Harsen’s Island Bluegrass Festival Redux

Photo by John BayerlI’m very pleased and excited to add the 4th Annual Harsen’s Island Bluegrass Festival, which takes place on Saturday, August 24th, to my list of upcoming gigs. Harsen’s Island, Michigan is located at the mouth of the St. Clair River at Lake St. Clair. The all-day festival is put on by the Harsen’s Island Schoolhouse Grill, a restaurant and wine bar housed in an historic building that was once one of Michigan’s only two-room schoolhouses. The festival takes place on the grounds directly behind the grill, and serves as a fundraiser for the Emergency Fund of the Harsen’s Island Lions Club.

I played this event last year (that’s me in the photo by John Bayerl, on the right) and had a marvelous time; in fact, it was a real turning point for me, musically. It was my biggest gig since I’d returned to playing at that point, and while I went to the festival well prepared to perform two solid sets, I wasn’t quite prepared for the reception I received. I was all but overwhelmed by the great reaction of the audience. I also met some people who would become good friends and made some very important music contacts.

If there was one drawback, it was that I literally could have sold dozens of CDs that day, if I’d had any, but I didn’t. That turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise, however, because one of the performers was David Mosher, who is not only an extremely gifted singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, but also provides recording services in his home studio. After my second set, I approached David and inquired about the possibility of doing a CD with him, and from that initial conversation sprang the project that would produce “In My Element.”

Because the Harsen’s Island Fest has such special importance for me personally, it goes without saying that I can’t wait to get back there and play again and, yes, I’ll have lots of CDs to sell! Many thanks to Chad Jeremy, who lines up entertainment for the festival, for including me in the schedule once again this year. Chad is a great bluegrass guitar player and a very fine singer, and added me last year based on one very enjoyable jam that we had some months before. Thanks for believing in me, buddy!



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"In the best traditions of folk music, George’s songs evoke personal experiences and historical events, and George certainly has had some experiences, let me tell you. But the experiences of which he sings so truthfully here, while almost mundane when taken literally, are made to seem so much more meaningful, so much more heartfelt in his hands and within his voice. These arrangements are as near to the folk tradition as one could hope, are exactly all that’s necessary for each song, and when accompaniment and backing vocals are used, they feature David Mosher on several traditional instruments, as well as Bill Arnold on dobro, providing simple support to George’s already ample foundations." —Michael O'Brien, Open Mike


And George Heritier from Oak Park shared his clever songwriting, cool and entertaining lyrics and hot guitar/harmonica riffs. He got the best round of applause for the whole festival! I am a huge fan of acoustic blues and folk music and George is one of the best I have heard. I would make it a point to go see him ANY time he plays, it will be well worth the effort! —John P. Bayerl, PhD - SeMi Bluegrass.com