Musicians unite to form Thunder Bay Folk Society

The newly established Thunder Bay Folk Society may only be in the infant stage, but already 31 members have joined. The society’s mission is to bring cultural and educational opportunities to Northeast Michigan with a focus on traditional music and arts.

“The core group of members are a number of local musicians,” said Lee Kitzman of Lost Lake Woods, a spokesman for the new group. “We were sitting around, and the point was made that there are only a certain amount of places in town that support live music. It’s kind of limited. We asked, ‘what can we do to change that?’ So we decided we will create our own events and we will create our own organization.”

Already the group has become incorporated, with its next official step being to acquire nonprofit status. Toward that end, members have planned a fundraiser to generate money to cover the $400 nonprofit status application fee.

The fundraiser involves nine different acts taking their turn performing from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. today at The Black Sheep Pub in downtown Alpena. There is no cover charge to attend, but donations will be accepted.

“We started talking with the music community, and our fellow musicians thought what we had in mind to do was an incredible idea,” Kitzman said. “A good number of them stepped forward and are willing to play tonight at no cost whatsoever.”

Paul Conger, owner of The Black Sheep, also lent his support by offering the venue for tonight’s inaugural event. A promoter of live music, Conger has since become a member of the newly formed folk society.

Musicians performing tonight include Charles Adlai and Kyle Fisher, Eric Joseph Glatz, Connor Larkin and Friends, Joshua Lane and Joe Brisson, Steven Rea, Chris Crown, The River Street Band, Kim Dahl and Friends, Wayne Kendziorski and Cal Howard.

“We’ve created quite a little buzz around town,” Kitzman said. “What we really want to do is like I said, bring greater cultural and educational opportunities throughout the year featuring local talent. We have an incredible amount of local talent in our small community. It’s just absolutely wealthy with local talent.”

Ultimately, the group hopes to put together a three-day folk festival in Alpena.

“The direction we are heading in is a three-day folk festival with camping, a notable headliner for Friday and Saturday, and a lot of local talent,” Kitzman said. “The folk society will be the sponsor. There will be a lot of traditional arts being practiced on site, such as weaving and leather work.”

The group also plans to conduct a variety of workshops over the winter months.

“The first one we are going to have is building a cigar box ukulele and teaching participants how to play four chords and two songs. We hope this will be an inspiration for them to continue learning,” said Kitzman, who has been playing music since the fourth grade and currently plays the guitar as well as the mandolin, banjo and harmonica. He is also a songwriter.

In the meantime, today’s musical fundraiser is one of two such events set to take place before the end of the year. A second one will be held at another familiar location that supports local music in the community. Funds raised at the second event will be earmarked for Alpena Community College’s Christmas Wish List program, Kitzman said.

For more information on the Thunder Bay Folk Society, go online to