Happy Birthday, America!

While a good majority of the US population is gearing up for BBQ’s and firework displays in the major metros or local suburban villages they frequent, live music fans across the country know that Fourth of July weekend brings some seriously fun festivals and concert events that simply can’t be missed. I’ve rounded up the main five events that many of us crazy music fans will be attending this weekend, but as always this hardly scratches the surface for great live music happening across the country. If we missed an event, drop some comments to let us know where you’ll be partying this Independence Day.

In the meantime, read on to get our take on what’s happening this weekend and how we plan on drinking it all in.

Nateva Music & Camping Festival

Oxford, Maine – July 2-4th, 2010
The Deadheads have likely been following the news on this festival since we first announced it. The story goes that Furthur was the lynchpin for this inaugural festival and that they originally didn’t want to have anything planned, but when they went back to the promoter of Nateva Festival and said “sure, let’s try something unique and special for Fourth of July,” that’s how Nateva got its foot planted. Rounding out the lineup are festival mainstays The Flaming Lips, moe. and STS9 and a healthy dose of indie-rock crossover with She & Him, Grizzly Bear, and Passion Pit all set to make appearances as well. We’ll have not one but TWO photographers on-hand to shoot the festival, and we’re expecting some tweets from the festival from our man @FullerVisuals.

For the folks not attending, make sure you follow along on the live webcast brought to you by iClips.net.

High Sierra Music Festival

Quincy, CA – July 1-4th, 2010
Up nestled in the mountains in Northern California exists a tiny village of like-minded, mature and dare-I-say family-friendly companions that get together every Independence Day to celebrate live music into all hours of the night. High Sierra Music Festival has perhaps the best reputation of any festival I’ve ever attended and this will be my second year up at the festival. With headliners on the bill that never I’ve never caught live — Widespread Panic, The Black Crowes, The Avett Brothers & more — I’m in for a treat of new-to-me festival sets from those types of bands, which always result in the biggest surprises of the weekend in any music festival setting. I’ll be tweeting as much as I can from the festival at @justinpward and our buddy @phortin will be leaving tonight to arrive there tomorrow. I’ll also be throwing updates (as always) on @livemusicblog. Make sure you follow along and drop me a line if you’ll be there!

Final 4 Phish Tour (or Phish Eats Hotlanta Alive)

Raleigh > Charlotte > Atlanta – July 1-4th, 2010
I’m pre-naming the Atlanta run in anticipation of the Twitter praise that Phish will be receiving once they hit the stage in Atlanta on July 3rd for their first of two nights to close out the first leg of their summer tour. The band has been playing phenomanally well and has really thrown a lot of their critics for a loop with their song selection and unwillingness to stay predictable in any sense of the word. Do they jam too much now, or not enough? Can we complain about song openers like “Crowd Control” or “The Connection” when they’re also mixing in openers like “Fee” or “David Bowie?” If there’s one thing I’ve always loved about Phish, it’s that they’re unpredictable. Let’s hope that continues, and let’s hope the Fourth of July run in Atlanta brings the heat and humidity to the soundwaves as much as it’ll be happening weather-wise.

Our buddy Patrick will be at all of these shows and we hope to have some of his photos and commentary up here on the blog after each show. In the meantime, make sure you hang out on Twitter with @livemusicblog, @phishtwit, @phanart, @yemblog, and @ohkeepahblog and you’ll have a lot of the updates live as they happen.

Umphrey’s McGee & Galactic @ Red Rocks

Denver, Colorado – July 2-4th, 2010
Sadly the final two events seem a bit overlooked in terms of what we’ve been able to cover ourselves, but it’s no less destined to rage if you’re a fan of the bands that are rocking elsewhere (i.e. not #1-3 above). Umphrey’s McGee and Galactic decided to team up for an event at Red Rocks and they’re bringing friends, hanging out in Denver the nights surrounding the Red Rocks show, and I’m sure we’ll see some fun festival-like collobration between these two live music powerhouses. In fact, not only do they plan on collaborating for some jams, they’re also going to cover a fan-requested song together during the July 3rd show. It’s likely too late to get a vote in that would matter, but any of those song choices should be an awesome superjam segment of the show. Drop us a line if you’re going to this.

80/35 Music Festival

Des Moines, IA – July 3-4th, 2010
Finally, if you just happen to be stranded in the Midwest and have no means to attend the big names in live music this weekend, don’t give up hopes that you won’t be able to see anything cool. In Des Moines, IA, the returning 80/35 Music Festival is bringing headliners to town like Spoon, Yo La Tengo, Modest Mouse, Railroad Earth and more. It’s definitely a smaller, more intimate affair and one of those festivals that you can likely walk right up to the front of the stage to see the bands you want to see. I’m sure we’ll see some good highlights come out of this assuming some of the bands can help to make this festival standout amongst the bigger guys in the room.

If you’re not at one of these spots this weekend, well, indeed you will be missing out. We hope to have some coverage of the fireworks when we get back to reality next week. Ahead of that, enjoy your Fourth of July weekends and stay safe out there, folks. Don’t eat the brown acid!