"The Quiet, Wintry North": Digital Folk of the Upper Peninsula

Dan W. Lawrence


In America's most "remote" of locations, a digital-centric music scene flourishes. But it's not electronic music that the folk of Michigan's wintry Upper Peninsula find interest in: it's a rootsy, quiet, lo-fi, experimental Americana that is self-produced and self-distributed. With no major venues or recording studies, and not even a well-founded independent record label, musicians of the Upper Peninsula turn to the Internet to organize musical performances and events, plan collaborative recording sessions using limited resources, and share their thoughtful, introspective music.

The author reflects on these issues of independent folk music and self-production, as well as the digitization of music. Further, the author advocates for a rhetoric of music and new pushes in ties between rhetoric and musicology. How can we start to appreciate music as something more than that which "moves" us emotionally? The author also explores the question of what it really might mean to be a "folk" artist amidst the influence of the music industry in the waves and throes of capitalism.


critical musicology; rhetoric of music; independent music; digital music publishing; digitization; Upper Peninsula; pedagogy; folk;