The virtual festival hosted by Michigan Music Alliance raises funds for musicians in need, providing a lifeline for the state’s music scene. Check out the video, the full schedule and more.
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For many Michigan musicians, getting the financial support they desperately need after a year-long pandemic that silenced nearly all touring is vital.
But even reconnecting with fans and playing a high-profile event for the first time in many months may be just as important.
That’s why this week’s five-day, online Spread the Music Festival hosted by the Michigan Music Alliance – which kicks off at 10 a.m. today (Wednesday) via MMA’s Facebook page – has attracted so much attention from musicians and fans alike.
By the time the unique virtual festival wraps up on Sunday evening with headliner Brian Vander Ark of The Verve Pipe, more than 200 Michigan artists from across the state will have performed from various venues, stages and home studios, raising money for the Michigan Artist Relief Fund which assists musicians in need.
It’s a lifeline in more ways than one.
“It means everything,’ said West Michigan’s Mark Lavengood, a bluegrass Dobro and guitar whiz who’ll live-stream his Sunday evening set from the stage at Grand Rapids’ Listening Room, along with Loren Johnson, Stovepipe Stover, Emilee Petersmark, Ben Traverse and Hannah Laine.
“It means I get that thrill of being on the stage again. It’s Michigan Music Alliance stepping up to put money into artists’ pockets and empowering artists with knowledge to stay afloat during the pandemic.”
Lavengood made the comments during a recent video interview at Grand Haven’s Third Coast Recording, with Michigan Music Alliance board president Bill Chrysler and executive director Elle Lively also on hand.
VIDEO: Spread the Music Festival 2021
Video by David Darling, Michael Whitenack
But Lavengood’s certainly not alone in rallying support for the event.
Michigan artists flooded Michigan Music Alliance with requests to play the second-year festival, and there weren’t enough performance slots to accommodate all of them, Lively said.
DIVERSITY IN GENRES, AGES COMING TOGETHER FOR A COMMON CAUSE
Still, 200-plus artists representing nearly every conceivable genre – and from northern Michigan, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and the lakeshore – will strut their stuff. Traverse City’s The Accidentals headline Friday night’s lineup and Vin Dombroski (Sponge) & Jackson Smith headline Saturday.
The music kicks off at 10 a.m. today with Beaver Xing, followed by 15 performances from other artists, including Jessie Phillips (Eight Belles), Kyle Rasche (Chain of Lakes), Caitlin Cusack, Political Lizard and Audrey Pearson live-streaming their songwriters-in-the-round show from the Listening Room stage starting at 7 p.m.
Kalamazoo’s Bob Rowe & The Green Valley Boys close out the festival’s first day at 11 p.m. Wednesday.
“As veterans of the music business and a long history in this area, we are delighted to be a part of this big event,” Rowe said.
“We are so happy to be in the mix with the younger performers who have kept the music faith through these hard times and also to help support a very important cause. I am personally happy for this chance for us to help spread the music.”
Fans can donate to the cause online here, and links to contribute via Facebook will be available to viewers throughout the festival, which hopes to raise more than $50,000. The MMA also has new merchandise for sale online here, with proceeds going to support the cause.
“I hope we get a lot of folks and fans to show up, and give what they can,” Lavengood said.
Starting May 1, Michigan musicians who make most of their living from music will be able to apply for grants from the Michigan Artist Relief Fund. In 2020, the MMA raised about $40,000 and distributed grants to about 100 musicians.
The alliance, Chrysler said, wants to “spread it out to people who really need the money.”
Tune in to the festival online here starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday (March 24).
Note: Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics is a member of the Michigan Music Alliance Board of Directors.
SPREAD THE MUSIC FESTIVAL 2021: THE SCHEDULE
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