Stolen Wallpaper

Words but a whisper, deafness a shout

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Location: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

Hi. I wish I had a job selling squirrels. They're so furry, and give you toothy grins. Unless they're rabid, in which case they will eat your face off and then find the rest of your family. That's not so good, I guess.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Live Music Log, May 2019

 This just in:  local schmuck goes out to shows, tries in vain to remember details five months later.

5 3 19 Carrie McFerrin #27/Kate Pillsbury #4/CHRIS CRANICK  Webster's Prime, Kalamazoo  Five months out, my notes are cryptic and frickin' useless, but I know I enjoyed the ever loving hell out of this one: two of my favorite women on this earth in the same room at the same time and armed with guitars.  Mr. Cranick was very good as well, but it could have been a Raggedy Ann doll on the third stool and this would be a cannot-miss for me. Chris also leads a loud rock band called Overdrive Orchestra, but solo his tunes were medium-intensity mellow.  Carrie had a slinky new one about devilish temptation called Don't Be Afraid.  During Kate's sunny new one, Even Now, I misheard a line as "hepatitis in the morning," but I can't remember the real line. Carrie's Songs And Stories series is just a goldmine for creative sparks and storytelling, and I am glad the schmancy hotel picks up the tab for it.

5 4 19  MARK HARRELL/JAKE KALMINK & FURTHER CLOSER/DALMATIAN STONE  Park Theatre, Holland  This was one heat out of three for a contest to play into a slot at the Cowpie Music Festival, to be held in Alaska (MI) in August.  A battle of the bands, basically.  Mark Harrell was compelling in his cloth cap and low key demeanor, but plagued by sound problems and not enough songs to fill his slot.  Further Closer was like a local Broken Social Scene, with nine (if I remember right) people on stage to make the big hearted sound fly; Kalmink had three guitars tuned to three keys, an extravagance.  The last song had an extended solo that led to a psychedelic sound explosion:  needless to say, by far my favorite band of the night and one I want to see again.  And then, Dalmatian Stone rubbed me the wrong way.  The singer had one of those long rags dangling from his back pocket.  His hat had sequins.  There were some credible funkish noises from an integrated ensemble, but it all smelled fishy.  I left halfway through their set.  So, of course, this band eventually won the whole contest.

5 9 19  Molly #3  Rosa Parks Circle, Grand Rapids  Lunchtime solo (well, with Scott on guitar) set from the erstwhile Vox Vidorra powerhouse. Great line about "a lying dummy with a stupid toupee." A sound is coalescing:  sparer than the band, but no less warmly humanist.  I will always be hugely awkward around this ludicrously charismatic person, but she seemed pleased I came down, so I'll take it and run.

5 9 19  FOXFEATHER/Kaitlin Rose #11  The Sandbox at Kal-Tone, Kalamazoo  I can't remember why I had a Thursday night free, but I ventured down to Kzoo for a completely new band:  Foxfeather is from Boulder, Colorado, and I hope they're as beloved there as the Wives are here, because they are phenomenal. A pair of songwriting women, one the primary vocalist, at the core, with supporting dude players of high caliber. There's a pop singer named Meg Myers who has this wire-taut intensity;  Foxfeather takes that feeling and diffuses it through Americana, like honey in a whisky sour, to quote a lyric.  Most powerful song: The Rules, which should have become a nationwide Me Too anthem. Opening was Kaitlin Rose, who matched Foxfeather's intensity with a whip-tight band set and limited space to prowl in the sadly underpopulated Sandbox space. This is a great venue for intimate acts, but I would love to see Foxfeather blow the roof off at Founders.

5 10 19  The Crane Wives #68  Beer Merchant, Holland  When you go out to see as much music as
I do, you hear an awful lot of praise, if not to say kissing up, flung at the sound crew.  The reason for this:  the sound crew holds your experience, and your impression of that act's music, in the sweaty palms of their hands.  At this turgid backyard beer garden tent of yuppie scum, the sound guy diffidently pushed the faders on his iPad this way and that, but at no point did he actually land upon a sound mix worthy of this magnificent band.  This was a bad gig.  These sometimes happen. The music was still great.  I had fun with Roo, and I was glad I was there to support them in their frustration with a bad sound and a disinterested, North Face festooned, overly quaffing audience of Holland douchecanoes.

5 11 19  HOOM/TALK RADIO/TANNER J. BURNS/CROOKED SPIRES  House show, Holland  Sometimes you just gotta do it yourself:  the vibe at this DIY house show was 500% better despite being only two blocks from last night's debacle. Tanner Burns (and band) was a lot of loud melody in a small-ass space (a living room done up with cool light effects). Vocal was hard to decipher through the enthusiastic drumming; overall impression:  what if Weezer was as cool as they think they are? Crooked Spires is laid back soulful indie crunch, with Christian, the singer, having a good raspy rawk voice:  Chris Isaak joins Pink Floyd.  Hoom was sunny indie, very Elephant 6.  There was a dude somehow blissing out while perched on a stepladder to the right of the couch I was on. Patty Pierzchala, a recent acquaintance who was sitting near me, then rose to front the last band, Talk Radio, and what a joyful howl it was.  They broke up fairly soon after this, not sure why, but they had the best dynamic range of the night:  Elle King fronting the Black Keys.  Happy to follow Patty's other projects, but sorry to see this one drowned in the tub so quickly.

