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Monday, August 13, 2018

Short's Festival 8.4.18

Short's Brewing Co.
Elk Rapids, MI

Words & photos by Kevin Alan Lamb

When I learned the Michigan Rattlers were playing Short’s Fest it felt like I was supposed to be there. When I learned that the Paddlebots were headlining the very same evening I opened myself to the realistic possibility, that I would be finding my way up north for an overnight filled with joyous smiles, delicious beers, and the medicine I cannot live without - music.

I spent the Friday prior on a beautiful, secluded, and quite possibly sacred property in South Lyon. These lives we live push and pull us to and away from those we are supposed to spend our time with, but the trick is letting your intuition and imagination decide just who. The more in tune we are with each, the more efficiently we navigate one story into another, until eventually all of our stories intercept, and carry on as parallels.

While on Beaver Island with The Gasoline Gypsies, I met a wonderful woman named Nancy Phares, who in addition to renting a lovely lake home on the island, hosting, and feeding us, has had a major role in the success the Gypsies have experienced over the past year. She wanted to get together before I left town to visit my family on Hilton Head, and was kind enough to pick me up from Ferndale, invite me into her home, and onto her pontoon where we discussed our philosophies on living, love of music, and best intentions while enjoying some cold brew. Following a majestic late-afternoon, early-evening cruise on the lake, she made us a delicious steak dinner, indulged in red wine, and it was suddenly time to catch a Lyft home.

Turns out, getting a Lyft at 9:00 or 10:00 PM on a Friday night in South Lyon (or any other night for that matter) isn’t an easy thing. I stayed the night, missed my ride to Short’s that left Detroit at 8 AM (plan a), then Nancy completed the process and dropped me off in Ferndale. After learning that my buddy Justin’s car wasn’t even going to be looked at for a few hours in the shop (plan b), it was time to take the taco by the shell and rent a car (plan c) and be off!

The cruise went quickly thanks to good music, conversation, business ventures, and some road sodas. I had arranged a campsite but it wasn’t exactly close quarters (30 minute drive) when the night reached its inevitable conclusion. We decided to wing it and headed right to Elk Rapids where Short’s Production Facility is, found a parking spot, liquor store, slice of pie, and a beach. Yes, in no uncertain terms we pregamed a beer/music fest and were more enthusiastic because of it.

We arrived just in time to be greeted by the fine folks of Short’s Brewing who have a great way of making a giant viking feel right at home. Armed with wooden tokens, Short’s brew and my camera, I quickly connected with Adam Reed of the Michigan Rattlers who I last caught up with at Electric Forest. I’ve never lived in LA (nor do I want to), but he does, and it must be mighty sweet to return home to Michigan to play a sweet gig like Short’s Fest 50 miles from the town you grew up in (Petoskey).

May Erlewine was first on the docket (which I knew), joined by Joshua Davis (which I didn’t), along with Max Lockwood (which I suspected), and Michael Shimmin. Like many others I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a number of versions of May between The Sweet Water Warblers, May & the Motivations, and the original in my world, Seth & May. It was the ideal ensemble to kick off the evening, allowing most folks to remain in their comfort zone sitting in their chairs, quietly enjoying the show from their respective grass knoll. A comfort zone I’d soon disrupt…

Welcome to the perfect early August, Michigan summer night; Elk Rapids was glowing from Harbor Days, Short’s was flowing, and each band had a distinct sound complimenting the one before and/or after. Towards the end of May’s set I found myself hanging in the green room with the Michigan Rattlers, smiling ear-to-ear as they practiced a few songs to dial it in for the home crowd. It’s a special thing to keep the company of the ones you love. There is great intrinsic value knowing the person beside and across from you appreciates, respects, and is brought joy by your gifts, company, and livelihood.

For the first time in my life, I was friends with, and had deposited energy into members of each of the bands on the bill. It was especially exciting because there are so many members of the Paddlebots, and I was proud to see them headline such a quality festival! My band family is a lot like my regular family; we don’t see each other very often but when we do it feels like no time at all has passed, and celebration is in order… so celebrate we did!

