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Music for everyone

Music for everyone

The Mark Lavengood Band performs at the Rockygrass Music Festival in Lyons, Colorado. Lavengood will be bringing his talents to Sidney this September, as his band is set to perform in the Willowsong Music Festival on Friday evening.â€" Photo submitted by Mark Lavengood

SIDNEY â€" Jazz, rock and roll, folk and bluegrass.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg for the kinds of music that can be heard at this year’s Willowsong Music Festival, which is taking place Sept. 28 through 29.

“We have a really wide variety this year,” Eric Raby, who founded Willowsong Music Festival along with his wife, Jo Raby, said. “I spent a lot of time attending numerous shows, listening to records, seeking out artists and going through submissions. There’s something in here for everybody.”

Jo and Eric Raby started the Willowsong Music Festival last year, as they wanted to create a space for local musicians in Montcalm County. This year, 18 artists will be performing at the event. â€" Photo submitted by Willowsong Music Festival

Now entering its second year, Eric and Jo Raby have shared a dream to start a music festival in Montcalm County ever since they bought the property at 2039 South Nevins Road in Sidney four years ago.

“We had been driving a couple of hours to travel to different music festivals to attend ourselves when we realized that something was missing in this local community,” Eric said.

That’s an idea that local musicians also gravitated to, as the Rabys were able to bring in a dozen different acts in Willowsong’s first year.

This year, they’re expanding even more as they now have 18 artists who will be performing

On Friday, the music kicks off at 6 p .m. and lasts until 11:30. Saturday will have shows all day long, starting at noon and ending around 12:30 a.m.

Artists at this year’s Willowsong Music Festival include the Go Rounds, Mark Lavengood Band, Valentiger, Nicholas James and the Bandwagon, Matt Gabriel, Madelyn Grant, Blushing Monk, Cosmic Knot, Estar Cohen Band, Mat Churchill Band, LVRS, Jake Simmons & the Little Ghosts, Blanca Luz, Eric Engblade, Beaver Xing, Barbarossa Brothers, The Good Old Days and Whiskey Sunrise.

“I’m really looking forward to hearing all the great acts that have been selected, checking out the grounds and meeting the community,” Mark Lavengood said.

Jesse Lemons, a trumpet player for Blushing Monk, plays a performance in Rosa Park Circle in Grand Rapids. Blushing Monk can be seen at this year’s Willowsong Music Festival, on Sept. 28 through 29.â€" Photo submitted by B lushing Monk

While Lavengood has been touring Michigan for the last ten years, he believes that this will be his first time playing in Montcalm County.

“There is so much support throughout Michigan for the music community,” he said. “You might think that you’d run across the same people at every festival, but that’s not the case. There are some familiar faces, sure, but you don’t always see the exact same crew. It’s nice to know that we have family and followers wherever we go, and we’re ready to bring that to Willowsong.”

The two-day event isn’t solely about the music, either.

For just $40, attendees can spend the whole weekend camping at Willowsong Farmstead â€" a 20-acre property with a large organic garden.

There will also be crafts and food vendors, a seed swap and yoga throughout the event.

“Any other festival in the state is going to charge more than $40 for just a single day pass,” Eric said. “We’re new an d we’re young, so we wanted to do the whole thing for one low, flat rate.”

Tickets purchased before Sept. 1 include a swag bag full of unique and exclusive Willowsong gear.

Willowsong Music Festival wouldn’t be possible without help from sponsors and local businesses, as Barfly Ventures, Crossroads Portables, Sidney Tavern, Third Pear Farm, Eddie’s Pizza Palace, Long Road Distillers, Fleurology Designs and Mid Michigan Fire & Safety are all generously supporting the event this year.

“We’re still in conversation with a couple of other local businesses,” Eric said. “We want to incorporate the local community into what we’re doing because we’re not just bringing in great talent from across the state. We’re creating an experience for people in the community who maybe don’t have the opportunity to go to something like this usually.”

To become a sponsor, purchase tickets or to find out more information about the event, visit www.wi or email

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