With panels probing Michigan initiatives on creativity, innovation, equity and more, Michigan House turned an Austin gym into a Mitten State mecca, capped by music from Seth Bernard. (Videos, photos)
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As an ambassador of Michigan’s music scene and its burgeoning creative community, Seth Bernard found a rapt audience at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on Saturday – recalling his upbringing on an organic farm in Lake City and sharing his love of “music as a universal language” with students.
“It’s my favorite place in the world,” the singer-songwriter and Earthwork Music collective founder said of Michigan and the way the Great Lakes State has informed his music and his mentoring of young musicians.
Participating in one of the several panels hosted Saturday by Creative Many’s Michigan House pop-up venue at SXSW 2017, Bernard’s remarks added to a chorus of voices hailing Michigan’s role as a center of creativity and innovation – from music and visual art to technology and design.
For the third year, Michigan House has set up shop in the live music capital of the world, upping the ante for 2017 by becoming an official SXSW presenter, hosting a series of roundtable discussions and performances by Michigan artists, drawing increasing attention from the throngs from across the globe that make SXSW the largest festival and conference of its kind anywhere.
“I think that people are not only recognizing Michigan as this creative hub, but also recognizing that we treat each other well and everybody’s got each other’s backs,” said Bernard, who also impressed both Texans and Michiganders in a solo performance during a post-panel reception sponsored by the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.
“I think that’s refreshing for people. I think Michigan is going to make a big impact in that regard. Not only are we performing on a super-high level, but we are supporting each other on the highest level and that’s really great.”
VIDEO: Michigan House 2017: Opening Day
Video by Paul Sinkevics
‘A PIECE OF MICHIGAN’ AT SXSW IN AUSTIN
For Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, who took part in a “Making a Place for Equity” roundtable late Saturday with community activists from Detroit and Grand Rapids, her visit to SXSW and Michigan House was energizing.
“I’ve not been down here before,” she said, “but I love that they’re highlighting everything Michigan — even bringing a piece of Michigan down here to get a sense of who we are … our successes and challenges.”
Joe Voss, director of strategic partnerships for Creative Many, which leaned on a variety of corporate and organizational sponsors to fund its third annual trip to Austin, said being an official SXSW presenter “definitely has ramped things up” for 2017, with thousands of registrants seeing Michigan House in the program for the first time.
“It’s given us more visibility. It’s given us a platform to reach out to more people who we really want to engage with on these Michigan topics, and that’s people from all over the world,” Voss said.
‘ALL KINDS OF GREAT MICHIGAN STUFF,’ INCLUDING MUSIC
Voss noted that the day’s panels intentionally incorporated input from innovators in the music and design scenes as well as representatives of Michigan industry and government. It also brought an upbeat vibe to a gray, rainy day in Austin.
Organizers deftly transformed the gymnasium of St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin into a Michigan-made mecca – a homey, plant-adorned venue complete with a bar featuring Founders Brewing beer, Farmhaus Cider, Shady Lane and L. Mawby wine and images of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
“Michigan house is set up great, everybody worked their butts off to make it really beautiful, creative,” Bernard said. “There’s all kinds of great Michigan stuff out there, so I feel right at home.”
Michigan music, of course, weaved its way into the day with tracks by Flint Eastwood, The Go Rounds and other acts wafting through the venue between sessions and Bernard playing the closing reception on the opening day of Michigan House’s 2017 SXSW experience.
On Tuesday, Local Spins will host a Michigan House roundtable, “Lessons Learned from Austin,” with Michigan and Texas musicians, followed that evening by a Michigan showcase featuring The Go Rounds, Flint Eastwood, ONEFREQ, Stef Chura and Michigander. Local Spins will stream the panel discussion via Facebook Live on the Local Spins Facebook page at 4:15 p.m. ET Tuesday.
Check out videos and a photo gallery from Day One at Michigan House-Austin with a video of highlights below.
PHOTO GALLERY: Michigan House-Austin at SXSW
Photos by Anna Sink
VIDEO: Seth Bernard at Michigan House-Austin
(From a Facebook Live video stream of his Saturday concert)
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC