A blog sponsored by the Michigan State University Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program, a partnership with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Sharing news and information about the Great Lakes Folk Festival, Quilt Index, the MSU Museum's traditional arts activities, Great Lakes traditional artists and arts resources, and much more. Development of content for this blog supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Michigan Barn Preservation Network Seeks Nominees for "Barn of the Year"

From the Michigan Barn Preservation Network press release:

Seeking Nominations
2015 Barn of the Year

Postmarked by January 9, 2015


Nominate a Barn!

The Michigan Barn Preservation Network (MBPN) seeks nominations for the 2015 Barn of the Year Awards. Each year, the MBPN honors those who make the extra effort to maintain their historic barn with integrity. We recognize that barns must adapt in order to survive, so we recognize those who have modified their barns in a sensitive, creative manner to accommodate an alternative use. Owners include individuals, businesses and public organizations.  To reflect these variables, the MPBN has developed the following award categories:

1)    Continuing Family/Private Agricultural Use
2)    Family/Private Adaptive Use
3)    Non-profit Agricultural or Adaptive Use
4)    Commercial Agricultural or Adaptive Use

Barns will be judged for completeness of information presented in the application, sensitivity and integrity of repairs or modification, visual appeal, creativity, thoroughness of work, and effort expended to repair and maintain. The winning nominations will be presented an award at the MBPN annual conference in March at Michigan State University.

Three items are required for the submission: a written narrative, photographs, and a completed MBPN Survey form. The Application form and the Survey form can be found on the MBPN website (www.mibarn.net) under the Resource tab.

Nominations must be postmarked by January 9, 2015.

For more information contact Barn of the Year Committee Chairman Jerry Damon at runningbuds@aol.com

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review of "Earth Stories" Quilt Exhibit at the MSU Museum

“Cooking with the Sun,” detail, Jennifer Day (photo courtesy of the artist)
Jonathan Rinck of the International Sculpture Center has written an article reviewing Earth Stories, and art quilt exhibition on view at the MSU Museum until November 26. Rinck writes...

"These quilts span an astonishingly broad array of environment-related subject matter, from wind-farming to consumerism.  By offering such a superb fusion of craftsmanship and concept, Earth Stories obliterates any lingering division between craft and fine art, while emphatically making the point that the arts really can make a real-world difference."

 Stop by before the exhibit moves on to the University of Central Missouri Gallery of Art and Design. As Rinck says, "this is not your grandmother's quilt show."

Click here to read the full article!

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Exhibit at MSU's LookOut! Gallery Highlights Chilean Textiles


From November 3 through November 21, 2014, visit the RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery for "Tapestry as Testimony: Arpilleras of Chile," an exhibition of Chilean arpilleras from the collection of Eliana Loveluck, and for "Broken," an installation addressing human trafficking by Sally Thielen and Susan Clinthorne.
Beyond LookOut! Art Gallery's hours of M-F, 12 to 3 p.m., you can visit the exhibition during the following events, which are free and open to the public.

Additional events include...

Sewing Workshop

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., the RCAH Sewing Club will host an arpillera workshop in coordination with the RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery's "Tapestry as Testimony: Arpilleras of Chile" exhibition of Chilean arpilleras from the collection of Eliana Loveluck.
Participants will visit the exhibit and then go to the studio to create art in response to the question of, "How do you tell a story about social justice or sense of place in a single image?"
All materials are provided, but feel free to bring fabric scraps, buttons, and trim.
Political themes are encouraged but not necessary. Sewing is also not necessary, but is an option.

Panel Discussion

On Thursday, November 13, 2014, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in C202 Snyder Hall, join MSU Peace and Justice Studies and the RCAH for a panel discussion about arpilleras in the context of General Augusto Pinochet's brutal dictatorship. Light refreshments will be available in LookOut! Art Gallery after the panel discussion.


