Inaugural Hog Farm Hideaway Keeps the Grooves Flowing with String Cheese Incident and Friends (FESTIVAL REVIEW/PHOTOS)

Originally scheduled for 2020, and postponed for two years due to the pandemic, it seemed that the Hog Farm Hideaway might happen, well…when pigs fly. But finally, on Friday, June 10th, the Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, California came alive with eager fans, vendors, musicians and production crew ready to celebrate this long overdue family reunion.

Featuring three nights of The String Cheese Incident, Hog Farm Hideaway was foreseen as an event bringing together String Cheese fans in a festival environment, a situation that has been lacking on the west coast since the winding down of Oregon’s legendary Horning’s Hideout Incidents, the last of which occurred in 2013. My first experiences with Keller Williams, Scott Law, New Monsoon, and Hot Buttered Rum all happened years ago during String Cheese Incident weekends at Horning’s Hideout, so seeing these artists on the Hog Farm Hideaway lineup definitely gave a feeling of nostalgia.

The family vibe was evident from the onset, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Black Oak Ranch itself made for some happy campers. The aptly-named property does indeed feature towering oak trees that provide shelter and shade, a creek that offers the perfect way to relax and cool off, and open fields that make for flat camping spots for hundreds of campsites. The festival was set up to accommodate kids of all ages, with a fully-scheduled children’s area, a healing sanctuary, art installations, enough food and shopping to satisfy all the cravings, and as one might expect in Mendocino County, a cannabis lounge. 

The Hog Farm Hideaway 2022 was dedicated to the memory of Jesse Aratow, The String Cheese Incident’s longtime tour manager and agent, who passed away suddenly in the fall of 2021. On Saturday night, after Wavy Gravy’s introduction of The String Cheese Incident, the band and crowd joined in a toast to the man, who’s motto, “Keep the Dream Alive,” helped the festival’s creators push through the uncertain times leading up to the event.

The drought of live music events over the past couple of years seems to have made fans and musicians alike even more passionate and appreciative. Every band on the bill brought their A-game. The Hog Farm Hideaway lineup didn’t designate any artists-at-large, but musicians were cross-pollinating throughout the weekend. In particular, Holly Bowling seemed to be following me around, appearing with Hot Buttered Rum and Cosmic Twang in addition to two sets with her band Ghost Light and her powerful solo piano set on the main stage. Hot Buttered Rum invited Bill and Jillian Nershi, Keller Wiliams, members of the Dead Winter Carpenters and The Real Sarahs to run through a version of Eddie Rabbit’s “Drivin’ My Life Away.” Jason Hann sat in with The Sweet Lillies, while Bill Nershi and Keith Moseley both seized the opportunity to get some licks in with Cosmic Twang, the latter leading the group through The Grateful Dead’s “Brown-Eyed Women.”

After enjoying perfect weather Friday and Saturday, waking up to rain and cool temperatures on Sunday morning brought few complaints. The rain provided as much healing for the land of California as the music and community of Hog Farm Hideaway provided for the festival patrons. After the last couple of long, anxiety-filled years, it was nice to take a collective deep breath under the shade of an oak grove and to see tensions melt away under the California sun. The weekend was a glowing success. If the Hog Farm Hideaway becomes an annual event, well, we’ll all be in hog heaven.

The String Cheese Incident, 2022-6-10

Set I: Outside and Inside, Little Hands > Laytonville Jam > Dudley’s Kitchen, Shakin’ The Tree, Sweet Spot, Shantytown > Wavy Jam > Let’s Go Outside

Set II: Blackberry Blossom, The Big Reveal, Black Clouds > Rasta Man > Black Clouds, Purple Strains, BollyMunster, It Is What It Is > Restless Wind

Encore: Don’t Let Go

The String Cheese Incident, 2022-6-11

Set I: Wavy Gravy Intro, Toast for Jesse, Best Feeling > Can’t Wait Another Day, Angeline the Baker > Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance, Give Me The Love, Valley of the Jig, Joyful Sound > Trip the Light Fantastic

Set II: Howard > Colorado Bluebird Sky, Lend Me A Hand, Bhangra Saanj, All We Got, Land’s End > Big Hog Farm Jam > Glory Chords, Close Your Eyes > Howard

Encore: Smile

Notes: Best Feeling features Keller Williams on guitar/vocals, Can’t Wait Another Day features Keller Williams on percussion

The String Cheese Incident, 2022-6-12

Set I: Got What He Wanted, Round the Wheel, Can’t Stop Now, Manga, Miss Brown’s Teahouse, Shine, Infamous Jam > I Know You Rider

Set II: Into the Blue, Dirk, One Step Closer, Gone Crooked, Hi Ho No Show, This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) > Heads Up Jam > Percussion, Rollover

Encore I: Beautiful

Encore II: Midnight Moonlight > Cherokee Shuffle

Notes: Miss Brown’s Teahouse features Scott Law on guitar, Infamous Jam > I Know You Rider features Andy Hall on Dobro, This Must Be The Place through Rollover features Gary Kehoe on percussion

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