Andy Wade, not to be confused with D Wade, is the Paddlebots drummer who I’ve grown close with this past year. Andy is a high school percussion teacher who once agreed to play a gig with my friend Dominique who was in from Germany, then both managed to forget about the conversation, yet pulled off an awesome performance nonetheless. Andy was instrumental in challenging the crowds comfort zone, as we gave them permission and encouragement to stand up, approach the stage, and do what people are supposed to be doing when music is played - dance.

With the scene showing signs of life, The Rattlers played an awesome set with a great Warren Zevon cover, “Lawyers, Guns And Money” that I had never heard. With the help of lead singer and guitarist Graham Young, we even orchestrated a Phun Photo with the crowd in front of the stage, band’s eyes on me. I’m not sure how long set times were but it felt like a really good amount of time. I could walk away and get a beer, unless “Brutus Road” was about to be played, and feel like I wasn’t missing anything critical.

While the stage security officer was intent on restricting my access, despite multiple requests from multiple bands, I was able to play pre-show liaison and give the Paddlebots a little pep talk that acknowledged the quality, and regional history of the artists who had warmed up the stage for them. They may be young, but their talent can only be rivaled by their kindness, respect, and downright delight making music. It really has began to feel like all of the musicians, artists, humans… are my talented family, and I’m the wild-weird older uncle with enough tricks up my sleeves to keep around.

Although Paddlebots had played Short’s before, I feel like most people on this particular evening were experiencing them for the first time. They didn’t half ass it; nope, they gave them the whole ass. Kortez the Thriller (Buckner) is a frontman you won’t soon forget, or want to. When you’re a band from Detroit you have to be careful who you cover Michael Jackson around, but not Kortez, he’s magnificent. I really believe that Paddlebots will be perceived as a headlining band who can deliver that knock out punch of positive energy, enthusiasm, joy, and freakin’ boogie that every event so desperately hopes to capture.

The music reached its conclusion but as it turns out, or decision to bypass our campsite and wing it worked out… all the way up to Petoskey with Reed and The Rattlers. Justin knew this was a possibility and decreased his intake while I stayed the course. We graciously found ourselves in the childhood home of Reed, which was a beautiful labrinth, with a hot tub, that yes - I fell asleep in; but not before last call at your local watering hole (which may or may not be minus a 30 rack of PBR bottles).

The life I once dreamt of living seems to be unfolding before my eyes and that’s an interesting thing. I am getting better at articulating my journey to remind others that there is a fine line separating us all from waking our dreams to reality; your passion and will are it. Quit letting other people, your fears of failing, or not knowing where to begin, get in the way of life itself. You are capable; you are extraordinary; but only you can realize it. Just in case you were listening for one, This is a Good Sound.

Kevin's Photo Gallery


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Zeppephilia 8.4.18 (Photos)

Fiske Planetarium
Boulder, CO

Photos by Derek Miles (Miles Photography)

View Derek's Full Photo Gallery Here!


Friday, August 10, 2018

Yonder Mountain String Band & The Infamous Stringdusters 8.4.18 (Photos)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Aniana's Chapters

Words by Mitch Melheim

Some albums are just albums. Merely a collection of songs that an artist was inspired to write during a certain period of their life. Portland, Oregon’s fiery, soulful neo-diva, Aniana, challenges that notion with her debut album, Chapters. Written in chronological order, both lyrically and stylistically, Chapters spans the entirety of Aniana’s adult life. From playing with reggae and hip-hop bands in Phoenix to the funk, soul, and rock & roll she’s become known for in Portland, all genres are represented in the album and symbolize her turbulent yet triumphant journey through life.

The album begins with the title track, “Chapters,” which acts as a preface to the album’s story. “Been up and down this road a thousand times. I ain’t got no regrets and I’ve still got love for the journey,” she sings as a three-piece horn sections comes in and leads the listener into her most infectious chorus of the album, backed vocally by Kellen Asebrook (Fruition) and Chris Couch (World’s Finest).

