Thursday, September 17, 2009

This Fall in Music

Summer might be widely-known the best time of year for music festivals, but we beg to argue that the next few months (Sept.-Nov.) offer some pretty sweet music to be heard from around the world. And, as most of the fall festivals are three- or four-day events, it’s the perfect plan for a three-day weekend getaway, which is usually the only kind of vacationing you do during the fall months anyway. Here are our top five picks for the best fall music festivals -- if you love music, you have to make it to at least one of these outstanding events:

1. Austin City Limits (Austin, Texas USA) Oct. 2-4, Big names like Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Walkmen, John Legend, and Pearl Jam share the weekend with tons of other up-and-coming bands or indie groups. Perhaps the most treasured music festival in the U.S., Austin City Limits is almost like a religious pilgrimage for music lovers who find their mecca in the middle of Texas’ state capitol.

2. Festival de Jazz de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) Oct. 18-Dec. 6, You’ll find a broad spectrum of jazz musicians in various locations across Barcelona over more than a month this coming fall. This year will mark the festival’s 41st year in a city that has a long-established reputation for jazz appreciation and will open with world-famous American jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who played with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and even Carlos Santana.

3. Voodoo Festival (New Orleans, Louisiana USA) Oct. 30-Nov.1, Eminem, Lenny Kravitz, Kiss, Widespread Panic . . these are just a few names out of well over fifty bands of all kinds that will converge for three days over Halloween at New Orleans’ City Park. It’s wicked fun . . .

4. Woodstock (Johannesburg, South Africa) Nov. 27-30, South Africa’s largest music festival, Woodstock will celebrate 10 years in just a few months as musicians, BMX riders, paintballers, and campers converge at Riversand Farms along a river for four days of music at all hours of the day and night, shopping, playing, swimming, eating, and camping. This particular festival is most popular among young people, and this year one of the newest highlights on one of the many stages will be the Hip Hop tent.

5. 53rd International Festival of Contemporary Music (Venice, Italy) Sept. 25-Oct.3, Dozens upon dozens of composers, musicians, music students, and fans from around the world come together for over a week in Venice of musical synthesis, this year’s festival titled “The Body of Sound.” From Flamenco to American Blues to classical even to electronic music, the festival will take place at Teatro Piccolo Arsenale and Teatro alle Tese and will feature a wide variety of performances, workshops, conferences, among other events.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Good News For Flyers: U.S. Air Fares See Largest Drop on Record

About a month ago, the Department of Transportation reported the largest quarter-to-quarter drop in U.S. domestic air fares ever recorded. From the last quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009, average prices for domestic tickets dropped a whopping 9.1 percent, with the average ticket price falling to $315. While this may not seem like much of a break, compare that with the record high prices for fares reported last year at $360, and travelers are seeing a substantial break this year in most ticket prices in the U.S. Of course, these statistics don’t include any other fees paid at the airport or on the aircraft, so don’t figure in all of those annoying baggage charges here. Also interesting to note in the DOT’s first quarter report: Huntsville, AL saw the highest average air fares, while the lowest are to be found in Long Beach, CA, Oakland, CA, Burbank, CA, Dallas Love Field, and Las Vegas. So, looking for one last mini-vacation to round out the summer? Fly on the cheap to places like Dallas or Vegas -- will tell you everything you need to know about exploring these dynamic cities like a local.