For The Rupple Brothers, a local music festival provides the optimal balance of creativity and community at the grassroots level.
The Chesaning, Michigan psych-folk sibling duo of Cole Rupple and Evan Rupple weave those elements together at their homegrown Handmade Music Festival, which runs Oct. 7-8 at Showboat Park.
“Some of our very first festivals in 2016 and 2017 were Farm Fest, Pond Jam and Dunesville. These festivals have a beautiful grassroots message,” said Cole Rupple, who started Handmade in 2018.
“They have taught us that if you book it, they will come. If you have a little stage, some electricity and some of the favorite bands that we all love, then that’s all you need to make things happen.”
For their third festival, The Rupple Brothers will recapture that magic with a stacked music lineup of bluegrass, psych-folk, Americana, soul and jam artists.
Sixteen artists will perform on two stages with funk-rock band Distant Stars headlining Friday night and prog-funk-jazz quartet Chirp headlining Saturday night.
Other featured artists include Fay Burns, Cosmic Knot, Monte Pride, Nicholas James, Ma Baker, Act Casual, Stormy Chromer and The Rupple Brothers.
“We love Chirp, we love Monte Pride … there are a few friends we can’t get by without, and so we actually only have about 10 slots,” said Cole Rupple.
“We like to do singer-songwriters during the day, and then we work up to the full-band stuff at night … those are our two vibes. We just hope that everyone can see and appreciate all the beautiful Michigan talent that we have.”
In addition to talent, festivalgoers will enjoy food trucks along with craft and music vendors at Showboat Park’s scenic riverside.
“It’s an absolutely gorgeous location right along the Shiawassee River with maple trees all throughout. There’s a beautiful village campground nestled back in the trees,” said Cole Rupple, who co-runs the festival with older brother Evan Rupple, mother Shelly Rupple-English and sister Savannah Rupple.
“Truly, my favorite part is bringing all these amazing bands and all my incredible friends together and all that they do to my little hometown. We want to show [everyone] the beauty that we get to see on the road every weekend.”
Outside of the festival, The Rupple Brothers perform live regularly throughout Michigan and share tracks from their growing catalog. In 2018, the duo released their emotive, 10-track debut album, The Rupple Brothers and Company.
“The tracks were kind of just cobbled together, but our overarching theme would definitely be the first song, ‘Sadtown,’ and that’s our brother-love song,” said Cole Rupple, who formed the duo with Evan Rupple in 2015.
“My best friend passed away when I was a senior in high school, and that song has been consoling me. That’s our whole kinda vibe, that’s our whole kinda message … ‘Sadtown’ is the most evocative of that vibe.”
The Rupple Brothers will carry that vibe forward on their next album, which is currently underway. The duo wants to collaborate with a Michigan-based producer to shape the album’s overall sound.
“We had a pretty prolific period at the start of The Rupple Brothers, so we are backlogged to the gills. We honestly have about two or three albums’ worth of material. I would like this second album to be a double concept album, and I would like for it to be called Rivers,” said Cole Rupple, who’s inspired by The Avett Brothers, The Beatles and Elliott Smith.
“I would like to do a ‘River of Life’ side and a ‘River of Death’ side with lighter songs on the first side and the heavier, more intense songs on the second side. Everything is written, and everything is arranged … we just gotta get in there and lay it down.”
Handmade Music Festival
4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8
Showboat Park, 805 S. Front Street in Chesaning, Michigan