Thousands of festivalgoers romped amid Wellston’s oasis in Manistee National Forest, cheering Marcus King, Molly Tuttle, Full Cord, The Crane Wives and a revamped Airborne or Aquatic. Highlights, photos.
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The 2023 edition of Hoxeyville Music Festival boasted a treasure trove of musical delights and surprises.
Last weekend’s romp amid the Manistee National Forest in Wellston featured crowd-attracting sets by blues-rock hero Marcus King, award-winning bluegrass guitarist Molly Tuttle and psych-rock/funk’s Circles Around the Sun.
Then there was the on-stage camaraderie demonstrated by the likes of guitarist-singer Luke Winslow-King filling in for the ailing Seth Bernard (recently hospitalized for back issues) in Airborne or Aquatic, and joined by singer Lindsay Lou and other guests in a heartwarming Saturday spectacle.
Or how about the audience love demonstrated for folk-rock’s The Crane Wives, who are back performing in triumphant fashion and set to launch a fall tour filled with sold-out dates across the country?
And who could have envisioned an on-stage mishap involving a cowbell and a lighter? Certainly not Full Cord mandolinist Brian Oberlin, who’ll certainly search more diligently for a drumstick the next time the opportunity comes around. (Read more about that below.)
Here are some weekend highlights, courtesy of Local Spinners Chelsea Whitaker and Anna Sink:
• Silver Creek Revival opened the festival on Friday with a bang. As the crowds gathered, they were instantly on their feet and dancing. They jokingly took a “union-mandated” smoke break after a friend passed a joint to the stage. Each member toked and passed it on.
• Full Cord had the crowd cheering and on their feet Friday in their first of what would be three sets for the weekend. (A last-minute change on Sunday had Full Cord opening the final day of the festival in place of the aforementioned Bernard).
• East Coast’s Neighbor clearly cultivated a new, adoring fan base during the group’s Friday set, with festivalgoers grooving to their jam-band vibe.
• Singer-songwriter Lindsay Lou — with a new album on the way — unleashed a dreamy performance as the sun began to set Friday evening.
• California’s Circles Around the Sun featured super-Pink Floyd psychedelic vibes during its late-night Friday set. The incredible light show made it easy to stare up at the sky, hypnotized by the lasers and lights. Raydon Feddema, 9, said the lights reminded him of Pink Floyd’s prism album cover.
• Dunegrass Cannabis Co. hosted the Dunegrass Gardens consumption lounge for their second year at Hoxeyville. This year, with a focus on experience, tripling their space from last year. Patrons 21 and up were offered tastes from a variety of gravity bongs, joints and other contraptions from 18 different vendors.
• With the crowd growing dramatically from the evening before, Max Lockwood’s The Insiders Tom Petty tribute represented the perfect start to the day.
• Grand Rapids’ The Crane Wives began their set with a slew of unreleased music but also drew cheers for their familiar hits. Diehard fans showed up amid the hot sun to see their Michigan faves return to Hoxey.
• Keller Williams and Grateful Grass played a fun show, satiating and filling the hearts of every Deadhead in attendance.
• Luke Winslow-King filling in for Bernard during Airborne or Aquatic’s Saturday set proved to be one of the most beautiful examples of a loving Michigan music community ever shown at Hoxey. Band members killed it, filling the performance slot like champs.• Marcus King’s headlining set was definitely a weekend highlight, drawing the festival’s biggest crowd, impressing fans with the band’s horn section. King even covered part of an Elton John classic, “Tiny Dancer.”
• Full Cord played their second set of the weekend: a silent disco. The lighting was phenomenal, as per usual. While Full Cord played a blend of country and swing favorites, attendees had the choice between comedian Rodney Norman and a DJ for their listening pleasure.
On Sunday, Full Cord opened the final day with a set of traditional bluegrass tunes. At one point during the show, mandolin player and vocalist Brian Oberlin grabbed a cowbell from side stage. In lieu of a proper drumstick, he elected to use a cheap lighter to hit the bell. On the second hit, the lighter exploded, shocking those on and off stage. Thankfully Oberlin was OK, walking away with only a minor flesh wound on his ear. “I’m good,” Oberlin said later. “It’s a great thing I had my in-ears and sunglasses to protect from the noise and shrapnel. The shrapnel did clip my ear a little with a little cut. So dumb.”
• Sizzling temperatures on Sunday had most everyone chasing shade and thankful for not one, but two ice cream vendors (Red Tricycle from Kalamazoo, Any Colour You Like from Kentwood).
PHOTO GALLERY: Hoxeyville Music Festival
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
Photos by Anna Sink
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC