The start of the three-day Earthwork Harvest Gathering festival was impressive, with more than two dozen performances and an unrivaled musical spirit. Check out the story, video highlights and photo gallery.
“Celebrate with reverence.”
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Thousands are doing just that this weekend at Earthwork Harvest Gathering outside Lake City, heeding the advice of festival and Earthwork Music collective founder Seth Bernard, whose moving performance with his band Friday night set the perfect mood for three days of musical reverence amid Michigan’s rustic beauty.
It also makes perfect sense that the opening day on Earthwork Farm would feature 12-year-old Marquette keyboard phenom Milo Birch, fresh collaborations from the likes of Michigan bands Public Access and Stepladders (aka, Bill Chesney), and sets by veteran singer-songwriters Ralston Bowles, Rachael Davis, Chris Bathgate and Bernard.
After all, the season-ending event attracting nearly 3,000 people is regarded as a “musicians’ festival,” with a reputation for covering all the musical bases as a true celebration of Michigan music, from a Detroit hip hop showcase to leather-clad Grand Rapids rockabilly musicians Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish to regional indie-folk stars – and from seasoned performers to budding youthful musicians just getting their feet wet.
In all, 110 performances will take place over three days, with workshops, games and locally produced food, too. Day passes for Saturday and Sunday are $50 each, available online here.
At “Harvest,” it’s all about a supportive, camaraderie-driven ethos – the sort of ethos that has musicians and volunteers pitching in wherever needed. So when resonator guitar player Mark Lavengood ran into car trouble that forced him to miss his set Friday night with the Bluegrass Bonanza on the Hill Stage, guitarist Drew “Capt. Midnight” Howard stepped up and filled in without hesitation.
GROWING EVERY YEAR BUT ‘SPIRIT IS STILL THE SAME’
It’s also the sort of festival that’s filled with special moments and performances, like Kalamazoo’s The Go Rounds playing an animated, highly anticipated late-night set on the Farmers’ Market stage with hundreds of exuberant fans jamming into every nook and cranny of the tented venue just as a little rain started to sweep through.
“This is the home that I know best,” Bernard said of his father Bob’s Earthwork Farm where he grew up and where he long envisioned a music festival that’s now celebrating its 16th year. “It’s grown a little bit every year, but the spirit is still the same.”
Bernard told fans that this spirit, which pervades the weekend of music that’s assembled with help from an army of volunteers, “shows what can happen when everyone pulls together.”
And it doesn’t take long for even first-time festival-goers to feel what Kalamazoo singer and musician Megan Dooley described as a “magical” atmosphere.
“I feel like it’s home,” said fellow Kalamazoo singer-songwriter Brian Koenigsknecht, who was attending his first Harvest Gathering and couldn’t help but marvel at the hundreds of Michigan musicians on hand. “It’s such an incredible music community.”
So, it was only apropos that as Bernard and his all-star band ran through their rousing set on the Cedar Stage for a giant crowd Friday night, the full Harvest Moon rose behind them to create another one of those inspiring moments.
As Bernard himself declared: “It’s going to be a magnificent weekend.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Earthwork Harvest Gathering: Day 1
Photos by Anna Sink
Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC