Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Dunegrass
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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.

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
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

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.” 

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
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