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WATCH: Highlights and interviews at the 12th Annual Common Ground Music Festival

LISTEN: Interview with Common Ground Music Festival spokeswoman Malinda Barr



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Local News / Entertainment

Saturday, 23 July, 2011 9:06 PM

55,000 attend the 2011 Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing

Attendance was slightly lower from last year's total of 60,000 people


Melissa Etheridge headlined the Auto Value Parts Stores main stage on July 17, 2011.


by Jason Rzucidlo



LANSING, Mich. -- Rock legend Melissa Etheridge and pop group Hot Chelle Rae closed out the 12th Annual Common Ground Music Festival last Sunday. About 6,400 people showed up for the final day at Adado Riverfront Park in downtown Lansing. Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackberry Smoke also drew a large crowd of up to 10,000 on Thursday night. The total attendance for the festival's week-long run is 55,000 people. Festival spokeswoman Malinda Barr said the final crowd figures are down from an earlier estimate of 60,000.

The festival is expected to turn a profit, even with lower attendance figures from a year ago. Sales of seven-day passes were up 20 percent when compared to 2010 levels. Tickets to this year's festival were $35 each night or $89 for the entire week-long pass (a $10 discount from last year). In addition, ticket prices did not go up after July 1st as in past years.

"This is my first time here this year," said Danielle Marinuzzi, an attendee from DeWitt, Mich. "It seems like there's lots to do here. I'm really excited to see the show. I got the week-long pass. This is my first time coming this week, but I'm excited to see Lynyrd Skynyrd, Theory of a Deadman and Hot Chelle Rae on Sunday. I really want to try some of the food here. It seems like they've got a big selection. I think the new stage will work out better. Some people might get confused. We like the new restroom thing. It's crazy."

Lansing Police said almost everyone minded their business and had a good time without causing trouble. They only made one disorderly conduct arrest over the festival. That is down from previous years of the festival.

The Pearle Vision stage was moved to a new location inside of a pavilion tent just north of the main stage. Most attendees said they liked the new location, but the acoustics were not as good as in the past. In previous years, the second stage was on the other side of the river.

"I was here in 2001 for the same concert, Skynyrd," said festival goer David Nichols of Daytona Beach, Fla. "It seems more friendly, gives people something to do on a summer's evening. We got the one-day ticket for Lynyrd Skynyrd. I think it's a good move for the Pearle Vision stage. You've got to take what you can get."

Also new for 2011 were the separate restrooms for men and women. The port-a-potties were divided between the two genders. Both sides had freestanding sinks so attendees could wash their hands after each use.

Melissa Etheridge, LL Cool J, Theory of a Deadman, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Charlie Daniels Band, Rick Springfield and Trey Songz were among the headliners on the Auto Value Parts Stores stage. Other performers on the main stage included Trav, ISQUARE, Burton Cummings, Jay Jolley, Aaron Lewis, Blackberry Smoke, Black Stone Cherry, Downplay, DJ Z-TRip, Definition, Brilliance and Larry McCray.

"We've been coming here every year for about 10 years now," said Mike Houser, an attendee from Lansing, Mich. "I think it's pretty good. Lynyrd Skynyrd's awesome. I like the rock and roll. It's pretty good. We buy the week-long pass. It's more economical to do it that way. If you want to go to some shows, you can or skip some if you need to. We came on Tuesday and saw Verve Pipe and Rick Springfield then Charlie Daniels band last night. I think the Pearle Vision stage is really small over there. The sound is not as good. I liked it better over there better."

The Pearle Vision pavilion stage featured newer acts like Hot Chelle Ray, Locksley, Tonic, Outer Vibe, Don Middlebrook & Living Soul, Duke Tumatoe, Small Town Son, Brian Lorente, David Nail and Marnee. Other performers on the second stage were Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights, The Verve Pipe, Life Support, Showdown, Peter Rivera, Brena and Andy Suzuki & The Method.

Maria's Taco, Blimpie, Netterfields, Desgranges Popcorn, Frazee Fries, Bayou Billy's Soda Pop and Cajun Cookin', Tiki Jim's Hot Dog Hut, Dan's Butts and Beans, Greek Tavern and Melting Moments were the participating restaurants on site for this year's festival.

"This is my second time, we came two years ago when Billy Squier was here," said festival goer Maureen Carr of Morrice, Mich. "I'm ready to have some fun. We had a blast last time we came. I like it because my kids like the same music that we do. We're getting ready to enjoy Lynyrd Skynyrd. We just got the one-day ticket this time. I'd like to see Melissa Etheridge too. It's a awesome time and we enjoy ourselves everytime we come."

Four golf events were held during the Common Ground Music Festival to benefit the Burcham Hills Foundation. Three hole-in-one shootouts were held for a grand prize of a 2011 Honda Accord (underwritten by Capital Honda). Other prizes included $2,500 or a watch valued at $350. A grand putting challenge was also held on each night of the festival with a cash prize for the last putter with a hole-in-one.

The Common Ground Festival requires about 10 days to set up. It takes only about two and a half days for everything to be completely dissassembled. Streets near the festival were re-opened by Tuesday. Plans for next year's Common Ground Festival will begin in just a few days.

"I come every year to at least one concert," said Michael Hull, an attendee from Grand Ledge, Mich. "I think it's just as good at it was last year. I see some things that changed from last year, but not that big of a deal. Trey Songz and LL Cool J on Saturday, I would like to have seen that. They're all good. I see the jons are right here where it was a beer tent last year. It doesn't really matter. People are going to use the jon no matter you put them. They're going to use Pearle Vision no matter where you put it either."

For more information about the Common Ground Music Festival, visit

Related Story: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels Band to perform at Common Ground Fest in Lansing



Hot Chelle Rae drew one of the largest crowds on the Pearle Vision pavilion stage on Sunday, July 17.



LL Cool J headlined the Auto Value Parts Stores main stage on Saturday, July 16.



Blackberry Smoke performed on the Auto Value Parts Stores main stage on Thursday, July 14.


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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.