After several unsuccessful attempts to achieve wifi connectivity yesterday, Team Porterhouse gave up on blog posts (the photo recap being our sole triumph) and focused instead on content-gathering for the day. Friday had back-to-back musical goodness that saw team members running from venue to venue, snapping photos and taking in acts like Martin Sexton, Brett Dennen, G. Love, Damian Marley & NAS, Broken Social Scene, STS9, The String Cheese Incident and Girl Talk (arguably one of the best dance parties you’ll ever witness). A photo recap of Day 2 will be up shortly.
Brett Dennen sat down with us yesterday evening for a chat about festivals and touring, sustainability and green initiatives, and his upcoming album. Soft-spoken, amiable, with a distinctive shock of red hair, Brett’s hard to miss in a crowd. He’s even more of a stand-out on stage. In spite of a sweet reclusiveness in person, Brett is all swagger in front of a crowd. He had everyone on their feet and dancing as he blasted through his set, including a blistering take on “Billie Jean.” (The MJ covers are inescapable here this year). Here is Brett performing on the Ranch stage:
Speaking to the idea of “festivals with a purpose” and events that have think tank/leadership discussions, Brett had this to say: “Every artist who stands for something or speaks about something wants to do more for it. It’s good to have a network of people who can keep you accountable for the promises you make. It’s also good to be around other musicians and artists who are like-minded to inspire.”
As far as artists who inspire Brett, Saul Williams and Michael Frante were top of the list – they “have been able to maintain living out the message.” He continued: “I live in a world where I step off stage, step back on stage, and play to audiences. But it’s easy to get out of touch. So it’s good for an artist to live beyond or outside of the song and music. It inspires you.”
Brett has a new album coming out next summer – he said he didn’t want to give too much away, but hinted that it has influences of ’70s samba. He’ll be touring to promote the new album and hopes to come back to Traverse City for a show. (“I loved playing the City Opera House,” he said. “It was one of the highlights of the tour. But I want to come back in the summer instead of winter.”) Brett was also behind the idea of a Northern Michigan event post-Rothbury focused on building and expanding the good work of the festival.
“Festivals like Rothbury are beautiful,” he said. “It’s a gathering of good people with good intentions. But everyone has to leave. You go back to work, read the paper, watch TV…and you lose the inspiration. But if a concert could make use of the here and now, that would be more effective. If there could be a festival in the actual place you want to see the work done, that would be powerful.”
One-man jam band Keller Williams says he’s also excited to come to Traverse City. “I love playing in markets like that,” he said. “People come out of the woodwork. It’s a real event. The crowd has a very appreciative vibe that you don’t see in major markets or big cities.”
Keller is finishing up a kids album he says will come with a warning label – “May Not be Suitable for Uptight Parents.” He has a passion for youth and will be playing a special early show just for TC students when he performs at the City Opera House in October. “I hope to pass on my love of music to those guys. Maybe some of them will go on to be amazing players and not charge me a lot to play with them,” he laughs.
Porterhouse has worked with both Brett and Keller in the past, and both are talented, passionate musicians with a dedication to giving back through their music. We look forward to bringing them to TC for more shows, be it when they’re on tour or for a special after-Rothbury event in the future. Meanwhile, there are still two full more days of Rothbury magic taking place, so stayed for more interviews and photos coming soon!