The much-beloved Buttermilk Jamboree at Circle Pines Center south of Grand Rapids unfurls with more than 50 acts playing several stages, including ‘Florida Man’ Selwyn Birchwood.
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As one of the summer’s inaugural music festivals, Buttermilk Jamboree is a three day affair of music and art that takes place at Circle Pines Center in Delton, between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
The family-friendly festival boasts rustic overnight camping, dozens of local and regional performers, workshops, swimming, dancing, local vendors, craft beer and wine and a dedicated kids’ area.
The festival takes place Friday-Sunday (June 16-18) with tickets ranging from $50 to $125 for a weekend pass, available online here.
The weekend lineup includes regional artists such as Sam Cooper, Jordan Hamilton, Patty Pershayla, Max Lockwood and many others.
Another notable performer – making his way from one peninsula to another – is Florida’s Selwyn Birchwood. An accomplished guitarist and songwriter, Birchwood — who released his new studio album, “Exorcist,” just last week — has traveled the globe to perform his signature brand of the blues.
Ahead of his much-anticipated Buttermilk performance, Local Spins interviewed Birchwood about touring, his multi-cultural heritage and his home state of Florida. Birchwood performs at 9:30 p.m. Saturday on the Orchard Stage.
Local Spins: What’s it like being back on the road after the height of the pandemic?
Birchwood: It is an amazing feeling, still, to be back touring. We knew we were blessed to perform pre-pandemic, but I had no idea that it was a gift just to be next to each other in a room. There was a point where playing live music was a definite uncertainty, so I am wildly grateful to be back doing what I love.
Local Spins: In a previous interview, you said “music can be a time machine.” What are some songs that take you back to a specific moment in time?
Birchwood: Any of the pre-war blues can take you back to a different time. I really enjoy the scratchy old recordings of people like Leadbelly and Charley Patton that really give you a full sense of experiencing a different place and different time than I have ever known.
Local Spins: You’ve mentioned your roots as a bi-racial person. How has your relationship to your heritage evolved as you’ve aged? Has it influenced your artistry?
Birchwood: I have always been a wildcard since I never really had a specific cookie cutter to fall into like I see a lot of people tend to. I’ve never really read much into race because of that, but unfortunately the world definitely does. My music reflects the world that I live in.
Local Spins: What are some non-traditional elements that make their way into your music?
Birchwood: I love blues, but I really am a lover of all kinds of music. I try to mix in some elements of other genres I really enjoy, like jazz, funk, gospel and soul.
VIDEO: Selwyn Birchwood, “Exorcist”
Local Spins: I read that you’ve directed a few of your own music videos. What made you take that leap & what was the creative process like?
Birchwood: I have directed and created all of my music videos except for “Freaks Come Out at Night.” During the pandemic I had to keep busy doing something with the down time. I am a personality that always has to be learning and growing, or I am deeply unsatisfied. My assumption was that I would have to be an “electronic/online” entity for a while, so I took the time to learn video recording and editing, since the pandemic turned everybody into YouTubers. Thankfully, we are back live and in-person. I just finished the music video for the song “Exorcist” which is out now. It took me four weeks to finish.
Local Spins: What can folks expect from the live show?
Birchwood: You can expect an energetic, entertaining and engaging performance from us. We don’t do the type of show that you watch and listen to passively. I think live music is supposed to be an exchange of energy and shared experience.
Local Spins: I’ve never been to Florida. If I had 24 hours there, where would you send me?
Birchwood: (Forget) Disney. Go to GatorLand. GatorLand will give you a way more fun and authentic experience. You’ll see massive gators, gator wrestling and all kinds of other cool exhibits. Or grab a kayak and get into some of the creeks at the state parks. Also, the beaches on the west coast are absolutely beautiful. That is definitely my happy place. But watch out for “Florida Man” (also the title of a track on his new album).
BUTTERMILK JAMBOREE: 2023 SCHEDULE
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