Last weekend’s Earthwork Harvest Gathering braved rainy weather to roll out memorable performances by Michigan artists for a record crowd, not to mention a wedding and more. Recap, photos, video.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO, PHOTO GALLERY
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
Gazing at the moonlit barn Sunday evening at Earthwork Harvest Gathering, its silhouette is only impeded by cracks of light that escape from within and glimmer like stars.
A hushed refrain also echoes into the night, though songs have a longer journey to join the gleaming outline of the barn. They require courage, to fill a blank page with ink from the soul.
They need to be resilient, to weather the ever-changing seasons of life and fend off its shadows of dissolution. And they should have love — for a craft, or a listener and, hopefully, for the same hands and heart that set the songs free to drift into the rafters and out of the slats of a hallowed barn.
Among the many moments that comprised the 19th weekend of a rainy Harvest Gathering, more than a few took place on Sunday, including the picturesque barn wedding of Elle Lively and drummer Scott Pellegrom, officiated by Earthwork organizer Seth Bernard.
The festival’s final day and collective goodbye till next year saw a flurry of other magical moments, whether it was a riveting rain-soaked set by The Accidentals at the Hill Stage, the dream-adelic reverberations conjured by Political Lizard at Cedar Stage, the powerful collaboration of We Found Hip Hop at the Barn, or the collective musical efforts of those circled around a crackling fire’s glow to the tune of a warm and whimsical tuba.
Harmonizing with the efforts of performers, others lent their time, their ears and their words to the weekend in spite of dodging all those raindrops.
‘SPIRITUALLY OPENING’ AND A GREAT COMMUNITY
Buck McDougall of Kalamazoo stood backstage, just outside the artist green room on a landing that overlooks rainy pastures and grazing cows. He’s one of the security coordinators for the festival and has on a uniform of head-to-toe tie-dye, a walkie-talkie and a contagious smile that maintains its shape even as he speaks.
“This weekend has been magical. It’s been a very different weekend at Harvest Gathering for me and it’s been very opening…like spiritually opening. I love this place. The people that come here are such a great community, it’s like a tribe,” he said, before pausing to listen to waves of joyful cheers washing over from stage a few feet away.
“This is my family.”
Not far from the barn, or their own familial roots of Traverse City, The Accidentals offered an exuberant set in the ceremonious September rain. The trio rocked through a wide-ranging catalog and shared stories of travel, Michigan and tales of gifted Harvest Festival hatchets.
Meanwhile, Kalamazoo’s Jordan Hamilton gave a unique and masterful set of hip-hop-infused cello at Market Stage.
After sunset, Grand Rapids’ Nicholas James & the Bandwagon performed their signature style of rock-infused Americana and folk at the barn for a jubilant crowd to dance their clothes dry.
THE COMMUNAL, HEART-RENDING FINAL SET
As the rain grew kinder and eventually gave its own farewell, folks settled into their respective corners and nooks for Chris Dorman’s annual late-night, festival-ending performance. What entailed was a breathtakingly beautiful, transcendentally communal experience.
Backed by an impressive and imaginative all-star band, Dorman, who lives in Vermont, traveled through a set of comforting and heartfelt songs for a beautiful crowd.
The song “I’ll Carry You,” which Dorman wrote about becoming a father, marked a distinctly emotional moment, during which he invited his own father on stage to sing a verse. Gentle tears streamed both on and off stage and the room seemed to transcend the time and worry of the outside world, if only for a brief moment.
“I think that this gathering is so special for people and important for them, like a marker of time. A lot of people only see each other once a year here. I think it just brings up so much for so many,” he offered.
“No wants to say goodbye, no one wants it to be done, everyone’s thinking of the whirlwind of things they just experienced over the weekend. So years ago when Seth (Bernard) asked us to play again in the barn at the same time, I thought ‘OK, it’s our job to sort of help people say goodbye.’ ”
Later as flickering stage lights filled the near-empty room, a few sleepy souls found their way to an endearingly aged piano in the corner of the barn for one more melodic goodbye.
Familiar choruses blended into freshly penned originals and others joined to form a momentary collective, trading songs about love, longing and the sacred labor of making art to send up through the rafters.
Check out exclusive Day 1 festival coverage at Local Spins: Earthwork Harvest Gathering launches with jam-packed Friday of powerful music
PHOTO GALLERY: Earthwork Harvest Gathering 2019
Photos by Anna Sink
Video by Ricky Olmos
Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC