The ‘world of music’ at the 2019 Electric Forest Festival.

June 26, 2019

Photo by Ross Field.

The ‘world of music’ at the 2019 Electric Forest Festival.

A helpful guide to the non-EDM performances at EF.


By Ross Field, OCP Correspondent.

ROTHBURY – With headliners like Odesza, Kygo, Bassnectar, and Zeds Dead – four of the biggest acts in the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) world – the Electric Forest is decidedly an EDM festival.

But dig deeper into the vast schedule of acts and there is a world of rock, bluegrass, folk, funk, and soul to explore.

The key is to zero in on the smaller stages like the Jubilee, The Observatory, the Carousel Club, the new Honeycomb stage, and especially the Grand Artique stage behind the Trading Post in the Sherwood Forest.

The schedule hasn’t been released for the Grand Artique yet but it will feature sets from rock, folk, blues, and soul acts like Datura, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Desmond Jones, Grateful Shred, Sophistafunk, Southern Avenue, and Shane Hall.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Electric Forest without the String Cheese Incident laying down their infectious grooves of bluegrass, rock, and funk on multiple nights. The band will be playing Thursday night at the Jubilee at 8:15 p.m., and at the Ranch Arena Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. String Cheese Incident’s Saturday night shows are not to be missed as they feature spectacular light shows, aerialists and fireworks.

Thursday afternoon, Michigan’s own Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers will bring their great mix of rock, funk, and soul to the Sherwood Court at 3:30 p.m. Also playing at Sherwood Court Thursday at 6:45 p.m. is Tauk, a band out of New York that plays an all-instrumental mix of progressive rock, hip-hop, and jazz, and Spafford, an Arizona band known for their mix of rock, funk, bluegrass, and gospel at 8:30 p.m.

Closing out Thursday night at the Jubilee at midnight is Lettuce, a fantastic New York-based funk band that incorporates jazz fusion and EDM into the deep grooves of their jams.

The Carousel Club is the most intimate venue at the festival, and two acts playing Thursday are recommended. Cautious Clay is a young, up-and-coming R&B singer from Washington, DC, and he will play at 5:30 p.m. Then, at 10:30 p.m., the incredible American soul singer, Lee Fields, takes the stage with his band, The Expressions. Dancing to the soothing sounds created by Lee Fields & The Expressions will be a perfect way to wind down Thursday night.

Friday afternoon finds the futuristic funk band, Ghost-Note, opening the Ranch Arena at 5 p.m. The members of Ghost-Note have toured with Toto, Prince, Snoop Dog, Herbie Hancock, and Justin Timberlake, among others.

A highly anticipated show is Brandon “Taz” Niederauer at the Observatory at 6:30 p.m. Though only 16 years old, Niederauer has already shared the stage with likes of Stevie Nicks, Buddy Guy, Lady Gaga, Derek Trucks and the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and George Clinton. Niederauer is the real deal, and his music is surprisingly soulful for such a young musician.

Over at Sherwood Court, STS9 – an Electric Forest veteran – will close the night out with their fiery blend of improvised jams laden with EDM effects at 1 a.m. If STS9 is too heavy for so late at night, Lee Fields & The Expressions are the closing act at the Jubilee stage at midnight.

The big show that ends Friday evening, though, is over at the Carousel Club where powerhouse drummer, Nikki Glaspie, and her Nth Power band will feature a set of Earth, Wind & Fire songs at 1 a.m. Glaspie was Beyonce’s drummer for five years, and she has put together a world class band of musicians for this soul-powered extravaganza.

On Saturday one could spend the entire afternoon in the woodsy confines of the new Honeycomb stage listening to the folk artistry of such singer-songwriters as Steve Poltz, Aaron Hale, John Craigie and Cas Haley.

If you don’t mind missing the String Cheese Incident show at the Ranch Arena, the Observatory Stage is loaded with great bands on Saturday starting with Dragondeer, a blues rock band from Denver that pays homage to Led Zeppelin and the Black Keys in their songs at 6:30 p.m., Southern Avenue, a soulful young blues and R & B band from Memphis at 9:30 p.m., Chon, a rock trio from San Diego at 11 p.m., and Grateful Shred, a bluegrass band specializing in the songs of the Grateful Dead at 12:30 a.m.

The Electric Forest has always promoted New Orleans bands, and a really great show to catch on Sunday will be Sweet Crude at the Jubilee stage at 4:30 p.m. The six-piece band draws upon the rich musical gumbo of Louisiana, and their songs are sung in both English and Cajun French. The Chicago funk band, Mungion, follows Sweet Crude at 6 p.m.

The up-and-coming bluegrass band, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, play at the Observatory at 6:45 p.m., followed by the Denver-based rock band, Ghost Light, at 8:15 p.m. Next up at the Observatory is FM-84, a retro-rock soul band from San Francisco featuring the powerful vocals of Ollie Wride at 7:45 p.m.

And to close out the festival, at 12:45 a.m., the intriguingly named band, A Tribe Called Sophistafunk, presents a tribute to 90’s Hip Hop at the Carousel, where you can be sure you will dance the morning away.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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