FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is expected to see a 170% year-on-year surge in solar deployments this year with the addition of 3.6 GW of fresh photovoltaic (PV) capacity, according to GTM Research.Demand for solar PV is seen to escalate further and lead to 20 GW of annual installations in 2020, while for the whole period between 2018 and 2023, the region will put on stream 83.7 GW of new solar parks. Big projects coming online and the heating African market will be major growth drivers, according to Ben Attia, author of the latest regional market outlook.The MEA region currently has a 12.3-GW pipeline of utility-scale contracted or under-construction projects and an additional 21 GW of pre-contract projects. Most of those schemes, apart from the UAE and Jordan, come from the utility-scale segment.Attia forecasts that in 2018, demand is expected to be mainly driven by Egypt, the UAE and Morocco, while nascent African markets are anticipated to mature in 2020 and add more than 6.4 GW of PV. Overall, the growth pace is seen to slow down after 2020 and lead to a “more measured growth” to 2023 following multiple rounds of regional tender programs and regulatory adaptation.In terms of pricing, Attia projects that the levelised costs for both utility-scale and distributed generation solar power will drop by 30% by 2022 in the major MEA markets, with prices falling below USD 30 (EUR 26.2) per MWh in tender rounds in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Kuwait.More: Solar PV demand in MEA set to grow 170% in 2018 Solar to soar in Middle East, Africa this year—GTM
On the blogs: Policy remains key to solar expansion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享International Energy Agency:China’s success in this sector has been thanks to a virtuous cycle of strong policy support and falling technology costs. For example, China’s 2020 targets for solar PV have been ratcheted up several times, rising from an initial target of 1.8 GW set in 2008, to 105 GW in the 13th Five-Year Plan set at the end of 2016. Recent discussions are looking to 210 GW or beyond.Support policies have also played a determining role in other world leaders of solar PV. In the United States, the extension of tax credits in late 2016 gave a significant boost to both solar PV and wind power markets, complementing state-level renewable energy goals that continue to evolve. In the European Union, the renewables target of 27% for 2030 set in 2016 was recently revised up to 32%. In India, implementation measures have been expanding, including in 2016 doubling the amount of land set aside for solar PV deployment.What would exponential growth mean for annual solar PV deployment?Driven in part by these strong policies, the solar PV market has grown dramatically, at a rate of 27% annually over the past five years. However, continuing at this pace would mean a doubling of annual deployment every three years, passing 200 GW in 2020 and exceeding 2 100 GW in 2030. This would represent a massive scaling up that would go beyond any level of construction seen in the past, at more than 6-times the capacity of all technologies built in 2015. It would also require mobilising a dramatic level of investment.For now, policy has been the key driver in accelerating deployment, but maintaining this growth rate would far outpace established policy goals. For example, combining the policy ambitions of the US, EU, Japan, China and India would require only about 70 GW of solar PV per year. Even in the case where actions to mitigate climate change and reduce air pollution accelerate, as defined in the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), solar PV deployment in these leading regions would rise to about 120 GW per year to 2030, a level well below what is implied by continued exponential growth.More: Commentary: Is exponential growth of solar PV the obvious conclusion?
HSBC: Annual Chinese solar installations could top 75GW by 2025 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:China, already the biggest manufacturer and the biggest installer of solar PV in the world, is tipped to double the annual installation of solar capacity to 85 gigawatts as it ramps up efforts to meet its newly declared zero net emissions target for 2060.Analysts and close China industry watchers at HSBC say in a new report that solar installations in China could be 75GW to 85GW a year during the 14th Five Year Plan, which will cover the period from 2021 to 2025, and which forms the basis of the Chinese government’s central planning.This is significantly higher than previous run rate of 30GW to 50GW per year over the last five years, and will result in a significantly scaling down of new coal fired power, as new capacity focuses on solar and wind.“The 14th Five Year Plan (FYP) is being revised at the moment because President Xi has set a new strategy for carbon neutrality by 2060,” the HSBC analysts write in a new report. “All departments are revisiting their estimates. Wind and solar are core to this.”It is, of course, a deeply significant move. It equates to more than two thirds of annual solar installation across the globe in 2019 – 115GW – and nearly twice the capacity of Australia’s entire grid – and will result in a considerable ramp up of manufacturing capacity.It will likely take two to three years for China to ramp up to that level of installs, but it will in turn deliver a further fall in solar costs. HSBC expects the cost of solar to fall by 40-50 per cent by 2025, enabling grid parity in China to become the norm sooner without destroying margins across the solar supply chain. Its estimates are based on conversations with the China Photovoltaic Industry Association.[Giles Parkinson]More: China tipped to double solar installs to 85GW a year, pushing costs down by half
