This year marks the fifth time that Detroit Up North brings hundreds of young Detroiters up to Port Austin for one long weekend of food, fun, hikes, music, and revelry. It’s the third year that a splinter mini-music festival, Bird Creek Bash, is going down on property owned and operated by Bird Creek Farms.
Bird Creek Bash 2016 includes Stef Chura, Tim Schumack, Flowers Bloom, Mountains and Rainbows, Growwing Pains, Tart, Lady Fantastic, and DJ Esquire. The event is not until next month, but we decided to write about it now in case you want to attend and make arrangements ahead of time at area hotels or campsites. Detroit Up North is June 10-12, and Bird Creek Bash is Saturday, June 11.
Metro Times spoke with Bird Creek Bash co-founder Kelsey Hubbell, 27, about the ins and outs of this highly anticipated event.
Metro Times: How did this whole thing get started in the first place, and how has it grown?
Kelsey Hubbell: Detroit Up North started in 2012 as a small weekend getaway organized by brothers Brian and Jim Boyle. The Boyle brothers grew up in Port Austin, but now live and work in Detroit. Brian is the co-founder and owner of Model D and Issue Media Group; and Jim is a vice president at the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.
Port Austin is a sleepy little one-light town at the tip of the Thumb, less than 2 1/2 hours north of Detroit. It is a commitment to get away with whoever happens to show up, and to see people out of context from normal routines. We all know Detroit has that "small town in a big city" vibe, and this is an opportunity to talk to those people you may see at every bar, show, farmers market, gallery opening, etc., but never had a reason to connect with.
We have built relationships with the community in Port Austin, and they love hosting — for economic purposes — but also are very supportive and excited to discover some of the talent, creativity, and people that Detroit has to offer year after year. Since taking on the project, we've created a relationship with Bird Creek Farms, who generously allow us to host Bird Creek Bash at the farm. The farm has recently expanded to include a brewpub and restaurant serving food and drink, which is all grown/brewed/distilled at their combined organic farm and microbrewery.
MT: With food, music, and other events, it sounds like you are trying to help create an entire experience for people for this short time — is that fair to say?
Hubbell: Yeah, I'd say that's accurate. But we also don't expect everyone to participate in every single thing. We are striving to provide enough variety so that there is something for everyone. Really, we want people to get a vacation, meet new people, and ultimately support Port Austin, a community that has been so supportive of this event and has a lot to offer.
The event has grown tremendously over the last five years and is attended by a much more diverse group than just a bunch of hipsters and musicians. The goal of Detroit Up North is to be accessible to anyone that is interested in attending. People of all ages attend, families with kids are always welcome, and Port Austin locals show up by the dozens.
MT: You mention on the event's Facebook page that there are special things you haven't announced yet — what can people expect?
Hubbell: People can expect not only music, but activities such as yoga, kayaking, Port Austin's extensive farmers market, etc. I can't tell you everything!
MT: How many folks do you think will attend? And how many will opt to camp and how many will stay in hotels, do you think?
Hubbell: Last year we sold 200-plus tickets to the event. It has grown every single year; I wouldn't be surprised if we hit 300 attendees this year. And, if I had to guess, it's usually 70/30 hotels to camping. A lot of people with cottages in Caseville, Port Sanilac, Lexington, and other nearby towns come to Port Austin for the day on Saturday, as well.
MT: Please tell us a bit about why you booked these particular acts.
Hubbell: Tim Schumack is a great friend of mine, and also an extremely talented musician. He recently released his EP I See Clear Skies, which is incredible (and available on SoundCloud). He is also involved in many other creative Detroit endeavors including Detroit Is the New Black, the Seen Detroit, and Concept 56.
Flowers Bloom is a psych-rock group heavily influenced by '60s and '70s garage rock. The lead singer is pretty talented, but I may be biased because he is my little brother.
Mountains and Rainbows have an album coming out May 20 on Castle Face, so Bird Creek Bash will be a great way to hear their highly anticipated new material! Plus, their song "Spending Your Time" makes me want to go on a road trip with the windows down and volume up.
Stef Chura makes me nostalgic for the angsty female '90s grunge vocalists I grew up adoring. Her vocals are unique and a lot of fun to jump around in your bedroom to in your underwear.
Tart and I go way back. I actually grew up next door to lead singer Zee Bricker, and have known her since we were in diapers. Adam Padden, her other half, and I met when we were in high school, and he was playing bass for Citizen Smile at the very beginning. They are an incredible pair and I am so excited they are available to play this year. Plus it's impossible to listen to "Snitch" without singing it all day.
If you pay any attention to the local music scene around town, you've definitely heard of Growwing Pains. They play all over the place and are an incredibly talented group of young artists. They really just keep getting better and better.
Bird Creek Bash takes place Saturday, June 10 at Bird Creek Farms; Runs from noon-midnight; 282 Grindstone Rd., Port Austin; 989-553-6444; Admission is $15 in advance and $20 day of show. For more information on both Bird Creek Bash and Detroit Up North, as well as area hotel deals, search "Detroit Up North" on Facebook to find their page. To purchase tickets, go to detroitupnorth.ticketleap.com.