Mickey Hart headlines the 9th Annual Hoxeyville Music Festival west of Cadillac this weekend.
There is no “mailing it in” with Mickey Hart, the percussion guru of the Grateful Dead, who could easily cash in year after year touring and playing the hits of his former band.
“What’s the point of always doing the same thing? I don’t eat my favorite meal everyday; I explore different foods in search of my new favorite meal, and that is my approach to music,” said Hart. “My whole life I have constantly been exploring different types of music, even during my Grateful Dead days.
“Sure I have a great appreciation for that music and being able to be a part of creating that music,” he added. “I am sure all of us will get together again in the future and revisit it, but for now I am focused on my current projects as I know the other members are busy with their own projects.”
At 67, Hart is as energized now as he was 45 years ago when he joined the Grateful Dead. His current project is the Mickey Hart Band and he will test the musical waters this weekend at the 9th Annual Hoxeyville Music Festival (45 miles south of Traverse City, just off M-37 near Wellston).
“I am not touring, just doing a few dates to see what works and what doesn’t work with this new project and band,” said Hart. “I will do a full tour next summer, but for now I am just doing a couple of club dates, theaters and music festivals. I was impressed with what I saw last year at Hoxeyville so I wanted to come back and let them be among the first to hear my new project.”
It has been 16 years since Jerry Garcia passed away and since that time, Hart has toured with his former Dead bandmates as The Other Ones from 1998 - 2002. In 2003 the band changed its name to The Dead. They decided to take a hiatus in 2009.
Last year Hart visited Hoxeyville with his band, The Rhythm Devils (a name Jerry Garcia gave the duo one night when he looked back at them and said “you guys are the Rhythm Devils). That band included his Grateful Dead percussion mate Bill Kreutzmann.
“I am excited about this new project on several fronts,” said Hart of his latest group. “Certainly the musicianship and I know the people of Michigan are going to be equally impressed with the band I have assembled. Musically I consider this to be the best work I have done in my 50-plus years of performing.”
A strong statement coming from a musician whose work with the Grateful Dead landed him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Again, I think if you say your best work was that from the past how can you grow as a musician or a person? I believe that each project I am working on is and will be my best work. You have to or you are just going through the motions.”
Hart will release a new CD early next year, his first studio work in five years since he produced the Grammy winning “The Global
Drum Project.” He doesn’t want to give too much away about what to expect from his new CD, but points to his musical research as the foundation for the project.
“Over the past several years I have I been working with leading scientists from NASA and other institutions to capture raw light waves from space and then transform those light waves into sound waves. Afterwards, using those sounds to compose universal music. I have started with the sounds of the Big Bang from 13.7 billion years ago and continued my personal investigation through our current time,” said Hart. “Basically I am exploring what the universe sounds like.”
Hart enthusiastically furthers his point. “Music is a universal language, every culture and society has used sounds and rhythms throughout its history. It is only natural to believe that this inspiration for all of this came from the sounds created by the universe,” said Hart. “I firmly believe that like water and air we need music to survive, it is what defines and it is part of what makes us human.”
AROUND THE WORLD
Prior to searching space, Hart explored and captured music from cultures around the world. That work will now be recognized by the Smithsonian with the release of “The Mickey Hart Collection’” this October to preserve and further his endeavor to cross borders and expand musical horizons.
“The Mickey Hart Collection” will begin with 25 albums drawn from “The World,” a series Hart curated that incorporated his solo projects, other artists’ productions, and re-releases of out-of-print titles. Six of the 25 albums form the “Endangered Music Project,” a collaboration between Mickey Hart and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which presents recordings from musical traditions at risk.
“This is a real honor because the Smithsonian will be around for future generations so I consider this to be my best honor of my musical career,” said Hart. “Grammys and other awards tarnish after awhile they end up in a closet and they really mean little in the bigger picture.”
For now that bigger picture for Hart is exploring the musical offerings of the universe where he believes the opportunities for discovery are infinite. Festival-goers this weekend to Hoxeyville will be among the first to hear Hart’s discoveries. For more information on Mickey Hart go to www.mickeyhart.net or follow him on Twitter.
Here are some additional highlights to the 9th Annual Hoxeyville Music Festival, August 19-21. Located near Wellston the festival grounds occupy nearly 100 acres of farmland and hardwood forest within the Manistee National Forest.
Joining Mickey Hart as the headliner for the weekend will be Umphrey’s McGee. Other performers include Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, The Itals, Greensky Bluegrass, Todd Snider, Ella Riot and a host of Northern Michigan favorites.
Hoxeyville has two stages of national touring artists as well the best talent from Northern Michigan. Next door is a modern campground with full amenities including a swimming pool, showers, plug-ins, dump station and wireless Internet.
In addition to music, Hoxeyville will offer disc golf and the festival grounds are close to mountain biking and hiking trails. For the those into fly-fishing or kayaking, the Pine River is nearby. The “Vendor Village” will feature artisan, craft and food vendors.
There are several different ticketing options for Hoxeyville and the “Early Bird” tickets have already sold out. For a complete look at the line up and to purchase tickets and camping passes in advance check out www.hoxeyville.com.