Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along premiers

Rob Bliss & Jeff Barrett, creators of the fantastic Grand Rapids lip dub video premiered their Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along at halftime of the Lions game on Sunday. It was filmed in 50 Michigan cities in 7 days. It’s a pretty cool travelogue of the Great Lakes State in under 4 minutes.

Check out the finished video below and also don’t miss the behind the scenes blog from

Jeremy Stein talks Electric Forest Festival

The Electric Forest Festival is sponsoring Absolute Michigan’s Arts & Entertainment section for the summer, and we’ve got a series of interviews to help you learn more about the festival and musicians who’ll be there:

We partnered with Electric Forest on a giveaway to help one reader (Mark L of Detroit) attend the first-ever Electric Forest Festival This was only the first prize in our “Festival Summer” series of giveaways that require nothing more than putting your address on our email list! We guarantee we won’t sell or share it with anyone, so enter your email below and stay tuned for more giveaways!

Absolute Michigan will not share your email address with anyone. Period. Your inbox is safe with us. What we will share with you is a periodic but usually no more than weekly update, possibly including a special offer, potentially a prize or giveaway and definitely some great news about what is working and fun to do in the Great state called Michigan that we love!

by Bob Lovik

Music is coming back Rothbury this summer after a two-year hiatus that has left a big hole in the Michigan festival circuit. But, don’t call this the Rothbury Festival. This year’s event is the Electric Forest Festival and while it is being produced by the same people, it is an entirely new thing. With a mouth- watering lineup of acts from a huge variety of genres, Electric Forest is being held over four days from June 30th to July 3. Absolute Michigan recently caught up with the very busy Jeremy Stein – the man who created the Rothbury Festival and the upcoming Electric Forest Festival.

The Odeon Stage at RothburyWhy the name change from Rothbury to Electric Forest?

Jeremy Stein: Actually, its not a name change. It is a new event. The Electric Forest Festival is something different from Rothbury which could very well have a future. With the venue, the Double JJ Ranch, we have the possibility of hosting different events of different sizes at different times throughout the year. The Electric Forest Festival is our first foray into doing this and we are really looking forward to trying it out.

The line-up seems to be targeted towards a younger crowd. Tell us a little bit about that.

Mighty Underdogs IIJeremy: It’s so subjective as to what people like. I would have people say the same thing about Rothbury and then we have Willie Nelson on stage. Others said that because we had Bob Dylan and The Dead, we were trying to attract an older audience but I know tons of kids who are into those two. I’m done trying to figure it out I guess. Like Rothbury, we are going to have a lot of dance acts. There has been a great local response to REO Speedwagon playing Saturday afternoon. We just try and program a good variety throughout the day and night.

The common thread of all the bands is integrity and quality. The cream of the crop rises. The biggest part of an event like this is the sense of discovery. It always happens that someone walks up to musicians they know nothing about and get totally blown away. It is our role to have our ear to the ground and try and know what people like before they do.

Are there any bands that you are excited to see?

Jeremy: Truth is, I’ve seen everyone on the lineup. If I wasn’t a fan, they wouldn’t be at the show. Bassnectar has been crazy hot lately. He is a really exciting guy doing really exciting things. He’s really unique and we are excited to have him.

Erin Zindle of the RagbirdsWill there be any exciting Michigan bands taking the stage?

Jeremy: Oh yeah. Greensky Bluegrass is playing. I always like seeing them. There’s a really exciting DJ called Super Dre. She’s really funky. Then there are The Ragbirds. I know that we’ve gotten a tremendous amount of support from Michigan folk already.

What about the venue? What does the Double JJ offer?

Jeremy: There are great new owners there and we are really excited about it. They had a lot of work to do and it is very exciting for us because now we have friends and professional folks to work with who are really trying to do good things.

ReuseYou have mentioned that one of your goals for Electric Forest is to seamlessly integrate music with art. How are you planning on doing that?

Jeremy: One of the great things about the venue is that Sherwood Forest creates this incredible platform that allows us to do almost anything. Electric Forest isn’t just about the music. People will be able to connect over art installations, performance art and cultural art to name a few. The term art is a pretty big umbrella. The art isn’t just in the forest either but the forest creates this social and cultural hang out scene that will be different during the day and night. A lot of festivals are, to an extent, bands and stages, and that’s great but this is more than just music. Electric Forest is a cultural event.

How do you go about designing such a large event?

Jeremy: It’s a collective really. We provide an open source opportunity for folks who have experience putting on festivals, people who have done public art or people who just have great ideas and want to get involved. There is a common thread between professionals and fans with great ideas.

You have a big focus on sustainability and keeping the festival green. What are your responsibilities as the producer?

Jeremy: Summer festivals are gatherings where you can get a taste of where a culture is at in the moment. They tell us what is important to people, what they are focused on and what kind of events they want to take part in. Electric Forest is extremely participatory and our responsibility is to lead by example in regards to sustainability. To try out new things while adhering to a certain morality of the culture of the times. That is one of the great things about the music industry. It isn’t afraid to be a leader. You can look at events like Electric Forest as a barometer and as kind of a testing ground.

