Local Spins has compiled some of the top highlights from the three-day celebration on Shagbark Farm over the weekend, along with photos and videos.
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If after two decades, this really was the final Cowpie Music Festival, it went out with a steamy, fiery, musically rollicking bang.
The three-day affair on Shagbark Farm near Caledonia had it all — from electronically oriented jam bands to hip hop to rousing country to rock and folk to blues from the legendary Jimmie Stagger (who headlined the first Cowpie and came out of retirement for the weekend fest).
Founded by personable Shagbark Farm owner “Farmer” John Crissman, the musical action from more than four dozen bands for Cowpie 2022 rolled out amid heat and high humidity on three different stages for an enthusiastic cadre of campers who reveled in live jams, fire dancers, food, beer and merch vendors and more.
Here are some highlights, courtesy of Local Spins writers Benjamin Blackburn, Holly Holtzclaw and Robert Novak.
And revisit a recap — with photo gallery — from Day 1 of Cowpie here: Cowpie Music Festival kicks up hooves with jam-band fervor, sweltering heat on Day 1.
HOTTEST COWPIE HIGHLIGHTS
Motor City Josh & The Big 3 – Returning to Cowpie after a decade-long hiatus, blues rippers Motor City Josh & The Big Three proved their blues chops with the many festivalgoers. Rocking the American Bandstand stage early Saturday evening, the band spent 90 minutes laying down top-shelf blues with earth-scorching guitar solos. Frontman Josh Ford even came down from the stage to play amid the crowd during a cover of “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers Band.
Galactic Sherpas – This northern Michigan nine-piece blues-infused reggae band brought funk and style to the main stage Saturday Afternoon. The Galactic Sherpas brought the crowd to their feet with everything from trumpets to congas to keyboards.
Patty PerShayla & The Mayhaps – Not just any vocalist has the power to match the volume and energy of the Mayhaps and their heavy guitar riffs, but PerShayla does it effortlessly, proving that on the Soul Train Stage Friday night. With a solid mix of fast-paced rock songs and some slower, more bluesy tracks, the band attracted listeners who could hear the music from afar to the shaded, partially hidden stage. The Grand Rapids group now based in Nashville was tickled to return to West Michigan. “The lineup variety and seeing some local bands and national bands together in beautiful harmony” are some of the things that make Cowpie so special, Pershayla said. “I’m really excited to see Dopapod.”
Act Casual – Playing the American Bandstand state on Saturday afternoon, Act Casual was a band of few words, but its mostly instrumental set spoke for itself. The Detroit-based outfit powered through the mid-afternoon heat with a set full of funky bass riffs, plenty of synth, and even some distorted vocals that added to the music’s hypnotic feel. They were met with enthusiastic cheers from the crowd that grew steadily as their set went on and broke into nonstop jam sessions that lasted up to 10 minutes. “Everyone’s been really kind and welcoming,” said drummer Justin Tullius. “It seems like a really humble place to play music, so I enjoy the hospitality for sure.”
Melophobix – Melophobix uncaged the funk on the American Bandstand stage at 6 p.m. Friday. The Grand Rapids band used diverse and heavy instrumentals to meld genres from blues to ska.
Zack Volkers’ Cowpie All Stars – Featuring an ever-changing lineup of special guests from a multitude of acts on the Cowpie 2022 lineup, this West Michigan group covered genres from funk to folk and everything in between during its Friday afternoon slot on the American Bandstand stage. With 20 musicians on stage at one point, the group broke the record for most musicians on one stage at Cowpie, according to festival founder Farmer John. Despite being from such different bands, each combination of musicians that took the stage during this performance worked together seamlessly in celebrating the festival they love.
Earth Radio – Revving up the Soul Train stage early Saturday evening, Grand Rapids’ Earth Radio performed an otherworldly set filled with futuristic funk and supersonic soul.
Sophistafunk – Sophistafunk’s Jack Brown rapped over groovy keyboards and jazzy drums as the sun set on the American Bandstand stage Saturday, creating a captivating set by the New York band.
MonoNeon – Headlining the American Bandstand stage on Thursday, Memphis phenom MonoNeon and his band brought lengthened versions of many of their popular tracks. Splitting things into two sets — thanks to the sheer length of their performance — the musicians closed out the first day of Cowpie on a lean diet of funky bass lines and tasty grooves.
CLASSIC COWPIE QUOTES
“My brother and I mostly came out to see Melophobix, but all the bands have been great and it’s a cool festival all around.” – Nolan Chamberlain, Lansing
“I’m relatively new to the band, so this is my first time performinat Cowpie, but it’s been amazing. It was an honor to get to perform on the same stage that Dopapod is about to play on.” – Troy Novak, drummer for Traverse City’s Biomassive
“Cowpie is very relaxing and low-key and the people are also so friendly, they don’t bring trouble. I’m a friend of Farmer John and I’ve always known him to be very passionate about local music and also appreciates national acts as well.” – Rosee Douthett, Rockford
“Farmer John is the reason we’re back for Cowpie. He remembers the old days. This festival is pretty unique. … Farmer John is also a character. He lets us come out to his house and party.” – Josh Ford of Motor City Josh & The Big 3
“The camping, the music, all the people. It’s just fun. It’s like a big party.” – Jackie Meeuwenberg, Newaygo
“I’ve been here a couple of times and it’s really fun. We go to a lot of festivals. I liked the fire dancing last night a lot.” – Micah Sebastian, Petoskey
“I love the laid-back family vibe and how inclusive it is. It’s fun to see people of all ages getting down at Cowpie.” – MacKenzie Keener, metro Detroit
“This is an amazing piece of land and it’s filled with amazing musicians, so it’s bound to be a good time. It feels like being home.” – Joe Chamberlin, frontman for FlyLiteGemini
PHOTO GALLERY: Cowpie Music Festival 2022
Photos by Anna Sink
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
Photos by Derek Ketchum