Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Dunegrass
. . . .

Dunegrass

Rick Coates - August 1st, 2011
Since its formation 18 years ago the Dunegrass Music Festival has changed
its name (formally the Sleeping Bear Dunegrass & Blues Festival) twice; is
now on its third promoter (a former promoter is spending seven years in
federal prison); has moved to its fourth location; and is now in a totally
different county. 
For current organizer Ryan Lake he chuckles and says the roots of the past
have made Dunegrass stronger and wiser.
“When you look back at where this festival started, what is has been
through to get where we are at today there is no question that we are
stronger as a result of it,” said Lake. “I certainly wouldn’t say how we
got here is the model way to make a music festival work but I think what
we have proven is that music has a way of making everything okay.”
This year’s three-day festival will be headlined by Donna the Buffalo who
will be joined by 40-plus other groups including several veterans of
previous festivals. Ella Riot (formerly My Dear Disco), along with
Rootstand, the Macpodz, Seth & May, Song of the Lakes and K. Jones & the
Benzie Playboys are all favorites in Northern Michigan and will help
anchor the diverse lineup and return the Dunegrass to its roots.

ROOTS OF THE ROOTS
Founded in 1993 by Mike Vanderberg, Dunegrass started out focusing on
local and regional acts with a mission to bring people to the Empire area.
Its close proximity to Lake Michigan and Empire Beach along with a who’s
who of local acts made it a popular festival. Eventually Vanderberg teamed
up with Stephen Volas of Grassroots Productions whose vision involved
bringing in national and international acts.
For the first couple of years the concept worked. Eventually came the
challenges with the first major blow coming after the 2007 festival when
founder Vanderberg passed away suddenly just days after Dunegrass was over
while cleaning up the festival grounds. 
Volas and and his co-organizers vowed to pay homage to Vanderberg with the
largest Dunegrass to date  the following year that would include a stellar
line-up of talent. But with internationally renowned acts came higher
price tags, and a higher ticket price at a time when the the country’s
economic recession had just started.  Those factors resulted in low ticket
sales.
After the 2008 festival, Dunegrass found itself close to $200,000 in debt
with most of the acts and vendors not paid. Then Volas and his wife were
busted with 1,500 pot plants in Benzie County (largest bust in county
history). According to police records they were selling pot to pay off
Dunegrass debts. Because of the size of the bust the case was handed over
to Feds and Volas is now serving seven years in a federal prison in
Minnesota.

MOVING ON
Now under Ryan Lake’s direction, Dunegrass has come “full circle” and it
appears to be back for good.
“Certainly I think we are now past the bad vibe of 2008. I understand what
they were trying to do but for this market up here that model just was not
sustainable,” said Lake. “You have to grow a festival with the people, not
the other way around. I feel good as we start year three; since I took
over we are growing. This the way the people want it.”
One big change is the location. Dunegrass is now in Benzie County near the
village of Lake Ann.
“I know people liked being by Lake Michigan but this new location is the
best and I believe our last,” said Lake. “It is isolated so we don’t have
to worry about neighbors, it is large and secluded, plus we will have a
shuttle to and from the park at Lake Ann for people who want to swim.”
Lake is quick to add another positive sign.
“The owners are letting us build a permanent stage,” said Lake. “So I get
the sense they want us to stick around. We are on a 100-acre parcel --
twice the size we had at any of the previous locations -- and that parcel
is within 350 acres they own so I know people are going to be impressed.” 

TAKE A PASS
Another change is the elimination of the day pass. Well, sort of.
“A lot of festivals are going to this model and we put a very great price
on the weekend pass and had it include camping,” said Lake. “While we
won’t have a day pass for Friday or Saturday, we will have a day pass just
for Sunday. With our location closer to Traverse City and having
headliners Donna the Buffalo performing both Saturday and Sunday night, we
feel the Sunday day pass will work for people who can’t make it for the
whole weekend.”
So far the concept is working.
“People seem to like it and the lineup we have put together. We have been
to other festivals and people keep telling us that they can’t wait for
Dunegrass,” said Lake. “Considering our advance ticket sales are twice
what they were last year at this time we feel confident that we are going
to have a great turnout.” 

The 19th Annual Dunegrass Festival starts Friday August 5 and continues
through Sunday August 7. For tickets, the weekend schedule and a map to
the new location checkout
www.dunegrassmusicfestival.org. 
 
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