After the dark and edgy rock & roll tune, “Degenerate,” comes “Off My Back”, her solution to the track prior. Written about her leaving Phoenix “before the weight breaks her down,” the song feels hopeful in spite of it’s dark subject matter. Mimi Naja (Fruition) adds mandolin and backing vocals, the former of which blends perfectly with Brett McConnell’s smooth sound on lap steel.

“Journey Dub” segues out of “Off My Back” and is one of the best examples of the outstanding production on this album. The vocals and instruments sound authentic and the whole track possesses a slightly electronic, atmospheric vibe that does more than emulate dub. It inspires beyond the genre. McConnell’s bass and melodica are the stars of this one, even teasing the following song “Rivers” with the latter instrument.

At some point during “Rivers” you will begin to realize how perfectly Aniana’s voice meshes with reggae instrumentation. Yes, even better than the soul influences you’ve heard until now. “Don’t be a fool for no fairy tales,” she warns in this song about choices.

The irie vibes continue with “Rootz,” a song that expands into spaced-out, playful psychedelia toward the end and “Burnin’,” perhaps my favorite song on the album. Her angsty edge returns on this anti-establishment tune ripe with horn harmonies and a melty-but-groovy keyboard solo from Dave Dernovsek.

The most unique and intriguing song on the album is “crAZy,” a song Anina says was written at a time in her life so dark that she couldn’t express it through words, only tones. Repeating the lyric “crazy” throughout the song, it switches from a capella to a hip-hop banger, into a tribal drum breakdown at the hands of Nick Werth, and then back to hip-hop again.

“Space Cowboy,” or “Mi Vaquero Del Espacio,” begins in spanish before exploding into a funk groove. Dernovsek shines again here, using the organ as his weapon of choice this time around, but it’s really saxophonist Marc Hutchinson who steals the show on his tenor with the best solo on the album.

The final chapter is a song Aniana wrote about the “space cowboy” she eventually found, her multi-instrumentalist husband, Brett McConnell. “Always the One” was first performed for McConnell on a beach in Hawaii the day he eventually proposed to her, hence the stripped down acoustic sound and waves crashing in the background. Almost sounds made up, right? Turns out there was no need for her to chase those fairy tales after all, she was already on her way to living one.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Electric Forest 6.21 - 6.24 & 6.28 - 7.1.18

Double JJ Resort
Rothbury, MI

Words by Norm Kittleson
Photos by Brandon Johnson Photography & Kevin Alan Lamb

The 2018 Electric Forest Festival was the 8th edition of the event, preceded on the same festival grounds by the Rothbury Festival in 2008 and 2009. The Electric Forest Festival continues to be primarily an EDM/DJ oriented festival that is very heavy on the bass. In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that I am not a fan of EDM/DJ or bass-heavy music, so if you're looking for a review of those genres, you won't find it here. That being said, there is always enough music from other genres to keep me busy, and of course, Sherwood Forest, other attractions, and the performance art are worth the price of admission alone, even if you didn't see any music. The last two years the festival expanded to two weekends, each lasting four days. Many of the artists appeared both weekends and others only appeared at one weekend or the other.

The driving force behind the inception of the Electric Forest Festival is the String Cheese Incident, who played two consecutive nights each weekend, culminating with their monster stage production dubbed “The Big Shebang,” which traditionally occurs during the second set of their Saturday night show. More about that later. The philosophy that SCI brings to the festival is blending many different genres of music, and blending the crowds attendant in those genres into one big melting pot of music and people. This has been successful for the most part. Every year I come to the festival not knowing the vast majority of the artists listed, and I do my best to research them beforehand and pick out ones that sound interesting. I also rely on friends with varying tastes to make recommendations. This year I heard more bands that were new to me that I really liked than I have in previous years.

