Ludington’s two-day Ludrock on Saturday and Sunday boasts a bevy of Michigan bands for its 10th and final soiree. Learn more and listen to our July festival round-up in today’s Local Spins on WYCE podcast.
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West Michigan's music scene
In a post-COVID world, Michigan’s music festival scene has rebounded beyond imagination.
New and intimate gatherings have popped up across the state, while established, long-running traditional festivals have ramped up operations again — including this weekend’s iconic Blissfest outside Harbor Springs.
But another one of those much-respected regional festivals aims to rock West Michigan for the 10th and final time this weekend in Ludington.
Ludrock, the brainchild of organizer Ed Santarelli, rolls out Saturday and Sunday with more than 40 mostly Michigan-based acts performing at Waterfront Park, including Patty PerShayla & The Mayhaps, Barrel Bones, County Parks, Ben Traverse, Nick Veine and many more.
Since 2011, Ludrock attendees and supporters have contributed $350,000 to the Ludrock Endowment which supports local music and arts programs and projects in perpetuity. (Donations can be made online here.)
“Ludrock was just a silly idea to us when we took it public. We soon realized that it could make a positive impact on our community,” Santarelli said. “It’s really made a difference. Those funds have promoted the arts, local music, fed the hungry, sheltered those in need and inspired kids with the power of music.”
Of course, Ludrock also serves as a showcase for regional bands heating up a beautiful lakeshore community in mid-summer.
‘A CRAZY BIG VARIETY SHOW’ AND ‘A TRUE CELEBRATION’
“Over 40 bands and performers, all kinds of music, something for everyone. We have pros, weekend jammers, kids, it’s a crazy big variety show,” Santarelli said. “This community has really stepped up this year, despite the pandemic, donor and volunteer fatigue. Over 50 sponsors, about 200 raffle donors, 100 volunteers, it’s just been overwhelming.”
With an aging board of volunteers, Santarelli said organizers decided to stage “a final celebration” in 2023.
“This will be the biggest and best. A true celebration of all of it,” he said, adding: “Maybe someone will step up and continue. That’s up in the air at this point.”
Revving up from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday (with Big Round Sound of Muskegon handling sound and video production), this year’s festival will also feature acclaimed Boston singer-songwriter and Ludington native Merrie Amsterburg, and Nashville tunesmith Bradford Loomis, along with dozens of regional acts, from Eric Engblade to Spike the Media. View the full lineup here.
Even if the event doesn’t continue beyond 2023, it’s clear that it’s captured the hearts of many in Ludington.
“Ed is a pretty amazing dude and he’s raised over $350,000 for the community through Ludrock without the help of any big sponsors,” said Ludrock fan Kate Krieger Watkins. “Just people coming together for music and a cause.”
Of course, July’s hectic Michigan festival schedule attracts fans to communities across the state — inspiring the latest episode of Local Spins on WYCE, which spotlights Michigan-bred music at 11 a.m. Friday’s on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org.
The special July festival edition focuses on Michigan artists playing Blissfest (Cross Village), River Rock Festival (Hersey), Upheaval Festival (Grand Rapids), Beaver Island Music Festival (Beaver Island), Dunesville Music Festival (Interlochen), Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival (Marquette), Walk the Beat Festival (Grand Haven), Tamarack Music Festival (Morley) and Wild Thyme Music Festival (Allegan).
Performers featured in the podcast — many debuting brand new tunes — include The Crane Wives, Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Tyler Kuiper, Coldville, Dylan Delato, The Fabulous Vans, The American Hotel System, Kyle Brown & The Human Condition, Djangophonique, Act Casual, Ben Traverse & Nick Veine (who also play Ludrock), The Bootstrap Boys, Cole Hansen and The Moxie Strings. Listen to the radio show here.
This weekend’s West Michigan lineup also includes the En El Rio celebration at Riverfront Plaza in Allegan from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Learn more about this celebration of Latin culture featuring DJ Angel Gee and La Furia Del Ritmo via Facebook here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (7/7/23)
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