The Earthwork Music Collective has been a benevolent force in the Michigan music scene for years, giving voice to musicians and artists from all over the region and utilizing music to support local communities in a variety of ways. And they can really get a crowd dancing, too.
On Nov. 6-10, the Earthwork Music Collective will be bringing their singular variety show of folk, bluegrass, Americana, and storytelling to venues across Michigan, and Kalamazoo is one of the stops on the tour.
The Earthwork Music Collective is a tight-knit group of Michigan and Midwestern musicians, who, according to the Collective’s website, “serve to facilitate and encourage original music in the state of Michigan and beyond.”
“To me, the Earthwork Music Collective is a group of cultural workers who are working to use music and the arts to raise community and self-awareness,” Sam Cooper, one of the Collective’s artists and one the artists participating in the tour, said. “It’s definitely a regional-based thing, very focused on building long-term, sustainable relationships within the community.”
Aside from playing and supporting shows across the region, the Earthwork Music Collective participates in a wealth of other events and activities, like hosting the annual Earthwork Harvest Gathering music festival, a three-day gathering of musicians and artists held on farmland in the Upper Peninsula that provides, according to the festival’s website, “a creative, supportive environment for independent musicians to share their work with the community and to foster a collaborative, cooperative culture among musicians.”
“I think what also makes the Earthwork Music Collective unique is that [the members] are all great, experienced performers,” Cooper said. “Not necessarily just musicians, but storytellers and innovators too.”
“We’ve also put on a lot of educational events as a collective, lots of afterschool programming with local schools,” Cooper added. “We’re very family friendly and open to playing shows and doing any sort of community engagement. We encourage anyone interested to contact us about that, too.”
The Earthwork Music Collective consists of artists from all over the state of Michigan and beyond, including Luke Winslow-King, Strawberry Heritage, Red Tail Ring, and Kalamazoo’s own Red Sea Pedestrians and the Go Rounds. The various artists in the Collective often embark on tours, but this Collective Tour is a bit more special.
“Most often members tour on their own, and the Collective acts as a network helping to support these tours,” Cooper said. “This Collective Tour is definitely more of a rare occurrence. There is going to be some cross-pollination between the artists, a lot of people will be sitting in and playing on each other’s songs.”
The artists on the Collective Tour include: Seth and May Bernard, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, darleneYa, Dede and the Dreamers, Strawberry Heritage, Joe Reilly, and Sam Cooper. Cooper assures that the bands on the tour will provide a wide cross-section of styles, from “ethereal gypsy music” to “true-life tales of bank-robbing aunties, moonshinin’ grandpas, and celebrations of love, life, and nature”, according to the tour press release.
Those interested in sampling this wide cross-section of styles are in luck, as the Collective just released a compilation album of 23 live recordings from their various artists, including many on the Collective Tour. That album is available at their website for a donation of $5, $10, or $20.
Interested parties will also be happy to hear that the Earthwork Music Collective will be playing in Kalamazoo on Nov. 8 at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, located at 129 S. Park St., at 7 p.m. There is a suggestion donation of $10-20, and all proceeds will go the artists. Preceding the show will be a potluck which all are invited to attend.
“This tour is going to me a mix of a lot of things. Some of the shows will be family friendly,” Cooper said. “We’re really excited about the Kalamazoo show because it’s part of a new concert series. The new pastor [at First Congregational United Church of Christ], Rev. Nathan Dannison, the former fiddler of the band Who Hit John?, he’s helping bridge the gap between the church and the community through the arts.”
For more information on the tour, artist bios, merchandise, albums, and contact information, visit the Earthwork Music Collective’s website at https://www.earthworkmusic.com/. Below, view the dates and locations for the Collective Tour.
The Earthwork Music collective believes in the intrinsic and historical power of music to raise both community and self-awareness and serves to facilitate and encourage original music in the state of Michigan and beyond.