While Interlochen is still assessing prospects for staging concerts this summer, a brand new festival and a fourth-year ‘micro’ event will help bring live music to northern Michigan’s great outdoors.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s relaxation of some state restrictions on outdoor gatherings could affect the status of events listed here as well as other outdoor shows and festivals. Check websites for your favorite events before making plans and get festival updates online here.
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After a COVID-impaired year for live music, this summer’s concert scene remains a mixed bag in northern Michigan – a region that’s normally rife with music festivals and outdoor shows.
Interlochen Center for the Arts – forced to cancel its 2020 Interlochen Arts Festival of appearances by national touring artists – won’t host any concerts in June, but hasn’t made a final decision on staging Kresge Auditorium shows later this summer.
“We are actively communicating with industry consultants and agents, and while we have secured several major artists for our outdoor venue, touring, routing, and the viability of presenting large public events this summer remain uncertain. The industry as a whole is working together to safely bring back live music,” said Katharine Laidlaw, Interlochen’s vice president of strategic communications and engagements.
“At this time, we know we will not host public performances in June. If we can safely host outdoor concerts in Kresge Auditorium in July and/or August, we will follow all recommended safety measures such as face masking.”
Laidlaw acknowledged that music fans and Interlochen supporters are eager to return after a pandemic that’s silenced live music.
“We can’t wait to welcome our friends and neighbors back to our summer Interlochen Arts Festival as soon as it is safe to do so,” she said. “We know how much our supporters cherish this series, which is also a vital source of support for student scholarships.”
Uncertainties regarding COVID and capacity restrictions already have torpedoed festivals such as Camp Greensky in Wellston, Blissfest outside Harbor Springs, Nor-east’r Music & Art Festival in Mio and Upper Peninsula’s Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival, Farm Block Festival & Reunion and Porcupine Mountains Music Festival.
But popular events such as July’s Dunesville Music Festival in Lake Ann and August’s Hoxeyville Music Festival in Wellston and Farmfest in Johannesburg currently plan to forge ahead.
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Plus, a few newer, compact events are on tap, including a brand new festival in Lake Ann and a boutique festival unfurling its fourth installment outside Empire.
LivelyLands Music Festival, which began in 2017, will take place Aug. 20-22 outside of Empire on W. Empire Hwy. at “Backyard Burdickville,” with Joshua Davis, Laura Rain & The Caesars, the Stovetop Bernard Lavengood Trio, Emma Cook and other artists slated to perform.
“ ‘Micro festival’ or ‘Boutique festival’ is the term that I’ve been using for our event and I’ve heard other producers use it as well. It’s a concept that is just catching on,” said festival organizer Emily Lively.
“These can be hyper local events or destination events that are designed to only accommodate a small number of people. This allows us to create a meaningful shared experience for our attendees that allows them to feel a part of the event.”
Not only are musicians able to connect with fans in a more meaningful way at an event attracting only a few hundred people, but it allows organizers to more easily implement COVID protocols, from masking to social-distancing. Get more details, tickets here.
Meanwhile, the Big Fam music and arts festival will unfurl Aug. 27-29 for the first time at Harmony Pines in Lake Ann – the same 300-acre site where Dunesville will be staged the month before.
Organizers hope state restrictions on crowd size will be eased by late summer to allow 500 to 1,000 attendees at the festival featuring electronic, country, funk, jam band and bluegrass music, according to Andrew Martin, marketing director for Big Fam.
All COVID-19 safety regulations and local guidelines will be enforced. The lineup for the camping festival hasn’t yet been announced. Get more information and tickets online here.
Get more festival listings and updates in the Local Spins Michigan Music Festivals 2021 Guide.
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