Here at Madison Records, we spend a lot of time in the studio. We love working with artists to get their sound just right, and finding the right mix to show off vocals or a really cool solo. But getting out of the studio and playing in front of people is just as important as the time spent perfecting things inside. That’s what we love about spring, the opportunity for playing at music festivals, where outdoor venues attract large audiences with a wide range of tastes.

The great thing about festivals, as opposed to a concert at a bar or theater, is that you get to hear so many different bands play. There’s a variety of genres, and the atmosphere is great too, with good food and crowds ready to have fun.

From a musician’s standpoint, festivals are a great way to get more exposure. Because of other attractions, such as food or artwork, festivals attract a variety of people. Some who maybe aren’t even there to see the bands, but end up listening to them and maybe even giving you a chance to win over some new fans.

One of Madison Records’ own musicians, Chelsea Shag, is on the line-up for this year’s Sweetwater 420 Fest, and she is excited about the opportunity. “I have always loved going to music festivals, they enlighten my spirit and my ability to see my dreams unfold,” Chelsea says. “As a performer, festivals are just an amazing space to share with people. I love to see a huge crowd in front of me, and I feel I can let go of myself more. I just can’t wait to feel all that love!”

We’ve picked out a few of our favorite music festivals. Check out Chelsea at the Sweetwater 420 Fest and plan to attend a few others this spring.

SweetWater 420 Fest
April 21-23, 2017
Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, GA

Madison Records’ own Chelsea Shag is part of the line-up of this 3-day festival, joining Widespread Panic, Futuristic, The Werks, Patrick Morgan, Dopapod, and many others on three stages. The event started 13 years ago as a way to celebrate Earth Day, and this music festival remains environmentally-centric, with Planet 420 Eco-Village that features hands-on workshops to learn how to be more eco-friendly in daily living. There’s also a cornhole tournament, a 5K, and tastings of SweetWater Brewing Co.’s craft beers.

Shaky Knees Music Festival
May 12-14, 2017
Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, GA

A relatively new festival, this rock-fest started in 2013 to showcase a diverse line-up of up-and-coming artists and world-renowned acts. This year’s line-up of more than 60 bands includes the Pixies, LCD Soundsystem, Ryan Adams, Third Eye Blind, Bishop Briggs, Car Seat Head Rest, Twin Peaks, Con Brio and many others. A fantastic line-up of food trucks helps stave off hunger, with everything from BBQ to vegetarian corn dogs.

Atlanta Jazz Festival
May 26-28, 2017
Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA

One of the largest, free jazz festivals in the country is right in our own backyard! It was born out of the city’s commitment to ensure everyone who resides in and visits Atlanta will have easy access to high-quality cultural experiences. Kick off summer this Memorial Day weekend with the smooth sounds of Cleveland P. Jones, Danii Roundtree, Frank Houston, Harriet Tubman: The Band, Macy Gray, The Joe Gransden Big Band, and more.

Candler Park Music & Food Festival
June 2-3, 2017
Candler Park, Atlanta, GA

Chelsea Shag’s here too! Along with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, the Motet, Railroad Earth and others. It wouldn't be called music and food without a great line-up of food trucks, serving mac & cheese, tacos, corn dogs, noodle bowls and lots of other fun food. Proceeds from this festival benefit Atlanta Contact Point, an organization that hosts free play days in Atlanta parks.

Get out of the city!
There’s a lot of music in Atlanta, but there are also fun festivals to explore in other parts of the state as well.

AthFest Music and Arts Festival
June 23-27, 2017
Athens, GA

Bringing the best local and regional musicians and visual artists together in downtown Athens, this festival attracts an eclectic mix of people. Proceeds from this festival go to support music and arts education for youth and schools in the community. Because of its emphasis on youth and music, this festival includes kid-friendly bands and the UpNext Showcase where middle and high-school students get a chance to perform.

Bragg Jam Concert Crawl
July 28-29, 2017
Macon, GA

This event started out as an impromptu tribute to two brothers and musicians, Brax and Tate Bragg, who died in a car accident in 1999. Today the concert has grown into a major community event, and proceeds go to causes that meant a lot to the Bragg boys, including the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and Amerson River Park. This year’s line-up features Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Frank Hurricane, Gringo Star, Opposite Box, Me and Molly and more.

Tanner Hendon