BOYNE FALLS — It’s basically been one, non-stop, 23-year tour for American folksinger, Michael Johnathon.
Johnathon, who has 10 albums, two published books and several national projects under his belt, is also the host of the WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour which can be heard on more than 500 radio stations each week across the United States and Canada.
On Saturday, July 9, Johnathon will perform for the first time in Northern Michigan, at Aten Place in Boyne Falls.
“I look forward to the Aten Place stage as the environment is going to make this Appalachian man feel right at home,” Johnathon said.
Johnathon, who grew up in Appalachia region of New York, now lives in Kentucky.
The News-Review spoke with Johnathon in advance of his Northern Michigan debut.
News-Review: You’ve been performing for years. How did you get started?
Johnathon: I started full-time performing in 1988, like not doing anything else but performing. I always performed as a child, but what really got me going was that I performed in schools around the country and did 3,000 concerts in four years. It was a huge undertaking — three or four schools a day, which I did enjoy. I’ve never actually performed in a bar or club in my life. When I started, I said to myself, “Why start in the place where everyone else is trying to get out of?”
News-Review: For those who haven’t heard you on WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, how would you describe your sound?
Johnathon: It’s high octane Pete Seger. It’s guitar and banjo, singer and songwriter, old songs all mixed together. It’s good for kids, it’s an adult show that a younger audience can enjoy. I take the audience on a journey through American music and turn the concert hall into a grand front porch, emotionally speaking. This type of music was what built front porches.
News-Review: This will be your first time performing in Northern Michigan. What are your favorites types of venues?
Johnathon: For me, theaters and house concerts with places that hold just 30 people and are like a living room are by far my favorite. Performing for a living is one of the best things you can do, and at a time when the arts are being decimated, slashed and thrown out of schools, to perform for a crowd and do this for a living is really great. I like the connection with small audiences, and am really looking forward to my visit to Aten Place.
News-Review: Besides touring, are there any new projects on the horizon?
Johnathon: I say I’ve basically been on a 20-year long tour and that will surely continue. I travel around, but wherever I am, I have to be back in Lexington, Ky., on Sunday to do the Old Time Radio Hour. That forces me to come home and be dad. Touring is gruesome and it’s not always fun, so it’s a joy when I’m able to be back home with my family.
As for new projects, I’m launching a second broadcast which will be kind of a retro old-time show featuring exclusively old-time music and bluegrass. I also have a big project called Frontporch which is a new album and book with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity to build front porches all over the country.
Date: Saturday, July 9
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Aten Place
Address: 3492 Old Mackinaw Trail, Boyne Falls, Mich. 49713
Admission: $15, 2 for $25
For advance tickets, visit www.atenplace.com for a mail-in form.