Expanding this year to three days, Thursday’s opening day on Shagbark Farm in southern Kent County oozed musical charm with sets by UV Hippo, Grasshoppah, Covert and White Rabbit. Recap, photos, video.
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“We’re jellin’,” he said, with a grin.
That was probably an understatement, considering that the Grand Rapids jam band’s second set took on an absolutely epic, other-wordly quality with a big boost from a special guest, Chicago jazz fusion guitarist Fareed Haque, who helped turn Shagbark Farm in Alaska in southern Kent County into a groovy alternate universe of musical wonder.
Proving its mettle as a jam band that’s every ounce as talented and inspiring as any on the national scene (these guys deserve a main stage slot at Electric Forest), UV Hippo rolled out everything from Pink Floyd-fueled psychedelia to potent prog-rock to fluid funk to Southern rock (paying tribute to the late Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers with a blistering rendition of “Midnight Rider”).
Indeed, everything about Cowpie was “jellin’,” from the gleeful throng of attendees who kicked off the three-day event for the first time on a Thursday night to the storm clouds passing through Michigan that somehow skirted this working cattle farm-turned-festival site for the performances on the main stages, which this year featured new decorative adornments (a giant piano keyboard and two guitars).
‘A GREAT THURSDAY NIGHT START’
Devotees in the Cowpie herd came early and came ready to party, cheering opener White Rabbit and auspicious Cowpie second-timers Covert, which played in between UV Hippo’s sets.
Bluegrass fusion favorites Grasshoppah – on a Michigan reunion tour – wrapped it all up with a post-midnight set worthy of “Cowpie Legend” status, playing a special tented stage deep in the campground. (Grasshoppah and UV Hippo both play again on Saturday.)
“I’m impressed by the Thursday night crowd,” said an appropriately optimistic Farmer John Crissman, ranch owner and chief Cowpie organizer who sported a multi-colored beard for the occasion and who asked all the bands to cover a Bob Dylan song in keeping with the festival’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” theme.
“It’s a great Thursday night start.”
As always, the mood backstage (and in front of the stage) for the 15th year of this rootsy spectacle was upbeat and chock full of camaraderie, from several hundred veteran Cowpie-goers getting reacquainted with friends to “calves” experiencing the festival’s charm for the first time.
“So good to be back, y’all,” gushed Kedree Young, lead singer and guitarist for Flint’s Covert during the band’s audience-pleasing set.
My sentiments exactly.
VIDEO: Cowpie Music Festival 2017, Day 1
PHOTO GALLERY: Cowpie Music Festival 2017, Opening Day
Photos by Anna Sink, John Sinkevics
VIDEO: UV Hippo with Fareed Haque at Cowpie 2017
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC