Bigger than ever, the fifth annual Traverse City Microbrew and Music Fest has a 200-beer menu, hotter bands, enormous tents, and a full-on light show to cap it all off.
“These things are what move me,” said organizer Sam Porter. “We love this event, and it brings so much good to the community.”
The offspring of the highly successful Montana Beer Festival, which Porter founded out West before he moved back to Michigan, Microbrew and Music is a result of Porter’s own love for music and craft beer.
The event is part fun, part fundraiser.
Proceeds will benefit the non-profit CherryT Ball Drop, an organization that supports local food banks.
“We’re big on gratitude here,” he said.
“We’re grateful to our vendors, musicians, community, VIP members … to every single person who walks through the door. And I think that flows through each component more than anything else.”
Porter’s goal, he said, is to highlight each individual aspect of an event while still operating as one big whole.
“For MMF, we have our local food and breweries stationed all day, people who are passionate about what they do, and you can tell when you experience it,” he said. “And for the music, we wanted artists who harness all the positive emotions and energy in music for festivalgoers.”
MUSIC THAT MOVES
Porter says he’s “especially proud” of this year’s selected artists.
“The big one that everyone is talking about is of course Brandi Carlile,” he said. “When you listen to her, you feel the power behind every word. That connection that just snaps into place when you hear her is something we had to have.”
All of the bands at this year’s fest, Porter said, have something that resonates when they perform, transcending the different genres of music that he’s brought together for this event.
“Whether it’s Nahko and Medicine for the People, or our local Michigan bands Joe Hertler or The Ragbirds, or TC’s own Accidentals, they all have that ‘something,’” he said.
One musical event at MMF with a very different kind of something is the Mega Silent Disco Tent, which Porter’s whole team is excited about.
The tent will be set up with 300 LED enabled wireless headsets. Grab a pair when you walk in the tent, and the music goes directly into them.
“It’s pretty wild walking by and seeing all of these people dancing and having a blast while you can’t hear anything!” Porter said, laughing.
DJ Dominate, Stepdad, and Robert Lux will be spinning and performing on the Silent Disco stages, with the headsets tuned to different channels indicated by the different colors of the LEDs.
“The idea is to have a ‘Silent Disco War’ where half of the tent is listening to a DJ set, and the other half is rocking to a live band,” he said.
FESTIVAL OF FUN
The stars of the show are the microbrews, more than 200 in all, including ciders, wines, and meads. Of the beers, there are rare and sour varieties, plus exclusive, limited-time brews created especially for the festival weekend.
Founder’s, Bell’s, Short’s, Rockford, Left Foot Charley, Leelanau Brewery, Dark Horse, North Peak, Jolly Pumpkin, Black Star Farms, The Filling Station, and Clown Shoes are just a few of the brewers that will be represented this year.
Local vendors will offer food and beer pairings, rounding out the festival menu.
“I think MMF is, in a way, the embodiment of what the whole summer brings,” Porter said. “You have all of these wonderful events going on all over the region, and they’re centered around two things: music and community. And I think all people are naturally drawn towards those two things.”
As for Porter and his never-silent cell, it’s doubtful if he will get a moment to enjoy the fruits of his labors.
“Are you saying I won’t have fun?” he laughed as his phone beeped away, calling him to yet another festival errand.
“I’ll have been in go-mode for a while, and during the event, I like to have my eyes on everything,” he said. “But I do always try to find a moment to step back and look at everything and think, ‘Wow – look at what we made happen.’ The weekend is an unreal experience every time.”
This summer’s TC Microbrew and Music Festival runs Aug. 22 and 23 at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. For schedule and tickets, visit microbrewandmusic.com.