Wheatland Music Festival’s 2017 lineup boasts national roots music stars and a strong Michigan contingent, too. Read profiles of two of them and peruse the festival schedule.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The 44th Wheatland Music Festival fires up outside Remus this weekend (Sept. 8-10). Beyond internationally renowned acts such as Lunasa and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, the lineup includes a bevy of Michigan stars — from Don Julin to The Bootstrap Boys to Drew Nelson to Blue Water Ramblers. Local Spins spotlights two of them here: Wheatland veteran Luke Winslow King, who recently moved back to his native Michigan, and Wheatland first-timers Diff & Dudley, who are building an audience for their vintage country music. Check out the performance schedule below with more festival information at wheatlandmusic.org.
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LUKE WINSLOW KING
9:30 p.m. Friday on the Main Stage
4:05 p.m. Saturday on the Centennial Stage (with Session Americana)
10:25 p.m. Saturday on the Centennial Stage
They say you can’t go home again.
Luke Winslow King is proving that “they” are wrong. The Cadillac native who made his reputation in New Orleans — his home base for several years — has returned to his hometown, performing around the area when he’s not on tour or recording.
“I’m a Cadillac resident again. It was time to come home,” said the 34-year-old musician. Raised in Cadillac, he attended Interlochen Arts Academy before traveling around the country performing. While on the road gigging with Seth Bernard and Daniel Kahn, their vehicle full of musical instruments was stolen in New Orleans.
Stuck in the Big Easy, Winslow King got to experience firsthand the city’s vibrant musical scene. Soon he was hooked.
He began studying classical music while at the same time playing with and learning from local blues musicians and traditional jazz performers. He made the city his home base while his star began to rise through recordings like and constant gigging, around New Orleans, the United States and abroad.
He also incorporated into his music the vocal stylings of Elizabeth Rose, who subsequently became Elizabeth Rose King. His most recent recording, “I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always,” details with obvious pain the breakup of their marriage. Song titles like “Esther Please,” “Change Your Mind,” “Watch Me Go” and “Act Like You Love Me” are kind of a tip-off.
So, is this a break-up record? “Absolutely,” he said. “I have to be honest and forthright. I have to do what comes out, go where the spirit leads me.”
Apparently that includes having the spirit lead him back to Cadillac. “Over the last five years I phased out my weekly gigs in New Orleans. Now I’m focusing on spending time with my family,” Winslow King said. He noted that as a touring musician, he could make his home most anywhere. “I’m still keeping a foot in New Orleans. I’m working there and in Europe.”
Not only did he make a return visit to this year’s Hoxeyville festival, he’ll once again perform at this weekend’s Wheatland Music Festival. “I have a great time at Wheatland. I played the first time there in 11th grade,” he noted.
In recent weeks, he’s also played at Cadillac’s Rotary Park, at Short’s in Bellaire and the Filling Station in Traverse City. “Cadillac was great. Seven or eight of my teachers from school were in the audience. I had family, a lot of friends,” he noted.
Speaking of his hometown, he’ll play next year’s Gopherwood, the Cadillac performing arts series, and is looking into the possibility of performing at the Ramsdell Theatre just down the road in Manistee as well.
He’s also finishing up a new recording. Much of it was recorded in Tuscany during a break while on tour. The upcoming disc, he said, will also have a harder edge than his earlier recordings, which were more blues or traditional jazz-oriented. “There’s some folk, some mellow folk-rock,” he said. “It goes in a few different directions.”
VIDEO: Luke Winslow King, “I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always”
DIFF & DUDLEY
12:45 p.m. Saturday on the Centennial Stage
As veterans of West Michigan’s music scene, Jack Leaver and Mitch Wood have reached their fair share of milestones with bands such as The Dushanes and Dutch Henry and as respected, go-to musicians.
But their recent vintage country project, Diff & Dudley, has been a true labor of love that’s earned them a first-time honor: playing the historic Wheatland Music Festival.
The watershed moment takes place Saturday afternoon on Wheatland’s Centennial Stage when Diff & Dudley (aka, Leaver and Wood) will be joined by an all-star band dubbed The Big Sirs, featuring drummer Todd Truman, guitarist Dave Stanton, pedal steel guitarist Drew Howard, keyboard player Chris Corey and singer Dee Sutton.
“All of us are so thrilled to be invited to play at Wheatland,” Leaver said. “This is huge for us, to be performing at such a prestigious festival so early in the career of this band. That’s big!”
Recorded at Grand Rapids’ all-analog Goon Lagoon studio, the duo’s debut album, “Here’s Diff & Dudley, featuring The Big Sirs,” was released in late 2016 on the Spinout Records label. Earlier this summer, the duo also signed a deal with Nashville Entertainment Weekly Records to plug the album to radio, currently promoting the single, “I’ll Try.”
“We had contacted Wheatland just after the record came out, you know, putting our hat in the ring for this year’s festival,” said Leaver, a Grand Haven resident who also performs regularly as a solo artist across West Michigan. “Honestly, I didn’t have any doubts that we belonged there, but obviously, the competition to be included is fierce.”
Leaver said fans at Wheatland can expect the band to play “most of the album along with a couple of choice covers.”
The duo continues to move forward on its next studio project and already has “laid down basic tracks on four new tunes.”
VIDEO: Diff & Dudley, “I’ll Try” (Tip Top Deluxe)
WHEATLAND 2017 SCHEDULE
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