On FridayNovember 14, 2014, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in LookOut! Art Gallery, meet artists Sally Thielen and Susan Clinthorne in conjunction with the MSU Center for Gender in Global Context human trafficking film screening and conference.

Click here for more details about the exhibition!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cultivating Connectivity: Folklife and Inclusive Excellence in Museums

Marsha MacDowell discussing lau hala papale (hats woven of palm leaves) with Hawaiian master artists Harriet Soong and Gladys Grace in Carriers of Culture: Native Basketry, Folklife Festival, 2006. Photo by Minnie Wabanimkee, courtesy Michigan State University Museum.

MSU Museum Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage C. Kurt Dewhurst, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Cultural Specialist and Curator Diana Baird N'Diaye, and MSU Museum Curator of Folk Arts Marsha MacDowell have joined together to write an article for Curator: The Museum Journal's latest issue. The article in entitled "Cultivating Connectivity: Folklife and Inclusive Excellence in Museums" Read the abstract below:

"Today there is a growing global awareness of the need to address issues related to the safeguarding and use of both tangible and intangible heritage. By engaging with communities in the documentation of local cultures—especially their folklife, or in other words, their traditional intangible cultural heritage—museums can create collections that will serve as foundations for museum research, exhibitions, and programs that have more resonance with and relevance for those communities. Interactions of these kinds—in particular those of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Michigan State University Museum, home of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program, as well as collaborations between the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Great Lakes Folk Festival, and other programs around the world—have served as important platforms for public discourse about a variety of issues and have produced programs and exhibitions both at home and around the world."

Click here to read the full article

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Questing With Alan Lomax

“What a place Traverse City is a-coming to be!” Retired lumberjack Lester Wells once sang these words while sitting with his aging buddies in Lautner’s Place (now Union Street Station—still a bar with live music!) in downtown Traverse City. Folklorist Alan Lomax recorded the song by cutting a 12-inch disc on the spot with his Presto Instantaneous Disk Recorder. The year was 1938, and Lomax—then a 23-year-old Assistant in Charge at the Archive of Folk-Song―was in the midst of a 10-week folk music collecting trip of the “Lakes States,” gathering examples of Michigan’s rich trove of traditional song to enrich the Archive’s holdings at the Library of Congress.

Seventy-five years later, a new generation has discovered Lomax’s recordings and made them their own. The Quest—A Celebration of Community, was an innovative after-school arts program serving seven underserved northwest lower Michigan schools that culminated in a grand finale concert May 9, 2014. The finale took place in front of several hundred friends, family and community members in the historic Traverse City Opera House, located just around the corner from where Lomax made his 1938 Traverse City recordings.

“Traverse Town,” 2014 version, performed at the Quest finale, Traverse City Opera
House, May 9, 2014, featuring student songs and artwork backdrops.
Photo by Laurie Kay Sommers.


This video promo for the Quest was produced, filmed, and edited by Earthwork Music Collective member John Hanson, who also was one of the musicians who worked on the project. The soundtrack includes two songs developed by participating students: “Little Sleeping Bear,” inspired by the Anishinaabeg origin story of Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Manitou Islands; and “Traverse Town,” inspired by Lester Wells’ 1938 recording of a song of the same title. Used with permission.

The project’s press release describes the Quest as “a collaborative production inspired by Alan Lomax’s 1938 Michigan folksong recordings. Throughout the spring, middle and high school students from Benzie Central, Brethren, Forest Area, Frankfort, Kalkaska, Manistee, and Suttons Bay Schools have been preparing for the performance by studying local history, exploring personal journeys, learning songs from the Lomax archives, and writing new material for the concert production.”

Seth Bernard, co-founder of the Earthwork Music Collective and with Josh Davis, co-director of the Quest, explained, “What’s been coming out is music that is true to the times that we live in and also dips into the rich, local cultural heritage.” Bernard selected 15 Lomax Michigan recordings as springboards for collaborative songwriting. He chose songs that represented the geography of Lomax’s journey across Michigan—from Detroit to the western U.P.—and that had connections to the students’ home area.