There were changes to some of the stages this year, with the Jubilee stage and the Hangar switching physical locations on the festival grounds. The best change this year was the addition of the Carousel Club set in the back of the Hangar. In previous years, a stage was set at the back of the Hangar which featured good music and other forms of entertainment, but it was set among the various shops and vending areas set in the Hangar. This year, the Carousel Club was set up in an area at the back of the Hangar, but walled off from the shops and vendors and decorated in the style of a fashionable nightclub. Tables lined the sides on risers surrounding an ample dance floor. The stage was set low with no barriers allowing the audience to get right up on the performers. This made for a high degree of intimacy and intensity for both the performers and audience. For me, much of the best music of the festival took place on this stage. The other noticeable change to stage areas this year was the opening up of the area around the Observatory. Many of the vending stations and a bar area were removed to allow for a larger and more open area for the audience. Again this year, the Observatory stage hosted some of the best “sleeper” sets of the festival.

Two of the best sets of the first weekend took place at the Observatory. On Friday afternoon, the Shook Twins performed and wowed a lot of people who weren't familiar with them. The twins (yes, they really are twins) are based out of Portland, OR and they play a bouncy, quirky, fun brand of folk-rock with entertaining and introspective lyrics. Both the sisters sing and play multiple instruments, and they are backed by bass, drums, and an additional guitarist. They presented a high energy set that pleased not only their fans, but drew in many folks passing by. The Shook Twins played multiple sets the first weekend and also appeared with the String Cheese Incident during their Friday night show the first weekend. More about that later. They also performed with the Everyone Orchestra, and they stole the show in both cases.

The other very notable performance at the Observatory the first weekend was the late-Saturday night (starting at 2:00 a.m.) by The Main Squeeze. TMS is a funk band based out of Chicago that has been around since 2010. But TMS is not just a funk band. They meld some hard rocking grooves with their funk sounds, driven by their outstanding guitarist Max Newman. Corey Frye is the frontman and lead singer who’s stage presence and vocals tie the entire sound together. Highlights of their Observatory set were a jammed out riff on the Game of Thrones theme song, a 20 minute rendition of "Whiskey, Women, and Cocaine," and a stunning cover of "War Pigs." This was one of the best sets by any band I’ve seen at any Electric Forest Festival. The Main Squeeze played both weekends of the festival and cranked out another great set on the final Sunday night of the festival at the Jubilee stage.

For my money, the hardest working musician of the festival was Natalie Cressman, who in addition to her solo career is known for her work with the Trey Anastasio Band. Hard to categorize, but with a distinctly jazz-based sound, Cressman is both a virtuosic trombonist and a gifted vocalist. Backed by very accomplished musicians on bass, drums, and guitar, she presented original music in multiple sets both weekends at the Forest Stage, the Carousel Club, and sat in with the String Cheese Incident and twice with the Everyone Orchestra. Her sets displayed some of the best musicianship of any bands during the entire festival.

Turquaz, the Brooklyn-based funk/rock band also contributed some solid sets both weekends of the festival. Frontman, guitarist, and vocalist Dave Brandwein holds down the center while the horns, keyboards, and vocalists Sammi Garett and Shira Elias provide a deep groove. Reminiscent of soul bands from earlier decades, they provide a well-rehearsed and choreographed show that displays a high level of professionalism and passion. Their sets were some of the most dynamic of both weekends.

Other highlights of the first weekend included performances by the Everyone Orchestra, which is a conglomeration of artists from different bands performing improvisational music under the direction of ringmaster Matt Butler. The Shook Twins, Natalie Cressman, Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee, and various other artists joined Butler for some high energy, creative sets. Festival stalwarts Toubab Krewe brought their Malian-infused rhythms and melodies to the Carousel Club. The Seattle-based Soul/R&B outfit The Dip also played an admirable set at the Carousel Club. Another interesting mash-up outfit graced the Carousel Club stage; Marc Brownstein’s Star Kitchen brought together Brownstein, the bassist for the Disco Biscuits and a collection of friends from other bands for a lively set. Another pleasant surprise at the Observatory stage was Lawrence. Clyde and Gracie Lawrence are a brother and sister act out of New York city that plays mostly soul-pop music with some tinges of funk, R&B, and rock ’n’ roll. Gracie Lawrence produces a prodigious and soulful sound from her petite frame, while her brother leads the band from the keyboards.

