2008-08-16 / Top News

Mitch Ryder To Headline Island Music Festival

By Allison Levy

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, plus bands from as far as Texas and Colorado will participate in this year's Mackinac Island Music Festival to be held Tuesday, August 19, through Thursday, August 21. More than 15 acts will be involved at various locations, with genres ranging from Celtic to classical, folk to hard rock.

"We didn't want the festival to attract only one type of listener," said Becki Barnwell, president of the Mackinac Arts Council, which sponsors the festival. She expects a large turnout.

Born and reared in Hamtramck, Mitch Ryder rose to popularity in the 1960s with hits like "Jenny Take A Ride" and "Devil With a Blue Dress On." He has continued to record more than two dozen solo and group albums, imbuing each track with his self-described signature "blend of rock and rhythm."

He has visited the Island three times before and says he loves the unspoiled beauty of the Island. He has performed twice here, both times at Grand Hotel.

"It's one of the most beautiful places in our state," Mr. Ryder said of Mackinac Island. "I love the warm days and the crisp nights. I know what I have to do when I get on stage, but I'm looking forward to taking a bike out or going for the walk during the free time I have."

Five members of Mr. Ryder's band will join him on the Island, all of them "young, motivated, and excited players." They include Patrick Harwood on keyboard, Bryan Lourd and Chris Brently on guitar, Shawn Banderaff on bass, and Jerome Day on drums.

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels will perform with Switchback, a Celtic folk band from Chicago, Wednesday, August 20, at the Mission Point Theater beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 in advance and $35 at the door. Children under 12 are free.

The festival will also provide many opportunities for those less interested in rock and roll to come out and enjoy the music. One such opportunity comes from the young band Elephant Revival of Nederland, Colorado, which, according to band member Dan Rose, plays "transcendental folk music, crossing traditional genre lines."

Elephant Revival exemplifies the festival's goal of a diverse line-up. Mr. Rose and his fellow band members Daniel Rodriguez, Bridget Law, Sage T. Cook, and Bonnie Paine all contribute something unique to the band's sound, creating what Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau Director Mary McGuire Slevin describes as "Alison Krauss singing with the Grateful Dead."

"All the members of our band come from different backgrounds," Mr. Rose said. As a result, the band's eclectic sound appeals to all different types of listeners. "We can play for a group of college kids and then for a group of old hippies and it works," he explained.

Elephant Revival also looks forward to spending some time relaxing on Mackinac.

"We've spent our whole summer in a tour bus, going from Seattle to Bloomington, Indiana," Mr. Rose explained. "We're excited to play some great music, embrace the community, relax, and enjoy the Island away from all the cars."

Elephant Revival, joined by Texas singer and songwriter Colin Gilmore, will perform Tuesday, August 19, at 7:30 at the Mission Point Theater. Tickets cost $10 each, or $25 for four.

In addition to these bands, the festival will feature the Petoskey Steel Drum Band, Alex Graham and the Grand Hotel Orchestra, Chordiology Barbershop Quartet, festival veterans the Forbes Brothers, and more.

"I think everyone will find something they'll want to attend," Ms. Barnwell said. "We're hoping for a good turnout."

The festival will include two book signings at the Island Bookstore. Judy Davis, author of "Rock Star Mommy, My Life as a Rocker Mom," will sign her book Tuesday, August 19, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Jim Mitchell, author of the Mitch Ryder biography, "It Was All Right: Mitch Ryder's Life in Music," will sign his book Wednesday, August 20, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Mark Arminski, award-winning artist who designs the Music Festival posters, will have his works displayed at Horn's Gaslight Bar Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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