The holiday weekend festival outside Trufant boasted sets by more than a dozen bands on Friday, with two more days of music ahead, including The Accidentals and May Erlewine. The recap, photos, video.
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Temperatures soared into the upper 80s for the opening day of Trufant’s Smiling Acres Music Festival on Friday, but happy attendees and performers seemed to revel in the heat and humidity, kicking off the long Fourth of July holiday weekend with a Michigan-propelled blast of upbeat music.
From folk-, blues- and bluegrass-hued sets by Les Older, Round Creek String Band and Henhouse Prowlers to the jazzy, neosoul spaciness of Earth Radio to the all-out rock assault of Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions and Airborne or Aquatic, Friday’s diverse lineup alternately fired up adjoining stages for a small-but-growing legion of festivalgoers.
“What makes Smiling Acres so special is it’s the hidden heart of music in Michigan. It’s in between all these farms, you have to go down this foggy, scary dirt road, but then you find this little oasis, said Sam Hess, guitarist and singer for Manton’s Silver Creek Revival, which rolled out a late-night set around the festival bonfire.
“I played with the Smiling Acres Bluegrass Band this morning, which was really fun. There’s really great music, really great people. I also enjoy how laid-back the festival is.”
Dan Feister, guitarist for Cadillac’s Buddy Feast, put it this way: “Smiling Acres music festival is so special because it does a great job of capturing the true local music festival feel. You have vendors from nearby places, you have music from nearby places, and you have people from all over and they’re here to enjoy what small piece of what is here at Smiling Acres.”
Another musician described the atmosphere as “a deluxe version of Beaver Island Music Festival,” oozing intimacy and a laid-back vibe.
If the hot and muggy weather — and some continued smokiness from Canadian forest fires — kept a few folks away, those that turned out were “all in” when it comes to celebrating the holiday weekend with nearly non-stop music.
Birds of Prey’s early afternoon set on the Star Stage boasted incredible chemistry, seamlessly weaving voices and instruments together to create a timeless and fresh sound. Band members effortlessly transitioned from fast-paced, foot-stomping numbers to slower, more introspective tunes, showcasing their versatility as musicians.
Ada singer-songwriter Josh Rose, meanwhile, painted a vivid canvas of emotion durind his mid-afternoon Goat Stage performance, evoking a sense of inner peace and leaving an indelible mark on the crowd — a crowd that grew in size and enthusiasm as night fell, through sets by Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions, Earth Radio, Henhouse Prowlers and the Michigan super-group, Airborne or Aquatic led by Seth Bernard.
“It really is a blessing to gather,” Earth Radio bassist Justin Avdek told the crowd. “I’m grateful to all of you and I’m grateful to all of these musicians on stage.”
The festival continues today (Saturday) with headliner The Accidentals wrapping up a packed roster of bands, followed on Sunday by May Erlewine and several other Michigan favorites. Find the lineup online here; day passes are $45.
PHOTO GALLERY: Smiling Acres Music Festival – Day 1
Photos by Destiny Patrolia and John Sinkevics
VIDEO: Day 1 at Smiling Acres 2023
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