Hoxeyville Music Festival: Saturday
Words By Greg Molitor
Photos By Greg Molitor & Tim Ramierez
Saturday, August 21st – “Help on the Way…”
I woke Saturday to a cool, overcast Hoxeyville. My spirits were high from a great night’s rest, and freshly cooked bacon at my campsite would only improve my outlook. How could it not…it’s bacon! After my delicious pork breakfast, I got myself together for a quick walk. During my walk, I was surprised to see how quickly the festival grounds had dried. Hoxeyville, as I had not expected, was relatively dry with zero signs of mud or standing water from the downpour the night before. Certain elements of Hoxeyville continually surpassed my expectations all weekend, and the ground’s recovery was no different.
My travels throughout the day and night were filled with sights and sounds of happiness. Attendees felt at home as I witnessed people celebrate the unity one would expect from such a family atmosphere. While a collective consciousness was evident among the Hoxeyville faithful, the expression of individuality was abundant as well. I loved seeing hula-hoopers and fire-twirlers performing throughout the weekend…their artistic movements were simple in nature yet infinitely inspiring to me. Also inspiring were the children throughout the weekend. When I saw smiling youth and their innocent happiness, it reminds me of the times when I found pleasure in the simplest of things. More importantly, I was reminded that I still have that joy inside me, and it only takes the right situational perspective to regain it.
Much like the Day One, Day Two at Hoxeyville 2010 was filled with great music. Here are the shows I saw…
Wayward Roots (the band I missed)
I saw Wayward Roots for the first time at the Michigan Roots Jamboree a few weeks ago and was looking forward to seeing them again at Hoxeyville. When I arrived to the Mittens Stage for its set, another band, Ninth Street Bridge, was performing instead. It didn’t take much time to realize I wasn’t going to enjoy Ninth Street Bridge, and I still haven’t figured out when Wayward Roots actually performed at Hoxeyville. Sorry Wayward Roots... I’ll catch you next time.
Paul Hoffman vs. Seth Bernard
Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass and Seth Bernard kicked off the musical festivities on the Main Stage late Saturday morning. To begin their set, the talented duo launched into a stellar version of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer”. The spirit of “Cortez” lingered throughout the performance as Hoffman and Bernard’s set was mellow, relaxed, and proved to be a solid opener to the day. This set also was the first of many from the artists as each played additional sets with their respective groups.
Van Ghost is a relatively new band on the music scene. Hailing from Chicago, the six-piece Blues/Americana outfit took a more electrified approach to roots music than most that performed at Hoxeyville. Aided by vibrant lap steel play, singers Michael Harrison Berg and Jennifer Hartswick passionately melded their voices to the delight of all in attendance. While their sound was considerably more indie and not as jam-centric as I had expected, the songs were rich in flavor and carried significant weight to my satisfied ears. Every once and a while, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a show that doesn’t contain a million notes played.
Airborne or Aquatic?
Beach…water…beach…water…beach….As I approached the Cadillac Stage, I heard some intense rambling about the importance of water coming from the stage. The speech was an introduction of the band Airborne or Aquatic. I wish I had seen the entire intro as friends rushed to me during their set asking, “Did you see that introduction!?!”
Even though I missed the intro, the Airborne or Aquatic set was amazing. Led by Seth Bernard on the guitar and lap steel, Airborne or Aquatic was comprised of members from various groups that came together for a special Hoxeyville set. The stage was filled with musicians the entire set, and although this could normally result in a sound tech’s nightmare, no amplified sound was overpowering than the next. The result was a beautifully textured folk sound that was by far the most ambient I heard from any stage during the weekend. As creative as it was powerful, Airborne or Aquatic was quite a sight to see…thank you for the experience of a lifetime!
That 1 Guy
Mike Silverman, aka That 1 Guy, is a performer in the truest sense of the word. Aided by his own creation, the Magic Pipe, That 1 Guy delivered his brand of bass-heavy tunes to the delight of the Hoxeyville masses. I’ve yet to see anything close to resembling what That 1 Guy does in terms of uniqueness, but at this point, I’ve seen him enough times for the initial amazement in what he does to subside a bit.
With that being said, I saw many jaws dropped in awe of That 1 Guy. His set at Hoxeyville contained a few more flubs on his instrument than what I was previously used to seeing, but the essence of his performance was not lost. Performing crowd favorites such as “Weasel Potpie” and “Butt Machine”, That 1 guy spun the crowd into a fanatical frenzy multiple times during his set. His use of the Magic Pipe is always intriguing to watch, but his scat-like vocal approach, hitting like a tenor sax, was equally impressive. If you haven’t seen That 1 Guy, do yourself a favor and check him out…you won’t be disappointed.
I caught the last bit of Todd Snider’s set at the Main Stage, and as I got within proximity of the stage, I noticed another performer onstage with him. As I got closer, I recognized the man onstage to be Vince Herman of Great American Taxi. I didn’t see much of the set, but the songs I watched were thoroughly enjoyable. Todd Snider’s music was that of a typical of singer-songwriter, but his lyrics deeply impressed me. Snider sang of themes and ideas with which Americans could connect while showing an appreciation of life and understanding most wish they could express as easily as the musician did. Poignant, joyous, and sharp in nature… it’s hard to beat a man and his guitar when he has something to say.
