Fair Lane Folk Festival returns for its second year with a roster of national, regional, and local musicians performing some of the best modern folk, Americana, roots, and bluegrass music. With two main stages on the stunning grounds of a historic estate, plus smaller special performances in the Rose Garden and private acoustic sets for VIP ticket holders, it's like living out a Mumford and Sons music video (in the best possible way). Attendees will also be able to enjoy Michigan craft beers featuring Bell's Brewery, a variety of food trucks, and local artisans and vendors.
Metro Times spoke with organizer Ann Fitzpatrick to discuss the hopes and dreams of the young music festival, how it fits in with Detroit culture, and the ever-growing number of music fests.
Metro Times: How was the first year of Fair Lane Folk Fest? Do you have any returning acts?
Anna Fitzpatrick: The first year of the festival exceeded all expectations. We had seasoned musicians that were amazed that it was a first-year event — great crowd, beautiful venue, incredible music, lots of food and drink, and things went pretty much according to plan. It was a great first experience and the audience told us they wanted us to do it again!
Rachael Davis — a talented musician who brought her big voice last year, playing with her husband, bassist Dominic Davis — is returning with her Sweet Water Warblers squad. They're a super-group of folk ladies, including Lindsay Lou and May Erlewine.
MT: What can attendees expect?
Fitzpatrick: You'll have the same opportunity to see top national and local modern/indie folk acts in an intimate outdoor setting, but we've added more of everything to the mix. We moved the second main stage, and staggered the schedule, so people can see more of all the bands. Plus we'll have performances in Clara Ford's beautiful Rose Garden this year, including an acoustic set by local up-and-comer Olivia Millerschin.
We noticed lots of kids in the audience last year, and it's a pretty family-friendly affair. So, we gave kids their own bonus set with the Sweet Water Warblers, who will offer music and an instrument petting zoo. And the artists market was a huge hit last year, so this year it's much bigger, with 17 vendors selling unique, eclectic goods. And, you can get a T-shirt this year. Because what's a concert without a T-shirt to prove you were there?
MT: How and why did you decide on the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn for hosting the fest in the first place?
Fitzpatrick: We (Henry Ford Estate) were looking for a way to celebrate the centennial of the estate in 2015. Knowing that Henry and Clara Ford loved music, and what was folk music in their day, we approached Grand Circus Media to produce it. They have great connections and instincts in the folk music world. They've done a fantastic job mixing up-and-coming artists with established ones, as well as local and national acts.
MT: What sets this festival apart from other local music festivals?
Fitzpatrick: The atmosphere is fun and laid-back, not overwhelming like other, bigger music festivals. Last year, all the artists were mingling with fans and the crowd after their sets. Many came out to watch and support the other artists. The stages and setup make for a more intimate experience, like you would get at a club, than a lot of outdoor venues. Plus, the grounds, the estate, the river, the gardens — it's as scenic of a venue as it gets.
The festival is set for Saturday, July 30 at the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn; Grounds open at 2 p.m; 1915 Fair Lane Dr., Dearborn; fairlanefolkfest.org; general admission tickets are $30 in advance, $40 day of show; VIP tickets are $75. All entrance includes admission to festival, access to the estate grounds, and parking at University of Michigan-Dearborn.