Fourth of July Weekend: New England’s Nateva Music & Camping Festival

george_clintonIt’s not as far away as you think. Fourth of July weekend is approaching fast and if you plan on catching some great music, or better yet, a lot of great music, you need to check out the biggest outdoor event around: Nateva Music & Camping Festival, in southern Maine ( At the Oxford Fairgrounds, 45 minutes from Portland, Maine, and a little over 2 hours from Boston, Nateva will be the biggest festival to hit Maine since Phish’s 1997 “The Great Went” in Limestone, near Canada.

Others may remember (or not, depending on their state of mind at the time) another mammoth show just three miles down the street from the Oxford Fairgrounds when the Grateful Dead played at Oxford Plains Speedway in 1988. The most obvious difference between these shows and Nateva is the volume of high quality bands: over 50, which will be spread out over four nights from July 1st – 4th. To learn more about the upcoming festival, I went right to the top and spoke with the event’s CEO, Frank Chandler.

Nateva is going to feature a wide range of music genres to appease everyone’s interests, including indie rock, bluegrass, alternative, electronica, jam bands, and even local talent from New England. An avid festival attendee himself, Frank has been planning the event with the main focus on keeping the crowds happy at all times. On top of booking a ton of sweet groups like Further (Phil Lesh & Bob Weir of The Dead), George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, moe., The Flaming Lips, STS9, Passion Pit, The Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band, and Umphrey’s McGee (see the whole list at the website above), the event is going to be kept more intimate, with total attendees capped at 15,000 per night.

There will also be a series of stages, including a couple indoor ones that will allow both bands and fans to rock out into the early morning hours after the outdoor shows have ended for night. For fans wanting to meet the bands, there will be meet and greets available, and Frank informed me that most of the bands playing at the festival have requested to have their own weekend camping passes to remain a part of the excitement from start to finish. Since listening to live music all day, every day can get exhausting for some, Nateva is also going to have a variety of other entertainment such as the World Cup projected on big screens, yoga, local vendors and farmers markets, and a kids area, with its own kids band, arts & crafts, and other activities for families.

With regards to tickets, Frank said that sales have been consistently strong to date, but they’ve picked up even more recently following the announcement that Michigan’s 2010 Rothbury Festival for July 4th weekend has been cancelled. For people wanting to celebrate our nation’s independence with a ton of outdoor music, Nateva has now become the choice for far more fans than just those hailing from the northeast. Ticket buyers have been rolling in from Alberta, Price Edward Island, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, and even the Virgin Islands, Japan, Denmark, and England. At the moment, only weekend passes are on sale, and these can come with or without camping as well.

 For people able to make it up to see the bands for the kick off on Thursday, July 1st, entry is just $20 per car, regardless of how many passengers are inside. There’s also no need to leave after the show finishes on Sunday night, July 4th because weekend passes will enable you to remain on the grounds until noon on Monday.

For those of you that are already locked into plans for the fourth of July weekend, you have my sympathies. Nateva’s line up of top notch bands is truly impressive and a treat for both us New Englanders to have at our fingertips, as well as anyone from outside the area that will be making the trip to enjoy all the amazing musical talents amid Maine’s fresh, summer air. I hope to see many of you there. I’ll be the guy screaming in the front row.