5 18 19  BUS STOP 2019: Sharp Dressed Men/Rodger Osborn/Mike List/Charlie Mench/Danny Staggs/Melissa Mae/Ryan Gladding & Lisa Moaiery/Desi Taylor/Megan Dooley/Strange Country/Borr McFerrin  The Bus Stop, Vicksburg  Five months out this one feels like a fever dream:  did it really happen?  An invite-only rural hootenanny, camping on site allowed, on the land of a man named Ted, deep deep in the center of a country square mile down the longest driveway that wasn't a private road I have ever seen. A ramshackle stage in front of a broken down bus, assorted other structures supporting sound equipment and food prep, camping under the trees, a road that turned to treacherous mud as the rains came late: and a whole lot of colorful Kalamazoo music and musicians. I pulled up while Kevin Hamman's pickup band, Sharp Dressed Men, were in progress, a friendly Frankenstein beast powered primarily by Jacob Rollins' prodigious blues guitar. Rodger Osborn was a hoarse old coot with a fiddle, happy as a clam to be upright and making music. Mike List is a musical iceberg, a wild-grown John Hiatt who will surprise you every time. Charlie Mench is another happy old coot, with some nifty countrified originals and a panoply of squeals. Carrie joined him on a song about a sentimental auction.  Danny Staggs gave me the creeps:  this could be totally unfair, but he felt like a dude who has struck a woman in anger.  All his songs were about fucking up, getting fucked up, or both. Melissa Mae was cheerfully folky, but five months out, I can't remember anything at all:  sorry Melissa.  Ryan and Lisa, at the beginning of a partnership that has been paying melodic dividends, meshed well together, her alluringly sleepy voice playing well with his lightning fingerpicking. Desi Taylor, a former fixture on the scene who went away for a while, was a sunny singer/guitarist with a folky/funny/earnest point of view. Dooley did not seem to be having a good day, but it did not show in her performance:  consummately professional, tuneful, and augmented by the slide guitar of Mike List, who along with Pete Weir is Strange Country.  I THINK Jeremy Rilko was with them on bass yet here, before he buggered off to the south, but my memory is weak. Borr and McFerrin did their thing, their countryish, bluesish, harmonyish thing, her yin and his yang gettin' the job done.  There were two more acts, Blue Veins and Smoke and Whiskey, but I was exhausted and had to make sure I could drive home safely.  Thanks to Aaron Helmer for the invitation, and to all the fine folks I met or met again out in the middle of nowhere.

5 25 19  May Erlewine #16  Founders, Grand Rapids  A good time was had, I'm sure...? I can't remember much.  Not as raucous and joyful as a Motivations show, not as solemn as a Mother Lion show (or the Second Sight show I just saw in October).  I made note of one new song, Make Use, an unusually slinky one for May, but otherwise this one is lost to the mists of my poor recall.

5 31 19  The Crane Wives #69  The Livery, Benton Harbor  I remember less about the music at this one than about the hangin' out. I had just committed to buying a house in Muskegon, and was comparing notes with the homeowners and renters in the band. When you go see someone play 69 times in 41 months, you either become friendly or they get a restraining order.  I seem to remember some seldom aired classics coming out to play in this longer-than-usual show, a nice treat.  Might even have been a wild Margaret.

5 31 19  Olivia & The Playboys #26  New Holland Brewing, Holland  The late start at New Holland made catching most of this show possible after the Wives an hour down the road.  This was a mongrel band, with the Frenchtown Playboys (Brandon, Adam, Erik McIntyre, Ben Green) matching their twenties cool-cat style to Olivia Mainville's happy-goth tunes.  The cats sometimes refused to be herded, the musical jokes visibly ruffling Olivia's feathers, but fun was had before a rapidly dwindling audience of Holland douchecanoes.  (Let's make that a thing.)


Monday, September 30, 2019

Live Music Log, April 2019

 Hi.  I'm a guy who goes to see a lot of local music and then writes about it.

4 5 19  Gregory Stovetop #2/THE BIG SIRS  Tip Top Deluxe, Grand Rapids  A night of old fashioned sounds, for better or for worse.  The Big Sirs is the same personnel as Diff & Dudley, but with a less explicitly country sound, allowing for more rockabilly, honky tonk, what have you.  Older gents who are still way too prone to pre-Me Too humor, but undeniably skilled on their instruments, with a few really good songs (one dude was in Holland's Mosey 20 years ago, a band whose CD I still play often). Better than a Diff and Dudley set, for sure.  And then Stovetop, a big-bearded golem who is like Andrew W.K. and Bob Seger had a baby. Michigan roots, Brookyn headquartered, he's an Earthwork fellow traveler, a skilled visual artist, and a bringer of the rawk in guitar form.  Wailsharq on bass, Jarad Selner on drums (dude can play literally anything), an unholy racket was made within the cool cat confines of the Tip Top.  My companion, Roo, had a perma-grin. His signature track is "The Good Stuff," and that about sums it up.

4 6 19 Darcy Wilkin #18  Grand Traverse Distillery, Kalamazoo  Various vagaries of life have led to me writing this more than four months after the fact, so any shows where I didn't take notes are a smeary blur of buckshot against the back of my poor memory. I assume I had a good time, because Darcy mixes sad songs and funny stories in the manner of her songwriting heroes, such as John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.  Pretty sure other friends were there.  Positive I had an alcoholic chocolate cream soda. Early afternoon low-key show, which allowed me to move on to the Strand Brewery in Sister Lakes, where I caught an hour worth of Megan Dooley, who I had not seen in way too long.  Her take on "Yakko's Universe" went awry, but all else was right with her eclectic boho sound.  Few people manage to look so tough and sound so sweet at the same time. From there, on to....

4 6 19  Public Access #9  Founders, Grand Rapids   Because of the Dooley visit, I missed the opening act, Wing Vilma, but I caught all of the primary-color-jumpsuited crew's set.  Monolithic slabs of pure melody, generated by a ludicrous number of guitars, saxophone, bass, drums, keys, sampler, no words at all (unless you count Laura Nowe's fake NPR interludes).  Steve Leaf's frankenbeast lurches in preset directions, with a little tiny bit of improvisatory wiggle room for each player. As always, impressed by the sweet/raunchy tones of Alex Atkin, the only guitarist up there I never see in any other context (other than the Rickabus Big Band):  hoping that changes soon.

4 12 19 The Sweet Water Warblers #3  Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake  This was a sweet sweet sound.  It does tend to become the Rachael Davis Show, but luckily she is very good.  Thoughtful songs presented in carefully woven harmonies by three of Michigan's favorite daughters (even if two have flown the coop). And, without notes, that's all I got. From here, because I am insane, I drove to....

4 12 19  Dede And The Dreamers #5/Dan Rickabus #10  Old Dog Tavern, Kalamazoo  Missed opening band Cold Mountain Child because of show hopping, and a little bit of Dan, but it's ok:  the Beanpole of Positivity forgives all. Ukulele set, genially ignored by half the Old Doggers and enjoyed by the rest, with a little Dreamer collaboration thrown in.  And then:  the best Dreamers set I have yet experienced.  Everyone was on, dialed in, virtuosity tied to playful natures, marimba, violin, bass and drums, with Dan joining in on a few tunes. Dede Alder is a slyly grinning mama seraph.

