Sound Waves

Boats and beats go together, so hop aboard and boogie on down to these waterside music festivals

Written by Brad Kovach
Saint Lucia
April 30 - May 13
Feeling irie? You will be at this 14-day mash-up of jazz, reggae, fusion and rhythm-and-blues. The 21st edition of this annual festival, which has become one of the most anticipated events on the Caribbean calendar, will feature a star-studded lineup including the Gipsy Kings, Lionel Richie and Jamaican-born Ziggy Marley, as well as numerous local musicians and artists.The shows are staged at multiple locations and range from formal performances to large, open-air concerts and jams at after-hours clubs.The diversity of the roster, along with the island’s eclectic culture and tropical beauty, means that Saint Lucia Jazz has an unparalleled ambience.

Suggested Marina: IGY Rodney Bay Marina (758-452-0324,

Chicago, Illinois
Begins June 13
If you prefer Mozart to mosh pits, give this outdoor classical music festival a listen. Celebrating its 78th year, the series will kick off on June 13 and run for roughly eight weeks, featuring free concerts from the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus. Guest conductors and soloists mix things up with opera, marches and maybe even some smooth jazz. The performances take place at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, within walking distance of Monroe Harbor. Located in the Loop area of downtown Chicago, visitors to the festival will have access to the world-class museums, theater, shopping and architecture that make this city a metropolitan must-see.

Suggested Marinas: DuSable Harbor (312-742-3577,; Monroe Harbor Marina (312-742-7643,

Portland, Oregon
July 4 - 8
Blues greats such as Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Taj Mahal have graced the stage at this event, the largest blues festival on the West Coast. Last year, the festival attracted more than 120,000 people, who contributed $748,000 and 110,454 pounds of food to benefit the Oregon Food Bank. The festival wraps in funk, country and zydeco rhythms to keep things moving at a steady beat, along with workshops and jam sessions, pottery exhibitions from the Oregon Potters Association and spectacular fireworks. Enjoy the best seat in the house while cruising the beautiful Willamette River aboard the Portland Spirit riverboat.

Suggested Marina: River Place Marina (503-241-8283,

Newport, Rhode Island
August 11
We know what you’re thinking: Nothing says reggae like Newport, R.I.  The 2011 festival was a stellar day filled with waterfront breezes and the laid-back rhythms of reggae, roots, dancehall and rock steady from acts such as Yellowman & the Sagittarius Band, Bushman,The Itals and two-time Grammy winner Michael Rose of Black Uhuru fame. In other words, this is no poser’s show.  While the 2012 lineup has yet to be announced, it seems safe to say that the third annual event will not disappoint. In addition, attendees will enjoy full concessions; marketplace vendors featuring clothing, artisan goods, jewelry and body art; and the authentic vibe of one of New England’s most storied harbors.

Suggested Marinas: Newport Marina (401-849-2293,
Newport Yachting Center (401-846-1600,
Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina (401-848-3310,

Washington, D.C.
August 30 - September 3
All you need is love, though a mop-top wig wouldn’t hurt, at this ninth annual celebration of the music and legacy of the Beatles.While some might assume that one Fab Four tribute band is the same as another, Abbey Road on the River hosts many different types of entertainers. Some bands look, sound, and behave like the Beatles. Other bands play the music accurately but don’t act the part. Still others celebrate the music of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr without trying to reproduce the exact sound.Whatever your preference, you can expect a welcoming environment where fans can come together and experience the gift of music, written and performed with peace and love at its heart.

Suggested Marina: National Harbor Marina (301-749-1582,  ml

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