- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

For Spearhead frontman Michael Franti, it’s a combination of temperature and olfactory stimulation that clues him in. Two Saturdays ago, he woke up in a tour bus parked on a giant field in Sunrise, Fla. — the grounds of the Langerado Music Festival — and stepped outside.

It was hot, he noticed.

Then he deeply inhaled.

“The dirt and the grass have this smell,” he explained at a press conference hours later, “and it feels like it’s the beginning of the festival season.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it has officially returned: the time of year when the ratio of layers-worn to bands-per-buck at concerts is reversed.

Not everyone may share the same sensory alert system as the earth-attuned Mr. Franti, though; for many of us, the season’s first festival-related adrenaline rush comes while we’re close to but not quite at the actual site. It’s the moment when our ears tingle with the muffled rumblings of notes rising up from some distant field like heat radiating off asphalt.

If you went to the three-day Langerado, for example, an audio sampling might have included Toots and the Maytals’ “Monkey Man,” Matisyahu’s “Time of Your Song,” or My Morning Jacket’s “Golden,” depending on the date and time of your approach.

Here are a few other tunes you might find yourself humming along to in the next few months, should you find yourself in the vicinity of some of the best upcoming festivals.

‘Pictures of You’ The Cure

Although the Ultra Music Festival (today and tomorrow; www.ultramusicfestival.com) that closes Miami’s Winter Music Conference primarily showcases skills on the wheels of steel, Robert Smith’s wild mane and 30-year-old band take center stage tonight.

If hopping on a plane today isn’t in the cards, there’s still tomorrow, when you can enjoy the “Wonderful Night” with Fatboy Slim and fellow headlining DJs Paul Van Dyk, Sasha & John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia and more.

One- and two-day tickets range from $60 to $350.

‘Human Behavior’ Bjork

The first lady of freaky fashion brings her signature style of dress and vocals to the California desert — Indio to be exact — for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 27-29; www.coachella.com), one of the country’s fastest growing music and camping fests and a sort of Bonnaroo of the West.

Other artists joining Bjork at the three-day event include buzzworthy newbies (Lily Allen and Teddybears), industry veterans (Willie Nelson and Manu Chao), indie favorites (The Arcade Fire and the Decemberists), soulful new stars (Amy Winehouse and Lupe Fiasco) and time-tested rockers (Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine).

Three-day passes are sold out, but some single-day passes ($85) are still available.

‘Slither’ Velvet Revolver

Former Guns N’ Roses shredder Slash and his new cronies in Velvet Revolver help launch the very first installment of Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio (May 19; www.rockontherange.com). So far, this smaller, one-day celebration of all things rock has locked in performances from at least 12 major bands — like the female-fronted Evanescence, nostalgia-inducing ZZ Top, hard-rockers Papa Roach and throwback masters Hinder.

General admission tickets are $50.

‘New Orleans Music’ Rebirth Brass Band

Although the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has offered an increasingly impressive selection of national touring acts in recent years, many of last year’s concertgoers tuned in to the well-represented native music scene as never before. Despite the lingering hurricane aftermath and doubts that hovered over New Orleans’ streets, groups like the hometown Rebirth Brass Band trumpeted a message of hope for the city’s fragmented music scene, and the festival went off without a hitch — albeit with a few more teary eyes than usual.

Attendees at the 2007 edition of Jazz Fest (April 27-29 and May 4-6; www.nojazzfest.com) can continue listening for signs of the local music community’s comeback, or they can take in the staggering cornucopia of talent from outside the boot-shaped state, with first-week shows by Van Morrison, Lucinda Williams, Rod Stewart and Norah Jones (to name a few), and second-week gigs by John Mayer, Stephen Marley, Harry Connick Jr., Joss Stone and Taj Mahal.

Daily passes are now on sale for $35 and jump to $45 closer to the date.