4 13 19  The Crane Wives #66/OLIVIA MILLERSCHIN  The Loft, Lansing  My high school friends Renae and Julie were along for this one, making camaraderie as much the point as the music. But the music was good.  Olivia is like a young nineties throwback:  snarky and self aware, but sentimental and heartfelt at the same time. From the notes, two thumbnail sketches:  Ingrid Michaelson with a better BS detector, or Regina Spektor ironed flatter. And then the Wives were awesome.  Too long ago now to remember details: this will be a common refrain, as I write these in late September.  I spent a LOT of time working on writings for the Earthwork Harvest Gathering (collected here) and fell far, far behind on my hobby.  All worth it for the mind blowing cameraderie of that festival...but in the meantime, the blog I started to aid my memory is gonna have more holes than a fine Swiss cheese.  It was great to see my old friends meet my new friends and hit it off pretty well;  Julie already was a fan, and Renae became one in a hurry.

4 20 19 Eight Belles #2/MJ AND NEGAR/YOU KNOW I KNOW  Factory Coffee, Kalamazoo  Jessi Phillips (who, basically, IS Eight Belles) invited me to this super spiffy secret Sofar Sounds show.  I learned later that their business model (make bank off fake house shows, pay artists a pittance) is reprehensible, but none of that affects the sweet sweet music.  This venue was super cool too, an entire second floor above a backstreet coffee joint.  I was briefly excited about approaching the place to cobill my own shows, till it was pointed out that the "house show" status let Sofar skirt ADA access laws.  (Only reachable by stairs.) So yeah, Jessi's songs were sweetly acerbic, tunefully rueful, and over too quickly. The Right Light was the lovely opener, and there was a Lucinda Williams cover in there.  MJ Epperson, a jazz bassist-around-town who often plays with Sam Cooper, and Negar Afazel, a singer/violinist with a fascinating voice and Iranian heritage, played a duet set of great and delightful eccentricity. Lil bit of eerie Andrew Bird weirdness, and a requiem for the 1979 revolution. You Know I Know was very Sea And Cake:  beachside alt rock with a jazzy edge.  The singer had literally just arrived from a wedding in Tennessee, but her still killed it.  Great song title: Erik Satie Finally Says His Piece. Great line:  don't you dare sing those songs without me.  The ghost of Knee Deep Shag was in that room.

4 20 19 MODERN ADVENTURES/OFTEN HOME  Old Dog Tavern, Kalamazoo  The Sofar show was early enough that I got over to Old Dog for another round of discovery.  Often Home were cheeky power pop youngsters, like a Jimmy Eat World with most of the ennui drained out. Modern Adventures were like a louder version of You Know I Know, chiming alt rock with some great melodies:  aging pop punks with some highly vocal fans in the house.  They played Kings Of Leon's Use Somebody, "because we gotta make you sing along with SOMETHING."

4 21 19 The Go Rounds #5  Salt of the Earth, Fennville  In the reasonably hushed confines of Mark Schrock's farm-to-table restaurant, the Go Rounds were throttled back, but they were not half-assed, for a sold out Easter show.  Dials were at half mast, which made it much more enjoyable to me than some of the outer space excursions of late.  Delicate ballad Texas Desert Rose was perfect, melodic, and weird.  Excellent cover of Talking Heads' Heaven.  Masterful command of the basic tools of a rock band, channeling them into something unique.  And yet only about 20 people stayed for the second set.

4 25 19 The Accidentals #11/Earth Radio #3/Lipstick Jodi #4  Bell's, Kalamazoo  This Thursday hootenanny was worth working a Friday for:  three favorites, all female led, all on the big stage at Bell's.  Lipstick Jodi's lineup behind Karli is all new and weirdly all dude, including Andy from Olivia's old Troupe, but no complaints about the sound:  new stuff is less lesbian Cars and more femme Duran Duran.  Earth Radio is a damn fine fusion of funky soul, free jazz, and pop melody, and it's good to see such a fresh sound catching on in our market.  Left field Erykah Badu cover.  Hannah Laine is a marvel:  like Yoko Ono with perfect note control.  I miss the guitar tho. And then the headliners:  the happy monkeys from 40 months ago have acquired many layers of seasoning on their cast iron sound from relentless touring and inexorable songwriting growth.  I don't know the new ones well yet, but they are darker, funkier, and unlike anything found on the radio. But here, in Michigan, they can still end a show with a big happy singalong on their teenage ode to the mitten and send em off into the night smiling.

4 27 19 Carrie McFerrin #26  Grand Traverse Distillery, Kalamazoo  This was a 2 pm gig:  I think this experiment has already ended, the poorly attended early shows, but I loved em because they let me pack more music into my southward journeys.  Low key, Carrie strumming and singing while cocktails are imbibed, country veneer on a heart of oak.

4 27 19 Olivia & the Aquatic Troupe #25  Old Dog Tavern, Kalamazoo  I saw Olivia as a headliner for the first time here almost exactly three years earlier, and the growth is evident.  Whimsy dialed way down (Dwayne and the Rock Johnsons aside), the dark heart of gypsy-jazz-inflected pop to the fore.  I can't remember if Bleu was at this one, but the horns are deemphasized in favor of spare guitar-bass-drums that add up to something much older than rock n roll.

4 28 19 The Crane Wives #67/THE CONCUSSIONS/The Honeytones #2  Founders, Grand Rapids  An afternoon benefit show for a food pantry charity, John Sinkevics of Local Spins has been organizing these Feedback shows for many years, and playing them with his band the Honeytones, formed around his keys and fellow GR Press refugee Charley Honey on guitar.  Geezer rock, mostly, but several smart curve balls and guest stars galore:  Hank Mowry on harmonica, Andy Willey on a Steve Earle tune, Kate and E, on a New Pornographers number, Tommy Schichtel from the next band on Hey Bulldog, and Hannah Laine wailing away on Sympathy For The Devil.  Best moment:  a 25 year old Sink original called Tunnel, built around strange true life events.  The Concussions are a surf rock band who wear skull masks.  Excellent musicians, but with no vocals it doesn't stick for me.  Notable mainly for superproducer Schichtel's searing guitar leads.  And then the Wives:  two new songs debuted, Nobody (an Em disco stomper about gaslighting that has entered heavy rotation) and Queen Of Nothing (a Kate howl of pain that seems to have moved to her solo set). So great to see them in GR and realize they have rabid fans beyond the half dozen of us who go to see EVERY show.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Spotlights For June 2019

