Nina and the Buffalo Riders heat up a beautiful summer night and kickoff of Michigan Legacy Art Park Summer Sound series.
Michigan Legacy Art Park
I sadly had not heard of the Michigan Legacy Art Park until we saw that Nina and the Buffalo Riders were opening up the park’s annual Summer Sounds concert series. The Michigan Legacy Art Park is a non-profit arts organization nestled into the woods at Crystal Mountain near Thompsonville. Crystal Mountain leases 30 acres to the art park for just a buck. This allows the Michigan Legacy Art Park to focus on its mission of art advocacy and education.
The Michigan Legacy Art Park features close to fifty permanent works of art on display along a network of trails that meander through the forest. As you round a bend or crest a hill, you encounter various art installations. These thought provoking works allow the artists to tell Michigan stories while the viewer enjoys the art ensconced within this wooded landscape.
Exploring the Art
We arrived at the Michigan Legacy Art Park just as Nina and the Buffalo Riders pulled in. To say we were early for the show is an understatement. Nevertheless, our plan was to get to the park early, walk around the artwork, and snag a prime seat.
Finding the art park and parking was no problem. There are plenty of signs and the Google directions are spot on. We had packed a cooler of beverages purchased at the party store just outside Crystal Mountain. If you forget anything, there is a store at Crystal Mountain just before you turn into the art park.
The July heat and humidity were in full force as we ambled up the hill toward the music pavilion. We stopped to admire the art and the scenery. The trails within the Michigan Legacy Art Park are wide and wood-chipped. Yet, they do involve a good deal of uphill travel. For the concerts, the park provides transportation via a cart up to the music pavilion for those that need assistance. Otherwise, enjoy the trails on your way to the tunes. The park offers two miles of trails.
Don’t Forget Dinner
In case you are hungry, the Michigan Legacy Art Park has partnered with local food trucks. You’ll find them at the start of the trail up to the music pavilion. For tonight’s show, food was available from Steelhead Café. They offered up huge portions of broasted fish with these gigantic potato wedges. We tried the cod and it was fantastic. There was so much food! We had plenty leftover for breakfast the next morning.
The Main Event: Nina and the Buffalo Riders
Our host for the concert was Troy DeShano who provided us with background on the Michigan Legacy Art Park and its mission before bringing Nina and the Buffalo Riders to the stage. Clearly, some of us knew what to expect from this band given the warm welcome they received.
For those new to this incredible Detroit band, they convey the rich history of blues infused rock and soul music within their own original core. They play rock as it was meant to be played; with passion, fire, and grace. If your heart beats to the rhythm of the Allman Brothers, your soul shines with the beauty of Marvin Gaye, and your mind yearns with the cosmic wonder of Janis Joplin, then Nina and the Buffalo Riders are for you.
Our ears were treated to two powerful sets of music. The mainstay of each set is the original music that Nina and the Buffalo Riders create. Rich and full of life, they played some of our favorites such as “City” and “Madness” from their self-titled EP. The warm summer night seemed to glow when the played “Cool Me Down”. The driving earnest of “Learn” from the For The Dirt album had many of us moving and singing along. In between songs, Nina would give us a bit of the meaning behind a song which added to our perspective of the music.
Covering Us Up
On top of Nina and the Buffalo Riders potent original music, they delighted us with some remarkable and moving covers. “Dreams” and “Gold Dust Women” from Fleetwood Mac allowed the band to infuse their brilliant playing into these classics. One of my favorites was the cover of Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. Nina and the Buffalo Riders nailed the salty country rock edge in this song.
None of us in the crowd wanted this magnificent evening of music at the Michigan Legacy Art Park to end. Calling for one more, Nina did a sing-along version of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” to cap off two hours of soulful rock and roll from one of Michigan’s musical gems; Nina and the Buffalo Riders.
The Summer Sounds music series is an annual treat at the Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville. When planning your next vacation or weekend getaway, put this park on your itinerary. You will not be disappointed. Tell them Life In Michigan sent you.
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