Musicians To Entertain at Multiple Venues for Next Week’s Festival
The eighth annual Mackinac Island Music Festival begins Tuesday, August 14, a threeday celebration of musical talent throughout the city. Multiple venues around town will feature artists playing folk, rock, country, blues, hip-hop, jazz, and classical music.
“To me, it’s important to feature a wide variety of musical styles,” said festival organizer Mary Slevin of the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, herself a musician. “It’s also important to feature musicians from a wide variety of age groups so that we illustrate that being a musician is a career that is a lifetime commitment.”
“Mackinac Island is a unique location for a music festival,” Ms. Slevin explained. “All the musicians stay here, hang out, and jam with one another. In most towns, they drive home after the show and that’s that. Because we all stay here, we bond, create new bands, and the concert-goers get to be up close and personal with all of the musicians in all of the venues. That’s something you don’t get in other places.”
The festival begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday with the Art of Rock at Mary’s Bistro. Attendants can meet artist Mark Arminski, who will be signing the poster he designed for this year’s festival, as well as see a performance by Audra Kubat, who won the 2000 Detroit Music Award for Best Folk Artist, and was nominated for four others.
At 10 p.m. Tuesday, The Gate House will hold Jazz and Wine Night, featuring music from Grand Hotel’s jazz musicians. These artists spend their summers playing at Grand Hotel, while spending the rest of the year performing in Chicago, Detroit, and New York City, as well as working as college music teachers and professors.
At noon Wednesday, August 15, Grand Hotel harpist Claire Happel and bassist Philip Alejo will play chamber music from Spain and Latin America at Ste. Anne’s Church. Ms. Happel, a Fulbright scholar who studied music at Yale University and the University of Illinois, as well as in the Czech Republic and privately with Chicago Symphony Orchestra harpist Sarah Bullen, has performed at Chicago’s Symphony Center and for the Troutman Series in New York City. She has also played with a number of contemporary music ensembles and has received both the City of Chicago CAAP Grant and the Wicker Park Bucktown Community Grant for her efforts.
Mr. Alejo, who holds music degrees from Oberlin College, Yale University, and the University of Michigan, currently plays as the associate bass for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra in Davenport, Iowa. He has performed at summer music festivals across the country and around the world, including in Charleston, South Carolina, Lucerne, Switzerland, Aldeburgh, England, Sapporo, Japan, and Aspen, Colorado. He also served as visiting professor of double bass at the University of Michigan last fall.
At 3 p.m. Wednesday, Starlifter, the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America’s seven-piece group, will perform at the Ice House outside of the Island House Hotel. The band, which takes its name from the C-141 Starlifter transport jet, plays popular music from the 1970s through today.
Duo Billy Brandt and Sarana VerLin will play at the Pink Pony Patio behind the Chippewa Hotel from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Mr. Brandt has won multiple Detroit Music Awards and performs more than 300 shows every year. Likewise, Ms. VerLin holds a place in the Detroit Metro Times Music Hall of Fame. She has been playing since she was 10 years old and performing since she was 12, and in the last decade has played throughout the United States, Great Britain, and Canada.
Wednesday night, Dick Siegel and the Brandos will perform at Mission Point Theatre alongside Audra Kubat and Mackinac Island musician Adrienne Rilenge at 8 p.m. Michigan native Mr. Siegel and his bandmates, upright bassist Dave Roof and guitarist Brian Delaney, play a mix of modern folk, roots, and jazz music. Ms. Rilenge plays piano, guitar, and ukulele. This show costs $10 per person.
Wednesday’s festivities will come to a close with the Booty Night Extravaganza at Horn’s Gaslight Bar at 10 p.m. This event unites three disc jockeys, DJ Brevin of Mackinac Island, DJ Rock City of Chicago, Illinois, and DJ Psycho of Flint, for a night of dance, trance, and hip-hop music. DJ Brevin, in addition to his regular Mackinac Island appearances, has also worked for Kid Rock, Tito Bacardi, Tom Izzo, and others. The event will cost $10 per person.
The final day of the festival, Thursday, August 16, begins at noon with the Generation Next BBQ Shindig at the Harbour View Inn, featuring performances from Adrienne Rilenge, Jane Finkel, and Graham Young. Jane Finkel studies music at Albion College, and Graham Young at Columbia College in Chicago.
At 3 p.m. Thursday the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America’s Starlifter group will perform again at the Ice House. Billy Brandt and Sarana VerLin will also play another show at the Pink Pony from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
At 4 p.m. Thursday, Roger Humphrey will play Baroquestyle guitar at Mackinac Island Public Library. Mr. Humphrey began playing guitar at the age of 10 in 1958. He has since served on the music faculties of Olivet College, Marshall’s School of Music, Lansing Community College, Kellogg Community College, Alma College, and Michigan State University. He is the author of guitar method books for both adults and children, and has released four albums of his music.
Mission Point Theatre will host the Blood Sisters and Carolyn Striho at 8 p.m. Thursday. The Blood Sisters began when its members, then performing as individual artists, met at the 2009 Mackinac Island Music Festival and began playing together. The group, comprised of Barbara Payton, Mary McGuire, Michelle Chenard, Erik Gustafson, and Gary Rasmussen, plays classic rock-influenced music. Ms. Striho has won multiple Detroit Music Awards for her blending of pop, rock, jazz, folk, punk, and cabaret music, backed by guitarist Scott Dailey.
The final event of the festival will take place at 10 p.m. Thursday, as The Rise Band performs at the Pink Pony. Led by Pink Pony house musician Myk Rise, he and bandmates Bill Newland and Lance Larson will close out the festival with their own spins on classic artists.
“Mackinac is inspiring for the artists,” Ms. Slevin said, “and for a musician, that means everything.”