We may be the only festival around to offer live musical performances by volunteer musicians before screenings, on a bayfront music stage, and at parties! TCFF’s showcase of musical talent is second to none, offering something for everyone, from acoustic singer-songwriters to heavy metal bands and show choirs.
For musicians without a stage plot, please use this for reference.
Alex Mendenall is a nationally touring soul/folk songwriter from Lansing, MI. Drawing from folk, soul, funk, and jazz, Mendenall’s sound is eclectic, high energy, and engaging. Performing in venues and festivals across the Midwestern and Eastern United States, Mendenall has worked with local and nationally touring acts like The Ragbirds, The Accidentals, The Appleseed Collective, Tyler Hilton, Ryan Cabrera, Hayley Kiyoko, Royal Teeth, and Young Rising Sons. He is an accomplished songwriter, releasing his debut EP, Here to Stay in 2013, his followup, Somewhere Else to Be in 2014, and cowriting the 2015 Rachel & Alex EP, Nights Like These. 2016 will see a deeper dive into soul with his upcoming third studio release.
“How can we be free if we are always chasing an intangible and subjective state of mind?” asks Almost Free frontman, Andy Bird. With Almost Free, their idea of learning how to cope with one’s surroundings involves comprehending that the everyday grind is a necessity to life, while never allowing it to shape them. Bird (vocals, guitars) and his bandmates, Bob Impemba (bass, synth, noise) and Garren Stevens (drums), fashion a substantially foreboding sound that covers various elements underneath the neat, but broad umbrella of alternative music.
Awesome Distraction has been together for almost 5 years. Originally formed in 2011 by Nick Veine (20) and Kyle Garber (19) from Manistee, they have continued to impress audiences with their harmonies and musicianship. In 2015, they added Manistee High School sophomore Chloe Pepera (16). With their beautiful voices and the help of a variety of instruments, the three truly form an Awesome Distraction.
The Balsam Brothers
The Balsam Brothers have performed hundreds of shows since forming in 2014. With originals and covers spanning alt rock, bluegrass, hip hop, metal and funk, expect the unexpected with aggressively happy energy at a Balsam Brothers show. The band released an EP, “02” in 2015 and continues to record and perform across Michigan.
Traverse City native Benjaman James is a singer-songwriter and multiinstrumentalist with roots in funk, jazz, R&B, and soul. Benjaman inspires his audience by generating dance-worthy, captivating music that takes listeners on an energetic improvisational journey.
Blair is a enigmatic blues artist with a tendency to melt faces with his guitar licks. Blair has been playing the roots blues at many venues in Northern Michigan. His CD Blair Miller At the Depot has been getting radio air time. He has made multiple radio and TV appearances. He has co-presented slide guitar workshops and classes/concerts on The History of the Blues. He also plays a parlor guitar and a cigar box guitar. Now, Blair Miller is a confirmed bluesman. He says,” I want to share and keep the blues alive. No music reaches me as deeply as Delta Blues.”
Blue Footed Booby
Band founder, Dave Durbin, first heard the phrase “blue footed baby” at the age of 7 while watching Captain Kangaroo. Both shocked and liberated that such a word could now be uttered without getting into trouble, this bird’s moniker somehow stuck in the deep, dark crevices of his mind until he needed a band name. Now you too can talk openly about Blue Footed Booby and if anyone looks at you odd, you can arrogantly tell them to “grow up, it’s a sea bird native to the Galapagos Islands” knowing full well you just got away with something.
Brites is Chad Owen Leman and Michelle Leman. Originating in the Flint area of Michigan, Brites formed in the basements and garages of the original members’ childhood homes in 2008. What began as more of a folk style project has developed a multi genre, unique sound all its own. Check out Brites’ music on Brites.bandcamp.com or at any of their upcoming shows.
The Busker’s Union
Kyle Skarshaug is a 15 year old freshman at Traverse City West High School. He’s a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, bass, drums, ukulele, vocals, and piano. You may have heard him host for Up North Media’s “Northern Culture with Kyle” show. He’s played all over Traverse City including a feature in a Picnic at the Opera and the film festival. He’s performed with the Accidentals, Oh Brother, Big Sister, Blake Elliott, Zeke Clemons, Nik Carman, Aaron Dye, and Miriam Pico.
Capybara is a local Traverse City funk rock band founded by guitarist/songwriter Rob Coonrod, whose high energy music has a unique array of influences from his travels and experiences abroad in the Amazon rainforest, Europe and Cuba.
Da Sista Hood
Da Sista Hood is a mother and daughter duo who have been playing music and singing together for three years. They are joined by a fantastic bass player, Jason Mudgett who also adds the third part to their tight harmonies. Their music is a mix of indie/folk with a dash of rockin’, pop songs, fun and upbeat with a positive message of community and love.