Illustration by Scott DuBarBesides rooting for the Bulldogs and packing indie rock clubs, the people of Athens love to pedal. Biking culture largely dominates the outdoor scene in Georgia’s bustling college town.“There’s great riding 10 minutes in any direction,” says Jimmy Marbut, owner of Sunshine Cycles.Indeed, cyclists take advantage of the rolling country roads and pristine farm landscapes that surround the small city, while active mountain bike clubs have built an impressive network of singletrack not far from town.When they’re not riding, locals can be found eating at a bevy of hip independent restaurants, grabbing a craft beer at the Terrapin Brewery, or catching tunes at the 40 Watt or recently reopened Georgia Theatre.“Athens has a little bit of everything you want, and not a lot of what you don’t want,” says Marbut. “It’s a nice pace of life with everything you need.”Marbut’s Outdoor PicksSurrounding SingletrackThe best singletrack is found on the 10-mile maze of trails at Oconee Heritage Park. The technical terrain features hearty climbs and fun descents, as well as creek crossings and wheel-stumping roots. Another local favorite is Fort Yargo State Park in nearby Winder, which features 14 miles of well-maintained trails for a range of skill levels. SORBA recently unveiled the newly created Payne’s Creek Trail, a seven-mile flowing rollercoaster of fun singletrack in Hartwell.Classic City Road RideA classic road route is the rolling 23-mile Jefferson River Road Ride. “With one turn straight out of downtown, you’re instantly in the middle of the country surrounded by farms and woodlands with very little traffic,” says Marbut, who recommends the regular ride beginning and ending at his store.Pro ActionEvery spring, Athens hosts the Twilight Criterium, an 80K race around downtown with a field of pro cyclists.Mellow PaddleRecreational canoers and kayakers dip paddles in the mellow waters of the free-flowing Broad River. The Broad River Outpost in Danielsville offers shuttles for flatwater runs between five and ten miles that feature lazy river stretches surrounded by scenic bluffs and hardwood forests.Run Sandy CreekLocal trail runners like the network of trails at the Sandy Creek Nature Center, which winds through quiet woodlands and wetlands. Back to the TheatreThe historic Georgia Theatre, which helped launch the careers of R.E.M., the B-52’s, and Widespread Panic, burned to the ground in 2009, but the tight-knit music community in Athens wouldn’t let it die. After a string of benefit concerts and donations, the venue was rebuilt and recently reopened its doors in August. Now it’s back in full force with a hearty schedule of shows, including a return by Panic on October 9.
Your daily outdoor news bulletin for July 29, the day National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed in 1958, proving that anything Russia can do, the U.S. can do better, only a year later and after Congress approves:This is Your Parkway on CrackThe Blue Ridge Parkway crack is making headlines again this week. Since July 12, the parkway has been closed to motor vehicle traffic between milepost 376 and milepost 355 due to the large crack in the roadway. Throughout the past week, the crack has grown to its current size of 300 feet long, several inches wide and several feet deep. As we all know, people love crack, so the gash in the road became something of a tourist attraction, drawing curious onlookers who trekked the two miles from MP 376 to take a look since the closed section was still open to foot and bicycle traffic. Until Friday that is. Rangers have now closed the section of road to all traffic due to the heavy equipment being used in the area to fix the crack, and there are also some concerns about the general safety of a mountain side highway that is coming apart at the seams. Parkway officials an the Federal Highway Administration continue to work on finding the cause of the slope failure and hope to have at least a temporary solution soon.Bald Eagles Love the James RiverBursting through all the depressing environmental reports and news coming out of the U.S. over the past couple of years comes the success story of our national symbol on one of the great historic waterways in the country. According to a new survey taken by scientists at the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University, the number of bald eagle pairs on the the James River topped 200, more than triple the 56 pairs found in 2000. This is a success story for both the eagles and the James River as a whole. There were no eagles on the river – and only 33 pairs in the whole state – in 1977, having been decimated by DDT and Kepone pollution. But today, the tidal freshwater James from Dutch Gap to Charles City County – a 40 mile stretch – holds one of the country’s top concentrations of eagles, herons and other aquatic fowl.Madison County Denied SNP EntranceThe Shenandoah National Park gave Virginia’s Madison County a big stiff arm, denying them an entrance to the park today. In May, Madison County officials sought to have Rapidan Road upgraded and to allow private vehicles to access the park via the road. Currently, the road is divided into the lower portion that allows access to the park boundary, and the upper portion which is in disrepair and closed to car access. The interesting twist in the story is Madison County’s ‘special relationship’ with former President Herbert Hoover who built his presidential retreat, Rapidan Camp, on the banks of the Rapidan River and visited the area frequently. There is also a story of Hoover promising Madison County an entrance to the new park, but the county’s efforts to cash in on that claim have fallen short yet again – similar proposals were advanced in 1939, 1947, and 1985. As a consolation prize, Shenandoah National Park says they will look into improving the lower portion of the road and contributing to Madison County’s “Hoover Days” celebration that was once a big draw in the area, but has recently seen waning interest.
