It's festival season. I'm encouraged by the number of small communities starting to offer summer music events (often featuring great, live acoustic music).
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I originally planned to catch the southeast Michigan sounds of local band, Lonesome County whose set was sandwiched between Ann Arbor Roots/Folk icons Mustard's Retreat and the headliners, Buffett cover band Air Margaritaville. The fact that little-ole Marine City pulled in this type of "A" list talent speaks a lot about the event organizers and the state of live music in small-town Michigan. Arriving early, I got to hear most of the opening set by Mustard's retreat. They covered a lot of the "chain gang" folk classics and old-time ballads so crucial to the formation of the bluegrass sound. Their mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation, solo and harmony vocals and some cool a' capela work made for a truly enjoyable listening experience.
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However, despite the sound problems, I really enjoyed the Lonesome County set. You really have to see this band live to appreciate how good hard-driving, traditional bluegrass can be. Their set list of bluegrass standards and "hippygrass" originals has really come together this summer, helped along by some stunning harmony vocal arrangements. They had the audience's attention from the first note, and even got the (mostly older) crowd on their feet and dancing. Each song ended to enthusiastic applause and assorted "wows". This was a great little festival and a terrific band. A great way to spend a summer weekend afternoon.