Sleepy Bear Music Festival 2012 (formally Dunegrass)

It’s a late night, Wednesday to be exact, sometime around 11pm. I am traveling up 131 North with my buddy, on way to Sleepy Bear music festival. This is the first year of Sleepy Bear, it was previously Dunegrass. Now this is a Michigan festival, Pure Michigan featuring some of the top bands in this state, as well as some headliners from around the US. Adding to the Michigan with some Michigan put into a giant bed of Michigan getting down with three Michigan’s is the location. Just outside of Lake Ann in Benzie county, you are surrounded by the absolute majesty of Michigan’s Northwest area. This is not an area to take lightly, I heard word of an impenetrable swamp and a Dogman. I called bullshit on that last one and got a whole earful of I seen it, so there ya go. This is also the second year located at this 100 acre farm. It’s an amazing peace of land that is next to damn near nothing, perfect!

Having arrived at about 1:30 am after watching some amazing storm action all the way up 131 and navigating the wilds of dirt road action we are beat. Still though, one must unwind from the excitement soon to come. It’s funny how this will be a reoccurring theme for the whole weekend. Unable to sleep, beer in hand, mind free and lost. Now locked in with a temp camp for the two hours of sleep I am going to be able to pull, I am ready for action. That comes early as I am awaken by the slightest of movement near me.

Thursday morning was a cloudy one for sure. 8 am cam quick as my eyes decided to not actualize themselves. The few hours before we camped right by what was to be the beer tent stage, that had to change. We quickly shut down shop and moved to the front near VIP and the artist camp. It was a good spot, near to everything, far enough to not be too close. To be honest a whole lot did not happen today for me. I did learn about Fight Club, which has no fighting. It’s more like I met someone that lives 5 miles away and she was kind enough to let me shower at her house. I love that this random event took place as I was able to meet her family. These people held it down and worked their asses off to help with this event, for this, I love them. Like I said though, Thursday was mostly me just trying to stay out of everyone’s way as there was still a lot to set up for everyone coming in that evening and Friday. I did get in 20 minuets a manual labor that day so I guess it wasn’t a complete fail. There were some performances that night for the purchasers of an early bird ticket, I did catch some of the Seth and May set. It was very nice, mellow with a healthy topping of sweetness. I guess they were married last year at the festival and have been friends of the event for awhile. I thought it was a great way to start things off. You ever have that moment when you know you fucked up? I did, when I found out I missed the Potato Moon set of at the beer tent stage. Check em out, they are this great family band with all sorts of soul and folk tendencies. Me Guesta! Late night Sleepy Bear is kind of off limits with this article as I don’t really remember a whole lot of it, nor if I could would you hear about it. Let’s just say a lot of shenanigans, mad capped drum circle action and all sorts of groovy times.


Friday started out pretty shitty as I was woken up not so much by the rain, but it’s ability to ninja it’s face into my tent. I probably should have remembered this as I learned that lesson at a previous festival. DAMN YOU SHORT TERM MEMORY LOSS! Either way, my ass is up. Garrrrrrr. It would continue this style of weather for the next 6 hours or so. Good thing I had to go to Ludington and then Manistee for my last shower for next few days. Having killed enough time to make it back just as the rain was done made my day. Now us festival goers are blessed with nothing but sun till Monday. Not bad. Today out of the weekend was my day for music. First, I sat through The Crane Wives set. They are a Grand Rapids band who’s sound absolutely brings you in. With three part harmonies and enough groove to get you moving, there is a reason their shows are packed in Grand Rapids. Up next on the stage was Graham Parsons & The Go Rounds out of Kalamazoo. This isn’t the simplest band to describe. There is a lot going on and from what I hear the 9 members there were only half of what they can do. I will just put it this way, this band is immensely enjoyable. They just plain rock it out, and with so many choices of sound to bring they keep you guessing where the song will go. I now find myself heading down to the third stage, an acoustic area called the pickin stage. I was here to see Potato Moon, though it was only three members of the band. This was still one of my favorite moments all weekend. It started off with the whole attending crowd sitting about 30 feet or more away trying to keep in the shade. Of course this makes it hard to sing and be heard so the crowd suggested the band bring themselves into the shade as well. Once this happened things really got started. With the self described ebony and ivory singing and laid back guitar styling, this was a great time. Featuring songs from a side project call The Lollipops and a Potato Moon song or two the crowd absolutely ate it all up and wanted more. The last band I will get into with any detail for this day is The Stooges Brass band. Holy snap I didn’t even see this coming, shit, I even got up to dance on this one. Consisting of a piano player, drummer and enough brass to wake up the dead and make them dance, they just blew the walls off the this venue where non existed. I loved it and recommend you see them first chance you get, which will be hard as they are in New Orleans. Still, do it!

Oh yeah Martin Sexton played. Didn’t see much of it as I was enjoying the time of others around me. I am not saying it’s bad, not at all, I just didn’t care. A lot of people did though, so I would say the Martin Sexton train will roll on without any issues, disco ball and all.

Sunday had me waking up feeling amazing and happy, yet melancholy as some people I have just gotten to know had to leave. Boo. But, here I am somewhat alone yet still surrounded by music and people, all wrapped up in love…..festival style. It was a good day, very sunny, almost too much. This is how I find myself taking my second Platte river bath/dip. I highly recommend this to you good folks. Smelling good and feeling a little cool on the last day of a festival is not a bad gig. Like I said though, I was kind of lame and did not check out much music except for the headliner of the evening, Funktion. They are this amazing group out of Kalamazoo, which play Hip hop, R&B and crazy good funk. They shut down this festival with great energy and got everyone shaking their asses one more time. I needed that, just that one last hit of festival life before reality had to creep it’s way into my consciousness. With that is was over, well at least for the story as there was one more late night left, and it was good.


So again thank you to all that worked so hard to make this happen, as I never had a chance before to be there early and witness this firsthand. Thank you to those I got to meet and grow with the knowledge of knowing them. Thank you to everyone I did not meet but help make this a great time for all. I look forward to next year as now this will be a regular event for me. See you next year Sleepy Bear.