One of the best things about festival season is discovering new music. Catch these up-and-coming bands at this year’s regional festivals…The London SoulsThis hard-hitting duo delivers plenty of distorted power from a stripped down two-man lineup. Fans of old-school Black Keys should take notice as this rising group delivers plenty of primitive bluesy fuzz with authentic throwback vibe. Straight from the bashing and riffing of drummer Chris St. Hilaire and guitarist Tash Neal, standout songs like “The Sound” from the band’s self-titled debut album display gritty homage to the British psychedelia of Cream and Zeppelin. It’s loud retro greatness that’s just right for big stages.Catch ‘em: Dominion Riverrock (5/17), Floydfest (7/24-25) and Camp Barefoot (8/23)Willie WatsonWillie Watson made his name as a member of string band revivalists Old Crow Medicine Show. He’s now flying solo, letting sparse strings and his soul-piercing tenor do all the work. Watson just released a debut solo album, Folk Singer Vol. 1, which was produced by David Rawlings with help from associate producer Gillian Welch. The 10-song set unearths a range of gems from the American folk songbook (“Midnight Special,” “Mexican Cowboy”) and offers a prime example of the power that can come from one man and his acoustic guitar.Catch ‘em: MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove (7/12), Red Wing Roots Music Festival (7/13), Forecastle Festival (7/18-20)Houndmouth Houndmouth hails from a small town in Indiana and delivers electric folk rock with plenty of heartland realism. On last year’s debut From the Hills to the City, blue-collar themes dominate edgy fist pumpers like “Ludlow” and “Penitentiary,” but the songs also manage to stay grounded with infectious hooks and soaring three-part harmonies. Lead track “On the Road” gets downright poppy with a playful piano bounce and a catchy chorus.Catch ‘em: Shakey Knees Festival in Atlanta, Ga. (5/10)Sol Driven TrainSol Driven Train is a party band of the highest order. The South Carolina-based crew comes from sun-soaked Charleston and likes to get crowds moving with a blend of Southern-flavored roots rock that’s propelled by funky horn blasts and Afro-Caribbean grooves. The five-piece group has been together for nearly a decade and a half, so years of hard touring have resulted in status as a beloved regional mainstay and a tight live show that never fails to please.Catch ‘em: French Broad River Festival in Hot Springs, N.C. (5/2)Mandolin OrangeEmerging from the fertile independent music grounds of the North Carolina Triangle, this acoustic duo delivers poignant progressive folk tunes that draw on a range of influences, including early Appalachian mountain songs and vintage country ballads. Since musical partners Andrew Marlin (guitar) and Emily Frantz (fiddle) started playing together at a local Chapel Hill jam back in 2009, the group has released three albums. The most fully developed is last year’s This Side of Jordan, a rustic effort featuring front-porch tales of heartbreak and redemption that are filled out by a full backing band. The centerpiece, though, is still the harmonies, as the voices of Marlin and Frantz come together with the beauty of an endless vista.Catch ‘em: Red Wing Roots Music Festival (7/12), Lewisburg Music Festival at Carnegie Hall (7/26)
It wasn’t until I was typing up my last blog post that I realized I’ve been on the road full time for six months now.Six. Months. Or I guess really, at this point, it’s been over six months.204 days, to be exact.It doesn’t feel like it’s been over half a year since I hit the road.It feels both longer and much, much shorter, all at the same time. I can still remember packing up my things in my little 500-square-foot basement studio apartment in Charlottesville, half-panicked, a little excited, but mostly just floating, moving through the motions. The reality that I no longer would have a place to call “home” hadn’t really sunk in, mainly because my dislike for moving and packing far outweighs any apprehensions I might have had about living entirely out of a Jeep Cherokee and a SylvanSport Go.As I expected, that reality eventually did sink in after my annoyance with moving subsided and my apartment keys were in my landlord’s hands. It was 11 o’clock on a Friday night. I had to be in Charlotte, N.C., the next morning at 9am, but I hadn’t had dinner yet and was completely exhausted from the long day of packing and cleaning. Thankfully, there are places you can find food after 11pm in Charlottesville, and I eventually found myself at the C&O bar, sipping a beer and waiting on a bowl of mac-n-cheese.And that’s when it hit.I’m a vagrant.A vagabond.A wayfaring soul sucking on the marrow of unfulfilled wanderlust.Alright that was a bit too poetic.Perhaps it was the dark atmosphere at C&O, the fact that everyone around me was dining in pairs or more, sipping on their expensive wine in their Friday-night-best while I sat, slumped over and single at the bar, head in my hands, smelling faintly of sweat and bleach, wondering what in the hell I had just done with my life.Living on the road? Who does that?Six months later though, I’ve realized the answer to that question is everybody. If they’re not living on the road right now, chances are, they have at some point in their life. Even if it was just for a month while they transitioned from college to the real world or that one time they took a cross-country road trip with a friend, everyone it seems has either spent some time on the road or knows someone who has.Because of this, the project has been met with more support than I could have ever anticipated. As I look back now on my earlier blog posts, it’s clear that I had absolutely no idea of the wonderful, sometimes challenging things that would come from my new life on the road. Even now, being halfway home, slightly seasoned, a little wiser, but maybe a little dumber too, I have no idea what’s in store for me. These next six months may prove to be the most challenging yet if the weather forecasters and Farmers’ Almanac are to be trusted as a reliable prediction of the winter-to-come. Still, I’m committed to the journey, to living outside and playing, even if it means I wuss out and take shelter for a couple weeks to thaw my laptop and pinky toes.While I’ve certainly made an effort to share the notable moments on the road with my followers, there are still a number of events that never made it into a post. In celebration of six months on the road and, now, a little less than six months to go, I feel it’s an appropriate time to share those behind-the-scenes moments that, for better or for worse, may help paint a more complete portrait of the past 200+ days on the road.So here they are – some highlights, some lowlights, and everything in between from six months of living outside and playing.1. I almost killed a bat.How he got into the leg of the Go is a mystery to me, but I almost crushed him when I was setting up. Ultimately, I think he was more freaked out than I was. I left him alone for a few hours and he must have wiggled his way free.2. I definitely killed a stink bug.Multiple stink bugs, actually. But never in the car. Those things are a waste of precious life.3. I may or may not have found a container of moldy cheese in the car.No comment. There also may or may not be mold inside my IceMule Cooler.4. I met Pat Keller.Definite highlight.5. I locked the key in the car.Definite lowpoint. With these crazy techno-go-go-gadget keys, how is this even possible these days?! Never fear. I found a way.6. Some jag vomited on the car door.Twice, both on the driver’s side. Imagine waking up at 8am to two perfect streaks of vomit on the car door handles. I think it goes without saying that I passed on breakfast…at least for a few hours.7. My friend made me apple butter.Cinnamon apple butter at that. Nice work AT.8. I watched a yinzer ride a wheelie out of a gas station parking lot.Yinzers. God love ’em.9. Someone tried to slice my tire!Or maybe I ran over a piece of glass. The former sounds much more dangerous and sexy.10. I have found a strong network of people to whom I can make frequent Seinfeld references.Giddy up.###I might also allow for this post to be another question-and-answer session, given that I’m halfway through the first year of this project. Any questions? Suggestions for places to go or things to do in the coming six months? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and thanks to everyone for the unconditional support!