Railroad Earth on StageWhat do you hope that Electric Forest will contribute to Michigan?

Jeremy: Naturally, the festival will bring a lot of folks into Michigan. We have emails from people saying they are coming in for the festival but also want to spend the entire week in the state hanging out. Growing up in Chicago, I’ve always loved west Michigan and we jumped at the opportunity to do an event here!

What is the future of Electric Forest?

Jeremy: I’ve always had a long term view and there are a lot of options. We took a year off for a lot of healthy reasons. One, the goal is to make this one event as great as it can be. And two, we want to keep it going in annual installments while also having different, individual events. Whenever I come out there, the local community is really welcoming and that’s a great feeling. There is a mutual respect and they are hoping for more events. The know our team does things right.

Much more about Electric Forest at

Photos by Absolute Michigan – view slideshow.

The Return of Rothbury: 2011 Electric Forest Festival

Rothbury Festival 2009 by Ã…nne
Rothbury Festival 2009 by Ã…nne

Two years ago, Absolute Michigan joined tens of thousands of folks at the Rothbury Music Festival.  The festival wasn’t able to secure the commitments necessary to make it work in 2010, but they will return in 2011 as the Electric Forest Festival.

You can tune in right here next Monday (February 28) for the announcement of the 2011 lineup and check in with music fans who are proposing their ideas at Electric Forest on Facebook.

For more photos from Rothbury check out Anne Savage’s Rothbury slideshow and also check out her mind-blowing Rothbury panoramas on Revolutionary Views.  There’s a number of videos on Rothbury TV on YouTube but I’m going to give the space to one of my favorite acts from 2009. Here’s guitar virtuoso John Butler performing Ocean:

Muskegon solar array will be Michigan’s largest

Thanks to the Grand Vision for the find…

solar-roofInovateus Solar, Chart House Energy and Torresen Marine are partnering on a $740,000 solar power development atop the 28,000 square foot sailboat storage facility at Torreson Marine in Muskegon. Their press release says that at 150kW, Torreson Solar will be the largest solar power project to date in the state of Michigan.   The system will offset the power of the Torreson Marine facility by 30%   and produce the equivalent energy it takes to power 20 homes in the Muskegon area.

A WMMT story notes that:

…even though Michigan has a reputation for being cloudy and overcast, with 65 percent of days being sunny on average, it’s prime real estate.

“Actually, believe it or not, this location provides more solar energy than Miami,” said Robert Rafson of Chart House Energy. “It is actually quite a bit sunnier and less cloudy here during the summer.”

“Michigan has a lot of great incentives right now,” said (Kathleen) Torresen, “and they have some goals on the percentage of power they’d like to be in place, not coming from current sources.”’s page on Michigan solar echoes that, stating that Detroit gets an average of 4.2 hours of sun a day – plenty for solar power, and that solar panels produce more energy when it’s cold. Add to that Michigan’s new renewable energy standard, and it’s likely that this facility in Muskegon won’t be Michigan’s largest for long.

You can follow the construction of the solar array on the Torreson Marine webcam and become a fan of Torresen Solar on Facebook.

Photo Friday: beach walk by abigail burch


abigail burch (Abby Burch) says that she’s always loved photography and loves taking pictures of things, places and people she finds interesting with her still relatively new Canon Rebel Xsi .

You can (and should) check this photo of the Muskegon beach out bigger and have a look at her sets including favorites, nature, city, artprize and cottage (slideshow).

Take a dip in her Flickriver.

Michigan Wind Energy Zones & Windmills in the Water

167|365 ride the wind by nicole st. john
167|365 ride the wind by nicole st. john

The Huron Daily Tribune noted last week in Final report: Wind potential high that the final report issued Thursday by the Michigan Wind Energy Resource Zone Board (view PDF) identified key regions for wind energy generation and a potential annual energy output of an eye-popping 17,720,522 megawatts! The report found that major region in Michigan for wind power generation is:

… the Thumb Region — which includes Huron County and portions of Bay, Saginaw, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties — has the potential of having a minimum of 1,578 and maximum of 2,824 turbines. The wind board derived this figure with the assumption there were no turbines placed within the boundaries of the villages and cities, as well as three townships.

In addition to the Thumb Region (Region 4), other areas included as having the highest level of wind energy harvest potential in the wind board’s final report include portions of Allegan County (Region 1), portions of Antrim and Charlevoix counties (Region 2), and portions of Benzie, Leelanau and Manistee counties (Region 3).

michigan-shoreline-wind-energyYesterday, in GVSU Lake Michigan wind energy test project gets $1.4 million federal grant, the Grand Haven Tribune reported that:

Grand Valley State University’s efforts to launch a wind turbine testing project on Lake Michigan will receive a $1.4 million federal grant.

