Northern Michigan Events: Every summer, I make a kind of "to-do" list--things that I want to squeeze in before the beautiful Northern Michigan summer comes to an end. My list always includes things like "go see a concert at Interlochen, attend a gallery opening etc." But somehow, every year, those seem to get pushed aside by the simpler, outdoor activities. This year though, my conundrum, my need for art and rustic Northern Michigan outdoor fun is answered in Aten Place.
The Aten Place, a nonprofit venue owned by Bill and Maxine Aten in Boyne Falls (and just an hour's drive from Traverse City) is a truly unique concert experience. Once a working barn, Aten Place has been converted into a performance space which comfortably seats 175. The down-home flavor of the old days still remains though, as guests gather around the picnic and bonfire pit before and after events. And this summer, their summer-long entertainment line up is better than ever.
The very first artist to ever perform at Aten Place, Josh White Jr. has known stardom from the age of four, when he first preformed with his father, Josh White, at New York City's famed "Café Society"--the first integrated night club. With this taste of fame in his mouth, he went on to spend fifteen years on Broadway, where he won a Tony Award for Best Child Actor in 1949. Always pushing the limits of his considerable talent, White moved on to television and by 1961, when the American Folk Movement began to take off, he had appeared in over 50 American Television Dramas.
Since then, White has focused mainly on developing his musical skills as a singer/songwriter, guitarists, and social acitvitst. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and Madison Square Garden, and been named the "Voice of The Peace Corps" and "Voice of VISTA" by the US Government in 1980, and in 1984, he was named "Michigan Man of The Year" for his social justice work. Though White has recently been playing many children's concerts, attendees at sixteenth appearance at Aten Place should expect an evening of blues,secular-inspired, and folk guitar and many of White's own songs.
This Michigan-based group is centered around the song-writing of Lindsay Rachel "Lou" Rilko, an Upper Peninsula native who started preforming early in life, encouraged by her family of muscians. By high school, Rilko had won a number of awards including "best vocal soloist" at The North American Music Festival in New York and a scholarship to attend Interlochen Arts Academy. Her innovative song lyrics are based on a myriad of unique experiences--tales of her eccentiric family, the natural beauty of Michigan, and considerable time spent in Latin America.
The "Flatbellys" consist of Mark Lavengood, Keith Billik, Spencer Cain and Joshua Rilko. Together with Lindsay Lou, they are creating a bluegrass inspiried Americana that reflects band members appreciation for the music of singers like Nat King Cole and songwriters like the Indigo Girls, as well as Michigan's thriving folk music scene. Their preformance set lists often include (among the band's own music) traditional American folk, Beatles classics, and contemporary hits.