ROTHBURY, Mich. -- Call it a sweet start to the second Rothbury Festival. Literally.
As the gates opened early Thursday evening (July 2), concert goers were greeted by Ben & Jerry's ice cream booth offering free samples of the company's new Flipped Out! product -- complete with instructions on how to remove it from the container. There was a clear consensus that free ice cream was not a bad way to start four days of music.
The first night of Rothbury's sophomore year was eclectic, with a bit of something for most musical tastes. The highlight -- blues-rock guitarist Davy Knows and his band, Back Door Slam, whose blistering hour-long set on the Sherwood Court stage included covers of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Almost Cut My Hair," Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Commotion" and the late Rory Gallagher's "Walk On Hot Coals." String Cheese Incident delighted fans who managed to slip in before the gates opened with a half-hour sound check for its Friday night (July 3) performance, which is the group's only scheduled show of the year; bassist Keith Moseley and keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth later joined guitar whiz Keller Williams for a lively conclusion to his mostly one-man show.
Rapper Lyrics Born, closing a showcase of his Quannum All Stars, had his band pay tribute to the late Michael Jackson with instrumental snippets of "Billie Jean," "Smooth Criminal," "Beat It" and "Thriller." Toubab Krewe delivered 90 minutes of polyrhythmic World Music, while Lotus rocked the Ranch Arena stage with an elaborately lighted array of proggy dance music.
Like last year, however, the music competed with Rothbury's other main attraction -- Sherwood Forest, the trippy, elaborately decorated enclave in the middle of the festival grounds where fans relaxed in day-glo hammocks, gazed at inflatable stars and neon-lighted wires hanging above, watched burlesque shows on a stage tucked into the trees and cavorted with live performance artists, such as the dancing Vesuvius Tribe from Kansas City and a couple of jugglers. Mass cheers erupted randomly as crowds moved through the forest paths, and it was clear the area would again be a highlight for those craving some quality hang time.
Jeremy Stein of Madison House Presents, which produces Rothbury with AEG Live, has acknowledged that advance sales lagged behind last year but earlier this week predicted at least 30,000 will attend this year's festival. He's also hopeful that a Saturday-Sunday package and a recently offered Sunday-only ticket will lure more patrons Rothbury's way.
Details on those and other Rothbury news are available at www.rothburyfestival.com.
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