Starting Memorial Day weekend and continuing through the summer, five Michigan cities within easy driving distance of Saline and Ann Arbor will host some of the hottest bluegrass picking in the country. It all begins Saturday, May 25 when Country Music Hall of Fame artist and Grand Ole Opry star Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder returns to Ann Arbor with special guests The Saline Fiddlers.
From there, Milan, Charlotte, Marshall and Wellston are all hosting bluegrass festivals featuring standard bearers like Del & Dawg (Del McCoury and David Grisman), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the Lonesome River Band, plus a treasure trove of hot bands from around the country.
Click on the links for ticket information, maps, schedules and music videos.
Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder Live at the Michigan Theater, May 25
Since Ricky Skaggs struck his first chords on a mandolin at age 7, he has topped the country music charts 11 times, earned 15 Grammys and performed with legends of the genre from Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs to contemporary artists like Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Bruce Hornsby and burgeoning stars like Sierra Hull and Carson Peters.
Camp Greensky Bluegrass Festival, June 6 – 8
Held in the Manistee National Forest town of Wellston, this festival may feature the most diverse lineup of the season, mixing legends like Del & Dawg (Del McCoury and Dave Grisman) and the Kalamazoo-based “jamgrass” band Greensky Bluegrass with acclaimed country-rock band Hiss Golden Messenger from North Carolina, Jamaican-American musician Stephen Marley and pillars of the Michigan music scene, including Joshua Davis and Billy Strings, a thrilling live performer who Rolling Stone Magazine said is like “observing a hummingbird in its natural state.”
Charlotte Bluegrass Festival, June 20 – 22
Now in its 47th year, this festival at the Eaton County Fair will present some of the biggest names in bluegrass, including IBMA Hall of famer Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Lonesome River Band, one of the most respected bands in the genre for decades, and Russell Moore & IIIrd Time Out, which won an unsurpassed seven consecutive IBMA awards for Vocal Group of the Year.
Marshall Bluegrass Festival, July 21– 27
Launched 22 years ago, this festival staged at the Calhoun County Fairgrounds, features Michigan’s largest bluegrass jam, more than a dozen bands include North Carolina-based Sideline, Steve Gulley & New Pinnacle from Tennessee and Sammy Adkins and The Sandy Hook Mountain Boys from Kentucky, and other events, including euchre, Texas Hold ‘em and cornhole tournaments.
Milan Bluegrass Festival, July 31 – August 3
This four-day festival is also entering its 22nd year. This year’s stellar lineup includes Grammy winner Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, The Gibson Brothers, who were named back-to-back Entertainers of the Year by the IBMA in 2012 and 2013, the return of both Russell Moore & IIIrd Time Out and The Lonesome River Band to Michigan, the Trinity River Band from Florida and more.