Earthwork Harvest Gathering means many things to many Michigan musicians, but there’s little doubt that the music festival held every year in September outside Lake City serves as a season-ending celebration filled with camaraderie and collaboration.
Much of that involves Traverse City artists, who will return to Bob Bernard’s farm Sept. 20-22 for more than 130 performances on four stages, including sets by Joshua Davis, Biomassive, Soul Patch, The Go Rounds, The Crane Wives, Dede & The Dreamers and many others.
“Harvest Gathering is the culmination of summer festival season,” said Katie Larson, a member of Traverse City alt-folk band The Accidentals, which first appeared at the festival in 2013 and which will help close out this year’s event at 8 p.m. Sept. 22 on the Hill Stage.
“After all the chaos, travel and sunburns, it’s a chance for us to relax with our friends, jam on each other’s sets, dance in the barn, jam around the fire, eat one of Bob’s famous burgers, and usher in fall.”
Bob’s burgers are part of food offerings from 40 area farms at the festival, which also boasts a farmers market, dozens of workshops, children’s activities, handmade artwork and community art projects, and an inter-faith panel discussion on water.
Led by singer-songwriter Seth Bernard, who grew up on that Lake City farm, Harvest Gathering also represents an opportunity for many artists to debut songs and unfurl special performances.
Traverse City singer-songwriter Jon Timm — who did design work for this year’s festival — will perform with his band on the Market Stage at 7 p.m. Sept 21. But he’ll also spearhead a special performance of late Michigan songwriter and friend Pat Carroll’s 2013 celebrated “Glow In the Dark” album, which was released shortly before Carroll’s death of complications from cystic fibrosis.
Timm said the Barn Stage tribute set at 1 a.m. the same night will feature members of northern Michigan’s Breathe Owl Breathe and Red Tail Ring, Bernard, Andrew Dost, Samantha Cooper, Elizabeth Pixley-Fink, John Brumbaugh and some of Carroll’s friends who appeared on the record.
“This was really magical when we did it in Traverse City last December, so folks who didn’t get to check it out the first time should definitely try to make it to the Barn on Saturday night,” Timm said.
Traverse City singer and multi-instrumentalist Laurel Premo, meanwhile, plans to use her 4 p.m. Saturday set on the Barn Stage to debut an instrumental trio project (fiddle, bass and electric guitar) featuring Shari Kane and Jacob Warren. The trio will premiere songs from Premo’s new solo album that’s set for release in October.
“Harvest Gathering is filled to the brim with great music and presentations of community education and activism,” said Premo, who’s also part of the award-winning indie-folk duo Red Tail Ring, which first played the festival 10 years ago.
“I think what sets it apart is that built-up energy and mutual respect of the participants from so many years of that mindset and that principle tying the event together.”
Timm put it another way: “Of all of Michigan’s great music fests, Harvest stands out as the most committed to building and bettering the community that supports it. From the attendees to the musicians, Earthwork does a great job making this festival a celebration of the amazing art that’s created right down the street.”
Adult weekend passes are $120 and teen (13-20 years old) tickets are $80; available online at earthworkharvestgathering.com. Weekend passes include camping. Day passes are $50 and include parking, but not camping.
The Earthwork farm is located at 4901 N. 7 Mile Road about 12 miles northeast of Lake City and about an hour southeast of Traverse City.