TRAVERSE CITY — Spring is the perfect time to make summer festival plans, and two of Michigan’s most charming music events — Wheatland Music Festival and Beaver Island Music Festival — have announced lineups sure to entice plenty of music devotees.
Focusing once again on traditional roots music, as well as emerging acts with deep ties to tradition, the 2018 edition of the Wheatland Music Festival will boast headlining sets by Nora Jane Struthers, Town Mountain, John McCutcheon, Joe Hall & The Louisiana Cane Cutters, Front Country and Detroit’s own Thornetta Davis.
The headliner announcements represent the first wave of bookings for Wheatland, with more artists expected to be revealed in the near future.
As one of the Michigan music festival season’s best-kept secrets, the Beaver Island Music Festival has long captivated a devoted, fairly intimate fan base with its remote, special vibe. With its 2018 lineup, the festival might not be much of a secret anymore.
National festival favorite Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, a lively country blues outfit from Indiana, will headline July’s soiree on Beaver Island, with Michigan stars such as Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys, The Gasoline Gypsies, The Legal Immigrants, Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish, Oh Brother Big Sister, Abigail Stauffer & Dave Haughey and Slim Gypsy Baggage also rocking the three-day affair held literally in the middle of northern Lake Michigan.
“It really feels like we’re moving to a new level this year in our ability to bring in talent our audience will love,” festival board member Kristen Hartnagel said of the July 19-21 event.
The Cerny Brothers, The Novel Ideas, Nathan & Jessie, King Strange, Simplicity, MC Hosts, Dave Boutette, Kristi Davis and Shelly Smith are also on the weekend bill.
The festival certainly has grown from its humble origins back in 2003 as a local music celebration on the largest island in Lake Michigan, about 32 miles from Charlevoix. In recent years, 1,500 to 2,000 have attended the annual event, with festivalgoers camping on the island.
“We have plenty of room to expand those numbers and still keep it the unique relaxing vibe that festivalgoers have come to love,” said festival executive director Carol Burton, noting that about 800 musicians have performed at the festival over the years.
The festival’s goal, she said, is “to create more opportunities that strengthen cultural arts in our communities” through partnerships with other organizations and events.
“The best thing about the Beaver Island Music Festival is the melting pot of music and how both the people performing and the people those musicians draw to the island culminate in the most delicious concoction ever,” Hartnagel said. “What an experience and sense of family."
n The 45th annual Wheatland will unfurl outside Remus Sept. 7-9, with tickets ($65-$95) now on sale to Wheatland Music Organization members. Tickets ($75-$105) go on sale to the general public on May 1. Get details online at wheatlandmusic.org.
n Beaver Island Music Festival advance tickets, available now until July 7, are $95 adults for the weekend or $30 per day, with discounts for seniors and teens. Children 12 and younger are free. Tickets are available now by PayPal and mail order; call 231-838-2883 for information.