Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Music · The Dunegrass & Blues Fest makes...
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The Dunegrass & Blues Fest makes its bid for the big time

Robert Downes - July 21st, 2008
What do Arlo Guthrie, Ritchie Havens, Bela Fleck and Buckethead have in common?
A destination: The stars of folk, roots and rock are all coming to perform at the Dunegrass & Blues Festival this July 31-Aug. 3, along with an estimated 6,000 concert-goers per day.
At least, that’s the hope of impresario Stephen Volas of Grassroots Productions, who is counting on a good turnout as a reward for bringing the best roster of entertainers yet to the 16th annual incarnation of the festival in the Village of Empire.
“The Dunegrass is spending $350,000 on artistic talent this year, and that’s a lot of money to take a chance on, so I’m really hoping that people will come out and support the festival,” he says.
This year, the Dunegrass is hosting roughly 75 acts, with other big hitters including Steel Pulse, Todd Snider, Harry Manx, Donna the Buffalo and a wide range of regional favorites.
In addition to supersizing its roster, the Dunegrass is also expanding its layout: In addition to a main stage, there will be a new dance tent, with stages on each end. “The dance tent stages will be 60 by 200 feet long and located about 650 feet from the main stage,” Volas says. “It will be a good place to cool off in the day and a great place to dance at night.”

ROUGH SPOTS
Upsizing the Dunegrass has been nerve-wracking at times for Volas. This spring, he had some concerns that the festival would be upstaged by the huge Rothbury Festival south of Ludington. “I was a little worried about competing with Rothbury, but I went down to the festival and everything has turned out fine. I think the Dunegrass has enough different performers to draw its own crowd.”
Another concern is an injunction being sought by a neighbor at the 35-acre festival site that’s located just north of Empire. The festival is close enough to the village that you can walk to the beach or local restaurants and shops.
“The festival has been hugely well-received by Empire and the village wants us to stay,” Volas says.
But the continuing expansion of the festival means that the Dunegrass may be held on a 60-acre site near Empire’s airport next year, with a potential of having 150 acres total for camping and parking.
In the meantime, Volas is trying to head-off concerns over congestion at this year’s event. “The thing we’re doing this year to counterbalance the traffic and camping congestion is offering both at an area that’s offsite from the festival,” he says. “We’re also expanding our shuttle bus service to get people to and from the site.”

HIGHLIGHTS
The prestige of the Dunegrass is clearly on rise, as evidenced by the fact that Volas is now being contacted by top performers -- such as Arlo Guthrie, Ritchie Havens and Bela Fleck -- with requests to perform at the festival.
He’s also tweaked what has traditionally been a folk and blues festival with some new directions, including the rock and jam-band sound of Buckethead, who performs in a mask with a KFC bucket on his head. “I really think that Buckethead is going to be the most eccentric artist we’ve ever had,” Volas says.
“Our reggae selections are also going to be great with Steel Pulse and the Meditations,” he adds. “And this year we’re also featuring several amazing female acts with Grace Potter, Donna and the Buffalo, Jill Jack and Rachel Davis. Sunday will be more of a roots, bluegrass and folk day.”
Other innovations will include a mist tent, a Human Rights Awareness Tour fashion show, a Kids Tent, and a “Green Ticket,” with $1 of each going to support environmental causes.
For the future, Volas is considering holding the festival in the second week of August next year. The Dunegrass has always been held the first weekend in August, but that coincides with the TC Film Festival and also tends to be the hottest weekend of the year.
Whatever the case, he’s seen steady growth in the festival over the past couple of years. In 2006, the Dunegrass had just $20,000 in online ticket sales, a figure that increased to $150,000 last year. “We’ve seen some great increases but are still encouraging people to buy their tickets in advance if they want a discount over the price at the gate.”

Weekend and single-day Dunegrass passes are available at www.dunegrassfestival.com




 
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