The school’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC), based in Muskegon, is planning to put a turbine on a floating platform to test how it works on the Great Lakes. Researchers hope to have the platform installed by fall 2010.

MAREC notes that the wind potential of Lake Michigan is in the range of 4 to 6 wind class with 7 being the highest possible. A tenth of the wind power potential of Lake Michigan alone is equivalent to some 20 nuclear power plants and when you look at that and at the state’s overall potential for wind power, it seems to make a ton of sense for Michigan to support wind energy development as aggressively as we once pushed the auto industry.

Speaking of industry & wind, check out this video of Dr. Soji Adelaja from the Michigan Land Policy Institute (the organization that produced the map to the right) talking about wind energy generation at industrial brownfield sites:

See for much more about wind power, windmills and wind energy generation in Michigan.

Photo Friday: The Mighty Underdogs by the Absolute Michigan Rothbury Team

The Mighty Underdogs by the Absolute Michigan Rothbury Team

We’re bumping the normal Absolute Michigan Photo Friday to link you in to our Rothbury 2009 coverage.

Stay tuned!

2009 Rothbury Music Festival lineup and tickets

Tough Decisions by Ross Sandelius
Tough Decisions by Ross Sandelius

Billboard Magazine reports that last year’s four-day Rothbury Festival ranked No. 8 on their 2008 top-grossing festivals tally, pulling in $7.4 million and drawing 120,820 music fans. Unsurprisingly, they’re doing it all over again this summer July 2-5, 2009:

The Dead, Bob Dylan, The String Cheese Incident, Willie Nelson & Family, and The Black Crowes are among the top acts set for the second annual Rothbury, a weekend-long festival produced by Madison House Presents and AEG Live. The event will be held July 2-5 at the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan, about three hours northwest of Detroit.

…Other artists confirmed to appear include Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley & Nas, STS9 (2 shows: full band/Live PA Set), G. Love & Special Sauce, Gov’t Mule, Broken Social Scene, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Guster, Les Claypool, Chromeo, Girl Talk, The Hold Steady. Ani DiFranco, MSTRKRFT, Femi Kuti and King Sunny Ade.

In addition to the music, Rothbury organizers are emphasizing the sustainability initiatives that aim to produce a near zero-waste event. They are also once again organizing the Rothbury Think Tank, with educational sessions and community discussion groups focused on the topic of the “New Green Economy.”

Tickets go on sale at noon this Friday (March 20) and there’s even some layaway options and lots of packages right here. Absolute Michigan will have lots more coverage of Michigan’s largest music festival in the weeks and months to come!

For now, here’s more Rothbury posts from Absolute Michigan and here’s a great collection of 2008 Rothbury Festival pictures (including some great panoramas) over at Michigan in Pictures.

Ride the Luge in Muskegon

Byron Goggin of Wild Weekend TV has a cool feature from one of only 3 Olympic class luge complexes in the United States. It’s in Muskegon and open to the public – check it out!

Here’s a link to part two of the program. More about the Luge run at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex from Michigan in Pictures and also visit their web site.

Frosty Tuesday: Silver Bells, Falling Snow & Skidding Autos

Thistle Stop by photoshoparama
Thistle Stop by photoshoparama

The 24th annual Silver Bells in the City takes place this Friday (Nov 21) in downtown Lansing. The event features a parade of lights, the lighting of Michigan’s Christmas tree and (weather permitting) a fireworks show. It’s also free and attracted more than 120,000 people last year! Click that link to learn more and see a cool video from 2007.

Yesterday we got our first snowstorm of the season, with up to a foot of snow falling in parts of the state. The Muskegon Chronicle breaks it down for west Michigan and shows a video of snow (in case you forgot what it looks like). Up in the UP, there’s no need for that as they received a bunch overnight:

“Here at the office we had just about 6 inches,” said Mike Dutter, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Negaunee Township. “We certainly had reports out towards Trenary of 19 inches since 10 p.m. last night.”

Of course, they race outhouses in Trenary so you never know whether to believe them or not.

Snow Bound by siskokid
Snow Bound by siskokid

That chill wind we feel in Michigan isn’t just from Mother Nature. The possible collapse of the Big Three and the US auto industry has been howling like a blizzard for the last week. Over on Michigan in Pictures we have a post that seeks to gather interesting articles and opinions on just what should be done regarding the collosal mess that is the US automotive industry. One of the links that we found is a web site that was created by GM called GM Facts & Fiction. It has a lot of information about the economic impact of the auto industry and we’ve included a video from the site below.

One person who spends a great deal of time on this is Michigan’s Governor. In Economy Is Only Issue for Michigan Governor, the New York Times takes an in-depth look at Gov. Granholm, her job and her detractors – worth a read indeed.

One thing’s for sure – winter is on the way. You can warm up (cool off?) with the Snow slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool.