June 25 2010 12:00 AM

Land of Nod promises a 'grassroots music and arts festival unlike any other'

As the young Rothbury Festival takes 2010 off, and early
Common Ground announcements point to another sweaty week of big-name summer
fare, Michigan music fans seem faced with another year of more (or even less)
of the same.

Enter the Land of Nod Experiment.

The self-proclaimed “grassroots music and arts festival
unlike any other” will make its debut July 23-25 in Leoni Township, a rural
community in Jackson County about 45 miles southeast of Lansing. The new fest
boasts an eclectic lineup of national independent and underground acts. Among
the notable are theatrical, indie dance-rock stalwarts Of Montreal, hard rock
heroes and Queens-of-the-Stone-Age-affiliated The Eagles of Death Metal and the
weird space-pack rap of Dr. Octagon. Filling out the bill are plenty of
up-and-coming national acts and Michigan favorites, including The Macpodz and
Satin Peaches.

eagles_of_death_metal.jpgCo-organizer Dan Sheridan said he and business partner Jason
Reed created a lineup that couldn’t be easily tagged by genre.

“We want to
stand alone from a lot of the other festivals,” Sheridan said. “A lot of the
festivals you see in the summer time all have the same lineup, it’s just in a
different city on a different weekend. The Land of Nod has always been about
exposing people to new styles.”

Land of Nod will also include a “Fringe Forest,” featuring
performance artists, vaudeville, cabaret, a circus sideshow and original
artwork, as well as roaming buskers. Most of the music slots are booked, but
Sheridan said interested performance artists should get in touch through the
festival’s website.

From now until the concert, Sheridan plans to basically
spend his weekends camped out at the site. There’s plenty of work to be done,
and those willing to put in at least 15 hours will get festival passes and even
be able to work toward VIP passes.

Sheridan, 41, of New Orleans, grew up in metro Detroit area
and attended Ferris State University, where he got involved in staging concerts
and events, which he continued to do after school.

The founder of his own tribal design clothing line, NooMoon,
Sheridan hit the festival circuit as a vendor, traveling with the OzzFest tours
of the late ‘90s, as well as Woodstocks ’94 and ’99, several of the Free Tibet
concerts and, more recently, Bonnaroo.

In 2000 Sheridan moved New Orleans, where he first launched
Land of Nod as a subset of the annual Voodoo Music Festival. But he never
stopped dreaming about a large-scale art and music happening on a friend’s
hunting property in south-central Michigan. “It’s been brewing in our heads for
about 10 years,” Sheridan said.

Two years ago, he and Reed began working with Leoni Township
to get things in motion. Last summer they staged a one-day test run with local
bands and artists for local residents, government and police. “They were
impressed with what they saw,” Sheridan said.

For residents old enough to remember Leoni’s last major rock
festival, a little more convincing had to be done. Forty years ago this summer,
tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of music fans flooded the small community
for the Goose Lake International Music Festival. Acts included Jethro Tull, Joe
Cocker and home state favorites Bob Seger, The Stooges and SRC.

“I heard these
stories of naked hippies running around smoking weed and having sex on the
hoods of cars; some images like that stay around forever,” Sheridan said.

In an effort to “grow with the community,” Sheridan is
capping total attendance at 10,000, which means only 8,000 tickets will be
sold. So far, only three-day passes have been made available at early-bird
rates. Sheridan said prices will soon go up, and individual tickets will be
available for at least Friday and Sunday.

For each ticket sold, Land of Nod will give $3 to the Leoni
Township Public Safety, $3 to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and $1 to
the Armory Arts Village in nearby Jackson.

Sheridan said response from the community has been positive.
“People are excited it’s coming to Michigan and to Jackson,” he said.

Land of Nod Experiment, July 23-25: Featuring Of Montreal, Eagles of Death Metal, Tokyo Police
Club, Rasputina, Dr. Octagon and more. Full lineup and ticket, camping info at