Born & raised near Saginaw, Michigan. Dennis grew up listening to his parents music, artists such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Nat King Cole and the Everly Brothers. My father was a big country music fan, but my mother also had an ear for popular music of the time.” Dennis obtained his “15 minutes of fame” in 1988 by winning a National songwriting contest. With his CD “Still Waters” , Dennis showcased his eclectic songwriting with 10 original songs ranging from Acoustic Blues to Contemporary Folk. His song “Life’s Highway” was also included on the Northern Michigan Songwriters compilation CD “Risin’ Shine”. Dennis collaborated with Playwright Dave Kann to write and record acoustic instrumental music for the play “The Cherry Buggy Whip”.
Ellie McPherson & Cassidy Merten
Ellie and Cassidy have performed in several shows at TCCHS including 3 years in Rendezvous at the Jazz Club. Individually Ellie has performed playing guitar and singing at the TCFF kids fest in 2012, 2013 and 2015 as well as playing at the clinch park stage as a soloist in 2015. In addition to this, she has played at the Elberta Solstice Festival and has been a busker all around northern Michigan since 2012. Cassidy Merten has performed for over 10 years between church and school choirs and musical theatre. Cassidy has been a regular performer in several productions at the Old Town Playhouse and was the lead in her high school musicals, as Ariel in “Footloose” and Marian in “The Music Man.” Cassidy was recently added to Central High Schools Hall of Fame for Performing Arts.
Emma Guzman, a Michigan based singer-songwriter and guitarist, blends clever lyrics and haunting melodies with a fresh and original sound. Billed by the Detroit Metro Times as a “song writing prodigy” and chosen as one of their top 15 artists to watch in 2016 on the strength of her debut album “Echo”, which she released at the age of 13. Emma is currently recording her second album of original material, set for release this fall on Backburner Records.
Eric Smith is a young musician who has grown up in Michigan, USA. He has written classically-inspired pieces, jazz pieces, folk/rock/funk/pop songs, percussion pieces, and arranged for several different ensembles ranging in size from a piano trio to marching band. An attraction to jazz for both the intellectual challenge as well as the pursuit of expression led him to attend Michigan State University College of Music as a Jazz Studies Piano major (Class of 2017), under the program direction of Rodney Whitaker. That attraction to jazz has developed into a love for this American art form as well as many other styles of music. He currently studies jazz piano with Xavier Davis at Michigan State University and has previously studied with Reginald Thomas, Dennis Tini, and Steve Taylor. He has also been coached by singer/producer Herschel Boone. He has written many songs varying in style and self-released his debut EP Hey There Miss on October 23, 2015.
LA Based group that’s a mixture of: Majick, Cowboy Hats, Laughing Angels, Justice & the Pursuit of All things Creative. Audrey Moshier on vocals and Pamela Adams on guitars tell an excellent story using imagery, dynamics, sonic ferocity while inventive both lyrically and melodically.
The Fever Haze
The Fever Haze just want to play rock ‘n’ roll. The four piece group Eric Beck, Mike Greene, Jake Kalmink, and Jim Versluis are finding a way to incorporate their current day listening into the rock music that they grew up with. The band’s most recent release “Dear Fate” (Triple Deke Records) draws influence from Wilco, Bruce Springsteen, Pujol, Built to Spill, and Cursive. Hailing from West Michigan, the group is working to continue growing their fanbase, winning over new markets, and writing/recording.
Deeply embedded in different generations and movements ahead of, before, and surrounding, FLASHCLASH studies and reconnects mixtures of psycho-electro choirs in outer space jungles through vast oceans of sound. FLASHCLASH revives perspective-changing musical intrigue, sustains emotional and visual resonance and reminds spiraling crowds of a memory not yet had. Pulsating and organic electronic anthems arrive with an array of lighting spectacles and theater concepts leaving witnesses with wonder and amazement.
Hannah Rae Beale
Hannah Rae Beale has been writing songs and performing since she was 15. Originally from Frankfort Michigan, she has traveled the country performing for audiences large and small. She currently resides in Nashville,TN where she writes music.
Josh Birdsong intertwines soulful songwriting and dynamic guitar with the aesthetic of ambient production through his unique use of guitar pedals. At age 19, Josh won The New York Times acclaimed International Songwriting Contest for lyrics, out of over 18,500 entries from 120 countries. He has also been named a Michigan Music Education Association Honors Composition Winner, and has participated as a songwriter for two years consecutively at Grammy Camp Nashville, sponsored by The Grammy Foundation. Traverse City is close to home for Josh, as he spent his junior and senior years of high school studying at The Interlochen Arts Academy in the singer/songwriter major. After graduating from Interlochen, he completed his first year of study in the noted songwriting major at Belmont University located on Music Row in Nashville. Josh’s debut EP is set to release this August, recorded by Nashville producer Stephen Leiweke (Ingrid Michaelson, Jars of Clay, Dave Barnes). He so looks forward to sharing his new music in his EP and on stage throughout the coming year.
