By Rick Coates
What has been a great summer of outdoor music festivals throughout
Northern Michigan wraps up this weekend with Rootenanny, hosted by
acoustic roots rockers, Rootstand. The three-day festival (September
24-26) in Ellsworth will feature 20 bands and is being promoted as a
family-friendly event for all ages.
Rootenanny originated six years ago as an opportunity for Rootstand to
say thanks to the bands they performed with over the course of the
year. The first one was in Ypsilanti with a few bands and friends
gathering for a jam session, a thank you dinner from Rootstand, and a
few cold brews. For the past four years they held the event outside
out of Kingsley and started allowing for more and more people to
We know that there are so many great festivals out there and we
really never expected to put this one into the mix -- it just happened
that way, said Brant Losinski of Rootstand. This was just a simple
dinner we prepared for these other bands, a keg of beer and a jam
session. Now it has become a legitimate festival.
The 2010 version Rootenanny has a new location and what organizers
think might become the permanent home. The Rocky Top Preserve (part of
the Rocky Top Farms) in Ellsworth is the new site and farm owners Mike
and Heidi Cooper are excited for the event.
We are second generation farmers and my parents started this farm and
they are still active in managing it with us, said Mike Cooper. We
are excited about hosting Rootenanny with Rootstand to give people an
opportunity to see what we are doing out here. We have dedicated the
front 50 acres of our farm as the preserve for special events like
this and it is a perfect setting.
We had a few offers to host Rootenanny, said Losinski. But we saw
Rocky Top as the ideal setting. The Coopers are great and their farm
is perfect for this, it is organic and has this beautiful meadow.
People are going to be blown away by the experience.
Besides a new location, having a headliner -- Australian
blues/digeridoo artist Harper -- is also something different for
Really, Seth Bernard was a headliner last year and all of these bands
have headlined events in the past, said Losinski. But we were
looking for an act that has had larger exposure on the circuit. We had
the good fortunate of opening for Harper a year ago and we really
connected with him and his band. They agreed to headline for us this
year and we couldnt be happier.
So does this mean that Rootenanny, now in its sixth year, is looking
towards big names in the future?
We want to be careful with the direction we take this festival and we
want to keep it simple and affordable, said Losinski. If the
opportunity presents itself under the right circumstances we might
have a major act. I cant say now but there is someone pretty big
considering this for 2011, so we will see. But I like the model we
have right now, keep it simple, family friendly and about the music.
Rootenanny has remained small with about 350 attendees, but this year
the numbers look to exceed that. At press time close to 300 advance
tickets had been sold, and with the cost only $25 in advance and $30
at the door for a weekend pass, or $10 for day passes. Organizers see
500 plus coming.
There are plenty of activities planned for the weekend in addition to the music.
Mark Fowler from Epicurean Mobile Services (EMS) will be serving
veggie and non- veggie gyros, burgers, sandwiches and more. He will
have Higher Grounds coffee available. Other vendors will be present,
but attendees are welcome to bring their own food.
We cant emphasize enough that this is a family-friendly event, so
bring your kids as under 10 are free and we will have a family camping
area so the late nighters will not distrub families, said Losinski.
For additional info, go to www.rootstand.com or find the festivals
site on Facebook. You can purchase tickets in advance online via
PayPal or at Dharma and Grace Yoga Studio in Charlevoix. All of the
bands that are listed below have tickets for sale. Full weekend
tickets include camping and music. For directions check out
4-5pm: Brant Solo Acoustic
6-7pm: Joe Smith
8-9pm: Soul Patch
5-6pm: Michael Lee Seiler/
Stage 2 Soundcheck
7-8pm: Ballyhoo Fiasco
12-1am: October Babies
12-1pm: Brant Solo Acoustic
2-3pm: Jake Allen Trio
4-5pm: Dragon Wagon
6-7pm: Joe Smith
8-9pm: Graham Parsons and the Go Rounds
1-2am: Thick as Thieves
1-2pm: C. Charles Bley
3-4pm: Sound Hound
5-6pm: Michael Lee Seiler
7-8pm: M. Paul Lippens
9-10pm: Blue Dirt
12-2pm: Rootstand and Friends
2-4pm: Seth Bernard and Friends