More than a festival…..
Say the words Hiawatha Music Co-op and most people think of that organization’s Traditional Music Festival, one of the most anticipated annual events in the Marquette area, the Upper Peninsula, and upper Midwest region.
But the Co-op is much more than an amazing weekend of music, blended voices, and fiddle tunes. One of their goals is to highlight the rich source (heritage) of traditional music groups living right here in Michigan, with focus on Marquette groups. “Community integration and collaboration with our local businesses is important to us,” says Julie Foster-Lindquist, president of the Board and founding member of the Co-op. For example, she says, “the Co-op looks to hold events in a variety of venues throughout the year”. To that end, the Co-op puts on a monthly concert called “Hiawatha on TAAP”, or HoTAAP, referring to Traditional Acoustic Arts Performances and formerly called “Warm Up Wednesday”. This is held on the third Wednesday of each month, January through May, at the Ore Dock Brewing Company from 6-8pm. Check out all our performers from these events on our “Year In Review” reports listed here.
The year of 2020 brought many changes to the Co-op due to the national Covid-19 pandemic. We did manage to get a few events in before everything shut down, and had just a couple other events with masks and social distancing later in the year. One highlight of the mostly negative influence on live music was our success in pivoting very quickly to a weekly virtual live concert series presented on our Facebook page. We delighted in the music each week and felt good about supporting sidelined musicians with 50% of the donations each week to help them survive during the pandemic. All in all, we produced 51 shows in 2020 and 2021 with more than 80 musicians and reaching hundreds in our audience from local, around the country and beyond to many countries.
The HoTAAP Concert Series now in its sixth year, has featured local and regional traditional music bands. That’s something that those involved with Hiawatha strive to do: Bring traditional music into the spotlight. “In addition to our Festival Committee that plans our annual Festival, our Events and Concert Committee is an active part of bringing traditional music to our area”, said Susan Divine, executive director of the Hiawatha Music Co-op. “The committee meets on a regular basis to brainstorm and bring events to life that expose folks to traditional American Music. Such music includes such music genres as bluegrass, old timey, Cajun, Irish, blues, gospel, Appalachian, to name a few”.
In past few years, the Co-op was not only busy with the HoTAAP, but held a fundraiser at the Chocolay River Brewery and Restaurant featuring a high energy lower Michigan bluegrass band, Dragon Wagon, and local favorites The Union Suits and Lost Creek; held a concert in September co-sponsored with the NMU UNITED Conference and the Beaumier Heritage Center featuring Appalachian master musicians, Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz; co-sponsored with the Beaumier Heritage Center Northern Night Concert series in October featuring Canadian folk band Les Poules a Colin; and held their annual Members meeting at the Elks Lodge in October 2015 featuring swing band Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys and November 2016 featuring The Johns. In December 2015, the Co-op once again partnered with the Beaumier Heritage Center Northern Nights Concert series to bring nationally known singer-songwriter Claudia Schmidt to the area for a concert held at the Marquette Regional Historical Center. September 2016 was the date of a standing room only concert with master musicians Dave Bing and protege Ben Townsend held in the Community Room at the Peter White Public Library. A very special concert was held in June 2017 with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. This event brought out a huge crowd excited to hear songs from their youth. Peter did not disappoint. In October 2017, our annual master artist was guitar aficionado, Wayne Henderson with Helen White. Our November Annual Meeting featured local bluegrass band, Chasin’ Steel. This year, we have been just as busy with other events around the area! In addition to our 2018 HoTAAP concert series, we hosted a NMU graduation event at the Ore Dock with the Dead Pigeons, the Saline Philharmonic Fiddlers in downtown Rosewood Walkway in collaboration with the City of Marquette Art Week Stroll, the Blackrocks Brewery Hiawatha beer release party with the Union Suits, the Ore Dock Festival Kickoff event with Them Coulee Boys and the infamous singer songwriter, Si Kahn at a concert, workshop and singalong in September.
In 2020, the Co-op along with the Beaumier UP Heritage Center, the Peter White Public Library and others held the second Winter Roots Festival. This event featured all local musicians at 3 different venues on a cold Saturday in February. This event proved to be highly successful, despite a terrible weather forecast. The day was capped off with a lively concert by Festival Teen Scene favorite, Black Jake and the Carnies.
In late April and early May 2019, Hiawatha had a trio of events that began with the April HoTAAP, mentioned up above. Then along with the Peter White Public Library and the Carroll Paul Memorial Fund, we brought up North Carolinians, Frank and Allie Lee, in a concert/workshop package. Bringing up the rear of this trio of concerts, we hosted our very first house concert in our new office with House of Hamill, a Irish/Celtic fiddle duo
Since 2015, the local brewing company, Blackrocks Brewery has collaborated with Hiawatha to produce a special craft beer for the Festival, called ‘Hiawatha Wheat’, complete with the Festival logo. The craft beer is sold in many local venues in the weeks leading to the Festival and is featured at a ‘release’ party at Blackrocks on Third Street a couple of weeks prior to the Festival.
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