John Prine’s robust legacy pushed this January story about Ann Arbor Folk Festival’s virtual tribute with May Erlewine, Joshua Davis and more to the Top 5. Revisit the story and Local Spins’ festival coverage.
Already packed with national and regional stars for its first-ever, all-online, live-streamed event in late January 2021, the Ann Arbor Folk Festival added a Sunday tribute to the late John Prine featuring a robust roster of Michigan roots and folk stars.
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Emceed by Michigan’s own Jeff Daniels, The Ark rolled out the 44th edition of the festival Jan. 29-30, with sets by Bruce Cockburn, Dar Williams, Colin Hay, Raul Malo, Todd Snider, David Bromberg, The War and Treaty, Kiefer Sutherland, Joe Pub, Glen Phillips, Amythyst Kiah, George Winston and more, with Traverse City’s The Accidentals (with Kim Richey) and Ann Arbor’s The RFD Boys performing their sets from the stage at The Ark.
To up the ante further, the virtual festival — which traditionally hosts its in-person performances at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium and will again Jan. 28-29, 2022 -– extended the event by a day, with Joshua Davis, May Erlewine, Michigan Rattlers, Seth Bernard, The Accidentals, The War and Treaty, Jill Jack, Erin Zindle and others paying tribute to the songs of the legendary John Prine, who passed away in 2020 after a battle with COVID.
“When we say The Ark wouldn’t be what it is today without John Prine, that’s not just a figure of speech,” wrote Barb Chaffer Authier, The Ark’s marketing director.
“John Prine was the headliner for the very first Ann Arbor Folk Festival in 1976, at a time when the club was deep in debt, and closing the doors was a distinct possibility. And he played for free, asking only that his transportation be covered.”
Other Michigan artists participating in the Sunday night tribute to Prine include Al Bettis, Annie & Rod Capps, Chris Buhalis, Dave Boutette & Kristi Lynn Davis, Dick Siegel, Matt Watroba & Robert Jones and The RFD Boys. A rebroadcast of the tribute will be available to pass purchasers through. Feb. 7.
Bernard, who’s performed Prine songs with an all-star tribute band for years, said it’s “a great honor to be given the nod to pay tribute to him in the wake of his passing.”
Bernard said he met Prine at the 2006 Ann Arbor Folk Festival. “He’s so real. Tells it true,” he said. “Zero bulls–t. It’s refreshing and familiar. Prine fans have really found at true friend in his music.”
Also playing Friday night (headlined by Malo) during the 2021 live-stream were Alan Doyle, Gina Chavez, Willie Watson and Ron Pope. Saturday’s lineup (headined by Cockburn) also included Vance Gilbert, Dom Flemons, Matt Andersen, Crys Matthews, Sierra Ferrell and Andrea von Kampen. (Initially announced for the festival, Robert Earl Keen was forced to “drop out of the lineup due to unforeseen circumstances” earlier this month.)
Revisit Local Spins’ coverage of the live-streamed, 2021 Ann Arbor Folk Festival here: Ann Arbor Folk Festival heals, inspires with first-ever live-stream weekend of stars
Performances by Traverse City alt-folk stars The Accidentals (wsg Kim Richey) on Friday and Ann Arbor bluegrass legends The RFD Boys on Saturday took place from The Ark’s stage – live-streamed for ticket buyers who viewed it all from home.
Check out the Local Spins playlist of John Prine’s Top 20 Songs.
The 2022 Ann Arbor Folk Festival will feature several iconic artists, including Emmylou Harris, Glen Hansard, Patty Griffin, The Punch Brothers, The Sweet Water Warblers and more. Tickets are on sale now; read more about the upcoming festival at Local Spins here: Emmylou Harris, Glen Hansard, Patty Griffin to lead lineup at Ann Arbor Folk Festival.
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