Blissfest rolls out again in northern Michigan this weekend for the first time since 2019, so Local Spins asked the event’s executive director to reveal the albums that have impacted her most over the years.
SCROLL DOWN TO LISTEN TO TRACKS FROM THE FEATURED ALBUMS
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The annual assemblage of folksy performers known as Blissfest is gathering once again this year after a pandemic-enforced hiatus.
So while this is the third year of Cindy McSurely’s tenure as executive director, it will be the first actual festival she’s helmed. “I started in March 2020,” she said – right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down, including concerts and festivals.
But while this will be her first time welcoming live acts in front of thousands of festival-goers, she’s well acquainted with Blissfest. “My first was when I came up north with my boyfriend, now my husband, in 1990,” McSurely said.
After spending the summer in northern Michigan, they subsequently moved to Colorado, but returned numerous times to attend the festival. They moved back permanently shortly after the turn of the millennium.
She then began a lengthy tenure at Crooked Tree Art Center, acquainting herself with those connected with Blissfest. Blissfest had things at the theatre. So I knew the staff.”
This year’s Blissfest takes place July 8-10. Headliners include Shawn Colvin, Leftover Salmon, Patty Larkin, Laith Al-Saadi and others. Read more in this Local Spins preview. Below, McClure takes a trip back to some of the recordings that inspired her.
1. The The, “Soul Mining” (1983) – The college years were formative for me. I’m an ’80s kid, and the post-punk, alternative 80s thing was going on. It just elevates your mood, gets you excited. In my 20s, in college, all those groups – The Smiths, The Cure. It was great.
Listen: “Soul Mining”
2. Valerie June, “Pushin’ Against a Stone” (2013) – She’s an amazing singer, so soulful. I could listen to that over and over. For me, it’s just that emotional response. I saw her perform at Hill Auditorium at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival. Watching her was mesmerizing. I could see this aura shooting out from her. She’s just incredible.
Listen: “Pushin’ Against a Stone”
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Californication” (1999) – I saw them when they were just starting out on a bar tour. They were so energetic. I just like their music. So many songs (elicit) an emotional response. You get carried away with it.
Currently Loving: I’m With Her, “Call My Name” (Single, 2019) – It’s three singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists: Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan. They have beautiful harmonies. The music is so beautiful. It combines Americana, bluegrass, folk, it’s even kind of gospely. That one is on repeat.
Listen: “Call My Name”
ALBUMS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Cindy McSurely’s Playlist on Spotify
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