Quest co-director Seth Bernard, center, performs with students during the Quest finale.
Photo courtesy of SEEDS/Earthwork Music, 2014.
In the hands of Seth and the eleven other Earthwork musicians who worked with the students, Lomax’s aging recordings inspired collaborative songwriting and the creative process. The musician-educators infused the students with excitement about the mystique of working with a collection that, since it was not yet online and widely available, few people had heard. “It’s like receiving a transmission from someone who was in Michigan years ago, right there in their community,” Seth explained. “And this legend, Alan Lomax, made it possible to participate in the creative process in a new way.”

Alan Lomax returned to Traverse City in more ways than one! Throughout the performance, 
the audience heard a sampling of the 1938 Lomax recordings that inspired the student work, 
listened to the “voice” of Lomax explaining his impressions of Michigan, and watched as three
 students manipulated a life-size paper mache Lomax puppet, created under the guidance of 
puppeteers from Blackbird Arts. 
Photo courtesy of SEEDS and Earthwork Music, 2014.
Listen to “Alan Lomax,” as read by Josh Davis, during the Quest Finale.

The Quest emerged from a remarkable synergy of timing and organizations. SEEDS—a Traverse City non-profit—was in the final stages of a 21st Century Learning Center grant to provide experiential after-school arts and academic enrichment opportunities for underserved youth, in collaboration with Earthwork Music and Blackbird Arts. Seth Bernard and SEEDS executive director Sarna Salzman were brainstorming about creating something wonderful for their last semester of funding.

Enter Todd Harvey, curator of the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress and AFC’s Michigan 1938 Project to digitize Lomax’s Michigan field recordings. The Library hoped that these Michigan materials would inspire new models for making archival holdings accessible and interesting new audiences, including young people. Through family connections, Todd had learned about the work of the Earthwork Music Collective in the Traverse City area, a group of Michigan musicians that believes in the intrinsic and historical power of music to raise both community and self-awareness and serves to facilitate and encourage original music in the state of Michigan and beyond. Todd reached out to Seth about the Lomax Michigan materials at just the right time, offering to make the digitized recordings available prior to their planned public launch on the Library of Congress web site. Seth knew that the Lomax Michigan Collection could form the basis for an amazing quest that would explore musicking, place, personal journeys, creativity, and collaboration.

Earthwork musician-educator Sam Cooper (black hat) works on collaborative
songwriting with students from Brethren.
Photo courtesy of SEEDS and Earthwork Music, 2014.
The Quest unfolded over four-months, fostering a deep and rich integrated arts-learning experience for participants. It had already been a special year for re-introducing Michiganders to the 1938 Lomax recordings. I had been organizing a series of multimedia performance events titled Folksongs from Michigan-i-o, funded by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, that featured highlights of Lomax’s 1938 audio and video with live music. The performance events were timed to coincide with a traveling exhibition—Michigan Folksong Legacy: Grand Discoveries from the Great Depression—all of which toured to locations in or near where Lomax actually recorded 75 years ago. Everywhere the program went, people were enthusiastic.

Great Lakes ballad interpreter, Lee Murdock, performs as part of Folksongs from Michigan-i-o
at the St. Ignace Public Library, with banners from the Michigan Folksong Legacy exhibit as a backdrop.
Photo by Laurie Kay Sommers, 2014.

At every location, someone whose family had been recorded by Lomax showed up. In Traverse City, we sold out Milliken Auditorium at the Dennos Museum Center. But there, as elsewhere, the audience was older, comprised of those who remembered Lomax. There was scarcely a middle or high school student among them. The Quest changed all that. On that magical May evening, I watched as young people re-invented Lomax and the songs he recorded. Seth described the new songs as “a combination of original songs, inspired by our home places, and re-writes of old folk songs from the Lomax Michigan treasure trove, a truly magnificent collection.” I found myself on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear what came next.

