The Memorial Day weekend festival along Lake Michigan has become a tradition for many, with performances by more than a dozen Michigan artists. The schedule and details at Local Spins.
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Enthusiasm for the annual Memorial Day weekend Bus Benefit hosted by Buses by the Beach runs high with musicians and music lovers alike.
As one of West Michigan’s first music festivals of the summer, longtime devotees of the VW bus-happy, three-day affair at Camp Blodgett along Lake Michigan between Holland and Grand Haven rave about the family-friendly, camaraderie-laden event.
“The community is strong at Buses by the Beach. All of the lakeshore homeys come out to support the cause, the Michigan music scene shows up in full force on stage and in the crowd,” said Dobro whiz Mark Lavengood, who performs with King Possum on Sunday, but has played Bus Benefit in past years with Lindsay Lou and Mark Lavengood Band.
“And, it’s hosted at Camp Blodgett, a kids’ summer camp where I actually used to be a camp counselor back in the day.”
With 10 Michigan bands playing the main stage over the weekend, and several additional acts on the more acoustically oriented Woods Stage on Saturday, the 2023 Bus Benefit powers up as a showcase of local and regional music.
Friday’s rootsy music kicks off with The Junky Swinger and a traditional opening-night set from country/folk/rock’s Nicholas James & The Bandwagon. After an afternoon children’s talent show and open-mic, indie-rock’s Low Phase gets Saturday evening’s entertainment started, followed by Celtic music’s CrossBow, “soul ’n’ roll” jam band Fat Animals and bluegrass outfit Full Cord.
Early Sunday evening sets kick off with The Reverend Jesse Ray, followed by honky-tonk country’s King Possum, Americana’s Roosevelt Diggs and roots rock/Americana’s Brother Elsey. Loren Johnson, Shantyland (with Ben Traverse and Michael Dause), Katie Pederson and Eric O’Daly heat up the Woods Stage on Saturday.
Beyond musical performances, the festival – which raises money for the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors – also boasts camping, a raffle and silent auction, family activities, a rock-climbing wall, nature trails and more.
“Being a 100 percent non-profit organization, our passion is raising funds and awareness for the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors,” said Jon Shears, one of the festival organizers and a member of the band Roosevelt Diggs, which is celebrating its 13th year of playing Bus Benefit. “The gathering of friends old and new, the camaraderie of all who attend and the beautiful atmosphere that surrounds the entire weekend is all based around this.”
Advance weekend passes are $100, with non-VW bus vehicle passes costing $30. RV passes are sold out. Get passes and details here.
And as a bonus attraction, several of the weekend’s performers – including Loren Johnson, The Junky Swinger, King Possum. Roosevelt Diggs and others – have new music to unfurl for attendees.
“We’ve got an album we’re currently putting the finishing touches on that we recorded in my studio, The Bear Den,” Lavengood said. “We’ll be playing all of the hits at our set at Buses by the Beach this Sunday.”
Shears said Roosevelt Diggs has “spent the better part of this year prepping for and recording a full-length album to be released in the fall. We’re excited to kick off this 2023 festival season and be able to show off a bunch of new music”
VIDEO: King Possum, “Kiss Me One More Time”
VIDEO: Brother Elsey, “Good Trouble”
VIDEO: Full Cord, “Teardrops in My Eyes”
VIDEO: Bus Benefit (Highlights from 2018)
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