Local Current Blog

With Unplugged and Radio Waves music festivals, Grand Marais rocks through September

Dan Wilson, pictured here in the Current's studios, will perform at Unplugged. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

If you think Labor Day weekend marks the final hurrah of summer fun, think again. For those reluctant to usher in the back-to-school season, take a trip up the North Shore over the following two weekends: Grand Marais will be hosting its annual Radio Waves and Unplugged music festivals.

From Sept. 5-7, the talents of over 30 regional musicians will be highlighted at the Radio Waves Music Festival overlooking the shores of Lake Superior on Sweethearts Bluff. Local on-site food vendors such as Lola’s Sweet Life Bakery and Double D’s BBQ will fill bellies as stylings of rock, country, folk, jazz and Americana fill the air.

Then, join North House Folk School from Sept. 11-14 to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the Unplugged Music Festival. The Unplugged festival centers on the theme “Celebrating Craft and Community,” complete with a folk artisan marketplace, local performers, fundraising auction, and courses for all. Dabble in a new skill with lessons in mini moccasin sewing, wood-fired bread baking, songwriting, a bluegrass banjo workshop, and more.

NPR’s Mountain Stage Radio Show will feature live concerts on Thursday and Friday night, while Saturday evening’s show will be hosted by Minnesota native and Grammy-winner Jon Vezner. Vezner, whose renowned songs have been recorded by John Mellencamp and Martina McBride, will present a “Songwriters in the Round” performance.

Fresh additions to this year’s festival include contra/square dancing under the big top tent accompanied by Pert Near Sandstone. Quench your thirst with the new craft brew tastings courtesy of Fulton.

Details for each festival are below; enter here for a chance to win an Unplugged prize package.

Radio Waves Music Festival

The Radio Waves Music Festival begins at 4:00 p.m. on Friday the 5th, 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday the 6th and 7th. Tickets are available onsite for $5 per day, $10 for the weekend. On-site camping will be offered for the adventurous.

Friday, Sept. 5

The North Shore Community Swing Band

Fred Anderson

Oversize Load

Jim & Michele Miller

Viton, LaVigne, Mills & Hand

Pushing Chain

Rich Mattson & The North Stars

Saturday, Sept. 6

Larry Carpenter

John Silliman

Earth, Wind & Todd

Maria Nickolay

Trails End Band

skyBLUEtrio and the ORANGEgirl

The Curry Family Band



Frozen Britches


Gina Lee

Cook County’s Most Wanted

Ric Gillman & Bruce Bowers

Al and Don and the Coast Connection Remnants

The Carpenter Ants

Sunday, Sept. 7

Gordon Thorne with The Carpenter Ants

The Spruce Roots


Shoot from the Hipsters

Joe Paulik Band

Brand Morrison & Roxanne Berglund

The Pete K. Group

Blues Galaxy

Sam Miltich & The Clearwater Hot Club

The Splintertones


Music begins at 7:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday the 11th and 12th, 7:30 p.m. Saturday the 13th. Stick around Sunday the 14th for more arts, crafts, and market offerings. Tickets are available for $20-$50 here.

Thursday, Sept. 11

David Wax Museum

Dan Wilson

Chris Smither

Tony Trischka’s Great Big World

The Don Juans (featuring Don Henry and Jon Vezner)

Friday, Sept. 12

David Lindley

Pert Near Sandstone

Carrie Newcomer

Judith Owen

Bill Miller

Saturday, Sept. 13

Don Henry

Jeff Gilkinson

Bill Miller

Jon Vezner

Selena Carlson is currently tackling a double major in journalism and music business at Augsburg College. In addition to writing, she is an avid enthusiast of all things banjo; biking; and breakfast for dinner.