Manitou Music Festival features Nora Jane Struthers, Drew Nelson, Peter Paul & Mary Remembered and Full Set

MMF-2013-image struthersFrom staff reports

The Glen Arbor Art Association’s Manitou Music Festival, which is celebrating its 23rd season of jazz, classical, blues, folk, country, celtic, bluegrass and world music on the Leelanau Peninsula, hosts a wealth of summer concerts in the coming weeks. On Sunday, July 28 at 8 p.m. the bluegrass/country singer Nora Jane Struthers will perform with her quartet outdoors at Studio Stage, located at Lake Street Studios in Glen Arbor; on Wednesday, July 31 at 8 p.m. the Michigan born country/folk singer-songwriter Drew Nelson will perform with his Highway 2 Band; on Sunday, Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. the Folk band Peter, Paul & Mary Remembered will perform at Studio Stage, and on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. the Celtic band Full Set will perform at Studio Stage. The rain location for all concerts is the Glen Arbor Town Hall, with the exception of Full Set, whose rain location is the Empire Town Hall.)

Nora Jane Struthers grew up singing and playing traditional music with her dad, Alan Struthers. She calls her music Classic Americana. “It’s not really bluegrass, it’s not really old time, it’s not folk; it’s all of these things,” says Struthers. A former English teacher from a family steeped in Americana music, Nora Jane Struthers writes literate variations on classic folk themes and sings them with just enough twang to sound authentic rather than academic.

Virginia-born Struthers was educated at NYU’s Steinhart School of Education and taught at a charter school in Brooklyn, while cutting her musical teeth as a folk-rock performer in New York clubs like CBGBs and the Cutting Room. She decided to move into music full-time after attending such convocations as Virginia’s Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention and North Carolina’s Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention with her father.

Struthers is now a band leader with a smart, affecting cycle of songs sporting a timeline that stretches from the antebellum 19th-century South to the middle of the last century. Reflecting her background in literature — she taught English before undertaking a full- time career in music in 2008 – the tunes are deftly-told stories that survey the American terrain from a uniquely focused point of view.

“Over the past three years, as I’ve been touring and performing, I realized that primarily I’m a storyteller,” she says. “I’ve been working to hone my skills so I can do that better.” “I’m really passionate about the stories in the old ballads and story-songs,” says Struthers. “I’m trying to bring that element of traditional music forward into a contemporary sonic space. I want story-songs to live on in a way that will be accessible to more people. That’s my artistic mission. When we hear another person’s story, we gain perspective and are changed; we’re able to see our own lives through new eyes.”

MMF-2013-image drew nelson copyMichigan-born Navy veteran Drew Nelson is a storytelling songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. A fly fisherman and world traveler, he writes as a witness to the lives and journeys of those he has met along the way, mixing Americana and roots-rock with traditional folk styles. Says folk legend John Gorka, “Drew’s songs sound like the rest of us feel. After so many years at the mercy of the high and mighty his characters are anything but defeated. They are dazed, angry, amazed and climbing.”

Drew is an excellent guitarist as well as an accomplished songwriter. His songs sound like the rest of us feel. After so many years at the mercy of the high and mighty, his characters are anything but defeated; they are dazed, angry, amazed and climbing. Every song bristles with sincerity, spirituality, and a keen insight about real life and real people. Drew Nelson has the ability to write with conviction about the struggles of working people, the miner, the farmer, the steel plant worker, just trying to get by. Songs touch on his participation in Native American life and culture. Nelson’s voice is warm and weathered. And his songs move like the river under ice. Drew Nelson is an authentic voice of community and renewal.

“I love that Drew can rock out as well as write sensitive ballads,” Red House Records president Eric Peltoniemi says. “I admire his down-to-earth songwriting which portrays our world and ordinary people with such deep feeling and unflinching clarity. He has worked hard in life and hasn’t been afraid to get his hands dirty. He has 100 percent credibility in the subject matter he writes about, and I’m excited to get the chance to work with him.”

Drew first met John Gorka in 2006, when Drew performed as part of Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s prestigious songwriting contest. John found him backstage after his performance and told him how much his songs moved him. Since then, Drew has shared the stage with John several times, including at such big events as the Kerrville Folk Festival. “Drew Nelson is one of my favorite new artists,” John Gorka says. “His songs sound like the rest of us feel … dazed, angry, amazed and climbing.”

Reviving many of the beloved hits such as “Puff the Magic Dragon, If I Had a Hammer, Blowin’ in the Wind,” and a host of others, Lawrence “Doc” Probes, Donna Wilson Probes, Jim Hawley and bassist Dave Swan dish up a smooth blend of harmonies and 1960s nostalgia. Launched in 2010, their shows have attracted crowds of both young and old. The group has transcribed each Peter, Paul & Mary arrangement in order to duplicate the exact sound that captured the hearts of listeners worldwide. As one fan put it, “If I close my eyes, I am transported back to 1966 and I can picture exactly where I was when I wore the grooves off my Peter, Paul & Mary albums.”

Full Set is Teresa Horgan on vocals, Michael Harrison on fiddle, Seán McCarthy on uilleann pipes, Janine Redmond on button accordion, Eamonn Moloney on bodhrán, and Andy Meaney on guitar. All accomplished young musicians in their own right, Full Set creates a stunning and unique sound that is full of energy and innovation, whilst all the time remaining true to their traditional Irish roots. Full Set is guaranteed to captivate audiences of every generation.

With his smooth and free flowing style of fiddle playing, Michael Harrison creates a distinctive sound using original and colorful techniques. Seán McCarthy is known for his complete use of the uilleann pipes and employs his skills and mastery of this instrument in all pieces arranged by Full Set. Talented musician, Janine Redmond, on button accordion maintains a rich traditional style that is becoming ever so rare in traditional music today. Eamonn Moloney on bodhrán and Andy Meaney on guitar, effortlessly blend the music together with a sensitive yet driving accompaniment section. The emotive singing style of Teresa Horgan completes the ensemble and is guaranteed to captivate audiences of every generation.

Full Set received great acclaim for their debut album “Notes At Liberty”. Full Set is quickly becoming one of the most well known bands in the Irish music scene today. In October 2011 they were honored by being announced as the winners of the RTÉ/RAAP Breakthrough Annual Music Bursary Award.

Please visit for information. All Tickets are $15 (Children 18 and under are free, except for the July 25 concert)
Tickets may be purchased at concert venues; or by calling the Glen Arbor Art Association (231) 334-6112 or Lake Street Studios (231) 334-3179