Got to hand it to Ben Cohen & Co. They sure enough know how to put on an old fashioned hoedown for their friends and neighbors. It helps to have some heavy hitters supporting the event like Burt Watson Chevrolet, Review Magazine, Tim Boychuck’s State Farm Insurance, 97.3 Joe FM, Pats Food Center, Family First Credit Union, D Street Entertainment and incredible support of local musicians – with a special tip of the hat to Bob Hausler, a great musician and a true believer.
The Free Music Fest takes place June 9th, 2012 at the family friendly Tittabawasee Township Park, 9200 Midland Road in Freeland. It’s a great venue for an outdoor show with plenty of room to move around, play with the kids, eat some barbecue and sing along to your favorite bands. There is also a Disc Golf Tournament for the weekend armchair jocks and an Art fair for those of us who appreciate beauty, form and style.
The event has been around for five years and Cohen has his fingers on the pulse by choosing diverse forms of music that appeal to a gathering of the tribes. It is an event that pulls together family-oriented fun & games that merge seamlessly with a glorious parade of musical styles and shadings that are pure Americana. The musicians are top notch, tried and true purveyors of rhythm, rhyme, and riffs. They practice their craft in hamlets small and large. They inhabit the nooks and crannies of our collective unconscious and we yearn for their melodies when they return to the hum and grind of everyday life. The concertgoers may not always appreciate the differences between folk, blues, rock, and the various hybrids. But it’s all one note, anyway - pure and easy. No matter how you slice it up and carve it out.
This disc is chocked full of goodies and like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re getting until you take that first tentative nibble, mmm. It sure does taste good, gimme some more. It would seem that the diverse musical forms would clash – rock versus blues, versus folk and funk. It’s like the Beatles White album, despite the musical differences; the songs somehow fit together in a cohesive package.
From Dave Kellan’s bluesy acrobatics to the naughty funk of Krokus, the sound jumps out at you and slaps in the face. I need to hear “Shake Ya Ass Like This” just one more time before I take a cold shower on a hot bet.
Amelia Jo sings pure folk music in her warm and fragile voice. Her sensuous style moves me like a kernel of corn in a stew of hot butter. I dig Chromatic Effects’ cool jazz, great musicianship. I know a few of the members that were former members of Blues Controversy, one of the best bands to come from the Bay City/Midland/Saginaw nexus. Jeff Yantz has always been my hero ever since he stormed onto the scene with the wondrous band One Trick Pony. His solo adventures are intriguing. I love his Dylanesque reading of Morphine and Jessica. It has a dark majesty that underscores the tension between pain and triumph.
The Shout Aways are relatively new to the scene but they have galloped out of the gates at full speed. They have a spacey sound that is raw yet inviting. They seem to channel Jim Morrison (the Doors) with their lyrical poetry and a boozy yet clear-eyed music. It’s a new dawn, brother. Dan Vaillancourt delivers two acoustic forays to the disc. He is a singer/songwriter who is skilled at creating atmosphere and images through words and music. He does a great Arlo Guthrie but he calls it amusement Park. It’s funny cool with a twinge of irony.
This disc was mastered at Reed Recording Studio, which means the sound is exquisite. Amazing - Reed is all over the musical map of the Great Lakes Bay Region and he never takes a break…24-7 brother! He has a gift for swimming underwater while holding his breath, but he still has make it back up to the surface sometimes. Either Reed’s been cloned or he has one helluva sleep disorder. He is on top of his game and has a well-deserved reputation as sensitive and skilled producer. Nowadays Andy’s happy and he’s smiling large like he has a banana in his shorts.
Buy this Disc! You can get a copy by going to www.freemusicfest.com for only $10.00. Two earlier compilation discs are also available.