’Finally, the music is back.’ The inaugural festival in Trufant reveled in sunny good weather, camaraderie and the return of riveting live performances. Photos, video and festival recap.
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“It’s so good to be back.”
Those were just some of the operative words repeated during the opening salvo of the inaugural Smiling Acres Music Festival in Trufant.
And because actions usually speak louder than words, there were also plenty of hugs, high-fives and, yes, acres of smiles.
Several hundred festivalgoers cheered performances on Friday and Saturday by the likes of Michigan favorites Pink Sky, Earth Radio, King Possum, Barbarossa Brothers, Zuma, Nicholas James Thomasma and, of course, Mark Lavengood, the always-gleeful festival music director who also joined other acts on stage for their sets.
A clear summer’s night greeted the first-year celebration on Friday, with attendees scattered across the open field on lawn chairs and blankets while others danced near the pinnacle of a stage on the property 37 miles northeast of Grand Rapids.
Lavengood’s band set included Bruce Springsteen and Joshua Davis covers and originals that were a foot-stomping delight.
Earth Radio, meanwhile, excelled amid the fringes of psychedelic soul, with singer Hannah Laine’s voice swimming through a plethora of spaced-out effects.
Pink Sky closed the opening evening down with a grooving set that thumped with textured bass lines. The dazzling stage lights and chandeliers added to the duo’s magical, sweeping keyboard-centric set.
“It’s, uh, I don’t even know. It felt like I hadn’t done it for so long. And also it felt so familiar,” said Earth Radio drummer Madison George. “Like, looking around and being in this environment felt really familiar again. It’s like coming home, you know?”
AN ‘INCREDIBLE’ REUNION OF MUSICIANS AND FANS
Amid sunshine on Saturday afternoon, members of the expansive Zuma ensemble, aka Afro Zuma, turned the grassy area in front of the stage into a dance floor with their rhythmic revelry, as festivalgoers cheered the set with gusto.
“For a first-year festival, this is great,” raved Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ben Traverse, who took the stage after Zuma.
“Everything is so organized.”
Even Lavengood conceded the weekend had rolled out as an “incredible” reunion of musicians, festival organizers and music-hungry fans.
Keyboardist Dutcher Snedeker of Earth Radio may have said it best.
“I was super impressed, because it feels like many first-year festivals are small. They’re getting started on private property and then pulling everybody in is hard,” he said.
“But this is cool. There’s a bunch people and a bunch of vendors. It feels like, alright finally, the music is back.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Smiling Acres Music Festival 2021
Photos by Anna Sink
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