Students from Kalkaska celebrated place in “Kalkaska is Awesome.” The song opened with a
chorus based on the “come all ye” formulaic opening of many traditional ballads recorded
 by Lomax in 1938: “Hey, everybody, come on along, Kalkaska is awesome, we can tell you in song!”
Photo courtesy of SEEDS and Earthwork Music, 2014.
All the songs were terrific, but I’ll highlight three of my favorites. “The Presto Machine,” performed by Forest Area Schools, is a rock anthem of Lomax’s Michigan journey. Each of the three verses evokes a song Lomax recorded in 1938: the lumberjack ballad “Once More a-Lumbering Go”, sung by Carl Lathrup of St. Louis, Michigan; the hobo song “We’d Rather Be a Couple of Bums,” sung by Mason Parmer of Newberry; and the Great Lakes disaster ballad “The Gallagher Boys,” about a shipwreck that occurred between Traverse City and Beaver Island in 1873, sung by Dominick Gallagher of Beaver Island.

Lyrics to “The Presto Machine”
Listen to “The Presto Machine.”

“Hoedown Showdown (Sissy Walking in Brethren)” was inspired by the 1938 Lomax recording of Archie Stice singing the lumberjack ballad “Wild Mustard River.” Earthwork musician-educator Sam Cooper worked with students from Brethren Schools on creating this song. In her blog, Cooper wrote, “It's a rather gruesome lumbering song that memorializes the young Johnny Styles, who catches his foot in a log jam and meets his end under the rushing river. So, we changed up the meter of the song and sang about life near the Tippy Dam [on the nearby Manistee River] as the kids have (or would like to) experience it.”

Watch students from Brethren Schools, Manistee County, perform “Hoedown Showdown” (Sissy Walking in Brethren). The excerpt includes a clip from “Wild Mustard River” that provided source material for the students’ songwriting, and Seth Bernard explaining some of the process. Video by Laurie Kay Sommers.

Finally, there is “Comb the Whole World Over (Michigan I Call My Home).” Musicians Ben Cohen and Akile Jackson used their mobile beat lab to facilitate hip hop empowerments with students. Undergirding “Comb the Whole World Over” is a sampled track that includes sound bytes from 1938, including Lomax’s voice identifying one of his recordings as “2266 B1 and 2” and an excerpt of Carl Lathrup’s rendition of “Once More A-Lumbering Go.” “Once More A-Lumbering Go” also inspired the 2014 version of the chorus, which morphed original lyrics—“I’ve roamed the wildwoods over, and once more a-lumbering go”—into “I’ve combed the whole world over, Michigan I love the most.” Students also wrote original rap lyrics about Michigan as “home.”

Comb the Whole World lyrics

Listen to Forest Area students perform “Comb the Whole World Over (Michigan I Call My Home)”

As director for the Michigan Lomax Legacy Project at the Michigan State University Museum, I recorded the Quest final concert for the MSU Museum’s Cultural Collections. I wouldn’t have missed it! After the dress rehearsal, I told the more than 50 participating students that, like Lomax, I had made a career by documenting and collecting folk music. I explained that I was there to record them, so that perhaps some day someone would sing and be inspired by their songs, just as they were inspired by the songs Lomax collected. Everyone cheered.

Combined schools engage the audience at the Quest Finale, 2014. 
Photo by Laurie Kay Sommers.
Since learning about the Quest, I’ve found myself wondering what Alan Lomax would have thought of all this. My guess is that he, too, would have loved it. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! (Although someone might have needed to explain “Sissy Walking” ...)
Perhaps the pre-chorus to “The Presto Machine” best captures the essence of both this amazing project and the 1938 recording expedition that inspired it:

”Everyone has a story, Made into song. And they’ll live on.”

