By Kevin Alan Lamb
Handmade music, made with love, built upon a foundation of possibility and the best intentions. Music is medicine and our world needs healing; our people need healing. Our community is hungry for an active reminder that we are not alone and despite the challenges before us, we will retrace our steps to the ethics and ideals that once brought us from the wild into villages, and one another’s lives.
If you’re like me you’ve heard of Chesaning, Michigan, but probably don’t know much about it. The first mention of Chesaning in the written pages of history came in 1819, with the signing of the Saginaw Treaty. With the treaty Chippewa Indians established 10,000 acres along the Shiawassee River known as “Big Rock Reserve.” Chesaning is a Chippewa word meaning “big rock place,” where the first music festival was birthed in 1937 to combat the Great Depression blues.
Even the most desperate of times are given hope with song and dance. While it’s been 81 years since Chesaning Chamber of Commerce and Showboat Park went into show business, the ancient spirit of music has remained. Cole and Evan Rupple are revitalizing that spirit by celebrating Michigan music and the hands, hearts, and habitat required to grow and nurture it.
“Handmade Music Festival was created by and for the love of music and community. We are creating an atmosphere where the music flows freely, as does love, friendship and gratitude. Music is a universal language bringing generations together and that is our mission. A portion of the proceeds of this festival will be donated to Showboat Park/Amphitheater and to The Healing Nest located in Corunna, Michigan. We are creating the perfect atmosphere while swaying to a handpicked playlist of bluegrass, psychedelic folk, Americana, and soul.”
Handmade Music Festival will open the gates for its inaugural year Friday, October 12 at 2:00 PM, with programming running until 11:00 PM on Saturday, October 13. Over 20 handmade original Michigan bands will be featured including The Gasoline Gypsies, Melophobix, Bluegrass Jones (Desmond Jones rare acoustic bluegrass), Chirp, Tell Yo Momma, and Act Casual.
Celebrate local artistry in a family friendly environment featuring vendors, food trucks, camping, and a pop up glow disco golf course sponsored by Disc Downtown. Disc Downtown is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to growing the sport of disc golf, encouraging healthier lifestyles, building stronger communities and bangin’ chains.
In an effort to curate a community that welcomes and fosters mental health, Handmade Music has teamed up with Roochute, who deploy “Parachutes with Purpose” to create happiness and promote preventative mental health. In just two years, Roochute has touched hundred of thousands of people across the US spanning seven cities and 13 major music festivals.
“Roochute highlights the importance of mental health in our personal lives through dialogue during our Parachute Play. We facilitate and empower meaningful dialogue surrounding acts of kindness, gratitude, and self-care. Roochute creates the conversation about preventative mental health and self care through social media.”
Music insists that we occupy the present and connect with people, emotions, art, and sound. It offers the opportunity to grow a community capable of encouraging and empowering others, offering an outlet to feel safe, comforted, and loved. It reminds us of the good and beauty we hold inside, and may have chosen to forget about. I found the confidence to be myself at Harvest Gathering close to five years ago. I remember standing outside the barn, listening to Chris Dorman’s “Begin Again” with tears pouring out my eyes, because music had spoke to me where my own thoughts and words could not.
Handmade Music celebrates the free spirited, entrepreneur in each and all of you. It is a sacred opportunity to be at the first incarnation of what will grow to be a staple in the Michigan festival scene.
“I mean, ever since I was a child I would create killer line ups in my head!” Cole Rupple says while laughing. “Always the visions of grandeur when it comes to making an amazing evening of music for everyone to enjoy! But it seemed possible or like it would be something we would do in the not so distant future around the time we came off of festival season last year. Having met so many musicians and made so many friends, why not get them all together? Our friends and co-coordinators on our committee approached us with some ideas and we were all for it. We went right to work on curating the best line up we could!
I am grateful to be a part of this creation and hope to give all of my best parts to an experience that will help myself and others grow the world we wish to live in. I believe our political climate provides the necessary backdrop for dramatic social, and ecological evolution. We celebrate our great state by cherishing the land, water, and kind souls who give it life.
Folks like Seth Bernard who has been integral in the birth of Handmade Music, and the preservation of our greatest resource, clean water. The Clean Water Campaign aims “To protect the future of our water by spreading awareness for clean water issues in the 2018 elections and empower the public to elect candidates who will ensure clean, safe drinking water for all people, end the Nestle bottling loophole, and shut down Line 5!”
