Feel the heat

It’s the 10th anniversary of Heatstock, one of summer’s most anticipated outdoor music events. The annual two-day offering of blues, booze and barbecue has kept the masses coming, and this year will be headlined by blues, rock and soul man extraordinaire, Larry McCray.

The festival’s founder and owner of No Cover Records, Michael Boulan, couldn’t be happier about bringing McCray to the festivities. “Larry’s at a higher level,” Boulan says. “He’s the upper echelon.”

Heatstock began as nothing more than a backyard party, but over the years made the transition from cozy get-together to full-on bash. “These days, there’s higher-quality acts and a lot more people,” Boulan says.

In 1999, to accommodate the growing number of attendees, the event moved from Ortonville, Boulan’s hometown, to Fostoria, a little-known town whose main claim to fame is as home to the motorcycle club the Tribesmen. But for those who are timid about leather, tats and roaring Harleys, there’s no reason to worry.

“In 10 years, we have never had to throw anyone out or even had a fight,” Boulan says. “It’s a real mellow crowd.” Seems the nearby lake, kids’ activities and tie-dye T-shirt workshop help keep the mood light.

In addition to big-shot McCray, music will be provided by local faves Motor City Josh & the Big Three, the Curtis Sumter Project, James Glass, the Whoodoo Band and many others. The Detroit Blues Society and West Michigan Blues Society will also be in attendance — each with an information booth and many blues-themed goodies.

“It’s gained a cult-like following,” Boulan says. “People take pride wearing their Heatstock T-shirts from years past, and call newbies ‘Heatstock virgins.’”

Pop your Heatstock cherry this weekend — you’d do it if you really loved the blues.


Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30, at the Heatstock site: Take I-75 to the Palace exit and head north to Lapeer Road, (you can also take I-69 to the Lapeer exit). Continue north on Lapeer Road for 15 miles to Otter Lake Road. Turn left and go four miles to Fostoria Road. Turn right and drive about three miles to Saginaw Street (at the Fire Escape Bar). Turn left and follow the signs for one mile. $50 for a two-day pass, $25 for one day. For more info, 248-398-6877 or nocover.net. Camping encouraged.

Scott Harrison is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]
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