Not into electronic dance music? Electric Forest has you covered.

June 21, 2018

Sherwood Forest at Electric Forest Festival.

Not into electronic dance music? Electric Forest has you covered.


By Ross Field, Contributing Writer.

ROTHBURY — The largest music festival in West Michigan opens tonight at the Double JJ Resort, and if the Electric Forest Festival has a reputation, it is a worldwide reputation, as it annually presents some of the most popular Electronic Dance Music (EDM) acts on the planet.

Southern Oceana County residents have known this for many years due to the “whomp, whomp, whomp” of highly-amplified bass beats carried through the damp early morning air up and down the US 31 corridor for miles around the countryside.

But EDM is only part of the musical and artistic matrix that comprises this remarkable music festival. All kinds of music are represented, from folk to jazz to cabaret to blues to straight ahead rock and roll. What follows is a guide to musical acts that aren’t EDM being presented the first week of the Electric Forest.

Don’t ever miss the String Cheese Incident, a bluegrass band that started decades ago playing for free lift tickets at Colorado ski resorts. This first week they are playing on Thursday and Friday nights. This group of incredible musicians will start off with a bluegrass song and 20 minutes later be blazing through psychedelic rock akin to Pink Floyd. In between those musical styles, the band will be throwing down four-on-the-floor dance music that will have 30,000 people dancing wildly under the Ranch Arena’s light show.

The Observatory Stage.

On Thursday, start the festival off in a mellow folk-rock mode by going to the Observatory Stage for Hiss Golden Messenger. The Observatory is the best small arena on the site and it has some of the more interesting bands. It also has plenty of seating, so festival goers can rest after checking out the Sherwood Forest.

The next act on the Observatory Stage is not to be missed. Andy Frasco & The U.N. are a rock and soul band that will leave the audience in a sweating mess. They were one of the great new bands at the Electric Forest in 2016 and they will not disappoint in 2018.

Friday night is loaded. Start it off with Australian folk-rocker Xavier Rudd at the Ranch Arena and be amazed by his command of the indigenous instruments of the Australian Outback. Then head over to the Jubilee Stage for Noname to sample her soulful poetry and rap delivered over the beats of her fantastic band. Right after Noname, head to the Sherwood Stage and do not miss Thundercat’s amalgam of funk and jazz and hip hop.

Even though it conflicts with the String Cheese show, you have to see Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles at the Carousel Club. Henry is a master of the Hammond B-3 organ, his band is world class, and they may be the funkiest band you will encounter in the Forest this year.

And, if you’re walking through the Sherwood Forest Friday night, definitely check out Aqueous at the Observatory Stage at 7 p.m., followed by the Big Something. Both of these bands are rock and funk juggernauts and lots of fun. Then, of course, get over for the end of the String Cheese Incident show at the Ranch.

Saturday starts with an easy pick: Petoskey, Michigan’s own, Michigan Rattlers at the Observatory Stage at 5:45 p.m. The folk rock songs of this roots rock band are an excellent way to begin the evening. Then, even though they may be an EDM collective, go to the Sherwood Court Stage to check out Canada’s A Tribe Called

The Hangar stage.

Red, a group-DJ project of indigenous musicians that create music informed by native chants and beats.

Natalie Cressman has the voice of an angel and is a world class trombonist, and she has toured with some of the biggest names in jam rock including Phish’s Trey Anastastio’s band. Natalie graces the stage of the Carousel Club at 6:15 p.m., and this is a highly-recommended set by folks who have caught her act previously.

On Sunday, be sure to catch Waker, a rock and soul band from Nashville that opens up the Jubilee Stage at 4 p.m. But, the band not to be missed on Sunday is Toubab Krewe at the Carousel Club at 7:30 p.m. This band from Ashville, North Carolina incorporates African beats into their mix of folk and rock to create a world of music infused with fun and joy.

There’s so much more music going on that it can’t all be discussed, but to those wandering through the Sherwood Forest at any time during the day or night, look for the Grand Antique Trading Post where you can grab a comfortable seat and find many folk and world music artists playing music that will make you think you are anywhere other than Oceana County, Michigan.

This story is copyrighted © 2018, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.



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