In 2007, Mackinaw City guitarist Mike Fornes assembled a band of backing musicians for a salute to Canadian balladeer Gordon Lightfoot. The group’s work has developed into a stunning theater show that replicates the Lightfoot concert experience at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 28, at the Howell Theater.
“This is music from our culture, our way of life,” said Fornes. “Obviously there are lots of romantic ballads and fun songs among Lightfoot’s list of hits, but his music carries a common appreciation among people that I think concert-goers truly enjoy.”
Fornes promises that his audience will hear the best-known tunes from Lightfoot’s catalogue, and other songs typical of a Lightfoot concert. The play-list includes such standards as “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” “Rainy Day People,” and, of course, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
“I think audiences really connect with Lightfoot’s music,” Fornes said. “Especially the shipwreck song. It happened less than 100 miles from where we’re from and anybody who has ever heard that song identifies it with storms they have seen on the lakes and what happened to those sailors that horrible night. Yes, we’ll certainly play it, and there will be some surprises too – some great music Gord wrote that I think people will really enjoy.”
Fornes is backed by a band that accurately portrays the roles of Lightfoot’s early stage band – lead guitarist Mike Freymuth of Gaylord, and Cheboygan musician George Krawczyk playing keyboards. The group constantly strives to perfect Lightfoot’s genre of timeless music that captured millions during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Their catalogue of Lightfoot’s music includes 75 songs they choose from in concert.
Storytelling of the events that inspired the writing of the songs have become as much a part of the show as the songs themselves in Fornes’ portrayal of Lightfoot. His tireless research and personal interaction with Lightfoot have resulted in accurate mannerisms, speaking patterns and clothing used by the Canadian icon in concert. Fornes, who tours annually, will perform more than 60 shows in five states and Canada in 2017. He will accompany himself on rhythm six-string and 12-string guitars, authentic to the models used by Lightfoot on stage.
Tickets are available at The Historic Howell Theater, 315 E. Grand River Ave. in downtown Howell, for $15, and online at www.historichowelltheater.com.