Check out the performers line up at the Thunder Bay Folk Festival! Incredible, and more to come.
2019 Thunder Bay Folk Fest - Alpena, Michigan
Main Stage Performers
This group was a really big hit at our 2018 festival so we’ve asked them back. Radio Free Honduras is the project of legendary Honduran musician Charlie Baran, formerly of Banda Blana. After working as a custodian to gain citizenship and bring his family to the states, Charlie is finally able to tell the story of Honduras’s mostly undocumented music culture. His vision is shared by Dan Abu-Absi, longtime guitarist for JT and the Clouds and Birds of Chicago, and a revolving collective of Chicago’s most talented musicians to bring Charlie’s story to the spotlight. The band just finished headlining the Tropic of Cancer Music Series and will be touring in support of their second LP due out this spring.
Some people might call May Erlewine “Michigan’s Songbird”, but her songs have traveled far beyond her home state. One of the most prolific and passionate songwriters of her generation, May’s music has touched the hearts of people all over the world. Her words have held solace for weary hearts, offered a light in the darkness and held a lot of space for the pain and joy of being alive in these times. When she starts to sing, there’s no way around it. Welcome to the moment, everyone.
Raised in a family rich with art and music, May began writing songs and playing them for the people at a very young age. Her journeys have taken her all over the world, from street corners to renowned stages, May has performed for all walks of life. In her travels Erlewine came to know the land and the pulse of the people. Her songs show a very real connection and concern with everyday folk.
“She's certainly not resting on her laurels here, Erlewine ought to hook anyone who's searching for something more out of their music.”
May pulls from a wide variety of sounds and influences to create her unique musical landscape. You’ll hear traditional folk roots, old time country swing, soul and rock and roll but mostly she’s inspired by the hearts of the people and the one in her chest. This music is about feeling and it’s about telling life’s stories.
From the humble beginnings of Alpena, Brant Losinski and his bandmates from across Michigan and Canada, have successfully married the elements of various American Roots musics into into a pure and powerful expression of dance-party inspired, musical revolution. More than anything, Rootstand wants to share the playful upliftment and joy of their music with friends and family everywhere. Rootstand's jams reach out and connect to listeners of any age or background. Blues, Bluegrass, Reggae, Punk, and Irish pub jams blend seamlessly into an exciting and wild ride of a show. Don't spill your drink dancing too hard!
Polka Riot was a big favorite last year and they are coming back - so wear your dancing shoes! This is a group from the Frankenmuth and mid-Michigan area formed in 2009. They’ve been playing festivals, wedding, parties, taverns, and even a garage or two ever since. In their own words, “We are a group of God-fearing, America loving, fun-seeking friends who love to bring our unique American Style polkas and waltzes to the stage.“
The original kings of crabgrass, Black Jake and the Carnies play a hybrid of folk roots music mixed with gasoline. Think of a carnival, or a carny (someone employed by a carnival), and it’s likely that images of bearded ladies, mustachioed strongmen, trapeze artists, wolf boys, monkey mermaids and the like will come flooding into your mind. Add a healthy dash of punk rock and old-timey music, and you have Ypsilanti, MI based Black Jake & the Carnies.
Drift the night away to the genre swirling "Whirled Music" of Dede and the Dreamers. This band will mesmerize you and send you into an alternate dream world with their sonic landscapes and catchy songs. This collaboration will have you snapping your fingers, singing along, dancing with your lover, and cuddling up to your closest friends. Dede's vocal style mixes Irish influences with deep soul, a unique combo you will have to see to experience.
Drift the night away to the genre swirling "Whirled Music" of Dede and the Dreamers. This band will mesmerize you and send you into an alternate dream world with their sonic landscapes and catchy songs. This collaboration will have you snapping your fingers, singing along, dancing with your lover, and cuddling up to your closest friends. Dede's vocal style mixes Irish influences with deep soul, a unique combo you will have to see to experience.This will be the 3rd appearance of the Hackwells at our festival. We love them and they seem to love us. If you enjoy songs about prisons, graveyards, flea markets, beauty queens and tempestuous love, then you'll enjoy The Hackwells. Brian McCarty (previously with the Salt Miner) along with Jeff Schott on bass and John Dobat on guitar and mandolin bring these songs to life. A guaranteed good time - Simple, organic and honest. Their motto is "The Hackwells would never try to sell you a hot dog they wouldn't eat themselves.”
Songs about broken things and poignant little ponderings are delivered with a rootsy vibe, a touch of twang and a soulful groove. Annie and Rod are on a musical journey that began in 1982, culminating into a symbiotic sound that reflects their deep and intuitive understanding of each other. Annie’s disarming, earthy voice and solid command of her guitar are punctuated by Rod’s effortless, accompaniment and beautiful solo work. Together they weave unforgettable melodies that are at once intricate and sparse – musically completing each others’ sentences.
Jo Serrapere (sarah-pear), a songwriter from Detroit, started playing guitar at 23, seeking out lessons from Delta Blues guitarist Shari Kane. Soon, Jo began writing her own songs. She now plays at music venues throughout the US with music and life partner, John Devine.
