Petoskey’s Crooked Tree Arts Center (CTAC) and Blissfest collaborate to present “Live from Crooked Tree,” a fundraiser for pandemic musician relief.

On Thursday, March 25, from 7–10 p.m., Crooked Tree Arts Center and Blissfest Music Organization will present “Live from Crooked Tree,” a live-stream collaboration as part of the Michigan Music Alliance’s “Spread the Music 2021” fundraiser for pandemic musician relief.

For nearly 30 years, CTAC and Blissfest have been working together to support local musicians and to provide enriching arts opportunities for our community. This collaboration will provide promotion, video and technical support for our local musicians to connect to a statewide audience live-streamed from CTAC’s theater.

The CTAC theater has been home to Blissfest’s seasonal concert series for many years,” says Cindy McSurely, executive director of Blissfest Music Organization. “The touring artists always comment on the beauty of the stained glass and the intimate setting. There are pictures throughout the years of musicians performing on Little Traverse Civic Theater sets, too, which is a wonderful example of the collaborative nature of the arts organizations in our area.”

“Live from Crooked Tree” is part of a four-day event hosted by local nonprofit the Michigan Music Alliance (MMA). From March 24–28, the MMA will host a 200-act virtual festival to support the Michigan Artist Relief Fund. Last year, the MMA raised more than $40,000 during the statewide shutdown, and this year, they hope to double the funds raised to continue providing microgrants to artists in need.

“During the pandemic, we were exploring ways Blissfest and CTAC could collaborate and present a live-stream from the theater. The Spread the Music Festival was the perfect fit. We both present and hire musicians from our region, and think it’s important to show our support for Michigan musicians and the Michigan Artist Relief Fund,” McSurely adds.

The pandemic inordinately impacted artists, musicians and creators whose livelihoods rely on live performance revenue; the MMA’s mission is to reinvigorate the Michigan music community leading up to the summer festival season. The MMA will live-stream the showcase of emerging and well-known Michigan musicians on Facebook Live, using Facebook’s fundraising component.

“The CTAC theater has been empty for over a year, and we are ready to safely welcome local musicians back to our stage,” says Megan DeWindt, CTAC President. “We’re thrilled to be joining forces with Blissfest Music Organization to make this event possible.”  

Local musician Mark Blaauw-Hara is set to open and emcee the March 25 event at CTAC. The event’s lineup includes 20-minute sets by the following Michigan musicians: Charlie Millard, Elizabeth Landry, Bruce Smith, Robin Lee Berry, Sean Miller, Caroline Barlow and Holly Keller-Thompson. “Live from Crooked Tree” will conclude with a rip-roaring 30-minute set with the Distant Stars.