FloydFest—a BRO Favorite—takes place July 22-26 in scenic Floyd, Va.—Photo by Roger GuptaFestival fans take notice: These are the bashes you must attend. New festivals keeping popping up across the country, but the Blue Ridge is full of proven galas that are worth your long weekend. This year BRO offers a guide to the top 20 festivals in the region. We chose events filled with the things our readers love best—authentic music, craft beer, comfortable camping, and outdoor adventure—in stunning locations that set the scene.French Broad River FestivalHot Springs, N.C. | May 1-3frenchbroadriverfestival.com Basics: Started nearly two decades ago as an intimate gathering by a group of paddlers, this fest at the Hot Springs Campground has grown into a regional favorite, featuring an impressive line-up of roots music and plenty of chances to play on the river. Best of all, it’s a party with a purpose: Through the years the fest has raised boatloads of cash for river access protector American Whitewater and a handful of other local charities.BEST IF: You like camping festivals on the smaller side with some outdoor action during the day.BANDS ON THE BILL: This fest is anchored by some of the South’s best regional acts, including Sol Driven Train, Larry Keel, and Big Daddy Love.BEYOND THE TUNES: This is also a chance to enjoy the French Broad with a popular raft race, a Paddle with Pros clinic, and a river cleanup.LEAFBlack Mountain, N.C. | May 7-10theleaf.com Basics: Nestled within the mountainous property of Camp Rockmont, the family friendly Lake Eden Arts Festival—better known as LEAF—features one of the most diverse arrays of artistic offerings of any fest in the region: live music, dance workshops, healing arts, and much more.BEST IF: You’re open to music and art from around the world, as this year performers from 30 different countries will be represented at the festival.BANDS ON THE BILL: Headliners this year include Xavier Rudd & The United Nations, Bombino, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, R. Carlos Nakai, and Donna the Buffalo.BEYOND THE TUNES: LEAF is designed to be interactive with more than 40 healing arts workshops on a range of topics from yoga and holistic health to rolfing and martial arts, diverse global cuisine, a wide selection of artisan goods, and a nationally recognized poetry slam. You can also enjoy the scenic surroundings with a hike on the Rockmont trails or a paddle in Lake Eden.Dominion Riverrock Richmond, Va. | May 15-17dominionriverrock.com Basics: Billed as the nation’s largest outdoor sports and music festival, this adventure games bash draws huge crowds to the banks of the James River in downtown Richmond. From central grounds on Brown’s Island, you can run, ride, paddle, and climb in a variety of comps and races, while live tunes are blaring in the background and big crowds are browsing gear booths.BEST IF: You like to race and enjoy an epic post-party.BANDS ON THE BILL: Riverrock organizers always cap the evenings with solid headliners, and this year is no exception with Blues Traveler and Greensky Bluegrass taking the top slots.BEYOND THE TUNES: This one is more about the adventure than the music, as Riverrock hosts races and comps all weekend long. Runners have the James River Scramble 10K Trail or the Filthy 5K Mud Run, while fat tire fans can sign up for the Thule Urban Assault Mountain Bike Race. There’s also an adventure race, climbing comps, and kayak events, including a boatercross. If you’re looking to find a new sport, the Interactive Village has opportunities to try kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, bouldering, and more.Trail DaysDamascus, Va. | May 15-17traildays.usBasics: The tiny southwestern Virginia town of Damascus, known as Trail Town, U.S.A., turns into a big reunion for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers and a huge party for outdoor lovers of all stripes. Hikers get together to trade trail stories, march in a parade, get goofy in a talent show, soak each other with water guns, check out a variety of gear booths, and get rowdy at the campgrounds in the evenings. There are also talks and presentations by A.T. legends of yesteryear.BEST IF: You’re all about the outdoors and the culture that surrounds it. You’ll be in good company here.BANDS ON THE BILL: Local and regional bands will provide the soundtrack with free shows everyday at the fest’s central grounds in Town Park.BEYOND THE TUNES: Take advantage of what this town is known for and get on the trails. While the A.T. runs through downtown, you can also easily access the rugged Iron Mountain and family-friendly Virginia Creeper Trails.RoosterWalk Music and Arts FestivalAxton, Va. | May 21-24roosterwalk.com Basics: Initially created to commemorate the lives of two lost friends, this low-key festival held in the scenic foothills country near Martinsville continues to improve its impressive line-up of roots music. This year the fest is moving to new venue, Pop’s Farm, in Axton.BEST IF: You dig an intimate homegrown festival on the rise, and you’re open to discovering new up-and-coming bands.BANDS ON THE BILL: Headliners this year include Yonder Mountain String Band, Lake Street Dive, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Southern Culture on the Skids, and Donna and the Buffalo.BEYOND THE TUNES: Henry County holds a 45-mile scenic stretch of the Smith River. Grab a reasonably priced canoe or kayak rental from Smith River Outfitters