16 bands, solo musicians to perform

Thunder Bay Folk Society is hosting a fundraiser at Latitudes Tavern on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. with a total of 16 bands and solo artists performing throughout the event. Proceeds will go toward support of a musical festival slated for Sept. 26-27 at the Alpena Antique Tractor and Steam Engine show grounds.

Local musicians scheduled to appear are Dan Agar, The Birch Road String Band, Roadkill Jack, Amy & Ozzy Mason, Raining Violets, Jeff Kowalski, Lee Kitzman, Wild Rose and the Thorns, Ron Armstrong, Dan Wicks, Russ Franzen, Josh Lane, and Brandon and Brittany Szatkowski.

Jeff Kowalski of Latitudes will have food available for sale throughout the day. There will also be drink and beer specials, door prizes and tons of fun. Additionally, TBFS will have hoodies and long sleeve T-shirts featuring its logo available. Memberships in the organization will be offered as well for $5. Memberships benefit the society and get members on a mailing list to stay informed about all upcoming events.

TBFS is a non-profit (application pending) organization founded last summer by a group of local musicians with a goal of bringing an annual folk music festival to the Alpena area. The mission statement is “to broaden awareness of traditional music and arts, and bring additional cultural and educational opportunities to Northeast Michigan.”

The planned festival will feature many local artists providing both music and traditional arts such as weaving, pottery and handmade crafts.

“There is a wealth of talent in the Alpena area that we would really love to bring together and showcase in a weekend event,” said TBFS board member Bonnie Bartz.

“The tractor grounds is an ideal venue for a two-day festival,” said TBFS President Lee Kitzman. “It is conveniently located, and rustic camping is available to those who wish to stay overnight to take advantage of all the festivities.”

The organization also is involved with two other community events that have been very successful. TBFS and Inspiration Alcona have joined forces to host contra dances alternating between Alpena and Lincoln. Contra dances are community dances done in groups of four with a live band and a dance caller. The groups of four constantly change as the dance progresses so it is a perfect way to meet new people while having fun.

“The contra dances have been a huge success both here in Alpena and in Lincoln. The dances are attended by people ages 12 to 86,” said TBFS Vice President Kevin Ballmer. “It’s great to see more and more young people coming out to these dances. Everyone really has a blast.”

The dances alternate between counties. The next dance is scheduled for April 19 at 6 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Alpena. Admission is $5 to help cover the cost of the band and the caller, but is free to students with a valid ID.

The second event is a monthly Tribal Drum Circle hosted by local drummer Paul Conger and his wife, Kris, co-owners of the Black Sheep Pub. The first drum circle was held Feb. 9. Twenty drummers participated and the house was full of spectators. Drum circles are held monthly at the Black Sheep.

Organizers of Saturday’s fundraiser hopes the public turns out in force.

“This is an opportunity to get out and enjoy some great music while benefiting a great cause,” Bartz said.

For more information about TBFS, go thunderbayfolksociety.org.