PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS STATE PARK — Even when the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival was suspended, fans didn’t.
“They kept their reservations” said director Cheryl Sundberg. “They came here and they put their chairs on the hill. And they sat there and sang, and they made videos and we saw them on Facebook. It really lifted our spirits. »
After two years without a festival, crowds were back on the hill soaking up the music of folk, rock, blues, bluegrass and more. The Porcupine Mountains Music Festival returned with a slimmed down two-day schedule Thursday and Friday.
Getting the festival back up and running was a Herculean effort, said director Cheryl Sundberg. During the pandemic, organizers and volunteers have come together to decide their future.
“When we had our meeting, it was so clear that everyone was so committed,” she says. “Everyone was there, and when the time was right, we moved forward.”
Two years later, he is back, not without some changes. The festival had been stretched as far as it could go before, Sundberg said. They decided to reduce it to two days.
“Sunday has always been a slower day” she says. “A lot of people went home, and it made sense to focus on a strong two-day event and maintain the quality on stage. And that we would come back roaring, and we did.
And judging by the crowd reaction, they can’t wait to get back.
“Last night was like a Saturday, which is usually our biggest day,” Sundberg said. “And today is bigger.”
The festival chooses its programming by combing through the hundreds of submissions that pass through its website. They also find numbers by listening to public radio or going to concerts.
The acts often say it’s like a vacation for them, Sundberg said.
“Sometimes their cell phones don’t work,” she says. “They can de-stress, they linger and they don’t want to leave. They go out on the tour circuit and tell their friends they have to go to the Porkies.
One of the new artists this year was Heather Maloney, a singer-songwriter from New Jersey, who performed with the High Tea Duo backing vocals. She was amazed by the experience, saying: “The atmosphere is really good here.”
“You can’t beat the view and what you get from the mountain,” she said minutes after finishing her set to a standing ovation. “It’s a nice feedback loop. I’ve never had this, so it definitely stands out.
Throwback to a Joni Mitchell live album where she asked the crowd to sing “off key” Maloney enlisted the audience as background singers.
His directive was even more specific in its release: “Sing this chorus with us as if you were three or four.” (They nailed it.)
After fans loudly applauded the a cappella ending of another song, Maloney returned the favor.
“I think it’s a very beautiful thing when a festival like this comes together and comes together around original music, music you may not have heard before, and connect with words, feelings and stories”, she says. “It’s a really, really special and beautiful thing and I’m so glad we got into it.”
The festival-goers were happy to be back.
Ontonagon’s Kelly Roehm loves being able to get away from it all and expand her horizons with a mix of musical styles. She was very excited to see the psych-rock band The Slambovians, frequent performers at the festival.
This year, she also brought her sister and her husband, who live in Las Vegas.
“They’ve never been here before, and they’re addicted,” she says. “They will be there next year.”