One of mid-Michigan's greatest treasures is the Great Lakes Folk Festival. Held every August (on my birthday weekend, I might add -- a party for me!), this event combines music and traditions from not only all over the U.S. but the world.
You'll hear Cajun, Quebecois, Celtic, string bands, polka, blues, gospel and much more.And along the way, you'll see traditional crafts and skills. Boat building, fishing, farming -- the heritage is covered as well. It's a big enough event that WKAR was broadcasting live, interviewing mid-Michigan folk guru Bob Blackman.
I wasn't at my best for the festival this year -- having your wisdom teeth pulled does that to a person! But we really enjoyed Michigan favorite Joel Mabus, who tells a story as well as he sings!
I was less fond of this year's Cajun group, Les Bassettes, but others enjoyed them.
However, I very much liked the bluegrass group Clear Fork from Chardon, Ohio. They were lively -- strong singers, great musicians!
It was fun to watch caller Bob Stein try to arrange close to 200 people into contra and square dances.
It got a little unruly, and yet everyone was having so much fun dancing, I don't think anyone cared!
There were two Quebecois groups --Les Poules a Colin, which opened the festival .and Dentelion. (Members of "Les Poules" included some of the younger members of the Dentelion band.) Dentelion, made up of musicians from two families, rocked the crowd with wonderful music.
We went to see them twice and the second time had a better seat so you could really see their fingers move across the strings! Claude was the leader on fiddle and vocals...
Dana took accordion and sometimes guitar...
And had a mean pair of feet! They moved faster in one place than mine can go walking!
After the first performance, Rick and I met three of the band members in the street. There was Denise (who knew of Torch Lake!)...
They were warm, friendly and so nice! Rick and I plan to visit their town next summer when Rick rides his bike to Newfoundland. (Don't ask... that's a whole future post!)
Another performer we loved was Cathie Ryan, an Irish American singer, originally from Detroit.
She was a wonderful storyteller and pretty amazing musician, too.
Her fiddler had been with the original NYC company of Riverdance. Together, with the guitarist who was only doing his second gig with them, they had the audience enchanted and often singing along.
We saw Cathie Ryan twice also and each time was different, each time terrific.
I really wish I'd posted about past festivals earlier so those in Michigan could make it a point to get here. This isn't your Peter, Paul and Mary folk festival -- it's music from around the world -- and so much more!
So, thanks, MSU Museum, for bringing this festival to mid-Michigan! A round of applause for you!