Muskoka To-DAILY

Sawdust City Music Festival this weekend first for Gravenhurst, with a great lineup featuring Miranda Mulholland, Jim Cuddy Family Band

Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Miranda Mulholland won’t be one of the many thousands of cottager trekking north this long weekend.

Miranda Mulholland and partners present three days of eclectic music at seven different venues in a Gravenhurst first.

Miranda Mulholland and partners present three days of eclectic music at seven different venues in a Gravenhurst first.

The Gull Lake cottage owner and musican is already in town planning last minute “surprises” for this weekend’s Sawdust City Music Festival on eight stages on Lake Muskoka, Gull Lake and the main street in between.

“Just hope the weather odds are in our favour,” she said Wednesday morning.

The music fest is a first for Gravenhurst, which is used to craft and beer festivals – which this one combines perfectly at one of the main venues.

Sawdust City Brewery, on Muskoka Road North (it’s not their festival), will be a musical hub Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as musicians and bands rotate around town for free and ticketed concerts.

Drop by the Opera House Saturday for a chance to meet some of the artists around a festival booth.

The entertainment begins Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Currie Music, across from the Opera House, with My Father’s Son; then at 5 p.m. at the Oar and Paddle up at the north end of the main street, Muskoka Road and just past Sawdust City Brewers is Liz Stringer at the Oak and Paddle restaurant.

At 9 p.m. at the Sawdust City Saloon at the brewery its My Father’s Son, Zachary Lucky and NQ Arbuckle.

And possibly some surprises.

Mulholland, the artistic director, fiddler and mastermind, says it’s been a dream of hers to put on a festival in her summer hometown, where the family has roots dating back more than a century.

Her great-great-grandfather was Charles Mickle, a leading lumberman in the 19th century who helped pioneer the town at the foot of the Muskoka Lakes and where logs were brought down for milling and boatbuilding.

She says in a release: “As a bit of background, I am a musician myself (currently in Harrow Fair & Belle Starr — and formerly with the Great Lake Swimmers — among other projects). And I own the indie record label Roaring Girl Records.

Former Great Big Sea fiddler Miranda Mulholland, a Gull Lake cottager and Gravenhurst pioneering family member, will be on Saturday night's feature bill at her great-great grandfather Charles Mickle's Opera House stage.

Former Great Big Sea fiddler Miranda Mulholland, a Gull Lake cottager and Gravenhurst pioneering family member, will be on Saturday night’s feature bill at her great-great grandfather Charles Mickle’s Opera House stage.

“When I started the label, I always had a small music festival in mind — artists who could all play together — not necessarily the same genre, but who would have the ability to collaborate.

“I have a family cottage in Muskoka that has been in my family for over 100 years and is my very favourite place since I can remember. In fact, my great-great grandfather was Charles Mickle, who owned the big logging company that helped turn Gravenhurst into “Sawdust City” — thus the festival name.

“He was elected mayor of the town Twice and had the beautiful Opera House built on the main street that is still in operation over 115 years later.

“It made perfect sense to do this festival in Gravenhurst, Mulholland told recently.

She is one half of the duo, Harrow Fair, who will be performing at the Opera House Saturday night in the featured event.

Bett Smith and Currie brothers will then open for Jim Cuddy, of Blue Rodeo fame.

Also playing around town this weekend will be Muskoka’s own Papa John Witterick. He will play his signature Deep South-inspired blues, while North Bay native Benjamin Hermann will perform from his lineup of modern folk.

Country music fans should be sure to check out Zachary Lucky, Jessica Mitchell and the alternative country band NQ Arbuckle.

Many of the performers have received Canadian music awards, and all will put on exciting shows in intimate settings.

But the main event is the soldout concert by the Jim Cuddy Family Band at the Gravenhurst Opera House

For the complete performance schedule, click here.

There is also a Super VIP Package that adds a ticket to the star-studded Cottage & Barbeque Event, where you will travel by boat to a secret cottage to enjoy dinner and special performances. The package also provides a meet and greet with Cuddy before Saturday’s show.

The Sawdust City Music Festival is a celebration of live music and the vibrant arts scene in the charming town of Gravenhurst.

With free events throughout the town’s unique and historic venues, plan to attend one or all of the shows over the 2017 August long weekend in Muskoka that recognizes and celebrates the importance of live music, and the town has many unique concert venues.

The festival features a varied line-up of locations, including concerts each night at the Sawdust City Saloon. There will be a performance aboard the iconic barge at Gull Lake Rotary Park, and the festival’s “stripped down” acoustic series will have performances at smaller venues such as The Oar and Paddle RestaurantCurrie’s Music and Antiques and the historic Albion Hotel.

There is even an acoustic performance that will be held at theMuskoka Discovery Centre, a one-of-a-kind museum that houses an in-water collection of historic wooden boats, exhibits about the town’s boat building legacy and an interactive kids’ zone.

For the schedule, go to

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