TRAVERSE CITY — As vaccinations roll out and COVID capacity restrictions ease, live music is returning to venues and festivals across Michigan.

While the state’s biggest music festivals — including Rothbury’s Electric Forest and Detroit’s Mo Pop — are on hiatus for the second year in a row, smaller, long-running northern Michigan events remain in play.

Those include July’s Dunesville Music Festival in Lake Ann, The Big Ticket Festival in Gaylord, August’s Hoxeyville Music Festival in Wellston and Farmfest in Johannesburg.

This year, music fans can also experience a pair of newer, boutique music festivals which are small enough and agile enough to adjust to ever-changing pandemic restrictions and protocols.

LivelyLands Music Festival, founded in 2017, will take place Aug. 20-22 outside of Empire on W. Empire Hwy. at what’s dubbed “Backyard Burdickville,” near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Traverse City’s Joshua Davis, Detroit’s Laura Rain & The Caesars and the Michigan super-group, The Stovetop Bernard Lavengood Trio, are among artists slated to perform.

“ ‘Micro festival’ or ‘Boutique festival’ is the term that I’ve been using for our event and I’ve heard other producers use it as well. It’s a concept that is just catching on,” said festival organizer Emily Lively.

“These can be hyper-local events or destination events that are designed to only accommodate a small number of people. This allows us to create a meaningful shared experience for our attendees that allows them to feel a part of the event.”

Not only are musicians able to connect with fans in a more meaningful way at an event attracting only a few hundred people, she said, but it allows organizers to more easily implement COVID protocols, from masking to social-distancing. Get more details online at

Meanwhile, the Big Fam music and arts festival will unfurl Aug. 27-29 for the first time at Harmony Pines in Lake Ann — the same 300-acre site where Dunesville will be staged the month before.

Organizers are confident state restrictions on crowd size will be eased by late summer to allow 500 to 1,000 attendees at the festival featuring electronic, country, funk, jam band and bluegrass music, according to Andrew Martin, marketing director for Big Fam.

All COVID-19 safety regulations and local guidelines will be enforced, he noted. The lineup for the camping festival hasn’t yet been announced.

Weekend passes are $175-$200, with additional car and RV fees. Those interested can find more information online at

Email John Sinkevics at

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