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Theatre, Music, etc.



June 20, 2008

A week of women in the Michigan woods

Does it feel, at times, like it’s all just too much? Cataclysmic climate change, economic freefall, and George W still in office . . .

There’s one sure cure for cynicism and despair: a week of women in the Michigan woods.

The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is back for its 33rd year from August 5 to 10.

The festival is more than an escape--though it’s great for clearing your lungs of city smog and shaking off your Internet and cell phone addictions.

Michigan is a place to experience what’s missing from this mass-produced, terror-alerted culture. The festival is a place of contagious creativity, of passion and fashion and fierce inspiration. It’s a land run by women of all ages who dare to defy stereotypes and refuse to play by the rules.

Michigan is community, created anew each year. First-timers and old hands work side by side to deliver a full system of community services. It provides a hint of what the world might feel like if it were powered by an ethic of taking care instead of taking over.

It’s also a party without parallel. The six-day event features forty performances spanning every genre, every generation, and a world mix of sounds. For as little as $66 per day (advance purchase, 6-day rate), an all-inclusive ticket delivers concerts on three stages, hundreds of workshops, a film festival, dances, sporting events, and a crafts bazaar, along with delicious meals, campgrounds with hot outdoor showers, and a full range of support services.

Joining many long-time audience faves, one-third of this year’s performers are festi-virgins.

Making its festival debut in a setting that’s hosted thousands of vagina dialogues is Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. Directed by Alix Olson in honor of the 10th anniversary of V-Day, the Tuesday and Thursday Acoustic Stage performances feature Elvira Kurt, Marga Gomez, Staceyann Chin, and other special guests.

This year’s Singer-Songwriter Spotlight includes the Malaysian indie-folk of Mei Chern, Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Competition winner Julie Clark, Pittsburgh native Nicole Reynolds, and Detroit folk rocker Sista Otis. Chinese musical virtuoso Yang Ying returns to Michigan after her 1996 performance with Cobra, the first women’s rock and roll band to travel outside of China. Also on the intimate Acoustic Stage, crowd pleasers Natalia Zukerman, Jambalaya, and Ellis with Ann Heaton.

Saturday night at the Acoustic Stage has Emma’s Revolution opening for the legendary Holly Near. Closing the show is Laura Love’s new bluegrass band Harper’s Ferry, exploring the intersection of African and European traditions.

And that’s just the Acoustic Stage! The sun-kissed Day Stage kicks off Thursday with Angie Evans’ political grooves, Garrison Starr’s gorgeous vocals, and the sultry stylings of Patrice Pike. Friday’s Hip Hop at High Noon brings together some of the genre’s most groundbreaking female artists: Medusa from Los Angeles, Yo Majesty from Tampa, and the Bay Area’s JenRO. If you have anything left over after these MCs tear up the stage, you can throw yourself into Boyskout’s mosh pit. Saturday’s Day Stage swings with salsa impresarios Mayra Casales and CoCoMaMa, along with Canadian hip hop troubadour Kinnie Starr, and Blame Sally, considered San Francisco’s answer to the Dixie Chicks.

After Wednesday’s spectacular Opening Celebration, the Night Stage kicks into full gear with blues powerhouse Ruthie “Phenomenal Woman” Foster, followed by L Word superstars Betty. Thursday night displays the full genius of Michigan’s genre-bending mixed bills: Brooklyn performance artist Hanifah Walidah, the old-school-new-school combo of Ferron with Bitch, and dance-punk divas Von Iva.

Friday night kicks off with the klezmer mania of Isle of Klezbos, followed by rising star Erin McKeown, and the full-on force of Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely. The Chix Lix review is back, this time featuring some favorite movie scores. And the Night Stage closes Saturday with two of the country’s hottest acts: Patty Larkin and Antigone Rising.

But Sunday is another day, opening with Ubaka Hill’s Drumsong Orchestra and Aleah Long’s One World Inspirational Choir. The ever-popular Comedy afternoon features Marga Gomez with two comics new to Michigan but well known to Logo and Comedy Central viewers: Poppy Champlin and Sandra Valls. Ruth Barrett’s Candlelight Concert puts the week to bed.

So now, more than ever, don’t you agree? You don’t just want to be there. You need to be there.

For more information, write to We Want the Music Co., P.O. Box 22, Walhalla, MI 49458 or go online at, or call 231-7574766.

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