Despite some COVID obstacles, the summer of 2021 looks a lot different than 2020 when it comes to music events in northern Michigan. Local Spins previews some recently announced concert series in the region.
The light at the end of the COVID tunnel has gotten much brighter in recent weeks, especially when it comes to resuming some northern Michigan music festivals and outdoor concerts.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
This week alone, Hoxeyville Music Festival — taking place Aug. 13-15 in Wellston — announced a star-studded lineup that includes Billy Strings, Allman Betts Band, Sam Bush Band and Yonder Mountain String Band, with the July 9-11 Big Ticket Festival in Gaylord winning permission from the city to host up to 12,000 people for the Christian music celebration at the Otsego County Fairgrounds.
And there’s much more live music to embrace for those vacationers heading north or those already calling the region home.
Several northern Michigan venues have announced summer concert lineups, including Bay View and Great Lakes Center for the Arts, both near Petoskey, and Lake Street Studios in Glen Arbor.
GREAT LAKES CENTER FOR THE ARTS
On the south side of Petoskey, the Great Lakes Center for the Arts at Bay Harbor offers up a full slate of performances this summer and fall — some previously announced and rescheduled.
Lessons learned last year will carry forward in 2021, with social distancing and masks for attendees, touchless ticketing, a thorough cleaning of the auditorium prior to and following each performance, and again hosting an event outside.
“Last year, we had an outdoor happy hour on the center’s front porch. It went very well,” said Alexandra Myers, the marketing director for GLCFA.
With that in mind, the center will kick off the season with another show on the center’s front porch on June 19 with singer Max von Essen.
“Max von Essen is a great entertainer and it’s fun to be outside. We’re crossing our fingers for good weather,” she said.
COVID restriction may eventually ease, but staffers recognize they must pivot quickly if necessary. “We’re going to try Plan A. This may change,” Myers noted. As a result, everything is subject to change. For tickets and more information, visit GreatLakesCFA.org.
Here’s the schedule:
June 19: Max von Essen and Billy Stritch (Tony and Grammy nominee Max von Essen with award-winning composer, arranger, vocalist and jazz pianist Billy Stritch)
June 26: Bruce in the USA (Billed as “The World’s Greatest Tribute to Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band”)
July 2: Naturally 7 (A cappella group)
July 10: Gladys Knight Gala (Fundraiser featuring the “Empress of Soul,” a seven-time Grammy winner and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Vocal Group Hall of Fame)
July 17: Vanessa Williams (Actor, dancer and singer)
July 22: Ryan Hamilton (Comic)
July 24: Kurt Elling (Jazz vocalist and two-time Grammy winner)
July 30/31: Pink Martini (Classical, pop, jazz and Latin group)
Aug. 6: Brian Stokes Mitchell (Actor and singer)
Aug. 13-15: “Always, Patsy Cline” (Musical)
Aug. 17: ChaoJun Yang (Pianist)
Aug. 21: Michael Feinstein (Musical archivist, cabaret favorite and interpreter of Gershwin)
Aug. 28: Paul Taylor Dance Company
Sept. 5: Tanya Tucker (Country star)
Sept. 12: Denyce Graves (Celebrated mezzo-soprano)
Oct. 2: Thompson Square (Country music husband-and-wife duo)
Oct. 9: BB King Blues Band
BAY VIEW’S SUMMER SEASON
A summer community on the north side of Petoskey, Bay View was founded in 1875 as an educational and cultural community by Michigan Methodists “for intellectual and scientific culture and the promotion of the cause of religion and morality.” It’s since expanded to include and feature the arts, including music and theatre.
In addition to its community of Victorian cottages, Bay View offers a cultural camp experience for collegians, similar to what Interlochen Center for the Arts provides for middle and high school students. It also has its own musical faculty, and many of the shows include performers from both the college and professional ranks.
Bay View will host seven Vespers concerts with guest artists at 8pm each Sunday June 27 through Aug. 8, according to artistic director Dr. Chris Ludwa. It will host four chamber music concerts in July, the fully staged opera “La Traviata” July 21-24, an as-yet undetermined musical revue July 9 and 10 and a concert by Chicago tribute band Brass Transit July 3. Ludwa also is working on securing another pops-style concert.
Current guidelines allow the concerts to be held indoors at 50-percent occupancy. That’s 600 seats at the John M. Hall Auditorium, with a capacity of 1,200. It’s also possible such restrictions may not even apply, as the auditorium has windows on two sides and the back, making it essentially an open-air facility.
If shows cannot be held indoors, they will transition to outdoors, where Brass Transit performed in 2014.
“Assuming we’re safe, the production values are much higher indoors,” Ludwa said. For tickets and more information on all the events, go online to BayViewAssociation.org.
LAKE STREET MUSIC FESTIVAL
Lake Street Studios behind Glen Arbor Arts Center has been the host site for the annual Manitou Music Festival, the intimate multi-genre summer performance series. The Arts Center, parent organization for the festival, canceled its slate of shows again this year in deference to the challenges of the pandemic.
But veteran concert promoter Seamus Shinners stepped into the breach, with The Lake Street Music Festival @ Studio Stage in Glen Arbor.
The series kicks off July 14 with blues duo Mulebone, multi-instrumentalist John Ragusa and roots music specialist Hugh Pool. Together they play country blues, folk tunes and other spiritually related acoustic music.
The following Wednesday, July 21, the series features Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Cameron Blake and his trio. Blake’s songs range from gospel-fired, high energy roots rock to introspective folk.
On Aug. 4, storytelling songwriter and Michigan-born Navy veteran Drew Nelson will showcase his Americana and roots-rock stylings. He has toured North America and Europe, performing solo and opening for rock artists Melissa Etheridge and Edwin McCain as well as folk singers Josh White Jr. and John Gorka.
The Lake Street Music Festival concludes Aug. 11 with Mustard’s Retreat from Ann Arbor. Libby Glover and David Tamulevitch have been delighting audiences for 45 years with their music, which is by turns witty, insightful, fun and profound.
Based on current restrictions, seating will be limited to 60. All performances start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at Lake Street Studio or Oryana Food Cooperative in Traverse City. Seating may be limited so advance ticket purchase is recommended. For tickets or more info call 231-334-3179.
Copyright 2021, Spins on Music LLC