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Music in the mountains

August 23, 2012
By ZACH KUKKONEN - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS STATE PARK - Outdoor music lovers can rejoice as the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival returns this weekend for the eighth year.

Featuring 26 different acts and a wide range of musical genres, the festival boasts of a scenic view along with quality music.

"I think this is my fifth festival," Charlie Parr, one of the acts playing both stages this weekend, said in a phone interview. "I love it; every year I come back I'm as happy as can be."

Three artists "headline" the festival. The Holmes Brothers, who blend blues, gospel, soul, R&B, rock and country with their three-part harmonies will finish off Friday night at 8:30. The trio has shared stages and recordings with Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Peter Gabriel and others.

Fred Eaglesmith's Traveling Steam Show will take the stage last on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Eaglesmith, a veteran singer-songwriter, just released his 19th album and has been an acclaimed and accomplished independent artist since his first album in 1980. The band will also play Friday afternoon at 2.

Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams will be the final act of the 2012 festival on Sunday, and are one of the more popular recurring acts of the festival. Known as the "Hillbilly Pink Floyd," the band's high-energy live show keeps crowds coming back, and will play at 5:45 p.m. Sunday and 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Parr is also a favorite, as he keeps coming back to the state park.

"I love the setting, and I love this part of the country a lot," Parr said. "Being able to play music outside makes me happy, the park is fantastic and the people that organize the festival are really, really good folks."

Parr will bring his unique style of folk, banjo and guitars to the festival for two shows: at 7:45 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday. He enjoys the freedom playing multiple shows gives him.

"I can play more songs, for one, and it's fun to try out some new stuff," Parr said. "I've learned a bunch of pre-war gospel hymns to try out."

Parr is also in the midst of recording an album, and will try out some of the new material Saturday and Sunday. He also takes the time to check out other artists.

"I've always made it a point to see the music," Parr said. "There's always good stuff to see."

Some of the other bands featured at the festival are Upper Peninsula favorites Seth Bernard and May Erlewine, Harper and Midwest Kind, John Gorka, The Ragbirds, Flat Broke Blues Band, West of East and locals Yvonne Blake and Jim Jessup. There are multiple stages: the Peace Hill stage, the Singing Hills stage, a "busking barn" for open jam sessions and a stage in the chalet for musical collaborations and artists' workshops.

Tickets are $90 for a three-day pass and $35 for a single-day pass. For a full schedule of events, ticket information or directions, go to or call 1-800-344-5355.

The Porcupine Mountains Music Festival is presented by Friends of the Porkies, a nonprofit corporation aimed to help preserve the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.



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