Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on March 29, 2014

Yes, Michigan is a "water wonderland," as this old license plate celebrates. I grew up with that phrase in etched in my mind. The question whether land, water, and its various formations make for a sense of "specialness" or perhaps sacredness is a question that has been asked for centuries. Every city, town, and county has places where folks routinely visit to find peace, whether because of their natural beauty or for other reasons.

As I was growing up I always thought Michigan was a special place, if only because of its water, the many thousands of inland lakes and marshes and wetlands that it contains, not to mention that Michigan is surrounded by 21% of all the fresh water in the entire world, the Great Lakes. And the Great Lakes are really great, as in vast. Lake Superior is 1300 feet deep. These facts alone physically makes Michigan 'special'. But along with the physical comes the creative effects of that specialness, and it seems that music in Michigan is one of those.

Like so many things that slowly dawn on me, I gradually put the pieces of this puzzle together until a picture formed in my mind that Michigan actually was a creative place for music. It is not just my imagination. I am sure there are other places in the world, but Michigan is one of the places on this planet where music thrives. I have speculated why this might be (water, salt, peninsula, etc.), but the fact of Michigan is very musical I have no doubt. As the above license plate says, Michigan is a water wonderland, but it is also a music wonderland. I always felt it was, and thus this current documentary project: "Michigan: A "Wellspring of Music."

Our studio update is finished and my son Michael Andrew and I are working together to actively and document this Michigan music phenomenon. We have been laying the groundwork to do just that. Like me, Michael Andrew is a skilled photographer and videographer. He does video work professionally.
And everyone seems so interested in this project and so helpful. Already, many of you have written us, wanting to help with the project, sending your suggestions, ideas, offering to help us write grants, etc. We need all the help we can get, so please join us. Why not celebrate and document the musical heritage of Michigan, and also highlight what is happening right now musically? It seems that Michigan is continually musically creative – ongoing.

Thank you for your comments and support. They are so encouraging. We are fortunate to be working with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and have their support. I have been busy lining up musicians to interview, and places to document in Michigan where music has arisen and can be found. And we will be especially working with the Earthwork Music Collective, which is a prime example of Michigan musical creativity happening today.

Please continue to comment and send suggestions. You can also email me directly at Michael@Erlewine.net.