August and September are high times for prime music-going experiences in Northern Michigan. Musicians flood the scene and fill the summer air with the kind of volume that sinks you into a state of pure bliss. With a vast array of stand-out musical performances on the horizon, the time is now to strike that chord. Rediscover that feeling you get when you tune in for a show that feeds your soul. Here are 12 talented performers and bands about to pump some energy into the Northern Michigan music scene. Catch ’em while you can!
Luke Winslow King | A Cadillac native who spent time studying music at Interlochen Center for the Arts and collaborating with the Earthwork Music collective, King uprooted to New Orleans more than a decade ago to dive into the rich delta music scene. The accumulation of King’s studies and recording sessions with all star blues musicians shape how he melds pre-war blues, jazz, delta-folk, rock and ragtime. Fortunate for Michigan music-lovers, Luke Winslow King makes regular visits to the north. Catch Luke Winslow King live at Short’s Fest in Elk Rapids and at the Hoxeyville Music Festival.
The Avett Brothers | North Carolina brothers Scott and Seth Avett along with Bob Crawford, Joe Kwon, Mike Marsh and Paul DeFiglia combine bluegrass, indie rock, pop, folk and country for a mashup that’s taken them to the top of the Billboard charts. Enjoy your favorite Michigan craft brew as you soak up a performance by The Avett Brothers at this year’s Microbrew & Music Festival in Traverse City.
Joshua Davis | Where vintage American folk meets gritty rock, Joshua’s soulful songwriting engages the audience with the heartfelt sensibility of a storyteller and the expertise of a proven musician. Davis made waves in the national music scene when he finished third on the 2015 season of “The Voice”. Based in Traverse City, Davis makes regular appearances in Northern Michigan. See him live at the Joshua Davis Homecoming Concert hosted by Interlochen on August 13th, and at the Hoxeyville Music Festival.
Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers | Explosive, psychedelic folk-rock. Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers deliver performances fueled by feel-good vibes reminiscent of Motown and flecked with notes of funk and r&b. Their exuberant energy and eccentric wardrobes send the message that it’s all about fun and being yourself. See Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers at Short’s Fest in Elk Rapids.
Billy Strings & Don Julin | Hold on to your socks because this duo easily knocks them off with rollicking big-attitude bluegrass that’ll take you back in time to the rough-and-tumblin’ times of the Appalachian Mountains. These Michigan music mavens are known for their sweat-induced howlin’ performances you simply cannot sit still through. See Billy Strings & Don Julin live at Petoskey Festival on the Bay on August 14th, and at the Hoxeyville Music Festival.
The Go Rounds | Kalamazoo-based band, The Go Rounds light up the night with tunes that’ll lift you up. Drawing from baroque, folk, soul, and classic rock influences, the creative spirit behind this 4-piece band shines through for hand-clapping, boot-stompin’ performances. Don’t miss the premonition—wear your dancing shoes! Catch The Go Rounds at the Night of 100 Rieslings in Traverse City on July 26th, and at the Hoxeyville Music Festival.
The Cookies | Their collaborative synergy is contagious, and in just a couple short years of performing together, they’ve built up an impressive fan base. The Cookies pack a sucker-punch of electric energy on stage capturing the audience with performances steeped in pop-gold favorites ranging from Motown to MGMT. To put it simply—it’s impossible not to dance during a Cookies set. This fall, the Grayling and Gaylord based band is set to release their highly-anticipated first album. Catch The Cookies at Farmest taking place August 6th thru the 9th, at Petoskey Festival on the Bay on August 14th or find out when you can see them at Treetops Resort.
May Erlewine & The Moonlighters | Contemporary folk singer and soulful songwriter, Erlewine is notorious in the Northern Michigan music scene for not only her profound yet light-hearted sound but for how she inspires community engagement through the Earthwork Music Collective. Together with musicians Seth Bernard, Michael Shimmin, Max Lockwood, Brad Phillips and Levi Taylor, Erlewine & The Moonlighters weave folk, blues, rock and bluegrass into a musical fabric. See May & The Moonlighters at the Hoxeyville Music Festival on August 14th and 15th.
Greensky Bluegrass | This five-piece stringband made up of Anders Beck, Michael Arlen Bont, Dave Bruzza, Mike Devol and Paul Hoffman define a new dimension for bluegrass. Influenced by music mavens such as Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe, Greensky blends Americana with bluegrass and folk. Based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Greensky is known to have played 175 shows in one year! When it comes to great music, word of mouth travels fast. Experience Greensky Bluegrass at the Hoxeyville Music Festival on August 14th and 15th.
Seth Bernard | Inventive. Eclectic. Mindful. Bernard’s music invites the listener to take flight on an imaginative musical sojourn—one that visits genres such as psychedelic folk, and draws on inventive rock. Founder of the Earthwork Music Collective, Bernard’s creative musical career has been enriched by a network of luminous collaborators many of which are rooted in Michigan, including wife, May Erlewine and Joshua Davis. See Seth Bernard perform at the Hoxeyville Music Festival.
The Accidentals | The same year that musicians Katie Larson and Savannah Buist found a place in the Singer-songwriter Program at the Interlochen Center for the Arts was the same year they released their first self produced album Tangled Red and Blue. That was 2012. In the past couple of years this young duo has blazed a trail including opening gigs for Andrew Bird and Rodriguez. They were named one of the Top Seven Breakout Artists at SXSW 2015 by Billboard Magazine, and 15,000+ people voted them to the top as the Red Hot Best Local Band of Northern Michigan in the July 2015 issue of Traverse Magazine. See The Accidentals live at The Workshop Brewing Company in Traverse City on August 5th, at the Manitou Music Festival on August 9th, and at Petoskey Festival on the Bay on August 15th.
Oh Brother Big Sister | Knowing each other since day one shines through in the acoustic music of brother-sister duo Penny and Radel Rosin. Heartfelt and light-hearted harmonies make their music feel like you’re in the presence of old friends. See Oh Brother Big Sister at The Little Fleet on July 24th in Traverse City and at the Traverse City Film Festival on August 2nd.
Luke Winslow-King, Seth and May, Oh Brother Big Sister, and the Cookies will all be performing at Farmfest, too, which takes place August 6-9 in Johannesburg, MI. Those are just a few of the great acts in this year’s lineup. It’s definitely a can’t miss festival! Check the website for more info and to pre-order tickets. https://www.farm-fest.com