Written by Laurie Kay Sommers in conjunction with the Michigan Traditional Arts Program, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Friday, October 17, 2014

NEA Artworks Podcast Features Yvonne Walker Keshick

In June, we wrote about Michigan native artist Yvonne Walker Keshick's appointment as a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow. This month, the NEA podcast, Artworks, featured her work further. Keshick sat down to discuss her artistic origins, family history, and the logistics of quillwork.

To Our Sisters quillwork box, Yvonne Walker Keshick, 1994
Yvonne Walker Keshick is the first Michigan tradition-bearer to be recognized with the NEA National Heritage Fellowship since Nadim Dlaikan in 2002, Lebanese-American nye (reed flute) musician. Keshick, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa, is one of the finest quillwork artists in North America. She is a 1992 recipient of a Michigan Heritage Award (MHA) from the MSU Museum, the state’s highest honor for tradition-bearers who sustain cultural practices with excellence and authenticity.

The podcast is available for streaming on the NEA website here, or download the podcast by clicking here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program

It's that time of year again! The Michigan Traditional Arts Program (MTAP) of the MSU Museum is accepting applications for the 2015 Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in receiving a $2000 grant to learn a traditional art form, consider applying! The includes, but is not limited to, traditional dance, music, foodways, arts (ceramics, basket weaving, carving, textiles, etc.), storytelling, and more of any culture represented in the state of Michigan. Masters artists, if you have student that you are already working with ,this is a great way to subsidize that partnership and share your art form. Apprentices, if you have been meaning to pair with a master artist of your choosing to learn a traditional art, now is the time!

The requirements are as follows:
  1. Must be available from February-August of 2015 to meet with your master artist/apprentice
  2. The master artist must be a current resident of the state of Michigan
  3. The master artist must be recognized by their community as a master of their art form
  4. Application must be completed and submitted by December 1, 2014.
There are no requirements as to the frequency of your meetings or the number of hours spent. The aim is to have the time spent be equivalent to meeting approximately once per week.

All you need to apply is a completed application, letters of recommendation in support of the partnership, and a few samples of work. Some examples of this could include audio CDs, photographs, or YouTube videos.

For examples of past apprenticeships, click here.
For more information, view our press release here.

Here is a short video from 2013 and 2014 master artist Patricia Shackleton:

For more information, email Micah Ling, MTAP Assistant,
(micah.j.ling@gmail.com) or Marsha MacDowell, Program Director (macdowel@msu.edu).

We look forward to receiving your applications!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Suzanne Cross "Healing Through Culture and Art" Exhibition, Nov. 4, 2014- Feb. 28, 2015.

An upcoming exhibit at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishnabe Culture & Lifeways highlights the work of shawls created by a Michigan artist and scholar. Dr. Suzanne Cross, a retired MSU College of Social Science faculty member and a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Indian, is an artist who was a master artist of beadwork and other components of traditional dance regalia. As a survivor of a heart attack (cardiac incident) and open heart surgery, Cross created 13 shawls in recognition of the 13 moons from the Creation Story. Her "Healing Through Culture and Art Shawl" Collection is in support of American Indian Women’s Heart Health Awareness. The shawls were "created with a cultural approach to increase awareness and emphasize cardiac health and care." Cross is hopeful the collection will inform, support, and encourage mindfulness of self-care to increase heart health, and thus improve overall health.

Dr. Cross was also a 2011 master artist in the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (MTAAP) led by the Michigan Traditional Arts Program of the Michigan State University Museum. The MTAAP program is funded by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Tale of Two (Michigan) Fiddlers

When I first met Trae McMaken a year ago, I hadn’t interviewed a Michigan fiddler in fifteen years. The fiddler whose career and repertoire I knew best, Beaver Island’s Patrick Bonner, was a man I had never met. Bonner died in 1973, well before I began to explore the richness of Michigan’s cultural landscape as a folklorist and ethnomusicologist. Later I came to know Bonner through a remarkable body of field recordings by twentieth-century folklorists Ivan Walton (University of Michigan) and Alan Lomax, who, when he came to Beaver Island in 1938, was a young Assistant in Charge for the Archive of Folk-Song at the Library of Congress.