6 3 19 Amber Hasan  No Filter

6 4 19 Ani and Kora  Interstate

6 8 19 Mousewolf  Butterfly

6 9 19 Appleseed Collective  Rolling Along

6 10 19 Question Mark and the Mysterians  96 Tears

6 11 19 Steven Malcolm  On The Move

6 14 19 Seth Bernard  Overhaul

6 17 19 Kaitlin Rose  Love To Last

6 21 19 Bigfoot Buffalo  The Wizard

6 25 19 Political Lizard  I Found You


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Harvest Gathering bios, 2019

1000 Watt Prophets want to guide you back to the blues with their soothsaying candlepower. Soulful vocals from Mr. Zak Bunce, able support from Denny Richards, Dennis Rathnaw and Peter Murphy.  Unadorned American new retro music from the Grand Traverse. We love their groove, you will too.

Aaron Wayne Otto plays a simple wooden flute, alone onstage: no razzle-dazzle, no light show. But you won't move a muscle. This Native American master, member of the Tribal Council of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, only plays a handful of public shows a year, and this is one of 'em. Always look for the special and the unique at Earthwork Harvest Gathering.

Americana has a northern cousin:  Canadiana. Indie folk artist Abigail Lapell embodies it, with her haunting voice floating over her own piano and fingerpicked acoustic guitar.  This is the sound of the glaciers slowly moving across the surface of Alberta; of the gently loping caribou of the Shield; of the life-giving summer winds blowing in off the Great Lakes. Non-Michigan artists at the Gathering are chosen very carefully, and Abigail is special. Third album, Getaway, now available from Coax Records. Also available: Great Survivor (2011) and Hide Nor Hair (2017,winner of the Canadian Folk Music Award - Contemporary Album of the Year).

Not so much a band as an experience, Airborne or Aquatic?, a progressive roots rock collective built around a core of Seth Bernard and Jake Robinson with an ever changing cast of Michigan's best players, lists its influences as the boreal forest and the great old growth. This might be the music the Ents played to pump themselves up for the battle of Isengard. They only come out to play at a few festivals a year, so you should really buy that wristband now. Albums to date: AOA I (2007), AOA II (2008), The Cloud Octopus: Live Mixtape Volume 1 (2014),The Skyhorse: Live Mixtape Volume 2 (2014),and SISU (2014).

Mother, author, community activist, self proclaimed Loud Mouth Ghetto Girl Amber Hasan is fighting for Flint, fighting for women, fighting for you. EP Loud Mouth Ghetto Girl (naturally), 2017, available from CDBaby.

Kora Melia and Ani Seigel are very young, but there is already wisdom and nuance to be found in these songs. The word prodigy is overused, so let's just say we're excited to see where they go from here. This is folk punk gypsy swing with a lot on its mind and its heart on its sleeve. Album available: Voyager (2018).

Native American Music Awards Artist of the Year in 2018, Annie Humphrey is a voice of the indigenous resistance, hailing from northern Minnesota. A member of the Leech Lake Tribe of Ojibwe and a Marine, she has a unique perspective on the perils and promise of America. Oh, and some serious piano skills. We carry gifts in our hands; like Annie, we should use them. Albums to date: The Heron Smiled (2000) and Edge of America (2004) from Makoche Records; The Sound Or Ribbons (2008) from Red Cedar Music; and Uncombed Hair (2016) and The Beast And The Garden (2017), from Savage Daughter Records.

Longtime Harvest veterans the Appleseed Collective, from Ann Arbor, are back again with their string swing, sounding freshly old fashioned, or traditionally modern, or both. Brandon Warder-Smith, Andrew Brown, Eric O' Daly, and Vince Russo are here to energize the ants that reside in your pants. Get up and dance to the syncopated rhythms of that hot old new sound. Albums to date: Baby To Beast (2012), Young Love (2014), Live At The Ark (2014), and Tour Tapes EP (2016).

Aspen Jacobsen is 14 years old. In that short life she has studied music, theatre, and dance, and her self expression has found an outlet in original songs that are way more engaging and polished than they have any right to be. Firmly in the folk category, but would you believe she plays bass in a rock band called Red Couch? Keep an eye out for this young woman, there is nowhere to go but up and out into the world. 2018 EP, Aspen, available from her website.

Haunted and haunting, the sound of Detroit singer-songwriter Audra Kubat is like none other. Composer from a young age, performer for the last twenty years, she projects a deep wisdom beneath moody, atmospheric melodies. This is music from the hidden places between our dreams and our realities. Winner of Best Folk Artist at the 2000 Detroit Music Awards. Albums to date: Stunning Amazon (1999), Elixir (2000), and Untitled For Now (2003), on Remedy Records; Million Year Old Sand (2005), Since I Fell In Love With The Music (2006) on Times Beach Records; and Mended Vessel (2016), back on Remedy.

The electric forest, indeed: Traverse City's Biomassive fuses cutting edge electronics with expansive jam band grooves to formulate your ultimate festival-in-the-woods experience. Chris Burhop on guitar, Connor Lindsay and Ben Wyler on keys, Randall Erno on bass, Matt Zimmerman on drums, and Shandon Williams on percussion. Albums to date: self titled EP, Instinct, Certified Organic, Spiritbound, and New Organic.

Out of Kalamazoo: are you ready for the cosmic conscious funk reggae of Brotha James? The fast flowing rhymes and positive vibes are relentless and inspirational, whether you're eight or eighty. Album Getaway (2018) available from his website.

Carolyn Striho has been kicking around Detroit for a long time, and she still has a lot to say. Her torchy arrangements, beguiling voice,and shapeshifting skills on guitar and keys defy easy description, having had a hand in punk, folk, rock and roll, jazz, and blues. Nominated for over sixty Detroit Music Awards, winner of Outstanding Rock/Pop Songwriter of the Year two years in a row, 2015 and 2016, as well as Outstanding Americana Album of the Year 2014 for Word Attack and Outstanding Rock/Pop Album of the Year 2010 for Honesty. In 2009, her song “Enchante” received an honorable mention from Billboard Magazine for Song of the Year. You may have seen her in the Detroit Energy Asylum, in art punkers the Cubes, or maybe even in Was (Not Was). Over a dozen albums released since 1986, the most recent being 2016's Afterthought. New album, and a book, coming this year. She's a legend, but she's not resting any time soon.

