Turn down 27th Street in rural Vicksburg and you will find The Bus Stop, a unique campground/music venue which has been around for five years.
It began when owner Ted “Washtub” McNett and his jam band, the Electric Jug Band, wanted a place to practice. One night as he and the band were hanging out on his land, they had the idea that it would be a good place for a stage, McNett said.
So, McNett and former band bassist, Alex Johnston, built the stage which has a 1958 GMC Vicksburg school bus serving as a backdrop and as a green room for visiting bands.
McNett purchased the bus for $10, he said. At the time, he worked for the Vicksburg Community Schools as a groundskeeper and maintenance man when he saw the bus at the bus depot. Knowing the school wanted to get rid of it, he offered to take it off their hands, and thus, giving the venue its name.
Enhancing the woodland and do-it-yourself atmosphere are gathering spots featuring old couches along with makeshift signs such as “Where the Music Begins,” and “Stay and Play.”
“It really is magical,” said McNett. “It’s a party for all music people, pure enjoyment of the music. That’s what it is all about.”
Over the years, the Bus Stop has gained steam with local bands and others coming to play the free-of-charge venue, said McNett. Audiences have come from as far as Holland and Detroit to be a part of the festivities.
Besides regular shows, McNett hosts two showcases, one in early summer and another in late summer. Promoted by word of mouth, the festivals have brought in as many as 400 people who camp out for the event, he said.
Bands which have played the festivals include Brandon Mann, Danny Castle, the Kalamazoo River Monsters, Alec Johnston, and Lansing’s Fried Egg Nebula.
The Bus Stop has no plans for slowing down, said McNett. He and his band appreciate their home base and feel this is just the beginning.
Electric Jug Band bassist, Matt Fisher, also has high expectations for the venue.
“I think it will get mythical in proportions later on,” he said. “You always wish for more Bus Stops, but we will be glad of what we had.”
Electric Jug Band
The Electric Jug Band is as unique as the venue they call home. The local six-piece jam band crosses genres and styles of music, even in the middle of songs. Folk, progressive, jazz, blues, funk, punk and rock all blend in the band’s work.
“The sound is really hard to pigeonhole,” said Mike Fischer, bassist.
The band was formed after an on-the-spot jam session at Aaron’s Music Service during Vicksburg’s Old Car Festival in 2008. Guitarist and singer Bryan Wither was walking by the shop as washtub and folk instrument aficionado, Ted McNett, was playing with late owner Aaron Cowles. The music caught his attention.
“I heard some bluegrassy music coming out of the music store so I had to go check it out,” said Withers. “I had never seen a washtub bass for real and we got to talking to [Ted] and the idea for the band was formed.
Electric Jug Band is working on an album they hope to release in the spring of 2015.
Until then, check out the band at Electricjugband.com which has videos and dates for upcoming shows.