Friday, August 20, 2010

Great Lakes Folk Festival 2010

So much to see and do at this year's festival, held Aug 13-15 in downtown East Lansing, Michigan...with some interesting additions of "green" displays like the "Green Kitchen" tent, bringing good ideas for local, healthy eating.

Highlight? Performance-wise it had to be Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Doug Neal of the incredibly wonderful radio show, "Progressive Torch & Twang" on Tueday nights, 8p-Mid, on MSU's 88.9 ImpactFM, has played Doyle Lawson for years and I know he wanted to bring him to East Lansing. Well Doug was the emcee at this particular stage and introduced Mr. Lawson and his fine band. Tight instrumentalists, they also sing up a bluegrass storm...with plenty of Gospel as well. They even had some good jokes...e.g., "How hot is it? It's so hot I saw a dog chasing a rabbit... and they both were walking."

During his 31-year career Doyle Lawson has had a string of bluegrass and gospel awards. This, I believe is due to his collecting a group of superb musicians to tour and record with. This year's group, although some quite young, are accomplished technicians of their instruments, both hardware and vocals. When they are in 4-part harmony, it's a little eerie, a little sublime...and they make it look easy.


The other outstanding performance was the Community Sing, the brainchild of Sally Potter, organizer, musician and the main reason this event was added to the GLFF. Anchored by song leaders Sally Potter, the Rev Robert B. Jones for Detroit and local favorite, Ray Kamalay. Each musician started us off on songs we (mostly) knew and I have to say, the singing was very good, often with beautiful harmony. No song sheets needed (mostly) because the tunes were so well known. As somewhat expected, Robert Jones led gospel and blues-tinged songs, Ray Kamalay led standards (some beauties!) and Sally led traditional folk tunes. The audience was diverse in all ways and came through quite nicely. Did you notice the AMAZING ASL interpreter? She was truly into it, knew most of the words of all the songs...and did not get a break for the entire 2hrs. She was wonderful.

As Sally, who wrote to my daughter Emily (who wrote to thank the folks who run the festival because she was so moved) said,

"The singing community around here is only getting stronger, as folks are hoping on board the train. And why not? It's fun, it's full of energy, it hits at the very core of who we are - as active people. and - it's real.

In September, WKAR TV is showing a half hour documentary it produced about this singing community. And more and more festivals, and concert series, and community organizations are adding singing to their programming.

With the first Mid-Winter Singing Festival in 2003, we were at the beginning, in front of the big wave.

Yet more water and energy have arrived, nationwide, and the community singing movement is growing. It's fun to watch."

Thank you to all the Festival organizers, volunteers and patrons who made this year's festival one of the best.

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All Saints Episcopal Church said...

LOVED Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Happy, happy happy happy listening!

lisafindley said...

Great post, Dad, and it was a great fest!

Turns out Doyle Lawson played a show later Saturday night, so even though I was napping when you saw him in the afternoon, I did get to see him. He was great, although his main tenor lead strained too hard for some of his high notes, I thought.

Oh and can you change my blog's name on your blogroll? Thanks!