and make time for a morning paddle.Dr. Ralph Stanley’s 45th Annual Memorial Weekend Bluegrass FestivalCoeburn, Va. | May 21-23drralphstanleyfestival.comBasics: A down-home, multi-band traditional bluegrass gala in a beautiful setting at the old homeplace of Ralph Stanley, who’s still performing at age 88. He leads the bill with the Clinch Mountain Boys at his own Hills of Home Park in the mountains of southwest Virginia.BEST IF: You can’t get enough of the high lonesome sound, and you need to cross Stanley off your bucket list of legends to see live.BANDS ON THE BILL: Additional acts include Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers, and Stanley’s son Ralph II.BEYOND THE TUNES: Learn about Appalachian music with a trip to the Ralph Stanley Museum. The festival provides shuttles to nearby Clintwood, where the museum sits in a historic Victorian house as a stop on the Commonwealth’s Crooked Road music heritage trail.DelFestCumberland, Md | May 21-24delfest.comBasics: A progressive bluegrass and roots music festival hosted by high lonesome sound pioneer Del McCoury in the scenic Potomac River Valley of western Maryland.BEST IF: You’ve always wanted to make it to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival but would rather keep it local, and you can’t get enough acoustic string jams.BANDS ON THE BILL: Along with daily sets from Del and his band, this year’s lineup is anchored by Americana all-stars Jason Isbell and Shovels and Rope, as well as return visits from Old Crow Medicine Show, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, and Railroad Earth.BEYOND THE TUNES: At Delfest you can stretch out every morning with yoga classes scheduled as part of the Movement Playshops program. The festival also has an Arts and Crafts Fair with vendors offering clothing, jewelry, and acoustic instruments.Graves Mountain Festival of MusicSyria, Va. | May 28-30gravesmountain.com Basics: Three days of the best in bluegrass takes place at the scenic Graves Mountain Lodge, in the shadow of Shenandoah National Park.BEST IF: You like to keep it mellow at festivals, watching top-notch picking and singing while relaxing in a lawn chair with stunning mountain views as a backdrop.BANDS ON THE BILL: Hear traditional bluegrass acts like Junior Sisk, Doyle Lawson, and Balsam Range alongside progressive folk artist Willie Watson.BEYOND THE TUNES: You’ll be within some of central Virginia’s best terrain, so spend your afternoon horseback riding, hiking, or swimming before the music begins.Bonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalManchester, Tenn. | June 11-14bonnaroo.com Basics: The pace setter for the current explosion of multi-band mega fests, Bonnaroo annually brings 80,000 fans to a 700-acre farm in the middle of Tennessee for one the country’s most eclectic, high-profile music extravaganzas.BEST IF: Crowds, heat, and dust won’t deter you from throwing down, as you take in a musical marathon that can’t be topped.BANDS ON THE BILL: The top of the bill features Billy Joel, Mumford and Sons, Deadmau5, and Kendrick Lamar. Go deeper and catch sets by the War on Drugs, Caribou, the Punch Brothers, and Sturgill Simpson.BEYOND THE TUNES: Make time for Bonnaroo’s additional offerings like the comedy shows, the Broo’ers Festival craft beer garden, cinema tent, Silent Disco, and Food Truck Oasis.Red Wing Roots Music Festival Mount Solon, Va. | July 10-12redwingroots.comBasics: An intimate roots music festival with an impressively growing line-up at Natural Chimneys Park in the Shenandoah Valley. The hosts make this a family-friendly fest with scenic camping and plenty to do for the little festivarians in the Kid’s Zone, which includes special band performances for younger audiences.BEST IF: You need your music fix but like to keep it fun for the whole family.BANDS ON THE BILL: In addition to host band the Steel Wheels this year Red Wing will feature sets from the Punch Brothers, Robert Earl Keen, the Wood Brothers, Jon Russell of the Head and the Heart, Nikki Lane, Chatham County Line, the Travelin’ McCourys, and many more.BEYOND THE TUNES: Members of the Steel Wheels love to pedal, so this festival hosts group bike rides on Saturday morning. Pick from road options that range between 10 to 40 miles or a 10-mile mountain bike ride.BACKSTAGE PASSSince debuting in 2013, the Red Wing Roots Music Festival has quickly become a nationally respected Americana gathering, set in the intimate confines of Natural Chimneys Park in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The festival is a collaboration between some local Harrisonburg music promoters, including Jeremiah Jenkins of Black Bear Productions and versatile acoustic outfit the Steel Wheels. In three short years the festival has featured an impressive array of roots-music acts, from established legends like Del McCoury and Sam Bush to popular upstarts Trampled by Turtles and the Devil Makes Three. Ahead of this year’s event, Jenkins and Steel Wheels front man Trent Wagler offered a glimpse behind the scenes of festival preparation and favorite moments.Early Roots The Steel Wheels tour regularly across the country and have been featured at some of the biggest acoustic music festivals in the world, including Merlefest and Stagecoach in California. A few years ago the band decided they wanted to host a party near home in Harrisonburg. “We would come home and talk about how great it would be to have a boutique musical festival right