Beaver Island fiddler Patrick Bonner, pictured here in the 1950s, was first recorded by folklorists Ivan Walton and Alan Lomax in 1938. Photo courtesy of Beaver Island Historical Society.
Michigan, of course, has its share of living fiddlers who play in many styles. Lately, I just hadn’t had the good fortune to work with them. This changed when I met Trae McMaken―a gifted young musician in his twenties who is passionate about playing and documenting Michigan fiddling, with a goal of inspiring younger generations to embrace and continue the state’s fiddling heritage. (See Trae’s website, michiganfiddle.com.)

Trae McMaken plays a few tunes.
Photo by Laurie Sommers.
Trae was raised in rural China Township, in St. Clair County along the St. Clair River, and grew up a musical family that specialized in gospel music. He was first exposed to fiddle at age 7 or 8 through family friends and was immediately captivated by the instrument. But unlike Bonner—who grew up on a close-knit island of fiddlers playing community dances, picnics, weddings, and house parties—Trae had no local fiddlers as mentors. He learned the fundamentals of violin through private teachers. His real introduction to the fiddling community came at age 13 when he first attended Celtic College in Goderich, Ontario. There he participated in workshops by prominent Celtic fiddlers from Ireland, Scotland, France, and Canada. While the workshops were instructive, it was the after-hours jam sessions in local pubs—where fiddlers informally shared tunes and techniques―that were the best teachers.

Meet and Hear Fiddler Trae McMaken


Patrick Bonner, by contrast, didn’t have to travel very far to hear his own community’s “Celtic” tradition. The son of an Irish immigrant, he was born in 1882 on “America’s Arranmore,” the nickname for Beaver Island that references the small island off the coast of Donegal, Ireland, that was home for most of Beaver Island’s early Irish settlers. Pat got his first fiddle at age 12, but he already knew many tunes by listening to the island's older generation of Irish-born fiddlers. In his youth, Pat only needed to hear a tune once to learn it. On Beaver Island during Bonner's boyhood, house parties and community gatherings featured dancing, fiddling, ballad singing, and storytelling, all liberally laced with drink.

Click here to listen to Pat Bonner performing “Black Tar on a Stick” (Blackthorn Stick) and “Up and Down the Broom,” two Irish reels recorded by Alan Lomax on Beaver Island, 1938, courtesy of the American Folklife Center/Library of Congress.

My initial impression upon meeting Trae was how far removed his story seemed from Bonner’s and those of other elderly fiddlers I had researched throughout my career. Like others of his generation, Trae’s musical world is profoundly shaped by the Internet—a global jukebox at his fingertips. The marketing, networking, and tune sharing reach of the Web would have exceeded Pat Bonner’s wildest dreams.

Trae has described himself as “multilingual on fiddle early on.” Pat remained a Beaver Islander all his life, but his musical influences were far more diverse than the house parties of home. Although geographically isolated, the island was linked culturally to mainstream tradition through records, radio, sheet music, and the comings and goings of islanders and visitors. Pat’s record collection was an eclectic mix of Irish music hall tunes, Yiddish theater, gypsy melodies, Stephen Foster, Tin Pan Alley, and more. Pat didn’t play all these tunes, but his repertoire included far more than the Irish jigs and reels of his forebears. He learned a number of tunes and ballads first-hand during his time working as a lumberjack and schoonerman, where men from varied ethnic backgrounds entertained each another.

Click here to listen to the well-known American fiddle tune “Arkansas Traveler,” with fiddler Patrick Bonner. Recorded by Ivan Walton on Beaver Island in 1952, part of the Ivan Walton Collection at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, and included on the CD accompanying Beaver Island House Party (Michigan State University Press, 1996).