Chris Dorman has a way about him that sets everyone at ease: children, parents, jaded festivalgoers, even your grumpy Uncle Dennis. His songs are simple enough to learn after one hearing, and compelling enough to hear again and again. Originally from Lansing, now he makes his home on Bread and Butter Farm in Shelburne, Vermont, and has his own show on Vermont PBS, Mister Chris and Friends, a classic gentle program that puts you in mind of Mr. Rogers or Captain Kangaroo. Albums available: To Begin Again (2010), Sita (2010), Family Archive (2013), Always There (2014),and Fall (2016) To quote the Earthwork website: you will laugh. You will cry. You will jump. You will fall. And, then you'll want to listen all over again.

The Sweet Insurrection is a rotating cast of world-class musicians who accompany Chris Good in many of his musical adventures. The Sweet Insurrection members bring their funk, jazz, and world music talents to Chris' debut solo album, Beautiful, many of his performances across the Midwest, as well as many of his recent video projects. Mostly based near Ann Arbor, the Sweet Insurrection lineup roster regularly includes Brennan Andes: bass, Ross Huff: trumpet, Julian Allen: drums, vocals, James Cornelison: guitar, vocals, Rachel Mazer: saxaphone, vocals, Madelyn Grant: vocals. You may have also caught Chris playing solo, with Mutual Kumquat, or with Friends With The Weather. He also finds time to run an organic farm; some of the food you eat here at the festival may have come from there!

Cloudlight is the offspring of a dreamy (as in heads full of dreams) couple from Grand Haven, Bryan Ralph and Jessica Fogle (also of Jessica In The Rainbow). Also with Mackenzie Carlson (electric mandolin) and Travis Allen (drums). Their name evokes their sound: this is the feeling when the sunset peeks through heavy cloud cover over Lake Michigan. Melancholy but hopeful.Self titled album (2017) available through Bandcamp

Together, improbably, for 21 years, this is a group of friends who grew up in the Kalamazoo folk and rock scene together, and naturally formed a band, respecting traditions while bringing their own barbed sensibilities to bear on the idiom. So much talent, literally every one of them is in at least one other band. Darcy Wilkin (guitar, banjo, ukulele, vocals, very occasional drum brushin'), John Campos (mandolin, vocals,fiddle, guitar), Mike Fuerst (vocals ,fiddle, guitar, mandolin, whistling), Phil Barry (guitar, vocals, lap steel), Sarah Fuerst (bass, vocals), and the new guy, Jay Gavan (drums, guitar). Albums available: Cornstar (2006) and Papercuts (2011), with a new one threatened for 2020. Come on and have some dang fun with them.

Courtney Kaiser-Sandler is an Indiana native who spent 13 years of her musical life in Brooklyn, NY. Courtney has sung alongside the likes of John Mellencamp, Sufjan Stevens, Sean Lennon, and Petra Haden. Most of her own musical focus had been on her duo KaiserCartel before uprooting her family to Traverse City to start the Interlochen Center for the Arts Singer-Songwriters. After having spent the last seven years focusing on her students, Courtney has begun writing again and will be playing songs both old and new. She returns to our stage ready to let her own songs shine.

Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird are an experience like no other. The music and visual experience will take the top of your head off, rummage around a little, and put the pieces back a bit skewed. Screed, history lesson, croon, shout, whispered pleas and angry outbursts, all descended from a form of mutated klezmer. Mr. Kahn comes home from Germany every year for this festival, and you do NOT want to sleep on this spectacle. Eight albums available going back to 2004, the most recent being The Butcher's Share (2017).

Dan Rickabus is a ten foot tall human grin, a beacon of positivity in a cruel world, a stellar educator and craftsman of musical innovations, and he can hit the drums really, really hard. A member of the peerless Grand Rapids band The Crane Wives for a decade, frequent collaborator with Earthwork artists and others, including Airborne or Aquatic?, he has begun stepping out on his own melodic journeys, starting with the cosmic 2017 album "void/Journal." You will hear those songs plus new ones down on the farm this year. Whether solo on a ukulele or with an eleven piece psychedelic orchestra, his tales of wolfpacks and phantasms weave a tangible web you'll not soon extricate yourself from. Or want to.

Dede Alder plays the marimba. Not very rock n roll, you might think. But listen. Slinky, sinuous, bright tones accompany her musings on the fabulous follies and foibles of the human animal. She is proficient on several other instruments as well, as are the members of her band: Josh "don't call me The Dream" Holcomb on viola; Chris Michels on bass; and John Driscoll on percussion. Her experiences with the Bahar Ensemble, and as music director for Circle Pines Center, only serve to enrich the multicultural stew that is Dede's music. Lest that sound like work, this music is a lot of fun. Let the seeds grow. Daydream (2015) streaming on Spotify, many others available at

Finnish Reggae? You better believe it. Conga Se Menne mainstay Derrell Syria is straight outta the UP with his peninsular percussion jams. The name of his band is a play on words taken from the Finnish phrase ‘kuinka se mene,’ meaning ‘how are you doing?’” Derrell would like you to do better, and he will bring the bright Lake Superior sun, cold but festive, into our hearts and heads today. Fifth album coming soon!

Earth Radio is a thing that is very hard to create in 2019: a whole new sound under the sun. Cutting edge jazz grooves collide with deep soul and rock attitude, creating a sound as legit as any cerebral head-trip ensemble but as enjoyable as any corner bar cover band. This is what your head echoes with, if you're lucky. Self titled 2018 debut was awarded “Emerging Artist of The Year” and “Best Jazz Album of 2018” for the 2019 WYCE Jammie Awards. Brand new album Mother's Breath, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, is out now. Justin Avdek (bass/effects, vocals), Hannah Laine (vocals, piano), Dutcher Snedeker (keyboards, synth), Madison George (drums/percussion), and Travis Swanson (guitar).

