Big Dudee Roo, May Erlewine, Chris Dorman and Jordan Hamilton were highlights cited by musicians for one of the final festival blasts of the season. Relive the weekend in words and photos.
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To say Earthwork Harvest Gathering is a special festival in a special place is an understatement.
Every September, hundreds of Michigan musicians gather on Bob Bernard’s farm outside Lake City for a weekend of on-stage collaborations on multiple stages, one-of-a-kind performances and unfettered camaraderie to help close out the season.
Harvest Gathering 2018 was no exception. Local Spins asked some musicians who attended last weekend’s festival to list their highlights from this festival on the farm.
LUKE WINSLOW KING – Josh Davis singing “House of Princes” with Laura Bates and Jen Sygit, and Max Lockwood’s Big Dudee Roo crushing a cover of “War Pigs.” And Distant Stars is an awesome young glam rock band that I just discovered for the first time this weekend.
JESSICA FOGLE (Jessica in the Rainbow) – Too hard to choose. If I had to, though, it’d be crying with identification at Jordan Hamilton’s amazing story of classical musician (cellist, non-singer) turned experimental singer/rapper/loop artist via cello layers, during his loops workshop, and all the mental limitations he had to let go of in the process of becoming himself and is still becoming. Also, when I stopped looking at the schedule and just started wandering, I ended up hearing some musicians I didn’t know. The most profound one for me was Daniel Kahn. He was playing with his band Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird; my favorite moment was the brilliant epic animated story song (live performance beneath a screen) in multiple languages about the 99 percent being where it’s at: We are the communities. Moved again just thinking about it. Thanks, Harvest!
MARK LAVENGOOD – Walking in to the barn to see Johnny Irene and Seth Bernard jamming. It goes beyond the fact that I’m helping them both book shows: Their synergy and dynamic interplay was truly something to behold. My other favorite highlight was when I was watching Hymn for Her in the barn with my son, Louie. He was entranced by the Florida-based duo’s gritty eclectic Americana sound. I could see the sparks in his eyes igniting with every four-to-the-floor rhythm that was produced!
HANNAH ROSE GRAVES (Hannah Rose & The GravesTones) – May Erlewine performing the most epic version of “Never One Thing” with a bunch of powerful female Michigan artists. And Chris Dorman closing out the festival with the most beautiful set, including a song for Corrina
BRIAN KOENIGSKNECHT – For me, personally, there is no better place to hear music than on the barn stage, especially a solo performer. Laurel Premo (Red Tail Ring) performed a rare solo set of music Sunday afternoon on the barn stage that was as diverse as it was focused. She moved from song to song playing fiddle, banjo and even distorted electric guitar with beautiful precision while her storytelling proved just how deep her knowledge and commitment to traditional music goes. And Jordan Hamilton performed an inspiring set of genre-fusing music on the barn stage Saturday with the sunlight beaming in through the weathered barn wood. Alone with his cello, looper pedals and sample machines, Jordan created layers of heavenly classical sounds while delivering his brilliant lyrics in styles of soul, rap and folk all with the best and most contagious smile on the farm.
ELIZABETH LANDRY (formerly known as E Minor) – Sharing a stage with Blake Elliott, sitting in with May Erlewine and seeing so many families coming together to play, listen to music and build community together.
MAX LOCKWOOD (Big Dudee Roo) – Covering “War Pigs” with Big Dudee Roo: the Justin Dore show in full effect! And playing May Erlewine’s “Never One Thing” with a beautiful chorus featuring what seemed like 20 women on stage. Plus, backing Chris Dorman on bass for his set for the first time – always a heartfelt Harvest favorite for me.
JOSHUA DAVIS – The strong presence of massively talented and powerful women on the stages, in the crew and in attendance. Ours has been a ‘boys’ club’ kind of industry for far too long and it was heartening to see Harvest Gathering actively working to change that.
DAN RICKABUS (The Crane Wives) – Being part of Chris Dorman’s ceremonial closing set in the barn with Sam Cooper, Kate Pillsbury, Steve Leaf, Max Lockwood, Dede Alder and DarlenYa. Each year, Harvest contains a multitude of emotions and Chris has this magic way of making you feel them all at the same time. It feels so totally human to be sharing music in that beautiful space while simultaneously laughing, crying and being in awe and gratitude for the whole yearly experience. Another highlight was introducing and watching the Long Hairz Collective — a unique collaboration of water protectors and activists. Their powerful yet centering presence set a tone of determined solidarity, and they represented one of the most important parts of Harvest: It’s more than just a music festival. It’s a summit with a deeper meaning that moves our good work in the world forward.
SETH BERNARD – Being surrounded by creative, compassionate, intelligent and highly skilled people who work toward common goals and best possible outcomes. Recognizing that building a more inclusive, diverse, just and regenerative space is meaningful, humbling work that makes our community more vibrant and strong. Also, the panel discussions “Colonialism and Cultural Appropriation” and “Women in Music” were illuminating. The annual Water Blessing Ceremony on Saturday was beautiful and powerful as always. Native, Druid, Jewish, Christian, Muslim and secular human beings standing together and speaking from their traditions and experiences about the sacred preciousness of water and our collective responsibility to protect it. Powerful medicine. The Corrina Van Hamlin Memorial Celebration and tree planting was a beautiful tribute to our dear friend and a strong container of music and stories to hold our love and grief.
ANNA SINK (Local Spins photographer) – Sets by Airborne or Aquatic?, The Accidentals and Public Access, with folks packing in to see these all-star groups. And the baby puppies they had at the petting zoo!
PHOTO GALLERY: Earthwork Harvest Gathering 2018
Photos by Anna Sink