The opening day of this weekend festival kicked out the jams impressively amid the Manistee National Forest with some big names still to come. Recap, photo gallery, video.
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Amid the back-woods, down-home setting of Hoxeyville, Billy Strings ignited an appropriately back-woods, down-home, aw-shucks set of bluegrass burners that turned the opening evening of this rootsy, northern Michigan music festival into a howling, full-bore hootenanny celebration.
“It feels like a family reunion,” the uber-talented acoustic guitarist said Friday backstage after his crowd-pleasing set, which among other things, featured eye-popping jams with his father, Terry Barber, and Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys mandolinist Joshua Rilko. “All the Michigan homies are here.”
Indeed, they are.
From the Michigan super-group that is Airborne or Aquatic with its spacey, muscular rock to the perfect opening salvo from Traverse City’s indie-folk phenoms The Accidentals (bound for a Colorado festival the same weekend), it was a Friday to remember – or as Billy Strings, aka William Apostol, put it: “the weekend of a lifetime.”
The gregarious musician’s early evening performance got heads bobbing and jaws dropping, setting the stage for a robust evening of rock (Airborne or Aquatic), country/newgrass (Railroad Earth), Cajun (K. Jones & The Benzie Playboys), dance-hued progressive bluegrass (Fauxgrass) and alt-folk (The Way Down Wanderers) – and this after earlier sets by The Accidentals, funk’s Macpodz and bayou folk’s Barbarossa Brothers.
‘INSTANT LOVE’ AND INSPIRING SETS
All in all, it was a very good day in the forest to launch this weekend showcase of top-drawer Michigan talent playing two stages, with a few national acts thrown into the mix, too.
And the weather, put it simply, shined gorgeously on opening day, with blue skies in the afternoon and star-filled heavens at night as Railroad Earth jammed away on the main Hoxeyville Stage.
Tonight (Saturday), Kalamazoo’s Greensky Bluegrass will play two headlining sets after a full day of musical beauty ranging from the fetching female harmonies of Sweet Water Warblers to the psychedelic rock of Big Dudee Roo. And Sunday will see the likes of Luke Winslow King, Mark Lavengood, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Ralston Bowles, another set by Billy Strings and much more.
For a full Saturday and Sunday schedule, click here.
Set in the midst of the Manistee National Forest in Wellston – with organizers this year expecting more than the usual 2,500-plus festival-ites that usually attend – Hoxeyville oozes its own distinct vibe, especially when it comes to the camaraderie and mingling of pals who get a chance to reacquaint themselves with fellow musicians in this genial environment.
Backstage is rife with hugs, kisses, high-fives and handshakes as members of different bands catch up with old chums and meet new players.
“It’s just instant love,” said drummer Dan Rickabus, who performed with the Seth Bernard-led Airborne or Aquatic on Friday and who will take the stage again with The Crane Wives on Saturday. “It’s like everybody we know is here. It’s surreal and exciting to be here again.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Hoxeyville 2016, Day 1
Photos by Anna Sink
Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC