Music plays track across region
Billy Strings and Lorien Adamski are at very different points in their musical careers. Both play guitar, but Strings is an award-winning professional, Adamski a raw beginner.
There’s also a bit of an age difference. Strings is 27, Adamski 96. Age doesn’t matter when it comes to music. Melody and rhythm appeal to everyone.
Strings cut his teeth on professional music in Traverse City and performed regularly with mandolin player Don Julin before moving to Nashville in 2016. He was named guitar player of the year and new artist of the year at the International Bluegrass Music Awards. His most recent album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums chart. Strings performed at City Opera House in Traverse City on Feb. 28.
Adamski lives in Manistee and says he always wanted to play guitar. But life kept him busy, in the armed forces in World War II and then earning a living to support his family. The father of five, grandfather of 13, great-grandfather of 29 and great-great-grandfather of seven just recently began taking guitar lessons.
Strings and Adamski are parts of a tapestry of musical talent that stretches across northwest Lower Michigan and beyond. May Erlewine and Miriam Pico sing, and Jeff Haas and David Chown play piano, for Traverse City audiences. The Traverse Symphony Orchestra delights local crowds, as do our community choirs. The GT Commons, Milliken Auditorium, the Pavilions and other local venues regularly host musical events, many of them free. Special events like the Indoor Folk Festival showcase a multitude of talents. The Music House Museum in Acme offers a different take on music performance.
Performer, instrument builder and educator Tom Kaufmann shares his musical enthusiasm with the public and the region’s youngsters. Traverse City singer-songwriter Joshua Davis soared onto the national stage when he appeared on the television show The Voice.
The Interlochen Arts Festival each summer draws musical acts from across the country. Interlochen alumni who have hit it big in the music industry include Norah Jones, Josh Groban and OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash.
The Accidentals (Savannah Buist and Katie Larson) performed in Traverse City before moving on to wider musical horizons, as did Levi Britton.
Hundreds of local musicians perform in pubs and other venues throughout the region. Shoppers along Front Street hear a smorgasbord of summertime musical treats as buskers display their talents. A downtown street piano for the past several summers has allowed impromptu public performances by anyone who cares to tickle the ivories.
Traverse City Area Public Schools maintains respected band, orchestra and vocal programs, as do other school districts across the region.
Traverse City is more than the sum of its various parts. Our community is known as a foodie town, tourist town, brewpub town, regional shopping hub, healthcare hub. Music plays just as prominent a role in our local culture as food, beer or beaches. All the pieces weave together into the complex cultural map.
Strings and Adamski are parts of our region’s musical web, as are Haas, Pico, local students who are studying clarinet or cello, and all the people of any age who strum a ukulele or tap a foot in sync with a tune on the radio.
Traverse City has produced a long list of nationally known musicians. But you don’t need to be famous to participate in the local music scene. Music can provide enjoyment no matter your age, who you are or where you live.
Northwest Lower Michigan is a great place to enjoy music, whether by listening, performing or learning. We all can be part of the region’s intricate musical tapestry.
— The Traverse City Record-Eagle