Emilee Petersmark has been a member of the beloved Grand Rapids band the Crane Wives for nearly a decade now, but parallel to that career she has worked as an acclaimed visual artist, producing original artwork as well as commissions for such musicians as the Accidentals and Melophobix. She also has an ever growing collection of songs that just didn't fit the band, that felt too personal or small for the band's ever growing sound. The lucky few in attendance on the farm will get to hear these songs, unreleased anywhere as of yet, and get a peek into the soul of a fierce and restless heart. New Crane Wives album coming soon.

Fauxgrass is not no grass, but you could call it grow-grass. The Grand Rapids-based band has a nontraditional approach to traditional music,with an intuitive and playful flow between the skilled players, with no two performances the same. The current members consist of Hayes Griffin (guitar), Timothy McKay (bass), Jason Wheeler (mandolin), and Jeffery Niemeier (fiddle). EP available from

Frank Youngman is an educator, musician, raconteur, and all around good egg who has been mentor and friend to an alarming number of excellent Michigan musicians. Once or twice a year, he assembles a bunch of them into a ragged band of merry melody makers: no egos, no rehearsal, big fun. You never know who among your favorites might be in the band this year, so you'll have to come to the Gathering to see.

Gifts or Creatures are an unusual thing under the sun: a husband and wife duo singing emotional songs about history. Brandon and Bethany Foote's widescreen tales of the past inform the present and build a melodic bridge to the future. Quiet guitar with a suggestion of endless reserves of coiled power behind it twines around a warm electric piano for a singularly pleasant listening experience. Available albums: Pilot House (2010),Yesteryear Western Darkness (2013), and Fair Mitten (New Songs of the Historic Great Lakes Basin) (2017).  *cut from lineup, saving bio just in case*

Psychedelic rock n roll confetti pie.with twang rock and jelly roll, and that's only the beginning. The Go Rounds are Drew Tyner, Mike Savina, Adam Danis, and Graham Parsons: the weirdest band you'll ever see people furiously dancing to, these Kalamazoo tone-warriors are here to make you feel/think/move/feel some more. Just when you think they're gone for outer space and never coming back, an achingly lovely melody will emerge from the chaos. The Go Rounds must be experienced to be believed, and under the stars at a Michigan festival is the best way to do it. New album, Whatever You May Be, out now. Also available: self titled (2010), self titled (2011),feathername (2012), Summer Sweet (2013),Purple Mountain Travesty (2014), some other time (2014), dont go not changin (2015), i promise i won't get hurt (2016), and Code (2018).

Gregory Stovetop is the embodiment of hot, sweaty rock and roll. An Earthwork artist, but not a folkie, though there is country music in his past and deep within his impressive beard. A human Olympic torch, originally from Chelsea, now living in Brooklyn. Available albums: The Good Stuff (2017),Other Birds (2012), Stove Bonus (2012), Tencent Truelove (2008), Stage and Radio (2008), To the Night With The Goodlife (2007), Apatheyecarry (2003), Breakette (2002), 6 Pages (2002), and Ladybird (2001).

As a singer-songwriter and an award winning musician, Grand Rapids' Bruce Ling is a student and keeper of the history of the timeless musical genre of traditional folk music, and paints musical portraits celebrating the colorful history of the music through an extraordinary repertoire of tunes, songs, and stories. He performs with equal flair and skill on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, cello, and slide guitar. He is backed by his wife, world class old-time rhythm guitarist Becca Ling, and by Jesse Mae Stokes, a dynamic standup bass player with a powerful, riveting voice. Be prepared to take an enjoyable ride through a river of music and stories as presented by this band of skilled musicians. Album, Farmer's Valuable Friends, available at

Ben Traverse is a fine young folk musician, with skills in Celtic folk and bluegrass. But after dark, down in the basement, he morphs into the electronic gremlin known only as Hølborn. With special guests, he will work his wizardry to discover unexplored soundscapes, creating the folk music of the future. Quote from the Crane Wives' Dan Rickabus: "like watching a sunset, but a pixelated sunset."

Ian Link, an emerging musician fresh out of Detroit city, is known for his bluesy folk ballads that are reminiscent of Hank Williams and Bob Dylan. Beneath the dust of his old time Americana influences are original songs with an unique outlook on love, loss and the modern world.  INTRO:  Ian Link starts out quiet. He might be playing in the corner of the brewery while you eat and laugh with your friends. But slowly, his lyrics and his lonesome sound seep into your consciousness, and you wonder, who IS this guy? He is Ian Link, and he's ready to play for you now.

Every year, audiences at Harvest have a chance to see a showcase presented by the Interlochen Center for the Arts Singer-Songwriters. With alumni that include Jewel, Norah Jones, Sufjan Stevens, and (closer to home) Katie & Sav of The Accidentals and Harvest's very own Seth Bernard, you know you're in for a treat! More about the Singer-Songwriter major at Interlochen Center for the Arts at:

Jen Sygit quit her day job eleven years ago. Last year she put out her first solo album in nine years. That gap is not a failure, but a testament to how hard she works to bring her music to you, traditional but not hidebound, mature but never ever boring. Raw honesty oozes from these songs, whether strummed acoustically or roaring at you from a full band. Since its release in Oct. 2018, her latest album, “It’s About Time”, has been nominated for two Jammie awards for Best Americana/Roots Album and for Album of the Year (WYCE Grand Rapids, MI), was ranked #2 on John Bommarito’s annual top 100 albums of the year list (107.1 fm Ann Arbor, MI) and is also in the running for 3 Independent Music Awards for Best Album, Best Music Video for “Love is Wild” and best song for the tune “Hurricane Rider”. Jen’s previous record “So Long Pollyanna” was named as album of the year by both John Bommarito (107.1 fm Ann Arbor, MI) and The Progressive Torch & Twang (88.9 fm East Lansing, MI). “So Long Pollyanna” was also nominated for two Jammie Awards (WYCE Grand Rapids, MI) for Best Album and a nomination for Best Song for the tune “Sugar High” which later won Best Country Song at the Garden State Film Festival in New Jersey (2014) for its use in the independent film “Buffalo”. Sygit’s sophomore release “Leaving Marshall St.” received a Detroit Music Award nomination for BEST ACOUSTIC/FOLK ALBUM in 2007 and made it to number 9 that year on the Roots Music Report independent roots music chart. Also available: "Here To There" (2003). In addition to her solo career, Jen is also a member of the all-female string band Stella!, roots rock band Lincoln County Process and is a veteran back up singer/session vocalist having appeared on over 50 albums. Now, besides regionally touring and playing shows, Jen also hosts the weekly radio show “Eclecticana” (WLNZ 89.7fm Lansing, MI) and has been commanding the airwaves for 7 years.