The second weekend of Electric Forest kicked off with some serious funk from Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles and the Nth Power at the Jubilee stage. Keyboardist Cory Henry, known for his work with Snarky Puppy put up a solid set of gospel-tinged funk highlighted by the work of his backup singers. The Nth Power, the brainchild of former Beyonce and Dumpstaphunk drummer Nikki Glaspie, is a funk power trio rooted in the intense and sophisticated drumming of Glaspie. Unfortunately, both the Cory Henry and Nth Power sets were sparsely attended, which is a shame considering the world-class talent on display.

The funk continued in the Carousel Club with the Minneapolis-based band Pho, who provided a highly danceable set with their horn-based sound. Once again, the Carousel Club was the stage for some really great music.

The highlight of Thursday week 2 was Xavier Rudd at the Jubilee stage. The Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist put on a mesmerizing show filled with his highly rhythmic music that incorporates elements of Australian indigenous cultures with a message of peace and unity. The Jubilee stage area was packed, and they were treated to a strong performance with a lot of positive energy to set the stage for the rest of the weekend.

The Observatory Stage hosted the Michigan Rattlers on Friday, again demonstrating that some of the best music was not on the large main stages. The Rattlers are a trio of guitar, upright bass, and keyboards that was founded by lifelong friends Graham Young and Adam Green, who grew up in Petosky, MI, or “Up North” as we say here in Michigan. They didn’t start making music together until they both wound up in L.A. where they formed the band. Keyboardist Christian Wilder joined the group rounding out the lyric based not-quite-country, rock informed sound that draws inspiration from AC/DC, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty. Named one of the “Ten New Country Artists You Should Know” by Rolling Stone magazine, the trio brings genuine enthusiasm and heart to their performances.

Friday also featured another great set by the Everyone Orchestra, this round featuring among others Kyle Hollingsworth of the String Cheese Incident, Natalie Cressman (again!), Mimi Naja from Fruition, and her bandmate Jay Cobb Anderson. Matt Butler again conducted a set of marvelously improvised music that had everyone in the packed Carousel Club dancing hard in the sweltering heat.

On Saturday the hardest working woman in show business (at least at the Electric Forest Festival), Natalie Cressman presented another really strong set at the Carousel Club stage. The word had gotten out about her strong previous performances, and there was a large and very appreciative crowd at this set. Turquaz played another late night set on the Jubilee stage that again demonstrated their prowess at putting out high energy, highly danceable funk and R&B.

The second Sunday saved the best for last with the Main Squeeze and Karl Denson’s Acid Jazz Drop, both at the Jubilee stage. The Main Squeeze put on another great show, although not as intense as their late night first week set. Karl D’s Acid Jazz Drop was another conglomeration set featuring Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe with guests DJ Cut Chemist, Corey Frye of the Main Squeeze, Trumpeter and vocalist Jennifer Hartswick, and, you guessed it, Natalie Cressman. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe always puts on a great show of jazz based fusion music, and with the addition of Cut Chemist adding some great backing tracks along with Cressman on the trombone and Hartswick on the trumpet, both adding vocals, the band really spread out and provided an exceptional blend of jazz and funk.

