'Porkies' to unite at U.P. music fest: Scenic wilderness setting a big draw

Americana soul band Dustbowl Revival will headline the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival, which takes place Aug. 23-25 at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

ONTONAGON — Enhancing the “appreciation of wilderness” and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the 15th Porcupine Mountains Music Festival will star The War and Treaty and Dustbowl Revival, along with Traverse City’s May Erlewine & The Motivations and Grand Rapids’ The Crane Wives.

Presented by the Friends of the Porkies and held in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon, the Aug. 23-25 festival will also feature sets by Marquette’s “Finnish reggae band” Conga Se Menne and Canada’s The Paperboys, who deliver “Mexican Son Jarocho mixed in with Irish jigs and reels and a good dose of country and bluegrass.”

Festival director Cheryl Sundberg said organizers strive for diverse quality in the lineup each year, aiming to be “an open-minded music lover's dream, a grab bag of sounds and styles."

"You never know what will happen on stage next,” she said.

“One reviewer compared the feel of this festival to having a Bill Graham Fillmore East feel, albeit on a small scale, and this told us we were meeting our goals. Being located in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, attendees will experience scenic wilderness beauty and a slower pace of life, allowing them to truly unwind and relax while enjoying this musical experience.”

The festival — which is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts —features a main outdoor stage and two indoor stages (a chalet stage hosting local and regional acts, and a “no electricity” acoustic busking barn).

Also performing this year will be Cary Morin, Ivy Ford Band, Charlie Parr, Evan Bartels and the Stoney Lonesomes, Chicago Farmer, Ray Bonneville, Melodime, Elizabeth Moen, The Small Glories and Emily Scott Robinson.

Michigan’s The War and Treaty, based in Albion, has exploded in popularity over the past year or so, with leaders Michael and Tanya Trotter unleashing soulful, inspiring roots music that’s attracted attention from national media outlets and landed them slots at numerous festivals across the country. The band headlines Saturday night’s lineup.

Friday’s headliner, California’s Dustbowl Revival, meanwhile, bills itself as an “Americana soul” band, augmenting its music with roots rock, funk, bluegrass and more.

“We are so excited to be bringing The War and Treaty to the Porkies Stage this year. They are such dynamic performers and had been on our radar. We are thrilled to be bringing them to our part of the world as headliners,” Sundberg said.

“We were fortunate to get Dustbowl Revival from Venice, California, on board as headliners also. Routing is always a challenge and we win some and lose some. This was a big win for us.”

Early-bird tickets are $72 for the entire three-day festival or $28 for a day pass through May 31, available online at porkiesfestival.org. Wristbands for children 6-12 are $10; children younger than 6 are free with parent or guardian.

The Porcupine Mountains Music Festival was the first music festival ever held in a Michigan state park with a goal of “enhancing the resources and the visitor experiences” at the park.

“It is our hope,” Sundberg said, “that attendees and performers alike will leave our festival experience with a little bit of the Porkies in their soul.”

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a seven-hour, 415-mile drive from Traverse City.