Porcupine Music Festival powers through rain | News, Sports, Jobs

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Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Myron Elkins plays the opening set of the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival Friday afternoon. The first day of the two-day festival saw delays due to weather, but drew an enthusiastic crowd.

PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS STATE PARK — Whether on the hill, inside the chalet, or inside the busking barn, people could find their community at the 17th annual Porcupine Mountains Music Festival.

The two-day festival brings 23 acts to the ski hill and indoor chalet stages, spanning a wide mix of genres.

Before the first set Friday, many music lovers had already assembled on the hill.

Under what was at that time a broiling sun, Kim Langdon of Ontonagon had one of the best vantage points from the shade by his trailer. He’s been volunteering with the festival since it began, helping with everything from setup to night security.

“I enjoy everything — the people, the music,” he said. “You see a lot of old friends you made over the years. You meet a lot of nice people. It’s quiet, laid-back. Just good, clean fun.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Myron Elkins plays the opening set of the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival Friday afternoon. The first day of the two-day festival saw delays due to weather, but drew an enthusiastic crowd.

The opening hours of the festival included a ferocious set from newcomer Myron Elkins, followed by a thunderstorm that delayed outdoor sets and sent festivalgoers inside.

Elkins, of Otsego, Michigan, got the festival started with a mix of Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque guitar attacks, churning funk and bluesy laments. He played songs from his debut album, “Factories, Farms and Amphetamines” along with a handful of new songs, which earned some of the loudest cheers of the set.

He’d been up in the area since Monday for his first trip to the Ontonagon area, taking in sights like Lake of the Clouds, he told the crowd.

After leaving the stage to a standing ovation and cries of “One more,” he appreciated the enthusiastic welcome.

“It’s a great crowd,” he said afterward. “Most of the time, with it being the first day, not a lot of people are out there and you’re just playing to people coming in.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Festivalgoers give a standing ovation to Myron Elkins as he finishes his opening set at the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival.

The 22-year-old singer was coming off a run on the Outlaw Music Festival, where he played onstage with Willie Nelson and John Fogerty.

“That was unreal,” he said. “And then I’m a big fan of Fogerty, CCR. That was crazy.”

While he didn’t talk with them, he did get to meet some of Nelson’s band members, including Mickey Raphael, a famed harmonica player who’s also played with Waylon Jennings and U2, among others.

As he spoke afterwards, Elkins was frequently greeted by new fans, who got selfies with him or compared him to other powerful acts they’d seen at the festival whose careers kept growing.

Part of the crowd energy in Elkins’ set came from Karen Wiesland of Rockland, who was grooving near the stage.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
A group of musicians, including Busking Barn director Eric Hopper, plays during an open jam at the barn Friday during the opening day of the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival.

“I love freeform dancing out front,” she said. “My two nieces and I do that, just going from one place to another. It’s a wonderful venue for listening to a variety of music.”

The festival has helped her find out about new music; her favorite discovery over the years has been the Marquette group Conga Se Menne, which she called “a wonderful blend of Finnish and reggae.”

After Myron Elkins’ Friday set, she was ready to put him on that tier.

“He’s amazing,” she said.

Shortly after Elkins played, the thunder and rain arrived. Bluegrass band Humbird was delayed as volunteers covered amps and the crowd ran inside.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Mike Grochowski, artist in residence at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, works on a painting of the Busking Barn during an open jam at the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival Friday.

Fortunately, there were indoor places where they could catch music — inside the ski chalet, or if they could brave a quick dash in the rain, the Busking Barn. Crowds kept dry there watching a succession of local and amateur musicians take the stage.

Several musicians, including Busking Barn director Eric Hopper, took part in an open jam. On “This Land Is Your Land,” the crowd took up their suggestion to sing along on the chorus. On less familiar songs, the guitar players took the lead, giving the rest of the impromptu band the chord progression at the start.

One of those watching was Pam Metivier of Escanaba. She’s come to play in the Busking Barn for the past eight years.

“It’s a fabulous opportunity for us just to get up and share what we do,” she said. “People are always so supportive here. We’ve never been to a festival that does anything like this.”

Before she beat the rainstorm to the chalet, she also watched Elkins’ set.

“It’s fantastic, and they’re all really young,” she said. “It makes me feel good that we’re in good hands, when you see a band like that in their 20s.”

As the open jam went on, another Busking Barn was taking shape on Mick Grochowski’s canvas. The Virginia painter has a two-week residency at the Porkies.

“It’s great,” he said of the festival. “I haven’t seen the rest of it, but this part’s really good.”

His paintings and the works of other past artists-in-residence will be on display at an upcoming show at the Ontonagon Theater. It will run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 2-3 during Labor Day weekend, with a break on Sunday for the Labor Day parade.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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