Jes Kramer is a one-woman band from Grand Rapids, MI. Using a combination of keyboards, guitar, vocals, and a loop pedal, she weaves her songs layer by layer into something incredibly personal, yet comforting. WYCE named her Outstanding Female Performer of the Year at the 2012 Jammies. Active on the local scene, she is also running for the board of Grand Rapids Public Library this fall. Albums available from Bandcamp: Jes Kramer (2018), Nine (2011), Mint Extract City (2010),Hermaphrodite (2008), Toronto (2007). Among her listed interests are manatees, and picturing a manatee swimming peacefully through quiet calm waters, working through his own crap, is the best way to visualize this beautiful sound.

Joey Schultz is a multifaceted artist based in Grand Rapids. Beginning as a musician and wood worker, he has taken travel photography and portraiture as a spiritual practice. Working with others to tell stories and raising awareness, Joey has been using his photography as an instrument for social change, at A former member of the beloved Fauxgrass, he still picks up the banjo and knocks it out of the park on occasion, as he will at this year's Harvest Gathering.

(intro only) Jonathan Timm is not here to mess around. His songs are direct shots to the heart of the matter, exploring the thoughts we all have lying on our backs in the dark. Please welcome him to our stage.

Josh Rose has been a teacher, and coach, near Grand Rapids for 21 years. He has raised a family and lived a life, still very much in progress. But he has an outlet for his deepest hopes and fears: music. These songs are crafted, not manufactured, like rows of canning jars in your grandma's basement. Even his album titles hint at thoughtful construction: Firework Letdown, Slow Bloom, and Old Laminate. Josh has a lot to tell you if you lend him an ear.

Kaitlin Rose plays acoustic folk-country music, but it's anything but gentle: the kinetic energy flowing out of her during performance could power a small European nation. Restlessly stalking the stage, either solo or with her crackerjack band, the intensity of her confessional songwriting will make you a believer. The Kalamazoo artist's latest album, Live Enough, is an epic 20 track collection of new songs recorded before a live audience....because Kaitlin is best in that feedback loop between an energized band and an engaged group of listeners. Come to the farm and join their ranks. Also available: The Other Side (2015).

Kate Pillsbury started writing songs in her bedroom in northern Michigan as a teen, with help and encouragement from a songwriting father. In college in Grand Rapids, she and her friends formed the nationally known Crane Wives, which led to ever bigger sounds and successes. But there are songs and situations that were too small or personal for the Crane Wives, and they have accumulated over the years until there is more than enough material to start playing solo, even as the band commits to its fifth album. Here at the farm, we will have the ultra-rare opportunity to hear this unparalleled writer and singer play on her own behalf: no need to sound like anyone except herself.

Lady Ace Boogie brings a quality to hip hop that it can sometimes lack: joy. Not to say she doesn't have skills, or doesn't deal in serious subjects, but there is room in her sound for celebration of life as we're living it even as we want it to get better. Artist, activist, human being representing Grand Rapids, frequently collaborating, sharing her struggles and triumphs, and having a great time along the way. Albums available: Don't Box Me In (2018), The Great Ones (with J Rob, 2016), and Feel Good Music (2015).

Laurel Premo makes it all look so easy: there is a sense of stillness even as her hands work furiously on a guitar or a clawhammer banjo; her head barely moves as she sings high lonesome melodies. Alone or in the Yooper roots duo Red Tail Ring, Laurel produces haunting music that is dignified without being overserious, scholarly without being dusty, and above all alive with emotion. Known for her scholarship and performance in Scandinavia, she is preparing to release the debut by the Laurel Premo Trio, a deep dive into the polyrhythmic possibilities of stringed instruments.

Steve Leaf leads his Ex-Pats on swirling sonic adventures of varying volumes. Brandon Foote generally keeps his guitar pyrotechnics on the quiet side with Gifts or Creatures. But together....the lid may be lifted off, or blown off, as the case may be. From Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, these two have a combined pedal board the size of Tennessee, and we can't wait to see what they will whip up together.

(intro only) You know what they say about books and covers. When Loren Johnson starts singing, you may be surprised by the deep warm rich sound that comes out. Please welcome her to our stage.

Luke Winslow King has lived roughly equal chunks of his life in the forests of northern Michigan and in the sweaty cultural crucible of New Orleans, and both show prominently in his music. Even as his albums and shows reach ever larger international audiences, King has been playing more and more shows close to home, making him somehow a local artist AND and an international one. Informed by a life filled with twists and turns, his Americana stew and prodigious guitar skills are never less than impressive. Albums available: Luke Winslow-King (2007), Old/New Baby (2009), The Coming Tide (2013), Everlasting Arms (2014), I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always (2016), and Blue Mesa (2018). *cut, saved here for the future*

Mark Lavengood is a reverse Cheshire cat: you see his grin coming at you first. The Grand Rapids roots revivalist surrounds himself with the best players, books himself shows in the coolest venues, and plays his dobro like his bright yellow pants are on fire. A longtime member of Lindsay Lou's band, Mark is flying solo without touching the ground, spinning off new singles seemingly monthly. Let's have some fun on the farm with Huggy Bear. Available albums: From Dust To Steel (2010), 7" (2013), No Part Of Nothin' (2014), and We've Come Along (2017), as well as a bunch of hot singles.

Yes, Max Lockwood looks and sounds a lot like Tom Petty, leading to the runaway success this past year of his tribute band, the Insiders. But there's a lot more here, a lot of original and unique American folk and rock n roll to be found. Longtime leader of Wayland hard-rockers Big Dudee Roo, and frequent collaborator with the beloved May Erlewine, Max has found an outlet for more experimental and personal expression on his solo albums, Outrider (2014) and the brand new self titled record. These are thoughtful songs that linger in the mind after the last notes fade.

