The southern Kent County festival’s final salvo began with a sultry bang on Thursday, featuring standout sets by MonoNeon, Mungion, Desmond Jones, Cosmic Knot and more. The recap and photos at Local Spins.
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Even before headliner MonoNeon’s lengthy soundcheck had wrapped up in mid-afternoon Thursday, a few hearty fans were bobbing and grooving in the sizzling sunshine of Cowpie Music Festival on Shagbark Farm in southern Kent County.
Toledo’s Cactus Jack had actually gotten folks jamming even earlier in the day on the mobile Haywagon Stage as the final Cowpie festival turned up the volume knobs for a weekend of musical frolicking on the farm.
By the time West Michigan’s Cosmic Knot cranked up its infectious, psychedelic noodling and wizardry for the official first main stage set, the family-friendly crowd had slowly started to grow, and the head-bobbing and grooving multiplied even further with the late afternoon set from Chicago’s instrumentally adroit, genre-bending Mungion — all as temperatures rose into the upper 80s amid high humidity that also cranked up the sweatiness.
With three stages to choose from, and sporting around 50 bands, Cowpie 2022 aims to go all out for its last showing before being rebranded as Shagbark Music Festival in future years.
“The festival is pretty cool. I wish I would have come sooner because it’s been going on for so long,” said attendee Andrew Napora of Kentwood, who was particularly eager to catch MonoNeon and Overdrive Orchestra. “I was also excited to see Dopapod, Mungion and a lot of other great local bands.”
One of those local acts, Grand Rapids jam band Desmond Jones, has made Cowpie a tradition in recent years and played the first of two weekend sets early Thursday evening.
“The strength of Cowpie is the Shagbark Farm and its beautiful festival grounds. It’s also been going on for 15 years and that has helped it generate a strong family, community and legacy,” said drummer John Nowak. “It’s a point of pride to see our name on a reputable festival poster. It means a lot for us to be here and represent the West Michigan music community.”
Performing many tracks from their back catalog, and even some from an upcoming record, Desmond Jones got the crowd up and dancing thanks to their infectious country-hued jams on the “American Bandstand” stage.
Closing out that stage on opening night was the national touring act MonoNeon, aka Memphis bassist Dywane Thomas Jr., who led a five-piece jazz/R&B fusion group that brought a ridiculous amount of groove and funk to the table.
Performing many of his big hits and extending them into 20-plus-minute jam sessions, MonoNeon and company revved up the crowd with their stellar musicianship. Many songs started slow, adding more instrumental layers, until finally morphing into a full-blown musical freight train, barreling toward the audience at rapid speed. Indeed, the rising volume levels created monolithic walls of sound for much of MonoNeon’s set.
The festival continues today on three stages, starting in late morning and running into the wee hours, including sets by Dopapod, Biomassive, The Legal Immigrants, Lady Ace Boogie, The Bootstrap Boys, Tunde Olaniran, Pink Sky and more. View the schedule below. Day passes are $70 Friday and $85 Saturday; details here.
PHOTO GALLERY: Cowpie Music Festival Day 1
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker and Anna Sink
COWPIE 2022: FRIDAY AND SATURDAY SCHEDULES
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