and Dave Koz and pianist and composer Joe Sample.

The Latin jazz musician and conga player Poncho Sanchez will also perform. We leave you with the title track from his latest album "Psychedelic Blues."



Our program was written and produced by June Simms. You can find transcripts of our programs and download audio at We are also on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. I'm Bob Doughty.


And I'm Faith Lapidus. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.