May Erlewine has been a beloved figure in the Michigan music scene for well over 15 years now...but her powers are still growing. Galvanized by the state of the world now, and how much love and fight we need to put in to try to save it, May has been releasing the most powerful work of her career. Her solo shows have been gorgeous, meditative affairs that promote healing, and her dance parties with the Motivations have helped boogie the troubles away for a while. Albums available: Second Sight (2019), In the Night (with the Motivations, 2018), Mother Lion (2017), The Little Things (2016), Lean Into the Wind (2016), and many more. May Erlewine is a bright light, but she can't shine without all of us listening, learning, and acting.

Michael Anne Erlewine has described herself as a spiritual taxidermist: preserving moments in time to be reviewed and pondered at leisure, whether in her personal and introspective songs or in her highly accomplished paintings. Her perfomances are few and far between, so coming out to the farm for this special set is recommended.

Molly Bouwsma Schultz, who performs under just Molly, is a ray of sunshine in a gloomy world, though her songs deal with injustice and suffering as well as uplift and empowerment. Formerly of Blue Molly and Vox Vidorra, Molly is stepping out on her own with fresh soulful sounds, starting with new single "Shine." Whether you see her performing, participating in community activism, or working at the brewery she co-owns with her husband and other partners, Molly is the spirit of Grand Rapids.

Vagabond sounds with pilgrim soul: Mount Valor is a radical project of honest, inspiring, and innovative music by Interlochen instructor Kyle Eric Novy. 52 songs written in 52 weeks - all absolutely free at

Nicholas James Thomasma has two main gears: thoughtful, autumnal singer-songwriter, and bright, sunny summer troubadour. The Bandwagon is his capable vehicle for spreading the summer sunshine (that, and Kelly Jo, his trusty orange VW bus). There's no contradiction here: life is never all one thing, and Nick's music celebrates the highs, the lows, and the in betweens. Maybe ESPECIALLY the in betweens. Come dig the vibe down on the farm this September. Albums available: Barefoot (2011), Saturday Night (2011), Long Story Short (2014), and Tall, Tall Tales (2016). New album, Rolling Home, slated for release in spring 2020.

Holland's Olivia Mainville just turned 23, and she's already on the third reinvention of her sound. First was earnest balladeer, then lively pop-folk party music, and now, with her yet to be released second album, we're heading into black magic purveyed with a smile. This is smiley goth gypsy swing good time speakeasy music, and there is nothing else like it around. Get in on the ground floor here at the farm. Album available: Maybe The Saddest Thing (2015), plus two newer singles, on Bandcamp.

Roosevelt Diggs is both formal and down-and-dirty, both country and punk, both urban and rural, and always a good dang time. A distinctive intertwining of acoustic and electric guitar lines, and of two lead singers, leads to a diversity of sounds within a framework of Good Time Music. Levi Duddles:Vocals, Electric Guitar, Banjo, Melodica; Logan Duddles: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo, Harmonica; John Ellsworth: Drums, Percussion, Accordion, Vocals; Jon Shears: Upright Bass, Vocals. Albums available: American Folklore (2012), Songs From The Shed (2014), and Better Days (2018).

Seth Bernard contains multitudes. Before most of us fall out of bed, he has practiced guitar, corresponded with fellow activists, hatched five plans for the betterment of Michigan and America, and played with his daughter. Vocal advocate and organizer for the Clean Water Campaign for Michigan, and the new NPO Title Track, whose mission is engaging creative practice to build resilient social-ecological systems that support clean water, racial equity, and youth empowerment. He founded this event, the Earthwork Harvest Gathering, now in its 19th year, on the family farm. The Earthwork Music Collective was launched in 2001 with the release of Seth's first album, Hello Fellow Travelers. Seth's restless creative muse has led into numerous side projects, including Airborne or Aquatic?, Public Access, the Starlight Six, and Harvest Queen. Musically, Neil Young is meeting Woody Guthrie at the crossroads in downtown Detroit these days. Come and listen. Other albums available: Constellation (2003), Seth bernard and Daisy May (2005), Being This Being (2007), This Here (2008), Is This You? (2009), Welcome Back (2009), The Rainbow Vortex (2010), New Flower (2011), This Is The American Earth (2011), Warm Inside On A Cold Day (2012), Reconciliation & the Mystical Beyonda (2014), New Flower Vol. 2 (2015), Eggs Bernard And The Electrons (recorded live at this event in 2015), Eggtones for Peace (2016), Eggtones Blues (2017), Eggtones For Fun (2018), and Eggtones For Directions (2018).

Sierra Skye Baker is a young but powerful emerging voice on the Michigan scene. Working out of Grand Rapids, her soulful and thought provoking songs are making their way through the community and into hearts and minds.

Susie Parr and her trio (John Campos on mandolin, Jay Gavan on guitar) are a Kalamazoo gypsy-jazz hootenanny, a serious lark, a gorgeously stately modern take on some very old sounds.

The Crane Wives, from Grand Rapids, have evolved far beyond their chipper folk rock beginnings in the last nine years into an altogether unclassifiable beast: wiser, darker, louder, the sound of lives lived fully and well. There's a breathtaking emotional honesty in these songs: life is not easy, but it is worth it, and we all need each other to get through. Winner of JBL's Best American Band contest in 2017. You will hear old favorites and new soon to be favorites: fifth album recording now. Kate Pillsbury (guitar, vocals), Emilee Petersmark (guitar, vocals), Dan Rickabus (drums, vocals), Ben Zito (bass, occasional yowls). Albums available: Foxlore (2016), Coyote Stories (2015), The Fool In Her Wedding Gown, (2012), Safe Ship, Harbored (2011). INTRO:
The Crane Wives sing a lot of sad and angry songs that make you want to sing and dance, because sharing our problems makes us all better people. There are also natural disasters. Back for the ninth time, please welcome the Crane Wives back to Harvest.

Gabrielle Schaub, who performs as Van Lente, sings and plays very softly. It's an invitation to lean in and listen, to experience the intensity of stillness, the emotional impact of paying close attention to tales of emotional chaos and untamed nature. This is Muskegon freak folk, and it's worth staying up late for.

Much more than a folk festival, Earthwork Harvest Gathering has stretched itself over the years to encompass all corners of all genres of music. But sometimes a return to the simple pleasures of old rural Michigan is welcome. Led by our host, Bob Bernard, this is an hour of sweet old fashioned instrumental waltz music to sashay your partner around the barn floor to. Familiar faces will pop up in the big band, so come listen and watch even if you have two left feet.