The Milan Bluegrass Festival in Milan, MI is expanding this year to four days, running now from Wednesday, August 1 until Saturday the 4th. It has become a primary destination event in southeast Michigan over the past 20 years, with fans coming back annually who appreciate their focus on traditional bluegrass music.
Promoter Mark Gaynier tells us that he had noticed that campers were filling up the available spots by Tuesday each yer anyway, so why not go ahead and start the festival early?
His next thought was, “How can I get the word out to bluegrass fans in the region?” And the answer came to him immediately. Mark was already advertising on WMIM, 98.3 Nash Icon radio in Monroe, MI, on their Sunday morning Gospel show. He had gone to school with station manager Jeff Tuttle, so he began a conversation with Jeff about starting an all-bluegrass show on Saturdays.
They spoke with noted bluegrass radio pioneers Joe and Daniel Mullins for some tips, and when Mark agreed to sponsor the show, Tuttle was in. Now, Bluegrass Times with Jeff Tuttle & Friends airs on Saturday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at 98.3 FM in southeastern Michigan, a signal that also reaches into Ohio and all the way up to southern Canada. It can also be heard online from the station web site.
Jeff features contemporary and traditional bluegrass, and spotlights recordings from regional acts on the show. Their hope is to have all 20 artists scheduled to perform at Milan in August on for interviews between now and then. His background is in country music, but he is a bluegrass fan as well. In fact Tuttle worked as a country artist for many years, touring all over the United States. Once he quit the road and returned home to Michigan, he assumed management of the station in Monroe.
In a throwback to old time radio, Bluegrass Times airs live, so listeners can call or email requests to Jeff while it is on.
Mark says he is excited about having the festival run for four days. And he isn’t just adding open mics or throw-together bands on Wednesday, with Dave Adkins, Little Roy & Lizzy, Junior Sisk and Doyle Lawson on Wednesday’s bill.
“I like to think that every day is a Saturday at Milan. That’s what people pay for, and tickets sales are up 30% over last year.”