And of course, there was the String Cheese Incident who played two shows each weekend. The first weekend they played on Thursday and Friday, and the second weekend they played Friday and Saturday nights, with Saturday night being their traditional Big Shebang. This year’s Shebang was not the most impressive they’ve put on, but it’s always entertaining and a true spectacle nonetheless. As usual, they had a number of guest musicians sitting in with them over the course of the two weekends, some of whom have already been mentioned, but another was Griz, who played sax with the band on a couple of numbers on Friday the first weekend. Other notable sit-ins were Xavier Rudd, The Glitch Mob, and Cory Henry. Matt Butler also conducted an Everyone Orchestra-like jam session. SCI always puts on a well-rehearsed, professional show with top-notch stage production, and they once again put it all together this year. They broke out several new songs, and threw down some great covers including "Workin’ Day and Night" by Michael Jackson, the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams," and "Superman" by REM.

The Electric Forest Festival continues to be one of the premiere multi-day music festivals in the country. It is a truly unique experience that looks like it will be continuing for a number of years to come. This was the second year of a three year trial of running the festival for two consecutive weekends. As of now, there is no word on whether or not that will continue after next year, but regardless, it is a marvelous, immersive experience that should not be missed.

Brandon's Photo Gallery

Kevin's Photo Gallery


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Akenda 8.3.18 (Photos)

Cervantes Other Side
Denver, CO

Photos by Derek Miles (Miles Photography)

View Derek's Full Photo Gallery Here!


Monday, August 6, 2018

Mo Pop Detroit 7.28 & 7.29.18

West Riverfront Park
Detroit, MI

By Kevin Alan Lamb

Another Mo Pop Fest in the books, and I must say, Detroit you’re doing a great job. Experiencing its best attendance since its inception in 2003, Mo Pop offers a glimpse into the festival world, offering easy access and fun amenities which allow folk from young to old to dip their feet into the water, before jumping in.

If children are our future then the horizon shines bright thanks to parents who understand the value of introducing their kids to music, and specifically, music festivals at a young age. I didn’t attend my first music festival until 2013, making me 28 at the time. I’m grateful for parents who have achieved a greater sense of self and community through music, and are eager to share that gift with their children. The world is a scary, crumbling, and infected place: It is also beautiful, capable, and filled with inspiring people who wish to pick up the pieces and build - together. I believe within music resides a hierarchy of hope; And within children a sense of possibility and wonder to hold onto, carry, and harness hope into a better world.

Of all the pictures I took at Mo Pop this year, my favorite was of two little girls, sitting side-by-side playing a piano along the West Riverfront. Each piano is a work of art, lined along the riverwalk inviting young artists to sit and create while feeling the cool, summer breeze off the Detroit River. With the arrival of August comes the dwindling of summer, and the eventual return to the classroom for children; Now more than ever it is essential that we inspire, encourage, and empower youth to do all things, while holding onto a strong sense of self and decency to others. Experiences like Mo Pop give all people, along with children, a greater sense of the world through community, art, and shared joy.

This was my third Mo Pop, but it was my first time making it to the Mo Arcade. I must say - it was quite the impressive assembly of games. Turn back the clock 25 years to my youth, put me in a free arcade, drop off my meals, and I’ll see ya when I see ya. From arcade, to N64, accompanied by a DJ the Mo Arcade appeals to all ages, so long as the child within is kept alive.

It was difficult to get food during the festival, mostly as a result of an amazing turnout, and my lack of patience amidst shiny objects. When I did grub however, the fine folks at Imperial hooked me up with some delicious and robust tacos, churros, a nice shaded place to enjoy them, and even a strawberry lemonade (thanks Badger). It’s great to see a successful Ferndale business, have a major presence at what has grown to be a major festival in Detroit. If you really love a music festival or experience, try to remember the local businesses who supported it, thereafter.

