Thursday, July 28, 2005

Woodtick expands with Dirt Band

Growing, each year, the 12th annual Woodtick Music Festival next week will feature a national act as well as dozens of local and regional performers.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band-- known by country, rock and folk fans-- will headline on Friday, Aug. 4, said festival organizer Brian Whitens.

Slated to run Aug. 4-7, the festival is expected to draw large crowds to the Hermansville area.

Whitens didn't intend to launch a music festival in 1994 when the first event was held in his garage with a few family and friends. "I had some 'Woodtick' t-shirts printed as a joke," he said.Two more annual music get- togethers were held in his garage until the growing event was moved to downtown Hermansville and then to larger quarters.

Also known as The Dirt Band, the group was a perfect match for Woodtick, Whitens added. The California-based band has had a dozen hits, the most-famous being the massively popular "Mr. Bojangles." The band is enjoying a resurgence following that early success.

Although he's been busy with Woodtick details, Whitens has also found the time to practice with old band-mates and will appear on stage Saturday night. Sunday's line-up will include an acoustic set by the Billy Shears band which originally re-united for a set at last year's festival.

Calling Woodtick "a U. P. thing," Whitens said the line-up features rootsy bluegrass, rock, country, blues and folk acts.

Weekend passes are available at Record Rack, Music Tree, Jim's Music in Marquette, Alias Bar & Grill, Wildwood Truck Stop, Sidetrack Lounge and Perry's Marathon.

Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynryd blazed through their hits during an appearance at the Island Resort & Casino's Woodland Valley Amphitheater in Harris on a hot July 16. With the sun baking concert- goers, Skynryd steamed up the crowd with Sweet Home Alabama, Saturday Night Special, Gimme Three Steps and other tunes. A particularly enthusiastic response was given to Red, White and Blue which the band dedicated to service men and women and their families. A stellar performance of Freebird capped off the somewhat short set. Fireworks followed.

The Kentucky Headhunters opened the show and served up Dumas Walker and their hit version of Spirit in the Sky.

Next up at the casino's outdoor venue is a show entitled "Country Explosion" featuring Clint Black and Lorrie Morgan on Saturday, Sept. 3. The event will include a "Honky Tonk Tailgate Party" showcasing Chad Brock, Darryl Singletary, Jeff Carson and Rhett Atkins.

Upper Peninsla favorite Alice Cooper-- purveyor of such hits as School's Out and I'm Eighteen-- will unleash his new album "Dirty Diamonds" on Tuesday, Aug. 2. Fans will remember his performance at last year's U. P. State Fair. Cooper stayed in town for a few days to play ball, shop and sign autographs.

Rumor has it Michigan rapper Eminem plans to move away from performing and recording and into the producing . The superstar rapper, perhaps the world's most famous performer, has reportedly grown tired to the demands of celebrity and has done all he can do with his Slim Shady persona. He is looking to produce acts such as Proof and Bizarre and lower his profile in the music business. Some associates say "Encore," released last November will be Marshall Mather's last recording and his management is not denying those rumors.

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