While New Orleans claims the Jazz and Heritage Festival each spring, a northern cousin is eyeing the turf. Move over Big Easy, there's a jumpin' new jazz festival coming out of Rochester, New York. The inaugural Rochester International Jazz Festival (June 3-9) will be held at a dozen venues around the Lake Ontario Finger Lakes region. What organizers call "multigenre creative improvised" translates to us common folk as straight-ahead acoustic music that sticks to the jazz formula. The opening-night gala includes United Nations ambassadors, a four-course dinner, and the Woody Herman Orchestra featuring Freddy Cole, brother of Nat King. Insider's tip: Pick up a $25 Jazz Pass that gets you into several of the local jazz clubs and access to 25 different performances.

And, of course, there's the longest-running jazz festival in the world, the Monterey Jazz Festival, which draws 40,000 and takes place September 20-22 on a 20-acre oak-studded fairground, the same spot it's been held at since 1958. Five hundred artists will take seven stages. Ponder the performers who got their start here - Joshua Redman, Diana Krall - and it's clear this is the venue to catch the famous and the soon to be.

Just think of the word blues and the first place that comes to mind is … Ohio, right? It is if you're a member of the Greater Cincinnati Blues Society, which puts on the Queen City Blues Festival. Heading into its 11th year, the music flows - for free - August 1-3 in the Bicentennial Commons of Sawyer Point Park on the Ohio River. Previous acts that have graced the platforms include the Blues and Rhythm Kings, Coco Montoya, Kenny Neal, and Roy Gaines.