John, also a Detroit native, explored traditional blues styles and developed a love for the “race records” of the 1920’s and 30’s. John performed as a solo blues artist and songwriter before teaming up with Jo in 1998. He continues to explore other forms of American roots music and teaches his craft.
Nina & The Buffalo Riders have played at our festival before and have also helped us with fundraisers. They are like family to us. They were formed in 2013 from a chance meet-up between Nina Ledesma (vocals) and Adam Enriquez (guitar) at a Detroit, MI watering hole. Nina had a weekly gig there, and Adam…well that was his favorite bar. After one of her shows, Adam invited Nina to a jam session to try out some original music, and the results were magic. The rest of the boys were picked up along the way: Mike Fritz (keyboard), Ramiro Romero (bass), and Chris “Kaz” Kaszuba (drums). Their music is wild and free - just like Nina’s hair.
“Catch them now before they go supernova. The band’s sound is bluesy and psychedelic while Nina Sofia’s powerhouse vocals are soon to be classified one of the seven wonders of the Midwestern world.” - Detroit Metro Times.
Eric’s music is featured on a Rounder Records anthology titled “Rebel Voices”. Well known as an accomplished finger style guitarist, his performances are influenced by blues, jazz, Latin and roots music. As a teen, he encountered the music of Lightning Hopkins, and was totally hooked from that point on. Eric has been practicing the universal language of music for over 40 years, all over the South and Midwest, playing in clubs, at festivals, and has worked in pit bands for Broadway Shows.
Franzen is a simple acoustic storyteller. His love of folk music was nurtured in Chicago's folk clubs in the early 1970s and in an old country church in Southern Illinois in the mid-'70s. As part of his career in the news media, he researched and wrote about history. He won awards for some of those stories. It took him 30 years to combine his twin loves of folk music and Great Lakes history. Now, his stories are those of Great Lakes; lighthouses, lake boats and shipwrecks. He sings the stories of people long forgotten. He has published three books and recorded four cd's of his Great Lakes ballads.
Amy and Randy Mason of Wolf Creek Release are a roots centered husband and wife duo. Stripped down, and back to basics, they have been performing together since they first met in 1987. Formerly members of the bands Under The Influence and Liquid Cooled, they changed directions in 2013 when they formed Wolf Creek Release, and decided to delve into country, folk, acoustic rock and to perform original music.
Randy provides the steadfast rhythm guitar, with melodic arrangements in his own fingering style. Amy is a lyrical poet, and has won numerous vocal awards including the top female vocalist in the North East Michigan Music Awards in 2012. Amy rounds out the arrangements with acoustic guitar and keys.
Singer songwriter Ian McConnell and drummer Kris Cooper came together in 2012. Guitarist Andy Corriveau and bassist James Gunderson joined the band in 2016 to form the group The BloodMoney Men. With tones of swamp, folk, funk and blues, The BloodMoney Men are sure to energize your vibe and set your soul on groove. All original music with unusual styles and instruments with traditional and modern sounds describes what we do.
Joel Choate is an accomplished performer with a sincere and riveting style all his own. He owns Joel’s Guitar Shop in Alpena where he hosts jam sessions and gives guitar lessons.
Born in Michigan south of Flint, Joel started playing guitar in 1967 and has played from that time forward. Blessed with friendship of some mighty fine guitar players and musicians over the years, and with the influences of the early Michigan rockers of the day, the motown sound, and the rise of country music, he has become the song stylist he is today. He has a broad spectrum of music to choose from and hopes you folks can drop by Friday at 5:30 pm as he opens the Back Porch. Hear him again later at 8:30 pm on the Woods Stage.
He frequently helps us out as an emcee on the Barn Stage.
Kevin is a founding member of The Thunder Bay Folk Society and although he’s moved to Ludington, he remains active and influential in the society. He’s an accomplished, professional musician and performer - everything from rock to blues, Celtic to classical. In addition to his performance at 7:00 pm Friday on The Porch Stage, he’s hosting a “Open Positional Scales for Guitar” workshop at 10:00 am on Saturday. Great to have you back again Kevin!
Downside and Away is a local, up-and-coming, and talented teenage band influenced by Punk Rock, Indie music and the Blues. In mid-2017, Downside and Away gained a steady following after playing at many events in and around Alpena; Open mic's, The Lane Barn, The Fresh Palette, Downtown Alpena, The French Road Bash, Hootenanny, The Thunder Bay Folk Festival (past 3 years) and the Thunder Bay Folk Society fundraiser Spring Fling.
Ben Loewe (lead singer - songwriter) and Archie Cornelius (self-taught drummer) are the original members who after many years of practicing in their parents basements formed a band that now includes Gage Smith (bass player) and Ernie Livermore (rhythm guitarist). They have come a long way! #DownsideandAway.
Wild Rose is a homegrown Alpena group offering a unique mix of blues, folk, and original material. Lead vocalist Bonnie Bartz brings to the group a sweet, evocative voice and plenty of style. Veteran musician John McLellan plays lead guitar, banjo, harmonica, and sings. John’s wife Paula McLellan plays bass and provides back up vocals. On keyboards and accordion is Diane Bartz, well known locally for her exuberant musical style. On rhythm and slide guitar is Jim Bartz, who brings along a few tunes of his own. Steve Tezak will join them on drums!