Hoxeyville Music Festival 2011: Day One
Words by Brandon Picard
Photos by Greg Molitor (ReMIND Photography)
In its 9th year, Hoxeyville Music Festival has presented music fans from Michigan and beyond a wonderful August weekend experience. Located in the Manistee National Forest, Hoxeyville represents the simple beauty of Michigan. With a small gathering of roughly 3,000 people, the intimate setting makes it special for everyone involved. This year’s star-studded lineup included many local Michigan acts as well as nationally known talent. Headlining this year’s festival were Chicago’s own Umphrey’s Mcgee, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and The Mickey Hart Band.
Accompanied by Phil, my pal of all pals, we took the four hour drive northeast of Detroit to Wellston, Michigan, for what was anticipated to be a solid weekend of friends and music, among other things. Arriving at the gate around noon we were swiftly escorted in and out of line in no time. We gathered our credentials for the weekend and set off to find “home” for the weekend. Hoxeyville is set up throughout a plush forest with the stage area being the open epicenter. People can find refuge by camping in nicely shaded spots located around the outside of the festival grounds. Both Phil and I were first timers at Hoxey so we weren’t sure on the etiquette of setting up in the woods. Tents were piled on top of each other throughout the forest. Spots seemed very limited when we arrived. We drove around seeking a shaded spot but ultimately became discouraged and ended up setting up in the “field” of general admission camping. We chatted with our new neighbors and solidified our camp. Shortly after, MusicMarauders own Greg Molitor showed up and pitched his tent next to ours. Greg was there photographing the festival for MusicMarauders (Good times Mr. Molitor). There’s something about finalizing your camp setup. It’s the feeling that the festival has begun! Setting off for the stage I ran into some friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time! I immediately got the warm feeling that this was going to be a cherished weekend.
The first band we saw was Strange Arrangement. I was really excited to see the amount of people gathered stage front so early on Friday. Strange Arrangement rocked it. I had never heard of Strange Arrangement and was sad that I hadn’t. These guys were BY FAR my sleeper act of the weekend. People were moving and grooving, ecstatic to be there. Strange Arrangement reminded me a lot of Particle from six to eight years ago. They were musically sound, building up the progression of each jam into a climax and on into a colossal breakdown. For 4:00 PM, shit was hoppin’. Getting closer to the stage I could see a small fence separating the Media/VIP area from the general Admission area. I was SHOCKED to see the amount of people up front. The VIP area was completely full while the general area was scattered. As the day wore on things evened out, and by the end of the weekend the general area had earned some well deserved party respect. What a way to start out my Hoxeyville 2011, thank you Strange Arrangement!
The vendor semi-circle outlining the main stage area was full of beautiful art and great food. The more and more festivals I attend, the more and more prepared I become. And being prepared for festivals means don’t bring your own food. People will be happy to feed you! We pigged out on pizza, Thai food, BBQ, and personal my favorite, chili cheese dogs, all weekend!
Making rounds at festivals have become some of my favorite times. Seeing the same weekend warrior faces over and over again makes me happy. On a round of the grounds, we came across the tented stage nestled neatly in the trees on the outskirts of the festival. Setting down our chairs and catching some much needed shade, we tuned into Graham Parsons and The Go Rounds just starting their set. The soulful voice of Graham Parsons fit well with the soothing shade. People gathered by the dozen to hear the Adele-like vocals of Graham Parsons. As we looked around into the forest, we saw that the number of tents set up had tripled in the hours that we had been there. Immediately we regretted our decision to camp in the open sun. The amount of families at Hoxeyville was outstanding! The mellow vibe of the festival allows for people to bring their kids out and enjoy a weekend of music together.
The sun was still shining bright as we made our way back to the main stage to hear the sounds of Ekoostik Hookah. I wasn’t surprised to see the amount of people I did at the stage. Born in 1991, Ekoostik Hookah has built a solid family of followers. With their own festival, “Hookahville”, housing more than 15,000 festival goers in 2000, Ekoostik Hookah has a claim to fame in the Midwest. The free spirited improvisational rock ‘n’ roll funk group didn’t disappoint as their set wowed “Hookah Heads” and non “Hookah Heads” alike.
Skipping out on the last few songs of Hookah’s set, Phil and I had our sights set on the much anticipated glow-in-the-dark disc golf course! As we made our way towards the entrance of the festival and to the course, we could see we weren’t the only ones excited to play disc golf at a music festival. Many other attendees, Frisbees in hand, were making their way through the forest chasing after discs. Phil and I looked at each other and exchanged a kid on Christmas kind of smirk. From the first tee box you could see many random objects set up throughout the forest sure make the glow experience was one-of-a-kind. As we were finishing up our round of golf, I could head the upbeat tempo of Ella Riot.
The sun was just setting and the crowd from the day had nearly doubled. Teeny boppers were everywhere singing the songs of Ella Riot. Ella who? I later found out that Ella Riot had changed their name from My Dear Disco. It all made sense now. But where did all these teeny boppers come from? It was as if they showed up for Ella Riot’s set and slowly dispersed into the forest never to be seen again. However, for what it’s worth, the set was somewhat entertaining. Playing songs like “Do You Think You’re Better off Alone” by Alice DJ, I was quickly teleported back to my 8th grade dance doing the robot with my silly ass friends. Like it or not, Ella Riot brought the house down… for some.
With the sun down, Dumpstaphunk turned the bass up. Headlining Friday night’s lineup, Dumpstaphunk brought the heat. The New Orleans-based funk group that formed in 2003 features keyboard legend Ivan Neville. Friday night’s crowd was geeked up for the raw funk that Dumpstaphunk exerted. The rawness of Dumpstaphunk was bone crushing. With my grunge face finely tuned, my hips did the rest of the work for the night. The effortless bass slapping tied with Neville’s nastiness on the keys sent Hoxeyville into full roar Friday night. Dumpstaphunk's a bad momma! Get it! Uh! Put it in the DUMPSTAAAA! Getting the crowd involved all night with chants and cheers, Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk proved to be a powerhouse in the funk industry. Look out world!
Exhausted from the day of preparations and driving, we tucked tightly into our tent to the sounds of festival chaos ringing in our ears. See ya tomorrow Hoxeyville.
Hoxeyville Day Two Coverage
Hoxeyville Day Three Coverage
Greg’s Photo Gallery (Day 1 & Day 2)