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Florida music festival preview: Ultra, Wanee, SunFest, Big Guava and the rest of spring's big things

Eric Church will perform at Fort Lauderdale's Tortuga Music Festival.

Luis Santana

Eric Church will perform at Fort Lauderdale's Tortuga Music Festival.



Spring is music festival season in Florida, and Tampa Bay is doing its part. The Gasparilla Music Festival just wrapped, and the Big Guava Festival, Tropical Heatwave, Tampa Bay Blues Fest and Sunset Music Festival are on their way. But music fans shouldn’t overlook some other massive fests taking place elsewhere in Florida this spring. Here are six biggies — and if a road trip isn’t in your budget, we’ve included a local equivalent for each.

Suwannee Springfest
Genre: Americana
When and where: Through Sunday, Spirit of the Suwannee Park, Live Oak. See
Lineup: Top bands include the Avett Brothers, Del McCoury Band, Punch Brothers, Sam Bush Band, Jason Isbell, Steep Canyon Rangers and the Southern Soul Assembly, a supergroup comprising J.J. Grey, Anders Osborne, Luther Dickinson and Marc Broussard.
Local equivalent: Stringbreak Music Festival, April 10-13 at Sertoma Youth Ranch in Brooksville. There are no major names on the lineup, but the vibe is similar — and tickets are about half the price. See

Ultra Music Festival
Genre: EDM
When and where: March 28-30, Bayfront Park, Miami. See
Lineup: Almost every heavyweight DJ and even vaguely electronic act you can name, including Avicii, David Guetta, M.I.A., Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Zedd, MGMT and Diplo. It’s not as massive as last year’s two-weekend affair, but Ultra is still one of the world’s preeminent EDM festivals, almost always selling out in advance.
Local equivalent: Sunset Music Festival, March 24-25 at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa’s block-rocking beat-fest, which drew more than 22,000 fans last year, is expanding to two days in 2014. Ticket prices go up April 1, and the initial lineup — which will no doubt include several big names from Ultra — will be announced April 2. See

Wanee Festival
Jam bands
When and where: April 10-12, Spirit of the Suwannee Park, Live Oak. See
Lineup: Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Trey Anastasio Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov’t Mule, Umphrey’s McGee, Blues Traveler, moe., Ziggy Marley and many more. This is the final year of the current lineup for the Allman Brothers Band, including guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, and the band is apparently going out with a bang at their home festival.
Local equivalent: Orange Blossom Jamboree, May 15-18 at Sertoma Youth Ranch in Brooksville. Spam Allstars are the biggest national name, but the lineup is loaded with regional talent, including Cope, the Applebutter Express, Bobby Lee Rodgers and Thomas Wynn and the Believers. See

Tortuga Music Festival
Genre: Country (with some pop)
When and where: April 12-13, Fort Lauderdale. See
Lineup: Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hank Williams Jr., Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert and Billy Currington are the big Nashville names at this beachfront festival, but there are a number of pop-leaning acts as well, including Train, Sheryl Crow, Slightly Stoopid and Ziggy Marley.
Local equivalent: The Florida Strawberry Festival just ended, so we’ll go with the Zac Brown Band and Kacey Musgraves, who are playing a two-night stint at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on May 29-30. Both acts can throw down a hoedown, but they have plenty of pop crossover appeal, too.

Welcome to Rockville
Genre: Hard rock and metal
When and where: April 26-27, Metropolitan Park, Jacksonville. See
Lineup: It’s like Mayhem, Warped, Uproar and the Carnival of Madness all rolled into one. Avenged Sevenfold, the Cult, Rob Zombie, Motorhead, Korn, Five Finger Death Punch and Staind are just a few of the loudest names on the bill.
Local equivalent: 98 Rockfest, April 25 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It’s the same weekend, so almost every band at 98 Rockfest will be going straight to Welcome to Rockville, including headliners Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Chevelle. See

Genre: Mainstream rock and pop
When and where: April 30-May 2, downtown West Palm Beach. See
Lineup: The genres don’t really matter, as long as you know the hits. Kid Rock, Robin Thicke, Ellie Goulding, Goo Goo Dolls, Young the Giant, Pretty Lights, Alice in Chains, Daughtry, Sublime With Rome, Austin Mahone, the Dooby Brothers, the Bangles, J. Cole and Dropkick Murphys are among the biggest names.
Local equivalent: Big Guava Festival, May 2-4 at the Florida State Fairgrounds. While the meat of its lineup is definitely more indie-centric, Big Guava is swinging big with a number of acts who have pop crossover appeal, including Outkast, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, Tegan and Sara, Cake, Slightly Stoopid, Vampire Weekend, American Authors, Walk the Moon and Blue October. See

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 8:25pm]


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