An old school child for a forwardthinking world. Deeply rooted in Detroit’s history of soul, the locally dubbed “Duchess of Detroit” has produced a pleasure-celebrating brand of pop music combining the best of Motown’s unforgettable past with progressive lyrical concepts. Carole King, Amy Winehouse, and Etta James are all influences. LinSay’s debut LP “Shut Up and Pick Me Up” is the story of every woman’s struggle through a bad break up. High quality production sets LinSay’s deep vocal style against an 80s pop backdrop infused with piano, squarely placing LinSay among a peer group that includes Sara Bareilles and Adele.
Max Bourne feat. Truth Jones
Max Bourne is a lyrical young emcee who is juggling a budding rap career, finishing college and working parttime jobs to get by. He and Truth Jones grew up in Midland, MI. Recently the two have become frequent collaborators and have been performing together when Max’s rap group “Uncommon Cents” cannot be in attendance. The contrast of Max Bourne’s high-paced, technical style to Truth’s smooth singing and melodic rap verses create something of a yin & yang experience that listeners have found to be very unique and enjoyable.
Founding fathers of the #CoOwnaz movement and dexterous dictators of taste, Detroit producers and multidisciplinary creatives Mega Powers play an integral role in saturating the Detroit music scene. From singing along to Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” on a Fisher Price tape recorder as children to studying under the instruction of Master Engineer and Motown Alumni Bob Dennis, Mega Powers have become seasoned audiophiles known for concocting hypnotic beats and curating collaborations that push and integrate genres such as hip hop, electronic, boogie, indie pop and R&B. With an official debut album on the way, the vibrant beats and catchy vocals of Eddie Logix and Pig Pen can be heard at various venues around the city as well as pulsing through the walls of the collaborative recording studio, Assemble Sound where they are currently residents.
It took awhile for musician Rhett DuCouer to find her voice—the singer and selftaught guitar player struggled with stage fright until her 30s—but those who’ve caught her gigging around the North are just glad she finally did. Performing under the stage name Rhett Betty, DuCouer has made a name for herself playing a mix of new blues and classic country—think Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Etta James. By design, she books her shows to catch the early evening crowd at wineries and happy hours. “It has been so well received, because our song selection and our style is kind of mellow and rich,” she says. “It’s the perfect thing to sip your wine to and enjoy a beautiful Northern Michigan experience. Robert Yvon has been playing guitar for over half a century. Self-taught, he draws from a wide variety of influences to create a unique approach to music across many genres.”
Sammy Gonzalez is one of Miami’s most established musicians and a staple in the local music scene. Since playing his first guitar concert at age ten, Sammy developed into an accomplished classical guitarist, and bassist for nationally known rock band Jacobs Ladder. As a musician, Sammy has played nearly 900 concerts, embarked on over 15 U.S. tours and landed spots at SXSW Music Festival and Van’s Warped Tour. As first chair in the Miami Beach Classical Guitar Quintet, Sammy toured the U.S. and Japan, winning awards both at regional and national levels. Sammy cofounded the nonprofit organization, Young Musicians Unite and serves as its President. YMU works with Miami’s Young Men’s Prep Academy, Jose de Diego Middle School, and Booker T High School to provide free musical instruction and instruments. Sammy personally trains 45 students in different youth ensemble rock bands, jazz, and guitar ensembles.
Born and raised in a small music-rich Michigan town, Sierra Cassidy found her love for songwriting at age 15 when she was given a guitar. After several busy summers full of statewide shows, Sierra studied at Interlochen Arts Academy in the Singer-Songwriter Program for her senior year of high school. While studying at Interlochen, she had the incredible opportunity to work and perform with an Interlochen singer-songwriter student band. The band played a national tour in the spring of 2015, visiting the following cities: Chicago, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis and also sang then National Anthem before a Chicago Bulls game. In addition to numerous coffee shop esque venues and bars, Sierra has also performed at Bliss Festival, Dunesville Music Festival, Hoxeyville Music Festival. Sierra is now attending Berklee College of Music in Boston and studying music business management and songwriting.
In 2015, she had the honor of opening up at the Traverse City Film Festival premiere of Amy, the now Oscar-winning documentary about the late pop/blues phenom Amy Winehouse. Recently, SOFI K was named a celebrity ambassador for the Wish Upon a Teen Organization. She has been featured in popular industry publications and television programs nationwide, but even as the accolades and acclaim continue to roll in, SOFI K refuses to sit on her laurels. Instead, she prefers to start working on her next album and continue performing and connecting with the audiences she so loves.
