MidPoint Music Festival in Cincinnati.

When the phrase “music festivals” is mentioned in this area of the country, most think about summer. And why not? Bunbury is held in June every year here in the “Queen City.” Forecastle is a couple of hours away in July. And Riverbend is firing on all cylinders in the summer bringing in biggest names in the industry.

But let’s be honest. While most of us music lovers will stand outside in about any condition to see the acts we love, but it isn’t it better to be outside in about 75-degrees with a nice breeze as opposed to 90-degrees and 90% humidity?

Fall is the perfect time to get outside and see some music. And this region has plenty of opportunity to enjoy some of the best weather in the world with the best soundtrack possible.

Here’s just a few of the stellar music festivals happening in our city and within a 5-hour drive.

MidPoint Music Festival (Cincinnati, OH)

Right here in our backyard we have the little festival that could. And has! Starting 16 years ago, with just a handful of clubs and bands centralized in the Over-the-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood, it progressed to a larger number of clubs, then to including an outdoor venue at Washington Park, expanding that outdoor theme to two massive empty parking lots spanning 4 city blocks and three stages last year, and now bringing it altogether this year with venues located all within a one block radius of the Taft Theatre and some being indoor and some being outdoors.

Along with the venues and festival getting larger, the acts that are booked have grown exponentially as well. It’s still the place to be to hear up-and-coming acts from around the world of contemporary music. But the headliners are now a huge draw.

Keeping it local this year, the primary headliner will be Walk The Moon. Joining them will be some other acts you’ve probably heard of, including The New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, Valerie June and Frightened Rabbit.

All information regarding this 2-day event occurring September 23 & 24 can be found here.

Ubahn Music Festival (Cincinnati, OH)

For those in the ‘Queen City’ who tend more toward hip-hop, dance, electronica and underground music-and you don’t want to leave town-you have to go, well, underground. Held at the Riverfront Transit Center tunnel under Fort Washington Way by Paul Brown Stadium in early September (8 & 9), it has fast become one of the biggest underground parties in the region.

Headlined this year by acts with some serious game like Big Sean and 2Chainz, this festival traditionally has late start times and runs into the wee hours of the early morning.   Full information can be found here.

Bourbon & Beyond (Louisville, KY)

Those of you gentlemen who don’t mind driving a small way (less than 3 hours) to get your festival fix, this new music festival has you plenty covered. With one of the best lineups for a first-year festival that I’ve seen in a long, long time this festival is aiming to be the fall version of its older sister festival (Forecastle).

The lineup is definitely tilted more toward the blues and rock genres than Forecastle ever was. It includes Steve Miller Band, Stevie Nicks (yep, THAT Stevie Nicks), Band of Horses, Eddie Vedder, Gary Clark, Jr., Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Amos Lee and more. If you don’t believe the “more” tag, click here for the full information. You’ll believe.

As an attendee to this year’s Forecastle affair, I’ll be more than happy to tell you that if the bourbon selection for this festival is half as good as it was for Forecastle that is worth the trip for this 2-day festival happening on September 23 & 24.

Breakaway Music Festival (Columbus, OH)

If you’re willing to travel to Louisville, but you’re more into the lineup up that Ubahn is throwing down rather than the lineup for Bourbon and Beyond, and you just need something to do over the Labor Day holiday weekend then I suggest you head the hour-and-a-half north to Columbus. There you’ll find a heaven of hip-hop and electronic dance music (EDM) awaiting you for the holiday.

Headliners Travis Scott, Diplo, Lil Yachty, and Kodak Black will light up the stages in Mapfre Stadium on September 1 & 2. And you’ll still make it back in time to celebrate Labor Day itself with friend and family—if you have those obligations.

Full lineup and information can be found here.

Middlewaves Music Festival (Ft. Wayne IN)

So, you say that Bunbury is your favorite music festival? You never miss one no matter the lineup? Then if you are willing to hit the road for a relatively easy three-hour excursion, Middlewaves is your kind of jam.

Happening on September 15 & 16, the lineup boasts quite a few Bunbury alums. MGMT and The Lemon Twigs are two such alumni. In addition, Super Duper Kyle, Shannon & The Clams, Flint Eastwood and Sleeping Bag are scheduled to perform.

Click here for the full lineup and information.

Riotfest (Chicago IL) and Americanafest (Nashville, TN)

Simma’ down now. No, I did not include these two festivals on the same line because there is some huge ticket that will get you into both. I did so because to attend either one of these requires a larger commitment and some serious planning (traveling 5-6 hours from Cincinnati to the north or south does that).

Some of the bands that I’ve mentioned above have performed at multiple summer and fall festivals over the years. MGMT, Lemon Twigs, and Walk The Moon are just a few that I’ve caught at various ones. And they fit appropriately into the overall theme of the festival.

The same will never be said of the bands performing in Riotfest and Americanafest. Trust me, the first time Queens of the Stone Age rocks Americanafest I’ll officially retire as an entertainment writer!

So, the direction you choose if you wish to sojourn to either of these festivals will depend entirely upon your genre.

If you head south to Nashville then obviously-as the name suggests-you’re into lighter, deeper Americana/Folk music. Americanafest boasts a lineup this year of Joan Osborne (when was the last time you saw her, right?), Shelby Lynne (you need to see her!), Iron & Wine, and Drive-By Truckers (these dudes are just plain fun) to name a few.

However, if you just want to rock. And I mean hard. The kind of rock that bruises your chest and melts your face no matter how cold it is outside, then you head north to Chi-town.

Riotfest is hard rock, metal, and more hard rock of all kinds. The lineup this year includes the aforementioned Queens of the Stone Age, along with Nine Inch Nails, Danzig, Jawbreaker, Prophets of Rage, and more. If you are into the serious rock (count me as one!) and you can survive this three-day event, then this festival is for you.

Riotfest is happening on September 15-17. Full information and lineup found here.

Americanafest fires off for a full seven days September 12-17. Full information for that can be found here.

No one ever mandated that summer and sweating your cojones off in the heat was a mandate for seeing great music at outdoor festivals. Just wait until fall rolls around, get outside on a beautiful 70-degree day and enjoy some fantastic performances.

Until next time, gentlemen…