Ragbirds Live at Hoxeyville Music Festival on August 21, 2010.
A group I’ve seen more times to count, The Ragbirds played to a huge crowd at the Cadillac Stage late Saturday afternoon. Musically, the band is not my favorite. However, it’s impossible to ignore the value in the band’s songs as it delivers a musical package unlike anything else in the local scene. The Ragbirds be more would interesting if it played more diverse sets; each set I’ve witnessed contains the same songs I’ve heard many times before, and the band simply needs more music to gain a larger fan base. For many, trivial elements such as song selection do not matter…they just want to get down to some fun and danceable music. In that regard, The Ragbirds hardly ever fail. Hoxeyville was certainly a success for the band as happy attendees bounced blissfully to their energetic tunes the entire set.
Greensky Bluegrass Live at Hoxeyville Music Festival on August 21, 2010.
As pioneers of the recent Midwest jamgrass movement, Greensky Bluegrass has been gaining quite a bit of national notoriety as late. I had seen the band a handful of times before Hoxeyville 2010, and although I had never been sold on the band previously, I finally ‘got it’ during their first of two Hoxeyville sets. The band took traditional bluegrass forms and made them its own, taking huge musical leaps of faith throughout its songs in order to constantly present something fresh and original to those listening. It’s wonderful to see a band as talented as Greensky Bluegrass continually push itself to be find something greater every time it plays. The end of its set was undoubtedly my highlight of the weekend as Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann joined the group for an surprise take on “China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider.” I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy during the collaboration…a dream had come true for many during the emotional finish to Greensky Bluegrass’ Saturday set.
The Pimps of Joytime
The Pimps of Joytime were a rather soulful bunch. Pop music doesn’t always do it for me, but I was unexpected pleased by the music the band shared with everyone at Hoxeyville. I heard the band from a distance at All Good Music Festival earlier this year, but its set at Hoxeyville really hit home. The band was having a blast together, and the music reached righteously rocking peaks I would have never expected previously. A group that calls New York City its home, The Pimps of Joytime was yet another group at Hoxeyville that understood what it means to truly perform for an audience. I would have stayed and danced my ass off for their whole set if I didn’t have to make it to Keller to shoot his first three songs.
Keller Williams Live at Hoxeyville Music Festival on August 21, 2010.
I heard from a few different sources that Keller’s performance was a greatest hits type of set chalked full of fan favorites. Despite a brief issue with guitar equalization during Tim Blume’s sit-in, Keller’s performance went off without a hitch to the delight of his many adoring fans. Many made the trip to Hoxeyville solely because of Keller William’s presence, and from all accounts, those who love him got their money’s worth and much more. As I was walking away from the stage to check out Great American Taxi, I heard Keller bust into an awesome version of “Brown-Eyed Women” that, as I was told, eventually segued into “Scarlett Begonias”. With the help of The Rhythm Devils, “Brown-Eyed Women” sounded absolutely huge from a far. Missing those two tunes made me sad for a moment or two, but what was I supposed to do? Keep loving life…that’s the ticket!
Great American Taxi
Hoxeyville 2010 was my first opportunity to see wild man Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon) and his Great American Taxi. I fell in love with the Taxi from the moment its set started. Great American Taxi’s sound was phenomenal, and although I didn’t know the lyrics, by the time I heard each song’s chorus for a second or third time I wanted to sing the words at the top of my lungs. Again, I wish I could have stayed for its entire set, but there was a limitation on my time to photograph The Rhythm Devils. I did stick around long enough to see the band and Todd Snider perform “America’s Favorite Pastime”, Snider’s ode to the perfect game Dock Ellis pitched while tripping on LSD. Of all the bands I hadn’t seen before Hoxeyville 2010, I am looking forward to seeing Great American Taxi again more than any other!
The Rhythm Devils
Saturday night headliners, The Rhythm Devils, played to the largest crowd at Hoxeyville 2010. Led by Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann of The Grateful Dead, The Rhythm Devils worked through a solid set of Dead tunes during their performance. Highlights included “Cold Rain and Snow” and “Fire on the Mountain”, one of my all-time GD favorites. There were a few missed parts and some questionable vocals at times, but this didn’t detract from any enjoyment I experienced during the set. Grateful Dead music makes me feel unlike any other form of music I know, and to find that feeling once again Saturday night brought a familiar, comforting paradise to my world.
With guitarists Tim Blume and Davy Knowles alongside bassist Andy Hess, Hart and Kruetzmann’s Rhythm Devils were grittier live than I expected. Most impressive was guitarist Davy Knowles. The baby-faced axe man showed off some ridiculous chops during his solos but never lost touch with the soul of the music. Many guitarists know how to play blistering, fast-paced lines, but few know how to weave such technicality into the true essence of what the song represents. Tasteful yet mind-blowing at times, Knowles’ musicality was an unexpected, delightful treat throughout the set.
To end the set, Keller Williams joined the Rhythm Devil’s for a “Goin’ Down the Road > We Bid You Goodnight” and also for a “See You Again” encore. After the set, the crowd and I left the show towards our respective post-show festivities. Many, along with me, were enthused for the opportunity to enjoy a night not filled with intense thunderstorms. I spent the remainder of the evening enjoying the company of friends old and new, and it was perfect.