Gordon Lightfoot Tribute

Rainy day people, fans of Great Lakes lore and hearts who have lost a love are invited to gather for an evening of “up north” folk music when Wellington Farm Park presents Whispers of the North and “The Gordon Lightfoot Tribute” at  7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, 2012 at the Wellington Farm, USA on Military Road near Grayling.

Five years ago Mackinaw City guitarist Mike Fornes assembled a band of four backing musicians for a salute to Canadian balladeer Gordon Lightfoot. The group’s work has developed into a stunning theatre show that replicates the Lightfoot concert experience.  “It’s been a lot of fun,” Fornes said of events since the act’s debut in Cheboygan in 2008. “This is music from our culture, our way of life. Obviously there are lots of romantic ballads and fun songs too among Lightfoot’s list of hits, but his music carries a common appreciation among people that I think concert-goers truly enjoy.”

Better known for his work in sportscasting, journalism and the books he has written about Michigan icons including the Mackinac Bridge and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, Fornes’ musical side takes center stage for the Lightfoot tribute.  Fornes promises that his audience will hear the best known tunes from Lightfoot’s catalogue, and other songs typical of a Lightfoot concert. The play-list includes such standards as “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway” and “Rainy Day People.” Plus, of course, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

“I think audiences really connect with Lightfoot’s music,” he noted, “especially the shipwreck song. It happened less than 100 miles from where we’re from and anybody who has ever heard that song identifies it with storms they have seen on the lakes and what happened to those sailors that horrible night. Yes, we’ll certainly play it, and there will be some surprises too – some great music Gord wrote that I think people will really enjoy.”

The band – a mixture of eclectic musicians comprising backgrounds in blues, jazz, rock’n’roll and sacred music — has been assembled to portray the same roles with the same authentic instruments as Lightfoot’s own backing musicians, an element to the show that Fornes believes is true to the original recordings.

Lead guitarist Todd Golnick will play the acoustic and electric melody lines that caused millions of radio listeners to hum along with Lightfoot’s chart-topping hits of the 1970s and 1980s. Keyboard wizard George Krawczyk supplies the orchestral sounds and piano music for the show’s 26-song repertoire. Bassist Jack Boyd and drummer/percussionist Matt Wohlfeill have charge of the beat and special effects score– Wohlfeill’s drum kit will be augmented with triangle, wood block and sleigh bells for various numbers. Fornes will accompany himself on rhythm six-string and 12-string guitars, authentic to the models used by Lightfoot on stage.

Tickets are $12.50 and are available at the farm’s Visitor Center on Military Road.   Wellington Farm, USA is a 60-acre living history museum complete with a beautiful outdoor stage nestled in the beech-maple forest of Northern Michigan.  The farm can be easily reached from Exit 251 of I-75 or Exit 206 from US-127.  For more information, call 989 348 5187 or visit the website at www.wellingtonfarmpark.org or email welfar32@gmail.com