Hannah Rose & The GravesTones, The Accidentals, Jill Jack, The Change, Less is More, The Mickeys and more ignited buoyant crowds on Day 1 of the Michigan music festival. (Photos, video)
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Buttermilk Jamboree pours out like warm milk laced with honey, like a tasty unpretentious wine, like a refreshing Michigan-brewed IPA served in a comfortable idyllic meadow with inviting music by the likes of Jill Jack, The Mickeys, Robin Connell & Kathy Lamar, Hannah Rose, Madcat-Schrock Duo, The Accidentals and so much more.
On Friday’s opening salvo of this unparalleled, family-fueled festival set at Circle Pines Center near Delton south of Grand Rapids even the sun smiled gleefully upon the thousands of attendees and musicians who couldn’t help but soak up and reflect that joyous mood in performances that echoed deep into the night.
“The weather today has been gorgeous,” gushed Ken Wylupski, a Buttermilk organizer who booked bands for the three-day festival that continues through Sunday. “If the weather is like this it will be outstanding all weekend.”
With rain moving in overnight, that remains to be seen.
But “outstanding” could well describe not only the national and regional talent – five dozen acts performing on several different stages (with headliner Slambovian Circus of Dreams playing Saturday night) – but the organizers, volunteers and festivalgoers who treat each other like members of one giant family, getting back together for a weekend reunion.
The eclectic lineup on the first day of this annual soiree ranged from lilting indie-folk/rock courtesy of The Mickeys, Jill Jack and Northern Fires to bluesier sets from Madcat-Schrock Duo, The Change and Hannah Rose & The GravesTones to jazz courtesy of Connell and Lamar to the cutting edge dance-pop of Less Is More and alt-folk of The Accidentals (who also will open today’s Founders Fest in Grand Rapids).
The point for many, like singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Eric Engblade, was to “get people up and dancing” – something accomplished in spades by bands like Less Is More, Hannah Rose & The GravesTones and The Accidentals, who had an elbow-to-elbow throng happily engaged well past midnight at the Sugar Bush Stage.
For others, it was a singular opportunity to showcase message-filled music for a rapt audience.
Here are a few highlights, some “seen and heards” from Day 1:
• “I’m more into heavy metal music, and they play mostly folk music here, but I still really like it because of all of the emotion and feeling. I also love the instrumentation that they have here, and the variety of instruments.” – Jasmine Rios, multi-instrumentalist, daughter of the bassist for The Change (who also “absolutely loved” the set by Connell and Lamar)
• After contemporary folk duo Channing & Quinn played the Kids’ Commons Tent Friday, a young boy of 4 or 5, came up and began stomping on the kick drum pedal. Instead of scolding him or leading him away, the duo laughed. “I guess we know what he’s going to grow up to be,” quipped Channing Lee.
• “I would think of it as a folk festival, but that is like calling WYCE (88.1 FM) a folk station. There is so much more to the event than just one style of music.” – Connell, the West Michigan Jazz Society’s musician of the year.
• The Change brought harmonica player Peter “Madcat” Ruth to the Beer Tent Stage for a “dueling harmonicas” session with the band’s harp player, Jack Ellliott, igniting a fiery rendition of B.B. King’s classic blues hit, “The Thrill is Gone.” Contrary to the song title, the solo magic unfurled by those on stage shot life into everyone watching, ensuring a rousing standing ovation.
• “I like the community aspect of the festival. I like that everybody can get together and organize an event like this. I like the activism and support that Circle Pines gives to environmental groups.” – Justin Lundeed, second-year festival volunteer
• “This festival is definitely unique, especially because of its long history and close proximity to all of the historic buildings here at Circle Pines.” – Barb Weatherhead, performer in The Weatherheads (who play the Sugar Bush Stage at 11 a.m. Saturday) — Story by John Sinkevics, Matt Marn and Schyler Perkins
Get more information about the festival and a Saturday-Sunday schedule you can save on your smartphone in this Local Spins preview.
VIDEO: Buttermilk Jamboree 2017: Day 1 Highlights
PHOTO GALLERY: Buttermilk Jamboree 2017: Day 1
Photos by Anna Sink, Matt Marn, John Sinkevics
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