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Music returns to Fair Lane this weekend, 100 years after Henry and Clara Ford originally moved in. The Fords lived in their Dearborn estate from 1915 until 1950. Upon Clara’s death, the estate was given to the Ford Motor Company, and in 1957, the house and farmland were donated to the University of Michigan. In June 2013, The Henry Ford Estate non-profit regained ownership, and has worked to restore and reopen the estate.

This Saturday’s Fair Lane Folk Festival returns to the estate’s origins, bringing folk music back to the grounds and throughout the gardens.

Ann Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Communications at the Historic Ford Estates says, “We are very excited about celebrating the Estate’s centennial and bringing music back to Henry and Clara’s home. This is just the first of many opportunities that we’ll offer to invite the community to visit, see the progress of the restoration projects and to get involved. We hope that the Folk Festival brings a new generation of music lovers to experience the beautiful estate.”

Many of the bands performing have regional ties. Joshua Davis, a finalist on NBC’s The Voice, and The Accidentals, hail from Traverse City, while the founding members of the band Frontier Ruckus met at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills.

Says Frontier Ruckus banjo player Davey Jones, “It’s always the best to come back to Michigan. Our fans are the most connected with what we’re doing. It just feels the most real when we’re playing here.” The band members are spread between Detroit’s Corktown and Ypsilanti, maintaining their Michigan roots in spite of a rigorous touring schedule.

With the Festival’s spin on folk music, Jones feels right at home. “By definition, folk music is the music of the people. Folk music in the ‘60s was very simple melodies, simple chord projections, very acoustic based, but it had this authenticity that spoke to people. That really shines through today.” He sees Frontier Ruckus following a similar pattern.

“We’ve experimented with traditional sounds and ways to make them more modern. Our first album was mostly acoustic instruments. By our fourth album, we’re still mostly acoustic, but have added electronic keyboards, experimented with trumpets and other instruments.” The band just recorded their fifth album, slated to be released next spring. Jones mentions that they will perform songs from this album around Michigan this fall.

Matt Milia, the band’s songwriter and guitarist, is known for his deeply personal lyrics. Jones describes his songwriting style as “more stream of conscious. He [Matt] doesn’t find himself shackled to the verse/chorus structure.” Recognizing the festival setting this weekend, though, Jones says that “a festival show has to be a little more accessible and upbeat as opposed to an intimate acoustic show.”

It also helps that he knows and has played with several of the other headlining musicians, including Chris Bathgate and Rayland Baxter, lending him an overall feel for the types of folk music represented.

Of Bathgate, Jones notes that “If you listen to Chris’s music, it’s really heartfelt and speaks to very personal and deep kind of feelings, but he presents it in a more electronic and experimental way.”

Modernizing this historic setting is an integral task for the estate's centennial. Considering Fair Lane is today viewed as a non-traditional concert venue, one that the Historic Ford Estates is hoping to reconceive in the time to come, these contemporary interpretations of folk music will set the stage for a 2015 visit to Henry Ford's home.

A full schedule of the Fair Lane Folk Festival can be viewed here. To purchase tickets, click here

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