Great art is born from struggle, and no burden bears a greater weight than depriving citizens clean water. First, it was Highland Park, then Flint… it’s time to collectively stand for basic human rights and protect our natural resources. Throughout history, music has served as the medium to facilitate social, ecologic, and economic growth in direct response to a catalyst in the form of tragedy.
Located on the banks of the Shiawassee, Showboat Park is 68 acres of opportunity to explore and enjoy. Chesaning offers “respite and relaxation, quaint and quintessential. It’s the kind of place where you can still stroll along the boulevard or stop into mom & pop shops and be greeted by the owners themselves.” (Pure Michigan)
“Chesaning has some flavor, for such a small village! Something about the family atmosphere really makes it easy to create and be a part of something in this community. The bands and musicians that live in and/or come out of this area are really great – though oft’ overlooked. Due to their central location perhaps? Our friends in A.M. Cr3w, Zachary James are just two of the Chesaning acts that are going to tear it up at Handmade this year – they are two in a long list of the driven artists making special art in such a small area,” Cole Rupple says.
Chesaning’s amphitheater, located inside Showboat Park, “was home to many musicians, dancers and members of this wonderful community for decades. A portion of proceeds will be donated to the preservation and maintenance of the amphitheater, allowing the community to once again bring art to life right in our own backyard.”
Proceeds from Handmade Music will also be utilized to support The Healing Nest. The Healing Nest is a non-profit organization located in Corunna, MI. The Healing Nest provides a free resource for women with cancer that treats the mind, body and spirit. The Healing Nest reaches out to women with cancer by offering a series of wellness treatments designed to comfort, encourage, and enlighten. Most importantly, they bring women together for support and healing when they need it the most.
“All of us have been touched by cancer in one way or another, and we want to celebrate the generosity, dedication and hard work The Healing Nest provides to women in surrounding communities living with this disease.”
Tim Williams, from the award winning 20 Front Street in Lake Orion has teamed up with Handmade Music to curate an industry panel to coach artists. This workshop is designed to tap the knowledge of industry veterans on topics such as booking, promotion, social media, and relationship management. In a similar effort, Handmade Music has offered any musician free entry who applied to play Handmade Music before the deadline.
“We have a Major Chords for Minors workshop, guided river trail tours, yoga, a 90 minute Strong Heart drumming meditation, drum circle, kid activity zone, and more! We are a family friendly event. Kids 10 & under are free,” Rebecca McCallum says.
Michigan is an oasis for creativity, strength, and endurance. Handmade Music celebrates our collective gifts and hopes find a place in your heart for Chesaning, the big rock reserve along the Shiawassee River.
“It’s much smaller (to traverse, see all of, meet people in) and much more tight knit than some, it would seem – a real sense of family comes with being in the Michigan music scene, especially up North. The Northern Michigan festival scene and community really inspired us to be a part of Handmade by welcoming us into their family and with their grassroots attitudes – it made Handmade seem like the right thing to do for the right reasons,” Cole Rupple says.
Handmade Music LLC is made up of five members: Cheri Thiel, Evan Rupple, Cole Rupple, Julie Thomas, and Rebecca McCallum. Evan and Cole will be performing with their band, The Rupple Brothers and Company.
“It doesn’t feel like we built this music festival. It feels like we created the space for her to bloom and blossom into our very careful hands. Bringing a huge creative project into the world has been an experience like no other. We came together in January after hosting a mini festival fundraiser for our dear friend/mother/fairy godmother (Shelly), who had been diagnosed with a rare form of appendix cancer and was unable to work. The entire community came together, even adding an extended roof onto the patio of the bar, to make room for our benefit. The event came together so quickly and was a huge success. We decided to try it out on a larger scale, to help more people. We’ve designed a brand new music festival from the ground up. We had no money, just a big idea and a supportive community,” McCallum says.
Do you like the idea of building from the ground up? Do you value the use of your hands to create something meaningful and leave behind for others to experience? Do you believe in the potential of our people and feel it’s time to build a better world, with your own two hands? I hope so, because we need you.
Just in case you were listening for one, This is a Good Sound.
Single day admission is $35 and includes rustic, car camping.
Weekend admission is $50 and includes rustic, car camping.
VIP Weekend admission is $75 and includes rustic, car camping, access to VIP Tent, and a Handmade Gift Bag.
VIP Electric Camping is $100 and includes tree shaded ELECTRIC camping + access to the VIP tent, and a Handmade Gift Bag!