Pumpstock and Ten Pound Fiddle Bringing Live Music Back

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

The Orchard Street Pump House

Music will once again fill the streets of East Lansing thanks to the return of two longtime music staples: the Pumpstock Festival of American Roots Music and the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert and Dance series

After a break last year, Pumpstock is set to return for its ninth festival on August 21 at 2 p.m. at Bailey Park.

Pumpstock will be headlined by singer-songwriter and Grammy nominee Dan Navarro. The California native’s career began as a songwriter for artists such as Jackson Browne, Pat Benatar, The Temptations, and Dionne Warwick amongst others. Navarro recorded a dozen albums with the late David Eric Lowen before striking out on his own.

Artists performing alongside Navarro at Pumpstock will include bluesman the Reverend Robert Jones, vintage jazz act Gaines and Wagoner, lyricist and guitarist Nathan Bell, and East Lansing’s own folk group The Dangling Participles, and others.

There will be a second stage featuring local acts and a Ukulele Petting Zoo courtesy of Music Is the Foundation. The “Petting Zoo” is basically a chance for kids to strum ukuleles while getting introduced to a musical instrument.

The curator of Pumpstock and the Pumphouse Concert Series, Bailey Neighborhood resident Dudley “Smitty” Smith, is looking forward to the event’s return. Smitty’s partner, Kristin, also helps to run the festival and book the acts.

“We’re very excited about the cautious return of live music, and happy to partner with the City of East Lansing to produce a safe, outdoor, family oriented music festival,” Smith said. “The bands we’ve booked are mostly the same ones that we planned to present in June, 2020. Obviously, that didn’t happen!”

There will be socially distant balloon fun for the kids, and food will be provided by Cottage Inn Pizza. Blue Owl Coffee will also be on-hand with caffeinated beverages.

“We’re very excited to bring Detroit’s own Reverend Robert Jones, who most folk and blues fans in mid-Michigan know from his many appearances, both solo and with Matt Watroba, at the Ten Pound Fiddle and The Ark in Ann Arbor,” Smith said.

“The support of the East Lansing community for the return of Pumpstock has been very gratifying,” Smith added. 

Pumpstock runs from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Aug. 21 at Bailey Park, located at 300 Bailey Street. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Ten Pound Fiddle Concert and Dance Series will return in September.

Another East Lansing music institution, the Ten Pound Fiddle, is set to return September 17, with the Old Blind Dogs from Scotland. Since forming in the early 90s, the Old Blind Dogs have toured the world with genre-defying roots music.

Highlighting the Fiddle schedule will be singer-songwriter and longtime mid-Michigan hero Josh Davis. Davis is the front man for the wildly popular Americana act, Steppin’ In It, and finished in third place on the reality singing TV show, The Voice.

Other favorites returning to the Ten Pound Fiddle include:

  • Stella and Their Lesser Halves featuring Lansing’s Jen Sygit, Andy Wilson and Geoff Lewis of Steppin’ In It, and fellow collaborators Julianna Wilson, Jo Serrapere and John Devine.
  • The Sweet Water Warblers, featuring Erlewine, Rachel Davis, and Lindsay Lou.
  • Seth Bernard, who will perform alongside Frank Youngman.
  • Joel Mabus.
  • May Erlewine.

The Fiddle will celebrate its 47th year as a concert series with a birthday party October 8, featuring a performance by Peter “Madcat” Ruth and his new band, C.A.R.Ma. There will be a used CD sale to benefit the Fiddle, as well as birthday cake.

The holiday sing will return in December, as will the Mid-Winter Singing Festival Community Sing, led by Baltimore native Lea Gilmore.  

One notable change this year is the Fiddle has shifted nearly all shows to the University United Methodist Church (UUMC) on Harrison Road in East Lansing. Two shows in May will take place at The Robin Theatre in REO Town in Lansing.

According to Sally Potter, the Ten Pound Fiddle’s Booking Manager, the change in venue was a necessity due in part to the rise in popularity of the shows.

“Besides lots and lots of free parking, another great thing about moving to UUMC is the ability to switch rooms in case we need more space,” Potter said.

Both Smith and Potter are acutely aware of the ever-changing state of Covid-19, but both are assuring people that all safety measures will be followed.

“We’ll be taking our clues from the CDC and from the Wharton Center, other live music venues, and our hosts, the UUMC,” Potter said.  

For more information, visit the Ten Pound Fiddle’s website here.

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