The tale of these two fiddlers merges through the work of folklorists. Patrick Bonner would likely be largely forgotten, save for the recordings made by Ivan Walton and Alan Lomax, the earliest dating to August 1938. Walton made the music and lore of Great Lakes sailors his life's work, and continued to record Bonner through 1960. His remarkable collection is housed at the Bentley Historical Library (University of Michigan), with a copy at the Cultural Collections of the Michigan State University Museum. Lomax ensured that his 1938 recordings of Bonner were preserved in the Library of Congress. Decades later, a few of Bonner’s tunes were included in folklorist Alan Jabbour's 1976 documentary recording, American Fiddle Tunes. Enter Trae McMaken, who was beginning to explore the fiddle traditions of his home state. Jabbour's inclusion of Bonner on American Fiddle Tunes led Trae to Beaver Island, where Trae is becoming part of Beaver Island tradition himself. In addition to performing with musicians currently active on the island, Trae just this month completed his third season as artist in residence teaching Irish fiddle workshops to youngsters at the Eve Glen McDonough Folk School on Beaver Island. Included in the student play-list was one of Pat Bonner’s Irish-origin tunes.

The tale of two fiddlers comes full circle.

Written by Laurie Kay Sommers in conjunction with the Michigan Traditional Arts Program of the MSU Museum.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Earthwork Harvest Gathering

 This coming weekend, musicians and laypeople alike will gather at the beautiful Earthwork Farm in Lake City, Michigan, for the Earthwork Harvest Gathering. This festival attracts around 2000 people and is put on by the Earthwork Music Collective, a name some of you may recognize from their involvement with the Alan Lomax QUEST project and the Great Lakes Folk Festival.

This festival, September 19-21, boasts over 100 bands, 4 stages, food vendors, craft vendors, a school bus converted into a vintage clothing store, wandering peacocks, and much more. There will be square dancing (hosted by 2013 GLFF performers Bowhunter), a waltz hour (led by 2014 GLFF performer Bob Bernard and his waltz posse), a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, kids' activities, and plenty of fun to be had.

Here is a little piece I wrote last year on the Earthwork blog in preparation for the 2013 festival. some of the dates and times are now invalid, but the main ideas still hold up!
The festival can always use more volunteers! Signup here to be a part of the team and reduce your ticket price!

See you there!

Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 Fall Barn Tour

From the Michigan Barn Preservation Network, information about their Fall Barn Tour:

Fall Barn Tour
The Michigan Thumb Area

Saturday, October 11, 2014

This year we are highlighting Michigan's thumb area - especially Tuscola County. We currently have five barns set to tour. This year we will have a self-drive tour, as the barns all have unique specialties, and participants may want to linger at a particular site because of personal interests. We will begin the day at the Mayville Historical Museum. There will be light refreshments, and a chance to look at the museum while folks come in to register. The cost will be $15/adult and $5/child, 12 years of age and under.  After a brief discussion about Michigan's thumb area and rules of the day, maps will be handed out as well as information about each barn and a registration sign for your car, identifying you as part of the tour.  Points of interest will also be highlighted. Lunch will be on your own.  We hope for a beautiful day - the fall colors should be at their peak!

If these outstanding barns aren't enough to whet your appetite, October 11th is also the kick-off for the Thumb Quilt Trail. Structures with large quilt block patterns painted on them will be identified on a map given out that day. These are to be enjoyed from your vehicle, as a drive-by part of the tour. This year's Fall Tour will be a full day of beautiful barns, unique stops and country driving. For those of you coming from urban areas, the biggest traffic jams we have up here is the occasional combine on the road! We hope to have a full sign-up, so register early. See you on October 11th

For questions contact Kathy Thomas at 248-881-4086.  For complete details and registration visit the MBPN website.

Gagetown, Michigan, Octagon Barn