in our backyard that our own families would grow up around,” Wagler said. “We dreamed about something that could create that kind of community in the Shenandoah Valley.”Defining ‘Roots Music’ Jenkins said the festival requires at least 10 months of planning, and in a sea of competition from other festivals, booking acts can be tricky. “Year-round we keep a long list of bands that we’d like to play the festival,” Jenkins added. “Fitting everything into a budget and schedule becomes a puzzle with a bunch of moving pieces. Fortunately there is so much great music out there. We’re a small festival, and that is all we are trying to be. We want music that draws from traditions of old country, folk, singer-songwriter, Cajun, and bluegrass—what you would consider the roots of American music,” Wagler said. “We’re working hard to find great music that defines that term for us.”Keeping It Small Red Wing’s site at Natural Chimneys only allows a few thousand people to attend every year. While many festivals continue to grow, organizers want Red Wing to stay intimate and neighborly for people of all ages. “It’s a broad cross-section of our larger community,” said Jenkins. “People can come appreciate the festival in their own way. I love seeing people of all ages enjoying themselves—a 10-year-old girl with her face painted drinking out of a coconut, and an older couple sitting in lawn chairs, just grinning as they watch the music.”After hours “Last year on Saturday night, after everything had ended, members of five or six bands were backstage hanging around the fire, playing music together and singing,” remembered Jenkins. “Two members of the Devil Makes Three were dancing under the moonlight, the trees were swaying, and everyone was happy. At Red Wing artists can let their guard down and be themselves.”Forecastle FestivalLouisville, Ky. | July 17-19forecastlefest.comBasics: Once a small neighbor bash, Forecastle has grown to become one of the premiere music festivals in the country, taking place every summer at Louisville’s scenic 85-acre Waterfront Park.BEST IF: You want to throw down with a deep roster of bands in one of the South’s most vibrant cities.BANDS ON THE BILL: Hometown heroes My Morning Jacket will be joined by an eclectic mix of acts that includes Widespread Panic, Modest Mouse, Sam Smith, Cage the Elephant, Houndmouth, Tweedy, and many more.BEYOND THE TUNES: You’re in Kentucky, so enjoying some brown water is a must. In addition to the tunes, this fest honors its home state’s great trade with a Bourbon Lodge. You can also check out more goods from the Bluegrass State at Kentucky Landing, which highlights local food and craft beer.FloydFestFloyd, Va. | July 22-26floydfest.comBasics: You reach FloydFest on Milepost 170.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Once there you find an unsuspecting 80-acre mountain plateau that becomes a multi-stage musical blowout, bridging the gap between Appalachian traditions and the melting pot of independent roots music from the around the rest of the world.BEST IF: You’re down to get lost in nine stages of music for five days in a remote Blue Ridge setting.BANDS ON THE BILL: This year FloydFest is packed with something for everyone. Headliners include Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Drive-By Truckers, Trampled by Turtles, Lord Huron, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and plenty more.BEYOND THE TUNES: The festival has added an impressive outdoor adventure program to its lengthy list of activities. The Moonstomper Mountain Bike Trail offers onsite singletrack, and there’s also an organized off-site 19-mile ride, the Belcher Mountain Beat Down, that features 1,600 feet of climb and offers shuttle service back to the festival. More adventure opportunities include guided hikes, disc golf, and organized paddling trips on the Little River.BACKSTAGE PASSKris Hodges founded FloydFest back in 2002, alongside partner Erika Johnson, as a way to showcase the unique progressive arts community in Floyd, Va. The small Blue Ridge town has been a haven for musicians, painters, and organic farmers since the ‘60s and still remains an off-the-beaten path beacon of creativity in the South. With the fourteenth installment of the festival on the horizon, Hodges gave us an inside perspective on managing growth and sticking to FloydFest’s initial vision.Early Roots FloydFest’s first line-up represented a bridge between the sounds of Appalachia and music from around the world. Regional hero Doc Watson shared a bill with the African Showboyz, while a modest crowd was exposed to Floyd’s culture. “In the first year the idea was to create social awareness globally,” Hodges says. “We wanted to use Floyd as an example of how communities can function through an old-school way of country living with a strong sense of barter, farm-to-table food, and organic farming. Floyd was started by people who left mainstream society to forge their own lives. People living there today are still outside the fray. We’ve gotten national attention, but we’ve never wanted to be mainstream. With FloydFest we’ve tried to forge our own path.”Keeping It Real Hodges has always resisted booking a major headliner that would bring a dominating crowd to the festival. Instead he crafts a roster of roots music artists of all stripes that come together for a colorful combination. The formula has worked. FloydFest attendance has swelled into the tens of thousands in recent