The festival taking place this weekend about 20 miles east of Gaylord will boasts dozens of bands on several stages, a heartfelt community of attendees and “one of the most beautiful amphitheaters” anywhere.
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“It’s the community. Farmfest is such a special place because of the people and the site itself,” the guitarist, keyboard player and singer said of the festival taking place Friday through Sunday (Aug. 10-12) near Johannesburg about 20 miles east of Gaylord in northern lower Michigan.
“(Festival organizer) Stacy Jo (Schiller) has one of the most beautiful amphitheaters I’ve seen. The music is truly genre-spanning as there are bands from all over the region. She gives a lot of new and upcoming bands a chance to shine.”
Ten years ago, one of those up-and-coming artists was northern Michigan’s Jake Allen. He’ll perform at Farmfest for the 10th consecutive year this weekend, playing a solo set on the Main Stage at 5 p.m. Friday. The Jake Allen Band then plays the Dance Pavilion Stage at 10:30 p.m. the same night.
Allen fan John Tubbs, who built the stage, even christened it the “Jake Allen and the Local Boys Dance Pavilion,” something reflected in an engraved plaque that still adorns the stage.
“To me, the festival stands out from others with its palpable energy and its smaller, intimate aesthetic,” said Allen, a Grayling native who’s touring behind his latest album, “Deviant Motions.” His band will feature his sister, Lexi Bondar, Talking Ear’s Travis Aukerman, bassist T.J. Rankin and Tyler Schultz
“It truly feels like a sacred reunion every year where familiar faces gather to enter a carefree mental space that you can’t get anywhere except the magical Farmfest grounds.”
Farmfest’s 2018 lineup is extensive and impressive, covering a wide swath of bands regionally and genre-wise.
FROM MARK LAVENGOOD TO THE RED SEA PEDESTRIANS TO TURBO PUP AND MORE
Performers on several stages (plus a children’s area) include Bugs Beddow & The Good Stuff, NOMI, The Red Sea Pedestrians, Mark Lavengood, Turbo Pup, Cold Mountain Child, Oh Brother Big Sister, Jo Serrapere & The Willie Drums, Monte Pride, Dragon Wagon, Jake Allen Band, Serita’s Black Rose, Handsome Pete, Cherry Blossom Ramblers, Michelle Chenard, The Bootstrap Boys, Distant Stars, Full Cord, Dede and the Dreamers and more.
There’s also a Friday tribute to folk legends Peter, Paul & Mary, a drum kiva and a series of performances at the front gate to entertain folks as they check in and get their wristbands. Admission at the gate is $85 for the weekend or $35 a day. Children 12 and younger are free. Get details and a full schedule online at farm-fest.com.
Traverse City’s Turbo Pup makes its Farmfest debut by playing twice the same day – playing the Main Stage at 4:40 p.m. Sunday, followed by a Dance Pavilion set at 6:40 p.m. that evening. And the alt-Americana band plans to make both performances unique.
“We have back-to-back sets on Sunday this year and it’s a Turbo Pup festival tradition never to repeat songs,” said band member Aaron Dye, who played an open-mic session at a previous Farmfest a few years ago. “I feel like our fans appreciate fresh sets. Not everyone may feel this way, but when I see great bands play the exact same set twice or more at the same fest, it’s sort of a letdown. Besides we get to play more of our favorite stuff.”
Dye added that the group is in “the final stages” of completing a new studio album.
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