Laughing off occasional showers, festival-goers reveled in weekend sets by 100-plus bands on four stages on the site northeast of Lake City. (Story, photo gallery, video)
Returning devotees to the annual festival on a Michigan farm called it a “family reunion,” a “magical” weekend, even a “hippie Christmas.”
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For Michigan musicians, Earthwork Harvest Gathering exudes a giving, celebratory atmosphere unlike any other music festival all year long, and this weekend’s assemblage of thousands on this remote, picturesque property about 10 miles outside Lake City has been no exception.
With more than 1,200 musicians and volunteers on site, all donating their time and energy to the cause, this last-gasp-of-summer party has become a true family affair over the past 13 years – a chance for touring musicians to rub elbows, renew acquaintances, sit in with each other on stage, collaborate on new projects and just plain relax among friends.
It many ways, it exemplifies what Michigan’s music scene is really all about.
Held to support the 181-acre working farm owned Bob Bernard, where Michigan singer-songwriter and Earthwork Music collective founder Seth Bernard grew up, the property has literally filled up this weekend with loving, peace-minded music mavens.
And this year, the gathering set a record for the number of acts performing with 111 of them playing four different stages over three days.
It’s the sort of event that most major Michigan artists on the roots music scene cheerfully want to attend, circling the date on their calendar every year. They do it all for free, their only compensation coming in the form of the joy in performing for other musicians and attentive audiences … and scarfing down locally grown food and back-stage beer.
COVERING LOTS OF MUSICAL GROUND WITH SPIRIT AND CAMARADERIE
It’s also the sort of event where rain that swept through northern Michigan on and off throughout the day on Saturday didn’t seem to bother musicians or festival-goers one iota, just gave them something to joke about as they strolled through the mud and puddles on the festival grounds with umbrellas in hand.
Better yet, Saturday’s lineup alone covered a lot of music ground, including 10-year-old Upper Peninsula keyboard phenom Milo Staley, a fifth-grader who regaled a full house of enchanted fans at the Farmer’s Market Stage accompanied by guitarist Joshua Davis, drummer Dan Rickabus and keyboardist Mike Lynch, and crowd-pleasing sets on other stages by Michigan faves The Crane Wives, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Breathe Owl Breathe and Daniel Kahn.
One of the highlights: Ypsilanti’s Misty Lyn and the Big Beautiful performing their mesmerizing Americana music inside the almost-mystical Barn Stage as rain fell.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg for a weekend that also featured performances by Bernard and his wife, May Erlewine, The Accidentals, The Go Rounds, The Ragbirds, Flypaper, K. Jones & the Benzie Playboys, Frontier Ruckus and more, with music continuing through 9 or 10 p.m. Sunday.
The impressive lineup alone would probably bring happy Harvest Gatherers back year after year. But the spirit of the event remains its biggest draw.
Raved Dobro player Mark Lavengood of Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys: “It is one of the best.”
EARTHWORK HARVEST GATHERING 2014: LOCAL SPINS PHOTO GALLERY
Photos by John Sinkevics
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Copyright 2014, Spins on Music