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Zach of All Trades/Zach Kukkonen

No shortage of music in the Keweenaw

August 25, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

When I moved here four years ago, I'll admit I was a little worried about the amount of musical entertainment up here.

After living in Madison, Wis., and Minneapolis, I could usually count on the bands I adored making the rounds to my neck of the woods at least once during their tours. I feared that my thirst for concerts would go unquenched in the Copper Country.

Yet as I have discovered, while the big-namers may not always make their way up here, there are several concert opportunities I've found I probably would not have experienced elsewhere.

For instance, I had never even heard of Jeff Daniels having a music career, yet after seeing him twice, I cannot wait to see him a third time in concert. Both evenings were ridiculously entertaining and there would've been no better way to spend either night.

This year's "An Evening with Jeff Daniels" also brought amazingly talented mandolinist Brad Phillips, who received multiple mid-song bouts of applause, as well as The Verve Pipe lead singer Brian Vander Ark. I was not expecting anything out of Vander Ark, but he blew me away with his solo stuff. One of his songs actually brought tears to multiple audience members' eyes, and he sings like a perfect mix of Ellis Paul and Glen Hansard (the Irish singer from "Once").

Seeing The Blanks at the Rozsa Center a few years ago was also a completely unique experience. A concert by The Blanks - who are an a cappella band featured heavily in one of my all-time favorite shows, "Scrubs" - likely would have slipped under my radar anywhere else, and I would have missed a fantastic show, as well as a flood of happy memories anytime I see them in "Scrubs" syndication.

The myriad of music festivals here fulfill most music lovers' desires as well. Pine Mountain Music Festival provides classical and opera fans a haven, the Porcupine Mountain Music Festival gives most folk/country fans their fix and the summer series' in Daniell Park, downtown Houghton and Hancock bring a wide variety of genres to the forefront.

So to those who say there's little in the way of entertainment up here, you're just not looking hard enough. Besides, I can always road trip if I really need to see Guster and Jack's Mannequin's current tour.

Zach Kukkonen can be reached at



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