Attendance surged significantly on Days 2 and 3 for the return of Camp Greensky, which showcased the iconic Little Feat as well as numerous on-stage collaborations and camaraderie. Recap, photos, video.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERIES AND VIDEO
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
“The second step! Hop on the second step!”
“Farmer” John Crissman is yelling with urgency from the helm of his growling John Deer tractor, welcoming me aboard.
It’s dusk on Saturday — Day 3 of the Camp Greensky Music Festival — and he’s towing the mobile wagon stage. There’s a lot happening in the moment. We’re on a dirt road behind main stage and Crissman and his whimsical wooden stage are being escorted by a procession of ATVs.
I follow his directions and leap aboard the moving tractor. We shout back and forth over the hum of the engine.
Greensky Bluegrass can be heard strumming and picking during its third lengthy set in three days, performing for a roaring crowd, now a few yards behind us.
“It couldn’t be better. I’m so thrilled that Little Feat was here. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It took me three songs to quit crying from joy. And I couldn’t be happier about it. To have them here at the farm,” said Crissman, owner of southern Kent County’s Shagbark Farm, which is now a bustling, bona fide concert venue.
“I used to listen to them. My oldest tractor came with an 8-track player. And that was one of the tapes that we wore out in the thing. Fond, fond memories.”
The sun has set and with the last sliver of afterlight, Crissman and his team (strapped with radios and roving about in ATVs) park the stage in the divot of a grassy knoll. The main stage can no longer be seen but is still heard.
After confirming the final location of the rambling stage, Crissman and I make our way back to the main festival grounds via an antler-clad ATV. We bounce along the hilly pastures.
“It’s humbling and too emotional to properly convey what it feels like to facilitate so much love and happiness. Music festivals such as this are transformational experiences. I am eternally grateful,” Crissman said after the conclusion of the fest held for the first time on his farm.
Over the course of the three-day festival which featured 14 different performances, attendance grew steadily each evening. By Saturday the crowd of thousands was massive.
FAMILIAR FACES, HEARTWARMING REUNIONS, GROOVY JAMS
Highlights included a plethora of guest appearances on stage by Michigan native and bluegrass favorite Lindsay Lou, who played the role of “artist at large.” When I catch up with her backstage and ask if she’ll text me a quote later, she responds simply and warmly.
“oh. my. goodness. i’m home.” she wrote over messenger Saturday afternoon.
With a revolving wardrobe and a revelatory voice, Lindsay Lou is somewhat of a bluegrass celebrity these days, especially during West Michigan summers. She guested on sets with Steppin’ In It, Little Feat and Greensky Bluegrass.
Another highlight included a last-minute appearance by northern Michigan singer-songwriter Seth Bernard on Saturday afternoon, filling in for the Jon Stickley Trio, which was forced to cancel its set due to illness.
“It warmed my heart to see so many happy people from the stage. Both dear friends and new faces. Young and old. I could feel a collective relief, and gratitude, for all of us being able to gather together again,” Bernard said.
At one point, mandolinist Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass jammed with Bernard for a delicate, dialed-in acoustic guitar duel.
Perhaps the most rollicking set of the weekend came with the iconic Little Feat, which has been crisscrossing the country on the 45th anniversary tour behind its classic “Waiting for Columbus” live album. The powerhouse band delivered groovy jams, pocketed grooves, sing-alongs for some of its memorable tunes and plenty of swagger.
But it was, indubitably, the presence of such warm, kind and compassionate festival attendees that made any of the above remotely possible.
In the early dawn hours on Sunday, one campsite could still be heard spinning Gillian Welch’s album, “Revelator,” as a closing homage to the weekend.
In hushed tones, the attendees conversed and passed along a joint, as well as the love and good vibes they’d soaked up over a rejuvenating weekend of music and communal celebration.
Read the recap, browse photos and watch the video from Day 1 at Local Spins here.
PHOTO GALLERY: Camp Greensky at Shagbark Farm (Day 2)
Photos by Anna Sink
Photos by Anna Sink
VIDEO: Camp Greensky (Days 2 and 3)
Copyright 2022, Spins on Music LLC