Summer Solstice Festival
June 18, Elberta Waterfront Park, Benzie County (http://www.elbertasolsticefestival.com)
You couldnt ask for a more pleasant setting for this free, family-friendly park set in the sprawling new waterfront park in Elberta opposite Frankfort and its harbor. The festival runs from noon to 1 a.m. with plenty of kids activities as well as a beer tent and dining scene. Ella Riot (formerly My Dear Disco) headlines the event along with Thrill Train. Also playing are K Jones and the Benzie Playboyz, Sub-Prime Blues Band, Waterline, Hannah Rae Beale, Platte Plains Wolf Pack, Triple Shot and Acoustic Dynamite.
Spirit of the Woods Folk Festival
June 18, Dickson Township Park, Brethren (www.spiritofthewoods.org/festival.html)
This years Spirit of the Woods is in its 34th year, and will be presenting sets from Independent Music Awards nominees Steel Wheels, Kentuckys Juggernaut Jug Band, Marquette Michigans Conga Se Menne, and Spanish singer/instrumentalist Pure Fe. Arts and Crafts vendors, food, beverages, and a closing dance round out this folky, friendly, yearly happening.
Big Ticket Festival
June 23-25, Ionia (www.bigticketfestival.com)
Upping the festival roster from 100 bands last year to 110 this year, this Christian rock event rocks positively on seven stages via big-ticket Christian acts and up-and-coming indie rockers. The trio of headlining bands for 2011 are Skillet, The Newsboys, and Toby Mac. Speakers, camping, a fun run, and additional bands keep this entire weekend a busy one.
Electric Forest Festival
June 30-July 3, Rothbury (www.electricforestfestival.com)
Whether you choose to catch as many bands as possible, or just chill on one of the many hammocks strung through the fests own forest, this newbie hippie-focused fest does a good job of taking over for the now defunct Rothbury event. 2011s performers include Tiesto, REO Speedwagon, Stephen Marley, Galactic, and not one, not two, but three shows by The String Cheese Incident.
Manitou Music Festival
July 10 Dune Climb Concert ( www.glenarborart.org )
This is a summer-long concert series with performers playing at small venues along Leelanau Countys west coast. The highlight of the series in the Dune Climb Concert, which will feature the big band jazz of the Paul Keller Orchestra this year at 7 pm beneath the towering Sleeping Bear Dunes just shy of Glen Haven.
July 8-10, Bliss Festival Farm, Bliss (www.blissfest.org)
Now that Blissfest has passed its 30th birthday, its going to not change a darned thing, since this ambitious and remote event has already become one of the most popular music destinations of a Northern Michigan summer. For 2011, theyve put together another varied mix of folk, rock, and world music acts, from Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tom Rush to Mountain Heart, Oka, the Macpodz, and Gumbohead.
August 5-7, east of the Lake Ann airport, (www.dunegrassmusicfestival.org)
Although beleaguered in past years with disorganization and some financial troubles, new festival guru Ryan Lake has been keeping busy assembling a roster heavy on local favorites, from Donna the Buffalo, The Ragbirds, and My Dear Disco to Detour Bluegrass and Graham Parsons and the Go Rounds. Camping, food, crafts, and late night jams keep the weekend, well, jamming, until Monday rolls round.
August 11-14, Farmfest grounds on Roby Road, Johannesburg (www.farm-fest.com)
Party till the cows come home at Farmfest, the quietly-persistent little farm-friendly musical event thats now in its 14th year. Expect plenty of dancing, impromptu jams, camping, open mics hosted by Kirby, and food from various vendors and the Feedbag Cafe. This years tunes include The Leftover Hippies, The Jake Allen Band, Who Hit John, Rootstand, and TCs own Soul Patch.
Hoxeyville Music Festival
August 19-21, West of Kestlewoods Campground on M37 (www.hoxeyville.com)
The Manistee National Forest is the setting for this 9th annual weekend fest, with its vendor village and car camping availability. Live sets will be presented from Umphreys McGee, eKoostik Hookah, Ivan Nevilles Dumpstaphunk, Funktion, and Steppin In It; an on-site disc golfing course, food and craft vendors, and extra off-site camping (and a party store) are among the amenities.
Wheatland Music Festival
September 9-11, Wheatland festival grounds, Remus (www.wheatlandmusic.org)
Wrapping up the bulk of the Michigan summer festival season each year is Wheatland, now in its 38th year and offering just as unusual a selection of performers as ever. Although the complete final lineup has yet to be confirmed, the Lafayette Rhythm Devils, Ray Bonneville, The Laws, The Freight Hoppers, Wayne The Train Hancock, and Willie Big Eyes Smith are already part of the 2011 roster.