If you live near East Lansing, Mich. -- and you really should, you know -- here's an assignment. This weekend (Aug. 13-14), definitely catch the Great Lakes Folk Festival.
(I know I usually prattle on about TV here. Please catch the previous blogs on "So You Think You Can Dance," including an interview with the winner, Melane Moore.)
The festival is a marvel of free-form fun. There's no admission fee -- donations are encouraged -- and many options. You stroll between three music areas, plus food, crafts, a kids' area and people talking about old-time skills. There's even a talk (4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, Re-skilling Stage B) on hanging out the laundry. Really.
The festival was damaged by the closing of the Valley Court Park stage, which provided the charm of under-the-stars music on Friday and Saturday nights. The rest, however, remains vibrant.
The event opened Friday with Feufollet, a terrific young Cajun group from Lafayette, La. You can catch Feufollet on the MAC Stage at 6 p.m. Saturday and twice on the Dance Stage -- 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 4:20 p.m. Sunday.
After savoring the Cajuns, I tried to enjoy Skalmusik, from Minnesota. Yes, I'm half-Swedish, but it's definitely not the enjoying-Swedish-music half. Or Swedish food. If it weren't for liking the "Wallander" TV mysteries, I'd think all my Swedish DNA has been misplaced.
Two of the Skalmusic guys were also at the "accordion traditions" sessions, trading licks with guys from Feufollet, the Steven Greenman Klezmer Ensemble and a witty chap from the Irish group Teada.
Those "traditions" sessions -- blending talk and music -- tend to be great fun. There are more on the City Hall Stage at 1 p.m. Saturday (fiddles), 5:30 p.m. Saturday (guitars) and 3:20 p.m. Sunday (pending).
I'd also strongly recommend Calvin Cooke and his sensational "sacred steel" music. He's on the MAC Stage at 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday; he'll also receive a Michigan Heritage Award at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on Re-skilling Stage A.
Yes, the festival needs better stage names. Yes, it needs to get the Valley Court Park stage back on Friday and Saturday nights. Still, this is a splendid event. Here's the schedule for what's left:
– Saturday, MAC: Johnnie Bassett
(blues), noon; George Kahumoky Jr. (Hawaiian), 1 p.m.; Cooke,
2; Gao Hong (Chinese pipa), 3; Los Bandits (Tex-Mex), 4; Cats and the Fiddler,
(bluegrass, via three 16-year-olds), 5; Feufollet, 6; Elizabeth
LaPrelle (old-time ballads), 7; Reveillons (French-Canadian), 8;
Detour, 9:05; Teada, 10:10.
– Saturday, City Hall: Cats and the
Fiddler, noon; “fiddle traditions,” 1 p.m.; Teada, 2:15;
“community sing, led by Joel Mabus, Sally Rogers and LaPrelle,
3:15; “guitar masters,” 5:30; Detour, 6:35; Hong, 7:40; Greenman,
8:45; Kahumoky, 9:45.
– Saturday, Dance: Los Bandits, noon;
Nadim Dlaikan (Lebanese music, primarily with the nay), 1:30;
Reveillons, 3; Skalmusic, 4:30; Greenman, 6; Laufman, 7:45;
– Sunday, MAC: Cooke, noon; LaPrelle,
1 p.m.; Detour, 2; Kahumoky, 3; Reveillons, 4:05; Teada, 5:15.
– Sunday, City Hall: Greeman, noon;
Hong, 1 p.m.; Teada, 2:10; traditions (details pending), 3:20;
– Sunday, Dance: Reveillons, noon;
Pan Franek & Zosia's Polka Towners, 1:30 p.m.; Laufman, 3;