Starlifter – United States Air Force Band of Mid-America
The United States Air Force Band of MidAmerica’s pop group, Starlifter, is a seven-piece group of talented Airman Musicians. The group performs virtually every musical idiom, from Rock and Pop to Jazz and Country, to great contemporary and traditional patriotic songs. Starlifter features the best in popular music from the 1970’s to the most current sounds at the top of today’s charts.
TC Uke Guy
The Traverse City Ukulele Guy is Bryan Boettcher. He sings and plays his ukulele for crowds big and small. He has been seen around town bringing smiles to the faces of market goers in the summer, and music festival goers year round. He can entertain with a toe-tapping calypso tune, belt out a classic rock favorite, or croon an old Frank Sinatra love song all accompanied by his ukulele.
THUNDERCLAP is originally from the niagara region of Ontario, but has expanded into an international performing artist playing live hundreds of times all over North America and Europe. A one man act, he possesses the bravery needed to take the stage alone. Although THUNDERCLAP was a member of many bands, he believes performing solo heightens the vulnerability of the performer, creating a more emotional rapport with the audience. The strength of this prolific songwriters originality was honed as a practicing method actor. His approach is honesty without a preconceived outcome, a pinch of poetic justice, a grand gesture or two and voila! One hell of a peculiar minstrel that will leave you tapping your toes, then scratching your head, over the meaning of it all, in the end.
Tigers Are Bad For Horses
Native to Washington, DC, Tigers Are Bad For Horses is an electronic/alt pop duo that blends lilting vocals with jazz influenced, multitextured piano and production. Comprised of Mellen Funke and Lyell Evans Roeder, Tigers may grab your interest through their unlikely band name, but they keep it solely through their music. Their debut EP, TABFH, was written and recorded between September 2014 and October 2015. They worked primarily out of Lyell’s home studio in Georgetown, with some vocal and piano tracking done at Bias Studios in Virginia. Shortly after its release, the first cut off the EP, Messenger, became an overnight success online, surging to over 50,000 listens on Spotify in a week’s time and finding new listeners in countries all over the world. In 2016 Tigers has performed in Austin at SXSW and with Sofar Sounds in Washington, DC. Their next single will be released mid June.
Tom plays traditional American music and has recorded eight albums, including a solo. He was a founding member of The West Orrtanna String Band which was active from 1972 to 87. They recorded three albums and also several short historic folk music segments for National Public Radio. From 1987 to 98 he performed with The Orrtanna Mountain Steamers, which also recorded two albums. He has been a solo performer since 1978 playing the hammered dulcimer, button accordion, banjo, harmonica and more. His 2012 schedule included the Scheersberg Folk Fest and Moelln Folk Fest, both in Germany. He is a folk music presenter for the PA Humanities Council. He is a sought after Pennsylvania artist in residence and spends extended times in various schools, assisting students make their own school owned dulcimers and bowed psalteries.
Watching for Foxes
Like a stack of old letters hiding deep in a drawer, tattered and rumpled from frantic use, the stories Watching for Foxes tells are equal parts cosmic myth and divine truth; memories you only unearth when you need to laugh, or cry, or on a rainy day lit up by a candle flame’s pyre, or on the day that your home is bleeding and on fire. With the release of the band’s debut full length album, Undone Bird, Watching for Foxes brings new and exciting elements to their sound, one that is incapable of genre confinement. Lush with beautiful progressions, a dynamic roots rock feel, and resounding choruses, the album boasts the aesthetic of indie folk anthems coupled with the ethereal angst of modern rock. Drawing heavily from an intoxicating mix of poetry, personal experience and Beat literature, the songs of Undone Bird are diverse and distinguishable. At its core stands a concept album delving into love and loss, transition and transcendence. Most importantly, the band never loses sight of the emotional platform great songs are built from.
Other Participating Artists
- Adair Correll & Kurt Westie
- Adriana Domenica
- Al Jankowski & Friends
- Andrew Dost
- Benjaman James & The Old Mission Collective
- Big Rand
- The Bihlman Bros.
- Bill and Susan Dungeon
- Brett Mitchell
- Dance Battle 4 The Cure/The American Cancer Society
- Doug Z
- Emily Clement
- Grand Traverse Show Chorus
- Hannah Schroeder
- Isabella Prasatek
- Ivan Suminski & Kyle Stachnik
- Jazz North
- Keith Scott
- Lady Ace Boogie
- Levi Britton
- Maggie McCabe
- The Minor 6
- Mr. Music DJ & Event Services
- The North Carolines
- The Nephews
- Old Empire
- Olivia Mainville
- Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe
- The Overtones
- Robin Lee Berry & Glen Wolff
- Roses & Evergreen
- Sashay Quartet
- The Turtlenecks
- The Wild Sully’s