Roadside Americana: Michigan – Nevada

50 States MI-NV


For more 40 years, the Wheatland Music Festival has played a significant role in showcasing great folk music. Held annually in Remus, this festival has hosted the likes of Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, and more. September 5–7.

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The annual River Song Music Festival, a celebration of grassroots music in Hutchinson, offers an excellent lineup of indie folk, Americana, jazz, blues, and everything in between. July 18–19.


The Mighty Mississippi Music Festival, held annually (and usually) in October in Greenville, offers a wide variety of genres, with an entire stage dedicated to blues musicians.


The cigar-box guitar has deep roots in American history. These aromatic DIY axes probably originated in the 1840s, when companies started packing stogies in wooden boxes. An 1876 etching depicts two Civil War soldiers picking tunes on a crude cigar-box guitar. Last year marked the advent of the 1st annual Cigar Box Festival in St. Louis and this year the festival will be held June 7. Kudos to the folks who picked up the torch, er, stogie to keep this tradition alive in St. Louis.


This is Big Sky Country. And there’s plenty of room for guitarists to stretch their technique. The Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop & Festival has featured performances by Pat Metheny, Lee Ritenour, Robben Ford, and Livingston Taylor, to name a few. Faculty member Doug Smith offers fingerstyle clinics, and there are plenty of acoustic-guitar toting brother and sisters on hand.


The Boss named his 1982 acoustic album after this Midwestern state, but Ryan Larsen, proprietor of the Roots Music Shop in Lincoln, knows where the action is: Steve Hanson’s Bluegrass Camps in Long Pine. Tell the Boss you’ve gone picking, trout fishing, and tubing amid the natural splendor of Nebraska’s beautiful Pine Creek.


Since 1985, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, held in the remote town of Elko, has lassoed the likes of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Don Edwards, Michael Martin Murphey, Riders in the Sky, and, more recently, such guitar-slingin’ next-gen cowpokes as Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys and Kristyn Harris. Old West folklore has seldom sounded so sweet.

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