years, causing Hodges to even reduce capacity. “We’ve found you get a lot more connectivity when the crowd is able to act as community. We want this festival to be sustainable, so we’re going to keep a small cohesive vibe.”More than Music “I’ve been a musician my whole life, but I’m also an avid backpacker and trail runner. I live in a yurt in the middle of the Blue Ridge. I want to be around like-minded people. Our crowd has been very receptive to our outdoor offerings. Our river trips sell out every year, and our 5K runs have been packed. This is a special place, located right off the Parkway, so we want people to experience what it has to offer beyond the music.”Favorite Memory “From the beginning I remember telling myself if I can get Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, and their whole crew on our stage, my work will be well done. When it happened in 2012, I remember walking through the crowd and seeing folks just smiling ear to ear, having the best times of their lives. That’s a great feeling—when you keep your integrity intact, you work hard, and it’s recognized.”Bristol Rhythm and Roots ReunionBristol, Tenn./Va. | September 18-20bristolrhythm.comBasics: Bristol is a historic musical city, the site of early recordings by the Carter Family and many more pioneers. Every fall the border town celebrates this lineage through a gala that incorporates roots music from all generations. This annual fest features a range of artists from national headliners to regional upstarts to down home Appalachian pickers playing along the bustling main drag of State Street (which straddles the Virginia/Tennessee line) on 22 stages—outdoors, inside theaters, and bars.BEST IF: You like a lively street party with a deep line-up of bands in a quaint Southern city.BANDS ON THE BILL: This year’s diverse lot of roots-music acts includes Steve Earle, Dr. Dog, Hot Rize, Balsam Range, Delbert McClinton, Strand of Oaks, and Moon Taxi.BEYOND THE TUNES: Take the opportunity to learn as well as listen by visiting the nearby Birthplace of Country Music Museum.Lockn’Arrington, VA | September 10-13locknfestival.comBasics: A jam fans paradise on the sprawling, idyllic Oak Ridge Farm, Lockn’ offers an alternative to the usual festival formula by holding bands on two massive side-by-side stages with no overlapping sets. Approaching just its third year, the festival has set a high bar by already hosting the likes of Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, and surviving members of the Grateful Dead. The fest is also known for orchestrating interesting collaborations between artists, like the first year’s pairing of John Fogerty with Widespread Panic.BEST IF: You miss the early years of Bonnaroo, when it debuted as a jam band marathon.BANDS ON THE BILL: Catch sets from Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh, and the String Cheese Incident, who will play one set in a special collaboration with the Doobie Brothers.BEYOND THE TUNES: Oak Ridge is a gorgeous property, and during the festival there are 30 miles of biking trails open to attendees. If you can’t bring your own bike, there is a demo fleet on site.Hopscotch FestivalRaleigh, N.C. | September 10-12hopscotchmusicfest.comBasics: Every year an eclectic mix of indie rock and experimental acts converge in downtown Raleigh for this annual festival that hosts shows in more than a dozen venues, including an amphitheater, theaters, and smaller bars and clubs.BEST IF: You’re cool with navigating a schedule of 160 bands at a variety of venues.BANDS ON THE BILL: Not announced yet but last year was headlined by Spoon, St. Vincent, De La Soul, and the War on Drugs.BEYOND THE TUNES: The greater Raleigh area has 18 breweries, and Beltline Brew Tours (beltlinebrewtours.com) has a range of options for tasting some of the best around the Triangle.Gauley FestSummersville, W.Va. | September 18-19americanwhitewater.orgBasics: Started back in 1983 as a victory dance to celebrate the derailment of a dam project that would have disrupted flows of the mighty Gauley, this bash brings together class V whitewater runs, live music, and boater shenanigans as the biggest paddling festival in the world. In addition to plenty of river time, you can score some great gear deals and catch up with a who’s who of industry folks in the whitewater marketplace.BEST IF: You’re a river junkie who loves to paddle and party.BANDS ON THE BILL: Not typically the focus of this fest. Expect some local or regional acts that will keep the fun going.BEYOND THE TUNES: Enjoy what you’ve come to celebrate and run the class V rapids of the Gauley. If you’re not a whitewater boater, jump in a raft with one of the area’s many outfitters.Brewgrass FestivalAsheville, N.C. | September 19brewgrassfestival.comBasics: New beer festivals keep popping up everywhere, but Brewgrass was around long before the current craft beer boom. Approaching its 19th year, the annual festival, now taking place at Asheville’s Memorial Stadium, features tasty offerings from 50 craft breweries and a full day of progressive bluegrass.BEST IF: You’re into day drinking, and lots of it.BANDS ON THE BILL: Acts this year include the Jeff Austin Band, Big Daddy Love, and the Packway Handle Band.BEYOND THE TUNES: If you have anything left in the tank, head to one of Asheville’s 18 breweries for one more round. Or maybe just go home and drink water.The Festy ExperienceRoseland, Va. | October 9-11thefesty.comBasics: This intimate fest