Andrew Bender

Review: Hoxeyville Music Festival

Hoxeyville Music Festival: Aug. 19 – 21

Set on 80 acres of northern Michigan field and forest, the 9th Annual Hoxeyville Music Festival proved once again that a homegrown music fest can give fans an experience that corporate sponsorships and venture capital simply cannot touch. However, one must also take heed that if the biggest festivals can be rife with organizational SNAFUs, then smaller fests can be a veritable logistical clusterfuck. As with many small festivals, the emphasis tends to fall as much on the overall experience as the music itself. To that end, Hoxeyville featured its own disc golf course, surprisingly tasty food from local vendors and an incredible a host of the best roots music that Michigan has to offer as well as regional up-and-comers and national headlining acts.

This year’s Hoxeyville Festival kicked off with a special Thursday ‘Soundcheck’ performance by Kalamazoo, Michigan stringsters Greensky Bluegrass. Those who arrived in time to see the band were witness to the chaos of fences still being erected, volunteers giving conflicting info to festivalgoers and other issues that shouldn’t have been. A word to festival organizers everywhere – if you’re going to invite people to come a day early, please be prepared for their arrival. But despite the low-level chaos, confusion and clamoring sounds of fence posts being pounded into the ground, I’d still return again and again if invited back.

Slated to play a 90-minute set on Saturday, HT favorites Greensky Bluegrass treated a smaller group of pre-sale ticket buyers, VIPs, and media to a somewhat relaxed but ultimately killer set of originals and covers. Highlights from the set included Dry County > Time (Pink Floyd cover) > Dry County, Little Red Corvette, Help! and Beat It as well as apropos renditions of Hoxeyville, and Tied Down (to Michigan) in addition to tunes from their recently released Handguns EP including the title track and I’d Probably Kill You. Mandolin player Paul Hoffman commented that they knew the names all of the couple of hundred people in attendance for the soundcheck set – rather fitting given this year marked Greensky’s eighth consecutive appearance, truly making them the Hoxeyville house band.

READ ON for more on Hoxeyville 2011…

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All Good Diary: Sunday FestivaLog

After a Saturday jam-packed with music at the 15th annual All Good Music Festival, I was looking forward to Sunday’s lighter lineup. One of the biggest challenges of open field tent camping at a music festival is partying  into the wee hours and trying to get adequate sleep, without being cooked alive in your tent in the morning summer sun like broccoli in a bamboo steamer.

After waking up in my own personal sauna and cooling off in the West Virginia mountain air I headed up to the stage area where Sunday openers All Mighty Senators were already on the main Dragon Stage. The Baltimore-based funk-soul quintet was working hard to bring their P-Funkesque sound to the noontime set; unfortunately, their set was one of the less well attended of the weekend, probably because so many folks had taken full advantage of Saturday’s final All Good late night sets – or they were still in their tents, being braised in their own juices.

Following the Senators on the Dragon Stage were Michigan-based stringsters Greensky Bluegrass whose Saturday Rock n’ Roll in Disguise playshop set at the Grassroots Stage showed one reason why they continue to garner attention. Unlike the previous day that featured covers of songs by Talking Heads, Prince and Traffic, Sunday’s set featured mostly originals and roots covers. A sizeable audience was on hand to see GB play mostly older tunes like All Four, the Reverend and No Idea which were supplemented by a strong cover of Townes Van Zandt’s White Freightliner Blues. Closing our their hour long set mandolin player Paul Hoffman took lead vocals on a newer original tune Don’t Lie (not to be confused with the Black Eyed Peas song of the same name) that demonstrated even greater maturity in their consistently skillful songwriting.

READ ON for more from Sunday at the All Good fest…

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