Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

Northern Michigan is a place with incredible natural beauty and varied landscapes. It is also home to Interlochen Center for the Arts and several other longstanding cultural institutions. Little wonder the region has been so attractive to artists and musicians of all types. Here we bring you those stories. 

David Kiley of Encore Michigan joined Stateside to talk about a few of the latest theater productions happening around the state. 

"Birds Eye View - Leland, Mich." reads the caption from one of Edward Beebe's photo postcards.
Matt Mikus

Edward Beebe was a popular photographer in northern Michigan in the early 1900s. He created postcards with his photos but often deceived people regarding the location of the shots.

“I think a lot of these cards were intended to take advantage of tourists and visitors,” says local author Jack Hobey.

Michigan singer-songwriter Joshua Davis released a new studio album, The Way Back Home, on Oct. 13.

The album comes some two and a half years after NBC’s The Voice introduced the rest of America to Davis, who had already built a strong fan base throughout his home state.

Davis joined Stateside to talk about his music and his inspirations.

Imagine being a little kid, driving home late at night with your dad.

You drop off to sleep, more or less, but you're awake enough to feel your dad scoop you up, carry you into the house, and gently tuck you into bed.

Now imagine that dad is NHL legend Gordie Howe, and he's tucking you in just a short time after he thrilled thousands of Detroit Red Wings fans cheering for Mr. Hockey at Olympia Stadium.

Michigan actor and musician Jeff Daniels will tour through northern Michigan next week.
Luke Pline

When you think of Jeff Daniels, maybe you think of Harry Dunne from the film Dumb and Dumber. Harry is one of Daniels’ most iconic roles, but you’ve probably seen him in dozens of other roles throughout the years, too. More recently, he starred in HBO’s TV series The Newsroom

Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington turns 150 years old on November 1st.
Dan Wanschura

Gayle Turnwald has been volunteering at Big Sable Point Lighthouse for about 20 years. One morning in November of 2003, she went downstairs and noticed the smell of freshly baked bread coming from the kitchen.

The last American troops left Vietnam on March 29, 1973.

America's direct intervention in the Vietnam War was at an end, after many bloody years, and 58,220 American lives lost.

Afterward, the nation, and those Vietnam veterans, had a tough time processing and talking about this war that did not end with victory.

Theater happenings around Michigan this week range from a sequel to the Phantom of the Opera to a show about systemic racism.

David Kiley of Encore Michigan joined Stateside to talk about those shows and more.

Joyce Harrington Bahle was Jim Harrison's assistant for over 35 years. Here she's pictured sitting in one of Jim's old chairs.
Dan Wanschura

Well-known Michigan author Jim Harrison passed away last March. If you remember reading about him after his death, a couple things might stick out. First, he wrote a lot – poetry, fiction and essays. And you probably remember hearing how much he loved to eat and drink. Jim Harrison was also a wilderness man. He didn’t like city-living but loved to be surrounded by nature.

Jeff Daniels says he was originally going to write a comedy when he sat down to work on his newest play Flint.

But then Trump happened. And Charlottesville. 

So Daniels started to think about the precursors that might explain what made those things possible.

Jandy Sprouse tends to one of the Tibetan yaks that she raises at her ranch in Maple City. Jandy and her husband Brad are part of a growing local fiber movement, where customers are looking for locally made textiles for their clothing.
Matt Mikus

Jandy and Brad Spouse raise yaks on their ranch in Maple City. The yaks are a little smaller than a dairy cow, but they don’t look like one.

"They have a long fiber that comes down, and it looks like a skirt,” explains Brad. “They have a very long tail that’s similar to a horse." 


National Writers Series: An evening with Alice Waters

Oct 12, 2017
Tom Haxby

Author and chef Alice Waters opened her Berkeley, California restaurant Chez Panisse in 1971. Since then she’s been well-known for preparing locally-sourced, seasonal, organic food and helped inspire the slow food movement. Waters also started the Edible Schoolyard Project, a school gardening effort that now provides ten thousand meals a day. Her book, “Coming To My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook” details her culinary beginnings in the 1960s up through the present day.

Grupo Ayé is a Cuban salsa band from Grand Rapids. They perform in Traverse City on Satruday night.
Grupo Ayé

Grupo Ayé is a Cuban salsa band from Grand Rapids. And even if you don’t know how to dance, there’s at least one guy who thinks you won’t be able to help yourself when you hear their music.

“You have to dance to this music,” says Robert Mulligan, the band’s founder. “When you hear it, your body just naturally wants to move.”

You might have heard the phrase, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” But did you know that in the 1880s, leaders in Michigan decided that fish needed a train?

Over 50 authors will partake in events throughout the weekend at the 2nd Annual Harbor Springs Festival of the Book.
Harbor Springs Festival of the Book

A three-day book festival kicks off in Harbor Springs on Friday.

Over 50 authors from around the country will be there for panel discussions, readings and other events.

“We’re celebrating the culture of books in a beautiful part of the world, where most events are free,” says Amy Gillard, executive director of the festival.

An old mural on the Coburn building in downtown Petoskey was recently repainted by artist Äbby Kent.
Matt Mikus

If you walk through downtown Petoskey, you might notice some old advertising murals on the sides of a few buildings. 

One of them is on the Coburn building on Mitchell Street. The mural is a weathered patchwork of ads for companies that used to occupy the building, like H.A. Easton Hardware and Cook Electric Company.

The mural had almost entirely faded away, until a local artist decided to restore it.


A painting of Wilberforce Falls, which is located north or the Arctic Cirlce in Canada. Cory Trépanier was inspired to paint the Canadian north in his project, "Into the Arctic."
Cory Trépanier

When Canadian Cory Trépanier graduated college, he jumped into the world of commercial art. He did airbrush painting for ad agencies and magazines. A lot of work inside a studio.

Then when he was 33, he took a trip to Lake Superior to paint the natural landscape.

“That was a turning point for me,” he says. "All I could recall, with my wife in the vehicle, was talking about, ‘how am I going to spend more time painting my own work?’”


National Writers Series: An evening with W. Bruce Cameron

Sep 15, 2017
Tom Haxby

Novelist W. Bruce Cameron says having his first story published at the age of sixteen was the worst thing that could have happened to him. After that first story, it took Cameron 25 more years to publish his first book, “Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” That book was made into a sitcom on ABC. Since then he’s published 15 more books, including “A Dog’s Purpose,” which was made into a feature film released in January 2017. W. Bruce Cameron talks this hour with WTCM NewsTalk 580 radio host Ron Jolly.

This week on the Kids Commute - it's Mermaid Week! Come and search for treasure and pearls with us in the watery deep. Meet mermaids of all sorts, from all kinds of places!

EPISODE 7 - The Lovely Sirens (Wednesday, September 13, 2017)

People didn't always think of mermaids as lovely underwater ladies who spent all day pearl hunting. The Ancient Greeks thought of them as monsters, called, "sirens." Sirens were very nice to look at, and had beautiful singing voices...but they lured sailors to wreck their ships on rocks. American composer Stacy Garrop wrote, "The Lovely Sirens," as part of her Mythology Symphony -  it's music that shows both sides of our monster mermaids - beautiful singing that ends in a terrible shipwreck!

Here's today's Kids Commute:


Nearly 50 years ago, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers launched an offensive that changed the course of the Vietnam War. 

"Busted" is a new show at Michigan Artists Gallery in Traverse City. It features ceramic busts of women who were portrayed by well-known artists.
Dan Wanschura

Agostina Segatori owned the Café du Tambourin in the late 1800’s. The Parisian cafe was a popular spot with artists, including Vincent Van Gogh. One day, Van Gogh decided to paint Agostina.


Each month, Stateside checks in with John Sinkevics, the editor and publisher of Local Spins, a site that covers West Michigan’s music scene. Sinkevics discusses new artists, their backstories and what makes their music great.

Congratulations on your new school year, and welcome back to IPR's Kids Commute! Tune in to Classical IPR this morning at 7:40, or listen any time at the link below!

This week is "Back to School Week," on the Kids Commute.

EPISODE FOUR (Friday, September 8, 2017)

Today, we'll hear some music by composer John Williams from his score to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - meet Hagrid the Professor!

Here's today's Kids Commute:

Karen Curlee will bring her Broadway experience to the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee on September 8th, with a show titled "What is this Thing Called Love?"
Gabe Gomez

Karen Curlee says when you get to a certain age and you start wondering, “What’s it all about?” you should go back to do what you did at 13 years old. For Karen, that was singing.

“Nobody could sing like I could sing when I was 13,” she says. “There was no technique involved. It was just I knew how to sing.”


Michael Coonrod has been teaching piano at Interlochen Center for the Arts for over 40 years.

But after a horrible camping accident, his career was put in jeopardy.