sits on the scenic grounds of central Virginia’s Devils Backbone Brewery, hosting a long weekend of eclectic roots music combined with mountain sports, workshops, and local beer.BEST IF: You’re looking for a small family friendly festival with comfy camping spots and crisp fall weather.BANDS ON THE BILL: The Festy is always anchored by expansive bluegrass pickers The Infamous Stringdusters; many more acts to be announced soon.BEYOND THE TUNES: Wake up early on Saturday morning and run the Blue Ridge Burn, a 10K/5K trail race hosted by Blue Ridge Outdoors on the festival’s three-mile onsite trail network.Go Outside FestivalRoanoke, Va. | October 16-18roanokegofest.comBasics: Every fall, Roanoke’s River’s Edge Sports Complex turns into a mountain sports playground filled with running, biking, climbing, slacklining, paddling, and fishing. Set along the Roanoke River, this annual three-day fest features races, relaxed gear demos and clinics, and the chance to check out the latest and greatest from gear vendors.BEST IF: You want to celebrate your favorite sport or learn another.BANDS ON THE BILL: Still TBD, but count on regional acts to provide the soundtrack in the evening. Last year was headlined by the Hackensaw Boys.BEYOND THE TUNES: Another one that’s all about adventure. Run the trail half marathon, learn to roll a kayak, or enter the fly casting comp. Options are plentiful here, with 175 free activities, and you can camp on site. Craft beverages are also a big part of this fest. According to organizers, last year’s 20,000 attendees put back more than 12,000 beers.MerlefestTBD, 2016 | Wilkesboro, N.Cmerlfest.orgBasics: One of the country’s preeminent Americana festivals, Merlefest was started by late icon Doc Watson to honor his son and fellow musician Merle, who predeceased him. An estimated 80,000 people flock to the campus of Wilkes Community College for a huge line-up of artists that blur the lines between country, blues, bluegrass, and rock. This festival is dry, so the party truly revolves around the sounds. Grab an energy bar and bounce between 13 stages. Key tip: Don’t miss the midnight jam.BEST IF: You can’t get enough roots music.BANDS ON THE BILL: BRO’s guide comes out days after this festival finishes every year, but it’s too good not to mention. This year’s line-up featured the Avett Brothers, Dwight Yoakam, Bela Fleck, and Trampled by Turtles.BEYOND THE TUNES: Bring your instrument, as the Merlefest scene always has legendary picking circles at the nearby campgrounds. Also, bring your bike and the ride the flowy singletrack of the Kerr Scott Trails.
We’ve got another diverse array of videos clips for you this week. First up, a couple of Mexican black bears free solo a sheer cliff face. There’s also a set of flying Frenchies, some epic shredding of fresh Canadian single track, and a look at the trailer for the Carbondale, Colorado-based 5 Point Film Festival. This is highly-acclaimed film fest is coming to the Southeast this summer with events in Asheville, North Carolina on August 14 and 15. Blue Ridge Outdoors is proud to partner with the good folks at 5 Point to bring one of the country’s best outdoors film festivals to the Southeast for the first time.
THE DIRT is a weekly look at some of the most pressing outdoor news issues from around the Blue Ridge and Beyond.President Obama Announces Clean Power PlanOn August 3rd the United States Environmental Protection Agency released the final version of its Clean Power Plan. The plan marks the first ever national rule limiting the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can expel into the atmosphere. The aim of the plan is to protect public health while simulatenoutly curbing climate disruption.“Today’s announcement marks a critical opportunity to shift toward cleaner, more sustainable ways to power our lives and in turn create a major economic boost to our region,” said Tom Cormons, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices, an environmental advocacy group based in Boone, North Carolina. “Tens of thousands of clean energy jobs are already a key part of North Carolina’s economy. Not only are the Clean Power Plan’s goals for North Carolina achievable, but we’re well on our way to reaching them.”Pisgah Wildfire Expands to 900 AcresA wildfire burning in the Pisgah National Forest of Western North Carolina has expanded to 900 acres and is expected to continue growing. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the fire has continued to build despite a recent inch of rainfall. The fire was first reported on July 17 in an area known as Bald Knob just north of Lake James in McDowell County, North Carolina. Firefighters are actively working to contain the blaze. Learn more here.Man Claims to Have Spotted Bigfoot in Western North CarolinaEric Walters was staying in a cabin outside of Asheville, North Carolina when he reported to ABC 11 that he had an encounter with the legendary Bigfoot. Walters was walking his dog when he made this video which features a figure he claims is the elusive upright primate known as sasqautch.Beyond the Blue Ridge: Man Killed by Grizzly in YellowstoneA Yellowstone National Park employee is dead after a run in with a sow grizzly and her cubs on a popular hiking trail near the Lake Yellowstone Village. The Elephant Back loop trail, the trail where the attack occurred, is popular among tourists and employees in the Lake Yellowstone area of Yellowstone National Park. Learn more here.