Beyond high-profile festivals this weekend such as Hoxeyville and Breakaway is northern Michigan’s intimate LivelyLands. Learn more about it and see which albums have influenced founder Emily Lively.
SCROLL DOWN FOR EMILY LIVELY’S ‘THREE ALBUMS THAT CHANGED MY WORLD’
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Oozing intimacy, relaxation, camaraderie and low-cost admission, small Michigan music festivals such as northern Michigan’s LivelyLands have sprouted up across the state in recent years, showcasing regional stars in charming outdoor settings.
“Aside from offering a more stress-free, less claustrophobic concert experience, this festival is designed for music lovers,” insisted Emily Lively, executive producer of the festival being held Aug. 19-21 at Backyard Burdickville outside Empire. “Just because we are small doesn’t mean we skimp on the details. From the get-go, I knew that quality sound was a priority for the festival. … Our artists really appreciate this.”
With only about 300 attendees, the festival that started as a pilot event in 2017 has enjoyed “slow and steady progress” in terms of growth. “I would be thrilled if we were able to get our numbers up to around 350,” Lively said.
Stressing “quality over quantity,” this year’s event will feature an eclectic blend of performers, including Grand Rapids soul/R&B singer Avalon Cutts-Jones (who headlines Saturday night), New York indie folk-pop duo The Sea The Sea (headlining Friday night), Michigan singer-songwriters Michael Camp and Fay Burns, Virginia native and indie-rocker Rebecca Loebe and a half-dozen other mostly regional acts.
“My goal has always been to have our attendees come because they know that it’s going to be a special lineup and they are going to get to experience new things,” said Lively, who makes sure that at least 50 percent of the acts are female-fronted artists. “Going back to being the festival for the music lover; a true fan loves to explore new things.”
Keeping with the cozy, family-friendly theme, the festival kicks off Friday with a “Farm to Festival” barbecue dinner in partnership with The Lively Farm, featuring guest chefs and food grown right on the festival grounds. Regular weekend tickets are $125 and day passes cost $40-$65, with additional fees for camping and various special packages. Get details online at thelivelylands.com.
“We have ample free parking for all our attendees and we now have 30 rustic campsites on the festival grounds,” she added. “We will never be so full that there isn’t ample space to get as close to the stage as you want, spread out your blanket and feel good about letting your kids run free. We rarely have long ticket, merch, beer or food lines, and our potties stay clean.”
The festival has a new permanent location at property Lively and her family purchased on M-72 east of Empire (now dubbed Backyard Burdickville) which they are now utilizing as farmland, campground and festival site. “Things are looking beautiful. I’m excited for it having a permanent location,” she said.
Lively got her feet wet in the event field while working for South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, for several years. She started LivelyLands while still working for the Austin-based multi-media cultural festival, and has also worked with Kerrville Folk Festival.
She knows her way around the music festival scene and has listed some iconic artists as her go-to favorites.
1. Bob Dylan, “Blood on the Tracks” (1975) – I’ve listened to it for a very long time. Every song is perfect. “Simple Twist of Fate” is one of my favorites. I listened to it on repeat for a very long time. He’s moving away from folk. His use of rhyme appealed (to me) as someone who loves lyrics.
Listen: “Tangled Up in Blue”
2. Joan Armatrading, “Show Some Emotion” (1977) – It’s just amazing. It was in my parents’ album collection. Mom had it. I’d tell her in high school, “I just can’t go to school today.” Mom was OK with that. I made breakfast and listened to it over and over. I sang classical and got into jazz stuff in high school. Joan Armatrading (offered) so much funk influence.
Listen: “Show Some Emotion”
3. Joni Mitchell, “Court and Spark” (1974) – It’s jazzy, but she’s still in her folk phase. It makes me smile a lot. The way the album moves – I love the jazzy influences starting to come into her. As a young songwriter (she realizes) there are other options out there. The last song (“Twisted”) I sang at a childhood talent show once.
Listen: “Court and Spark”
Currently Loving: Good Looks, “Bummer Year” (2022)
They talk about Texas a lot. The singer and guitarist and I go back. We have mutual friends. There’s vivid imagery, beautiful guitar melodies. It’s (like the) songwriting of great old Austin writers in a modern Americana rock feel. The whole album is great. They were the artist of the month at KUTX public radio.
Listen: “Bummer Year”
ALBUMS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Emily Lively’s Playlist on Spotify
Note: ‘Court and Spark’ isn’t available on Spotify but you can listen to the album via YouTube here.
Copyright 2022, Spins on Music LLC