Calling Out the ‘KISS Army’

War Machine Returns to Headline 2nd Annual FreelandPalooza Music Festival June 27th

Posted In:   From Issue 811   By: Robert E Martin

11th June, 2015     0

Last year after the demise of the Free Music Festival that had been held for six years at Tittabawassee Township Park in Freeland, business owner David Klawuhn quickly picked up the torch, diligently assembling a core group of volunteers to spearhead the 1st annual FreelandPalooza Music Festival  and to keep the momentum going on this free event that brings  thousands of new faces into Freeland each year.

Having gotten his feet wet guiding last year’s inaugural event upon the path to success, David says he learned a lot through the process. “We made it through with minimal casualties and discovered how good people can be, whether it was those from the Parks Department or members from the community stepping up and giving us a hand.”

This year the 2nd Annual FreelandPalooza  Music Festival will be taking place on Saturday, June 27th once again at Tittabawassee Twp Park from Noon – 10:00 PM with a roster of familiar and new faces that includes the return of Kiss Tribute Band  War Machine to headline the show, along with special guests Future Hero Self, Deadman Serenade, Greta Van Fleet, Barbarossa Brothers and The Goons.

Headliners War Machine are a Detroit based Kiss Tribute Band that is not only sanctioned by the actual original group, but the only KISS Tribute Band featuring drummers that have performed with the legendary group.

According to David, last year organizers estimate that approximately 2,500 people attended the inaugural FreelandPalooza and this year they hope to double that number, noting that Tittabawassee Twp. Park can accommodate 6,000 people comfortably

“We did an assessment of the people that came out last year to discover what they liked and did not like about the festival so we could refine things this year from their feedback,” he continues.

“Some elements we are taking out. We’re not going to have a dunk tank this year, but the Bounce House was a hit and we’ll also keep a solid variety with the food & craft vendors.  In fact, many vendors were lining up requesting to return two weeks after the festival, so it’s a lot easier once you get the band rolling.”

“Another thing we will not be featuring this year is Disc Golf,” he continues. “It was simply too difficult to coordinate along with the festival; and really requires a lot more man-power so has not to distract the volunteers.”

In addition to the welcomed return of Kiss Tribute band War Machine, young and highly acclaimed Frankenmuth rockers Greta Van Fleet  will be returning to the festival, along with the rockabilly tinged sounds of  Deadman Serenade and the ever-popular Barbarossa Brothers, in addition to two new groups making their FreelandPalooza (and in one case) regional debut.

“One group that we will feature we also helped name,” enthuses David. “The Goons are a group of 15-year old kids that are pretty hot and this will be their first time ever performing before a large public audience. Their parents, however, are well known, as the group consists of the offspring from Mike McMath from Empty Canvas along with Mike & Scott Robertson’s kids, so they were raised around music and should be an exciting act to experience.  A week ago they didn’t have a name, so we helped them brainstorm on it.”

“Magic Flight is going through a bit of re-organization so won’t be returning, but another interesting band we are bringing In is Future Hero Self, which is strictly an instrumental band with no lyrics or vocals. We’ll be using them to perform between band set-ups and to fill gaps so we have no dead air. Last year we had a DJ spinning records to fill that function, but this will be more interesting having a life original group perform.”

According to David, sponsorships are also up for this year’s festival, with Covenant,  The Freeland Community Chamber, Burt Watson, Valley Plaza, Isabella Band, United Financial Credit Union and Chemical Bank all stepping up to the plate.  “We arranged things this year so sponsorships were available for any level of business who wanted to be a part of what we were doing,” explains David,” and by doing this what might have been price prohibitive in the past resulted in more new people and sponsors becoming involved, so this year will be much more of a real community event.”

FreelandPalooza 2015 will run from Noon to 10 PM  and this year by cutting the total band line-up down from ten to eight groups organizers feel is will give each group more performance time. “With a group like Greta Van Fleet, a 40-minute set can be short when filling it with a 10-minute version of Stairway to Heaven,” notes David.

“We’re also doing something cool with our T-shirts,” notes David. “This year they will consist of a black logo on a white t-shirt and we’ll have a tie-dye station so people can make up their own t-shirt.  Plus we will have Highwood Guitars back and they were a welcomed surprise last year, as they make cigar-box shaped guitars. And we will also be getting our ‘Face Painter’ together again, which is an awesome addition when featuring a Kiss Tribute Band.  Last year you could see all these kids painted as their favorite Kiss members, just like what happened back in the ‘70s when the original band performed; and I didn’t realize there was so many fans out there still excited for that type of music.  When we polled the crowd about improving this year’s festival, the fact we featured War Machine was right up there.”

David says the biggest suggestion for improving this year’s event was people hoping they would feature beer sales at the festival, but as we went to press that issue was still up in the air. 

“We’ll probably announce our decision with that on facebook as we get closer to June 27th, “ explains David. “We’re working out the finer details for having a permit for that day to serve beer, but it isn’t official yet. If you serve beer you can’t have any beer carried in with coolers, so it will be either one or the other.  If we don’t end up serving beer people will be able to bring a cooler, but it all comes down to logistics, as the State of Michigan has its rules.”

After covering expenses, all proceeds from FreelandPalooza are given to charity and last year a little over $3,000 was raised from the event, which went to Habitat for Humanity and Junior Achievement. “This year we’ve earmarked Johnny Burke’s Children’s Foundation and the Humane Society as two of our recipients,
 notes David.

“We’re finally getting where we want to go with everything,” reflects David, “and next year will be the 175th anniversary of Freeland, so I would tie this event into that and make it an incredibly huge celebration. A two-day festival next year is not out of the question.”

War Machine is very excited to be returning to our stage and really appreciated the people from this area and couldn’t believe how respectful the crowd was,” notes David. “They broke their performance into two sets, similar to the way you would flip an album on the hi-fi when you were a kid. In-between sets they came down and did a photo session with audience members and we easily had a 40-minute line of people waiting to get their picture taken with the group, so we intend to pick up from where that left off.  They play a little over 2-hours and their show is supposedly based upon the entire 1977 Kiss Tour show from that year. Not only are they great musicians but don’t miss a trick; in fact, it was great seeing flames being thrown from the throat of ‘Gene Simmons’  - and honestly – kind of unusual seeing that going on in Freeland.”

“It’s amazing how far people traveled to attend last year’s festival,” concludes David. “We had people from the west end of Grand Rapids, a few from the Detroit area; and even people from Frankenmuth that didn’t realize we had such a nice park here in Freeland, so it was a win-win situation for everyone.”

“I’m excited for another opportunity to expose people to all this great music and family activities and am just praying for nice weather, as this is a rain-or-shine event; but the fact we’re doing it later this year and so close to July, we should be on the nicer side of the weather spectrum.”





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