‘Poppin’ My Collar’ Three 6 Mafia

If you watched Craig Brewer’s “Hustle & Flow,” then you know that Memphis music has expanded far beyond Elvis Presley rock and Stax Records soul. These days, crunk hip-hop is the new sound of the South, and, as Mr. Brewer’s film confirmed, Three 6 Mafia is at the forefront of the movement.

The Oscar-winning rap crew plans to represent at this year’s Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival (May 4-6; www.memphisinmay.org), along with fellow Memphis music man Jerry Lee Lewis and a host of other notable musicians. Highlights of the all-encompassing showcase include Wolfmother, the Ohio Players, Taking Back Sunday, George Thorogood, Barenaked Ladies, Counting Crows and Corinne Bailey Rae.

With three-day tickets selling for $60 and one-day tickets for $25 through May, Beale Street is one of the best deals on the festival circuit.

‘Theme From ‘Shaft’ Isaac Hayes

How many people can say they’ve heard the salacious, soulful theme from “Shaft” performed live by Mr. Hayes himself? After this year’s Capital Jazz Fest at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. (May 30-June 3; www.capitaljazz.com), you could be one of the proud few without even leaving the D.C. area.

The 15th annual contemporary jazz expo ramps up slowly, with performances by a handful of legendary artists (among them, innovator Herbie Hancock) on Wednesday and Thursday and an evening with Anita Baker on Friday, before it kicks into full festival swing Saturday and Sunday.

On the two closing days, one stage will present jazz masters like David Sanborn and Ramsey Lewis, while another offers sets from Mr. Hayes and neo-soulsters such as Raul Midon and Musiq Soulchild. Comedian and former Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School student Tommy Davidson emcees both days.

Single-day tickets range from $30 to $150 depending on seating choice.

‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’ The Police

The Police’s much-anticipated reunion at the recent Grammy Awards has whet a lot of fans’ appetites for the legends’ upcoming live tour, which makes a pit stop at this summer’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (June 14-17; www.bonnaroo.com).

Only in its sixth year, Bonnaroo pushed solidly through the summer ticket-sales slowdown that claimed the Lollapalooza tour several years back and has established itself as the country’s largest camping and music fest, a major lure for big-name acts, and a stamp of credibility for the up-and-coming bands that earn one of its precious slots.

Its bill cuts across a large swath of genres and looks a lot like Coachella’s this year, but mixes things up a bit with such acts as the long-loved Flaming Lips, Americana favorites Wilco, legendary DJs Sasha & John Digweed, as well as the White Stripes and Franz Ferdinand.

Three-day passes are $215.

‘21st Century (Digital Boy)’ Bad Religion

California-bred hardcore punk collective Bad Religion has become something of a staple for the Vans Warped Tour (July 25; www.warpedtour.com), which sets up camp locally for one day this July at an as-yet-unknown Washington-area amphitheater.

The extreme sports and music fest has consistently presented one of the best rosters of noisy rock bands around, and this year is no exception, with New Found Glory, Coheed and Cambria, Boys Like Girls, Hawthorne Heights, the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, K-OS and the Toasters all scheduled for the jam-packed D.C. date.

Tickets are available through a special pre-sale only; check the Web site for updates.

Bonus tracks

If they’re not playing your song at any of the above festivals, try perusing other lineups. Some ideas on where to start are: Stagecoach country music fest in Indio, Calif. (May 5 & 6; https://stagecoachfestival.com); the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival in Lawrence, Kan. (June 7-10; https://wakarusa.com); the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, Tenn. (June 8-16; www.riverbendfestival.com); and the Pitchfork Music Festival (July 13-15; https://pitchforkmusicfestival.com).

Also, tune in for forthcoming schedules from the Newport Folk and JVC Jazz festivals (www.festivalproductions.net), Lollapalooza (www.lollapalooza.com), Ozzfest (www.ozzfest.com), Austin City Limits Music Festival (www.aclfestival.com) and our own HFStival (www.whfs2.com).

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