After a silent 2020, Beaver Island last weekend again hosted its unique music fest with The Hacky Turtles, The Founding and other regional stars. A recap in the words of the performers themselves.
For Marc Kanitz and The Hacky Turtles, being back in front of a full-fledged live audience on a faraway island in northern Lake Michigan proved to be a “very beautiful moment of humanity” with “a genuine exchange of positive energy.”
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The Grand Rapids alt-funk-rock/folk band wasn’t alone in its effusive praise for the resumption of the Beaver Island Music Festival last weekend after skipping 2020 due to COVID-19.
Lukas Stanley of the West Michigan Celtic and progressive folk band The Founding described it as a “magical weekend” while Grand Rapids’ Patty PerShayla, of Patty Pershayla & The Mayhaps, said it was “a gig that feels like a vacation.”
Read their festival impressions here and scroll for a photo gallery, courtesy of This Is a Good Sound.
THE HACKY TURTLES (MARK KANITZ)
Power went out in the middle of our set Saturday. It teetered on the edge of chaos at first but ended up turning into this very beautiful moment of humanity.
The volunteers scrambled to restart the generator. Meanwhile, we did an unplugged session from the stage in darkness. The crowd was very helpful in listening and keeping the energy moving. We had drummers and musicians on stage keeping the crowd rhythmically involved.
Right at the end of a full-crowd sing-along to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” performed alongside Drew Hale from the Drew Hale Band, the power kicked back on and we finished the set with three more songs.
Such a genuine exchange of positive energy from everyone involved. I will never forget that set.
The whole weekend was an amazing return to live music and its communal properties for the Turtles.
About 15-20 minutes of improvised crowd jam unplugged. So cool.
THE FOUNDING (Lukas Stanley)
The Founding had an amazing time at the fest. Crowd was awesome; we had so many people come up to us and say we were their favorite band there, and just had fun getting to meet the other bands and guests and make new friends.
The fest is super special and unique because everyone is camping in the same area where the stage is, and there isn’t really anywhere else to go, so you really get to just know people throughout the weekend, have fun, and enjoy great music and nature together.
The Burtons (festival organizers), all the volunteers and the other bands really came together to put on a great event. We hope to be able to return to the island in the future for another magical weekend.
PATTY PERSHAYLA & THE MAYHAPS (Patty PerShayla)
I had a wonderful time on the island. I always love a gig that feels like a vacation. A friend of mine from high school works for Island Airways and he gave me a tour from the sky, which was absolutely gorgeous. I could see the bottom of the lake very far from the shore and the stones’ ripple patterns reminded me of sound waves, like the whole island was singing.
I enjoyed the festival itself, too. My inner country girl appreciated the acoustic acts during the day (from gypsy jazzing Roma Ransom to Celtic folk acts The Founding and Brother Crowe) but my rock ’n’ roll spirit came alive at night with electric acts like Benzing Graves Collective, The Hacky Turtles and The Gasoline Gypsies.
At one point, the power went out in the middle of The Hacky Turtles’ set and they persevered with a drum jam, an acoustic set from the stage, and many, many instigations of “the wave” across the crowd. Drew Hale come out for a Tom Petty sing-along in the dark and his voice could be heard from the lawn chairs in the back. The power came back on after a while and we were up until 2 a.m. watching the closing acts, fully knowing our ferry ride back to Charlevoix was in a few hours.
We closed Thursday night with our heavier set, starting with “Get My Good Side” at midnight to keep the energy rolling. There were a good number of folks to see us but many attendees didn’t arrive until Friday night. We followed our friends Benzing Graves Collective on Friday evening and they had a big crowd gathered at the front by the end of their set. I wasn’t prepared for the crowd size when the sound crew pulled back the curtain in front of our stage.
That was the biggest, rowdiest crowd I think I’ve ever performed for. Glow sticks were abundant and they danced with us for an hour. When we stepped away after a cover of “Ballroom Blitz,” they asked us to come back out for one more song.
THE GASOLINE GYPSIES (Steve Briere)
As a band, or even an attendee, I think that Beaver Island is one of the more unique festival experiences within our state. From the journey across lake Michigan, to the amazing music and people nestled within the remote center of the island, it definitely makes for a very special event.
Since our first visit in 2018, we’ve been chomping at the bit to play BIMF again. After a few scheduling difficulties and a year of craziness, we were finally able to return.
We were blessed with spectacular weather all weekend, and the experience was made even more awesome by the energetic responses from the fest’s attendees, many of whom were returning to live music for the first time in over a year.
We played Thursday night, and closed the fest on Saturday with a full 90-minute set. Both nights were awesome. We are still buzzing from the experience this week. Huge thanks to the Burton family and to everyone who made the journey to Beaver Island to be there with us.
BENZING GRAVES COLLECTIVE (Hannah Rose Graves)
Beaver Island is a magical well of inspiration and kindness. We were welcomed in with smiling faces, warmth, the best crew of sound engineers we’ve had the pleasure of working with, a true music appreciating crowd, and hospitality by the owners Carol and Dan and their crew of busy bees.
All cultivating and sustaining the beautiful community they’ve clearly grown from the ground up. It was truly an honor to get to be a part of the experience.
DREW HALE BAND (Drew Hale)
This was our first time at the festival, and our experience couldn’t have been better. The staff and crew were so welcoming and helpful. And the people attending the event were so kind and attentive. They showed so much respect for the music and the grounds. And it was clear they were there to have a great time and to focus on the artists.
Every single act on the roster was quality, and each was different in style and genre. So each evening was a unique musical mosaic, and it was clear that the folks in charge love and appreciate music deeply. We struck up brand new friendships with other artists that weekend, and we’re already talking shows and collaborations.
We will return to BIMF every year from here on out, regardless of whether or not we’re playing the festival. And we’re telling all of our fans that they should, too.
PHOTO GALLERY: Beaver Island Music Festival 2021
Photos by Kevin Alan Lamb, This is a Good Sound