Hoxeyville Music Festival took place August 19th – 21st nestled away on an 85+ acre site in Manistee National Forest. We left on Friday after work, and arrived at Hoxeyville just in time to catch up with our friends who had arrived on Thursday. I have been to several festivals in the past, and I have to say that this was one of the most family and kid friendly festival I’ve been to. Being that Hoxeyville is a smaller festival, everything was easily in walking distance to your campsite, allowing people to go to and from their “home base”. There were 3 stages, two located side by side and a smaller stage located near the woods. Bands started at 10:00am and ended around 12:00am every night. There were plenty of food, souvenir, and artist vendors to choose from located right near the stages.
We sadly missed the special Greensky Bluegrass set on Thursday night for VIPs and early bird ticket holders but we arrived in time to catch the last few songs of New Orleans’, Dumpstaphunk. On the cool Northern Michigan summer night, Dumpstaphunk kept the crowd bumping to their new age funk sound. Led by Ivan Neville on the keys, Ian Neville on vocals, the dueling bass of Tony Hall (of the Trey Anastasio and Neville Brothers bands) and Nick Daniels, along with Raymond Weber on the drums to create a funky sound that kept the crowd moving. Dumpstaphunk has been pumping out unique funk music like no other.
We woke up on Saturday morning to a cool on again off again sprinkling of rain. From our campsite we listened to the intimate sounds of Michigan’s three piece eclectic folk band, Breathe Owl Breath. They mixed great rhythm and harmony to create fantastic melodies as the festival awoke to start another day. Immediately following Breathe Owl Breath, Seth Bernard & May Erlewine came on stage. May has a fantastic soothing voice that is showcased by the calming folk sounds they produce. Both great choices to start the day out with some fantastic but mellow music.
About a half hour later The Ragbirds played a one hour set. I have seen the Ragbirds a few times and would categorize them as having an eclectic gypsy feel with the mix of blues and jam inspiration. Erin Zindles captivating vocals helped create energetic tunes with a worldly sound that kept the crowd dancing. The Ragbirds laid down amazing grooves with what seemed like every instrument under the sun. The MacPodz from Ann Arbor followed The Ragbirds on Saturday afternoon. If you’ve never heard the Macpodz before, you are in for some tripped out funk music with a jazzy edge. More rooted in jazz, The Macpodz really seem to embrace the jamband scene.
The Great American Taxi was next on stage. They came out with the killer banjo sounds of Vince Herman from Leftover Salmon. With a blues infused, gospel, funk, country rock feel, the Great American Taxi drove the crowd to rock out with their great tunes. Their sounds are a feel good vibe where you look down, notice your toe tapping and you didn’t even realize it.
Greensky Bluegrass from Kalamazoo took to the stage having a great time for their 8th year! You could really feel that they felt at home here at Hoxeyville, putting out old school American bluegrass rock, with the jam scene influence. As always, Greensky Bluegrass was fresh and original, just making the crowd want to get down. Guitarist Dave Bruzza stepped out on stage in a blue one piece suite with red and white stripes. From the get go, you knew it was going to be a good old time. For the encore Mike Shimmin joined them onstage playing a cajon box drum. Overall it was a GREAT set.
Setlist: 1.Road To Nowhere 2.Dont Lie 3.Hit Parade of Love 4.Old Barns 5.King of the Hill 6.Just To Lie 7.Bottle Dry 8.Lose My Way 9.Banter 10.Blood Sucking F(r)iends* 11.All Four 12.Jaywalking 13.Wheel Hoss 14.Crowd 15.Jaywalking Reprise > Gumboots** * w/Jen Sygit ** w/Mike Shimmin
Digital Tape Machine brought the dance party to the Hoxeyville crowd. They mixed their beats with the keyboard loops to make a unique sound that the crowd loved. Made up partially of members from Umphrey’s, Digital Tape Machine rocked and bumped their way through their set.
I have seen Umphrey’s McGee several times over the years, I have to honestly say this is one of the best shows I’ve seen them put on. They were throwing down great tunes and kept the crowd rocking their entire set. Everything just seemed to click for them on stage. There were times in the middle of their smooth jams where they would seamlessly break into hard rock bringing the crowd to their feet. They even broke out some Pink Floyd’s In the Flesh and Another Brick in the Wall. Overall I would say it was a top notch, energy filled performance by Umphrey’s McGee.
Setlist: 1. The Floor 2. Smell The Mitten 3. Jam 4. Red Tape 5. End Of The Road 6. Jimmy Stewart -> End Of The Road 7. Puppet Strings 8. The Triple Wide 9. Girlfriend Is Better 10. Room To Breathe 11. Ringo 12. Hajimemashite -> Ringo 13. In The Flesh 14. Another Brick In The Wall 15. 1348
The smooth sounds of Rachel Davis & Friends were first on stage Sunday morning. You could hear them from the campsites as everyone got moving for the day. I made my way over to the stage and sat down on the grass to take in the music. It was a laid back set with great folk sounds with a break here and there while Rachel was “parenting” from the stage. Rootstand’s mix of bluegrass, reggae, blues, jam, and folk sound were up next. Taking the stage and laying down bluesy tracks, you could tell they were having a great time getting down. I headed back to the campsite to slowly start getting ready for the venture home that evening as they closed the set with Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.
I was excited to see Ultraviolet Hippopotamus as I had heard great things about them. This Grand Rapids based five piece band pumped out plenty of crowd pleasing groovy jam tunes from the get go. They had a pretty large turnout for their set which goes to show they have the beginnings of a great following. I would have to say, that out of all the new acts I saw at Hoxeyville, the UV Hippos were definitely one of my favorites.
Setlist: 1. North Coast 2. Yin Yang 3. Hey Tommy 4. Background Music 5. Giants 6. The Marine 7. Move Your Ass 8. Tugboat
The Itals trio came on stage with their soothing reggae sounds. You could feel their Rastafarian roots with the energy and vibes they brought to the stage. Good reggae music with the message of peace and love always seems to be the type of music that is loved by everyone. The Itals brought a fresh sound to the stage, as the crowd got down. Starlight Six was next on stage after the Itals. Starlight six is made up of several popular western Michigan musicians. Seth Bernard, Dominic John Suchyta, Josh Davis, Rachael Davis, May Erlewine & Mike Shimmin were all on stage showing the crowd a good time with their folk tunes. It truly seemed fitting as they played the Beatles I’ve got a Feelin’.
As the festival began to come to a close, some festival goers began making their way on the road throughout the day. As the campsites began being cleaned up, and some already empty, the crowd waited for Mickey Hart to take the stage. All the music at Hoxeyville seemed to go on at the scheduled time or close to, besides the Mickey Hart Band. The crowd waited for an hour while everything got sound checked. Mickey and his band played some of the true Grateful Dead classics like Scarlet Begonias, Fire on the Mountain, and Casey Jones.
There is one special moment that I truly wish everyone could have seen. As we were waiting for the stage to get ready for Mickey, there was a 2 year old back stage playing the drums. I’m not just talking about beating on the drums, but rather keeping a beat, and having a great time as a crowd grew around him. I looked over to my right and found Mickey Hart with his cell phone out recording this child in amazement. As he finished playing Mickey knelt down to talk to him and handed him a pair of his own drum sticks. It was great to see a moment like this.
Overall, Hoxeyville was a blast!!! The atmosphere impressed me with its maturity, making it a comfortable event suitable for any music lover or family. Hoxeyville 2011 was a Michigan Roots festival where we had the opportunity to see local up and coming bands along with national headliners in a small comfortable venue. As the 10th year approaches next year, it is obvious why this small homegrown festival is still here pumping out the great times and music. If you’ve never been to Hoxeyville Music Festival be sure you don’t miss out on next year’s 10th anniversary.
Check out all my photos below…