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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kicking Off a Long Fourth of July Week

Show Review: WAAM Freedom Festival

 When Independence Day falls on a Wednesday, it always seems to create TWO holiday weekends that bookend a long week of celebration--and this year seems to fit that pattern to a "T".  I started the holiday ball rolling on Saturday, June 30th by taking my 9-year old daughter to the WAAM Freedom Festival (AKA "WAAMStock") in Whitmore Lake.
Perfect Weather for Live Outdoor Music!

On a personal note, I definitely prefer to keep my music and my politics separate.  It seems to me that, regardless of where on the political spectrum you fall, taking a stand will inevitably alienate half of your fan base!  By no means does my review of this event constitute my support of this or any other political cause, or of any of the organizations supporting such causes.  It is about the music, PERIOD! With that said, once you got past the one-sided political hard-sell at this event, it was a pretty groovy little mini-festival with a whole lot to offer.

Local Band Lonesome County Opens the Festivities
First, the music:  WAAMStock offered the very best in live, local music.  I showed up to watch local bluegrass band Lonesome County kick off the show with their killer, high-energy bluegrass set.  It is rare that an acoustic act sounds good through a sound system designed for electric rock bands, but the boys in LC really pulled it off.  Following them were George Bedard and the Kingpins (Rockabilly), the Washtenaw Big Band (30s era jazz/swing), the Shelter Dogs (Swing and R&B) and the Witch Doctors (Classic Rock & Blues).  A great variety of live music for only $10!

In between bands, this event had a surprising array of the things I like best:  Great BBQ from not one, but TWO, fantastic local restaurant.  Cold beer and soft drinks at reasonable prices were available for puchase (and really necessary given the 90+ degree weather).  The event organizers had a large grassy area in front of the stage perfect for dancing, or setting up your lawn chairs to watch the bands.  In addition, several large tents provided ample tables and chairs with a great view of the stage for those seeking a place to eat, or just to get out of the sun.  Basic amenities included ample portable outhouses, easy in-and-out parking and lots of volunteers willing to assist.

A very professional stage and sound system.
The event coincides with the annual fireworks display over Whitmore Lake.  Those who stayed through the end of the event were treated to one of the largest and best run fireworks shows in Southeast Michigan (Although, due to the huge fireworks crowds and numerous road construction projects, the traffic afterwards is always a nightmare--another reason we left before it got dark).  Overall, if you can ignore the political nature of the event, this is a great place to catch live outdoor music.

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