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April 11, 2014

Interlochen Arts Festival lineup one of biggest in years

TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City native Mandy Alexander can’t wait to share the news with her fans.

The 31-year-old Nashville performer will open for superstar Sheryl Crow at the Interlochen Arts Festival this summer.

“I got the email about a month ago asking if I wanted to open for Sheryl Crow. I was, ‘Uuh, yeah?’” said Alexander, who still recalls buying her first CD — Crow’s “Tuesday Night Music Club” — at a Cherryland Mall music store. “It doesn’t seem real to me right now. She was such a pioneer — of music in general, women in music, and all genres.”

Crow will open the festival June 13, one of dozens of big-name and up-and-coming artists on the lineup.

“I think the really big shows are going to be the obvious ones: Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gary Allan,” said Christopher Gruits, executive director of Interlochen Center for the Arts’ year-round performance program Interlochen Presents. “Interlochen is one of the most comprehensive festivals in the country and we wanted to represent that with a diverse offering of high-quality artists.”

Gruits said a festival coup was snagging bluegrass favorite Nickel Creek, which recently reunited and returned to the road for the first time since 2007. The Grammy Award-winning group will perform songs from its just-released album “A Dotted Line” when it performs in Kresge Auditorium July 10.

“We were lucky to get that date,” said Gruits, who resorted to espionage to ensure it. “Sara Watkins, who plays fiddle with the group, was here with ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ last summer. I was waiting behind Kresge for her to ask her if she would consider coming back.”

Other festival highlights include the return of Bonnie Raitt, Steely Dan, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, Buddy Guy, Béla Fleck and Ray LaMontagne.

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