I’m not accustomed to writing recaps, but I’ve made it into the sixth paragraph without even mentioning the music! Continuing in my backwards fashion, I shall reverse engineer my weekend of music beginning with the conclusion to my Mo Pop story, at PJ’s Lager House for an official afterparty with Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys more times than I can count over the years, and each time I love them a little more, probably because I know them a little better. While I’m filled with faith, I’m not a religious person person, but if Joe Hertler was a bible salesman, I’d take two! If you want to talk about someone, and some people who love what they do so much, joy radiates from their person, and fills a room, let’s talk about Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers. The world could have been ending Monday morning, but on Sunday night, it felt as if their passion, will, and music could have kept the sun from rising. For the first time I’ve experienced, Joe Hertler sang through a distorted microphone, similar to the sound Graham Parsons and The Go Rounds have built a foundation upon, and I fucking loved it. It was the perfect combination of psychedelic-soul, and provided the backdrop for two unique sets in a single day.

I’ve long been familiar with The National, liked a few songs, but never had seen them live until they closed out Mo Pop Sunday night. Described as post-punk revival, they have a very unique sound, cult following, and a slow building intensity, that is contained until it is ready to explode into what I perceived as melancholy rage. Their stage banter was very political, calculated, and seemingly appropriate given the state of our nation. They seemed to fit a theme of headliners along with Bon Iver that were introspective, subdued, intellectual, and dark. It presented an alternative from headliners of Mo Pop’s past, which were more high energy and dancy; A theme present throughout the weekend.

St. Vincent was the kickass and weird surprise of the weekend, scheduled in a really good spot as light gave way to darkness and great spectacle. I didn’t know much about Grammy winning, Anne Erin Clark, who was a member of Sufjan Stevens touring band before she formed her own in 2006. It’s exciting when you’re not very familiar with an artist, come into the equation with no expectations, and leave a fan.

Aside from catching up with friends I don’t see very often, as anticipated, enjoying Bon Iver with one of my best friends on Saturday night was the highlight of my weekend. Sometimes I wonder how live music feels to someone who rarely experiences it… I’m happy I don’t know the feeling, but I’m curious of its intensity as a result of sparsity. Music is medicine that I’ve long been self-administering, and Bon Iver’s For Emma Forever Ago, is likely one of the five albums that I have listened to most in my life. Whether you are listening to Volcano Choir, Shouting Matches, or Bon Iver, Justin Vernon’s voice and music are soothing by nature, layered with his search for a stronger and more sound sense of self within.

It’s exciting that our city, state, and surrounding regions showed up in big numbers for what has grown to be a special event, but there were a number of times last weekend where I felt like I was being herded between stages for acts I was equally indifferent towards. It wasn’t hot like in the past, but it sure felt like the desert when clouds of dust swirled throughout West Riverfront Park, with no oasis (or grass) in sight. Over the last three years the grounds have transformed from green grass to dirt and rock, which makes it difficult to settle in and find a place to relax when the music isn’t grabbing you. It would go a long way if there were some more designated areas where folks could sit in a comfortable chair, or picnic table with an umbrella like in Hart Plaza during Movement where the beer garden is along the water. Another commonly articulated concern was the difficulty accessing water stations. I feel like Michigan of all places should understand and embrace the value of readily available h2o. Thankfully, these are issues that are easily addressed, and based on the overall quality, and attention to detail by the great humans who curate Mo Pop for us each July, I have great faith in the product they will continue to deliver.

In the life of a Michigan Festivarian - first comes Movement, then goes Electric Forest, followed with some Bliss, with Mo Pop serving as the teeter-totter between Hoxey, Wheatland, and Harvest. Each year another festival sprouts from the earth; Emerging as a fine product of some of the most quality, talented, and passionate creators walking among us. There is something for everyone in the Michigan festival circuit, and I believe Mo Pop is a major catalyst for opening the eyes, ears, and hearts of Michiganders, to the cathedral of awe and wonder built by music, and the community which plants, gardens, and harvests it. Just in case you were listening for one, This is a Good Sound.

Kevin's Photo Gallery


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Melvin Seals & The Jerry Garcia Band 8.1.18 (Photos)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The String Cheese Incident & Rising Appalachia 7.22.18 (Photos)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The String Cheese Incident & The Main Squeeze 7.21.18 (Photos)

Friday, July 27, 2018

GWAR 7.20.18 (Photos)