This weekend’s summer-ending festival outside Lake City shapes up as the biggest, most heartwarming assemblage of musicians yet. Get the lowdown and a full list of performers.
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Staying true to its roots and continuing to grow and extend its branches each year, this weekend’s Earthwork Harvest Gathering on Bob Bernard’s Lake City farm is about much more than just the music.
What started as a small potluck gathering with a few bands and 100 attendees 16 years ago has since morphed into a full-fledged festival featuring 125 musical acts, four stages and plenty of workshops and community building.
“It’s a great musical celebration with a lot of great bands, but rather than just a music festival, we try to bring a lot of other cultural elements in,” said festival founder Seth Bernard, who grew up on the farm and helped bring Michigan’s Earthwork Music Collective to life during the festival’s second go-around.
Traverse City singer-songwriter E Minor will play Harvest Gathering for the fifth time this weekend, but insists she’d attend the festival outside Lake City even if she never took the stage.
“It’s the one time of year I get to see all the music I love in one place,” said Minor, aka Elizabeth Landry. “The farm setting is so amazing and sets it apart from all the other festivals. There is just a very calm energy there.
“It’s really a musicians’ festival … with so many artists collaborating together. You get to experience one-of-a-kind performances of your favorite Michigan artists (and) the family vibe between the people. It’s like a big family reunion.”
The cultural elements Bernard mentions come to light through panel discussions and workshops on topics ranging from music education to community building and organizing, farm-to-table foods, permaculture, water, meditation and more.
“We try to have it be participatory, as well as hopeful and empowering, and to make it truly collaborative,” he said.
Collaboration doesn’t stop with conversation though, as attendees will have the opportunity to see numerous musicians sit in with one another all weekend long. And while there will be multitudes of singer-songwriters present, there will also be a bit of rock ‘n’ roll and even some hip hop as well.
VETERAN FAVORITES AND EMERGING STARS
Highlighted by acts such as Traverse City favorites Joshua Davis and May Erlewine, Kalamazoo’s The Go Rounds, Ann Arbor’s Timothy Monger State Park, Detroit’s Vespre, New York’s Gregory Stovetop, the legendary John Sinclair and countless others, the festival will also feature young up-and-comers such as 11-year-old Nik Carman of Suttons Bay and elder musicians like Billy Davis, who at one time mentored the late great Jimi Hendrix.
“As a performer, it’s one of those events that feels more like a fun vacation, getting the opportunity to spend time with your friends and to see some really stellar performances,” said The Crane Wives’ Emilee Petersmark, who will hit the Harvest stages with her band for the seventh time this weekend.
“The community is incredibly welcoming, and camping out on the Bernard farm is a really rejuvenating experience. We wait all year for this festival.”
For aspiring musicians who aren’t on the bill, there will be a chance to get on stage during daily morning open mics, to get down in the drum kiva or to participate in late night fireside jam circles where experienced musicians and beginners alike are welcome to pick side by side.
Festival-goers also have the opportunity to enjoy food from more than 40 area farms, handmade art from local artisans as well as participate in prayer, meditation and recovery circles, a kids’ parade, 3-on-3 basketball and whiffle ball tournaments or Teen Town, filled with workshops for, you guessed it, teens.
“It’s really a special sort of atmosphere,” Bernard said. “Being a working farm, the gathering has really helped keep it going and the farm is really the beneficiary of it. We have been able to restore our barn, put roofs on our buildings, make upgrades to our power and put in a new well all as a result of this and that has been huge for our family.”
Kalamazoo singer-songwriter Brian Koenigsknecht was a volunteer at his first Harvest Gathering last year and will be performing this year at noon Sunday on the Barn Stage with an “all-star” band of Kalamazoo musicians.
“It feels like the most peaceful place on Earth,” he said, noting that his 2016 experience at the festival inspired him to write a song for his latest album, “From the Shallows to the Deep.” “When Seth Bernard asked me to perform this year, I felt so honored and excited.”
Added Minor, who performs late Friday afternoon on the Hill Stage: “It’s so humbling to be involved in such a supportive environment. … It is a complete honor to share my music in such a sacred space.”
Tickets — $110 adults, $70 teens — will be available at the gate. One-day passes are also being sold for $50. Get more information online at earthworkharvestgathering.com, with links to daily schedules here.
Check out a roundup of Harvest Gathering 2016: Fun, respectful, with incredible music ‘unlike anything’ else (Recap, photo galleries)
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