concert scene since the days of the Castle Farms music venue back in
the 1980s. Happily, a new concert facility planned for the Grand
Traverse Commons within the next couple of years should make that
dream a reality (details on page 10).
There have been some false starts through the years: at one time there
was a plan to establish an outdoor concert venue at Turtle Creek
Casino in Williamsburg, and some even hoped that Castle Farms would
reprise its heyday of featuring artists such as Tina Turner, Bob Dylan
and Def Leppard. Those plans didnt turn out, but the new one looks
like a winner
While Northern Michigan doesnt have the population to support a major
facility on par with the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston (which
draws on an area of at least 5 million people), we do have enough
numbers here in the summer to support a smaller venue equal to that of
Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.
And thats approximately the size of the proposed amphitheatre at the
forthcoming Historic Barns Park on the west side of Traverse City.
If youve ever been to a show at Meijer Gardens, you‘ve enjoyed a
first-class operation. You bring your own low-slung chair and enjoy a
concert amid the surroundings of a fabulous sculpture park. Sandwiches
and pizza are available, as are Michigan wines and craftbrews.
Some might claim that we already have enough concert venues in the
area, but the new amphitheatre will most likely fill some needs that
are lacking in the current scene.
For one thing, a sense of edge in the musical offerings. Locally, we
get a big dose of classic rock at the Cherry Festival and Interlochen
each year (ie. Steve Miller, Gregg Rolie, Foreigner), but there‘s not
much on the scene for concert-goers in their 20s and 30s. Bands that
appeal to younger audiences, such as Umphreys McGee and Dark Star
Orchestra, have had shows at the TC Opera House with unfortunate
results, owing to the trampoline nature of the floor there that can‘t
support hundreds of fans dancing to the music.
That sort of thing will be resolved at the new Historic Barns Park
stage, which is sure to be a huge tourist attraction, bringing more
dollars as well as music to the region. And wouldnt it be nice to
enjoy a local vintage with your show? Let‘s make it happen.
Speaking of music... Got to admit, when I read about Jackyls use of a
chain saw onstage in Rick Coates‘ story about the band in this issue,
it struck me as pretty old hat. Didnt that go out of style years ago,
along with big hair, headbands and Spandex pants?
Eminem has done the chain saw thing too, wearing his Jason mask.
Then there are other rock clichés, like full arm tattoos, yelling into
megaphones over the mics, Catholic school girl skirts for singers,
No need to put a statute of limitations on this stuff if the fans are
still loving it, but why not share the love? Ive been to plenty of
snoozy folk concerts where a chain saw solo and a few flash bombs
would go a long way towards waking up the audience. And full arm
tattoos and nipple rings on performers would do wonders for the
average jazz audience, which tends to be rather on the elderly side.
Jackyl might want to ditch that chain saw and move on up to a
jackhammer to keep things fresh.