Redefining the Classroom
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The Gordon Lightfoot Tribute

A benefit performance for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society

Date: November 9, 7:30pm
Tickets: General Admission: $20, Special Patron: $100

Patrons are guaranteed preferred seating and will be given a free art print of the painting, "Fitzgerald's Final Storm" by artist Arthur G. Anderson (shown below). One-half of the patron price qualifies a tax deductible contribution to the Shipwreck Society.


Fitzgerald's Final Storm

Eight years into a project that began as a benefit to help the Cheboygan Opera House, Mike Fornes is more enthusiastic than ever about playing the role of Gordon Lightfoot in a show that will benefit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. His 7:30 p.m. performance of “The Gordon Lightfoot Tribute” on Monday, Nov. 9 will recreate the Lightfoot concert experience one day before the 40th Anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

"It is our privilege to perform in the LSSU Performing Arts Center to help this wonderful cause,” Fornes said. “The Great Lakes Shipwreck Society and the museum have done so much to preserve the maritime heritage of our area, especially of the Edmund Fitzgerald. There are many projects on the drawing board at the museum and we want to put on a show to raise money for them. We feel that we owe a lot to the song, ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,' and we want to assist the museum in what they do for the surviving family members who travel to Whitefish Point to remember their lost loved ones."

Fornes and his band, "Whispers of the North" have become staples of the annual Nov. 10 bell-ringing ceremony for the Fitzgerald crew at the museum. The band's bookings also include a steady schedule of theater concerts, casinos, county fairs, group tour and convention work adding to solo shows by Fornes that include performances in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio with plans to continually expand.

"This is my retirement job, so I have more time to work on marketing. This year alone we have played the Calumet Theatre, the Braumart Theatre in Iron Mountain, the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, the Northport Community Arts Center and beautiful outdoor amphitheaters in Minnesota and Wisconsin," said Fornes. "We appeared at the Blueberry Festival in Paradise and are booked at the Cheboygan Opera House and the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey. We're looking forward to performing in the Sault. It's really fun to play when you know practically everyone in the house. We really feed off that energy."

Of course, the show is more than just Mike playing the part of Gord. The other four members of Whispers of the North also play the roles of Lightfoot's band members using authentic instruments and effects. The show's lighting and background set are identical to those experienced at a Lightfoot concert. Frequent trips to see Lightfoot on tour and gain technical and musical advice have resulted in approval from the Canadian icon and his band members, who have each played key roles in assisting Fornes and his group.

"This project has come a long way since 2008. We've worked very hard at authenticating each instrument's role and sound in the music," Mike explained. "The songs are the best they've ever been right now. Anyone who hasn't seen us since the beginning, or in the past few years, will immediately see how hard we've worked on our presentation. The instrumentation is very, very close to hearing Gordon Lightfoot live. We want audiences to feel they've experienced the next best thing, and maybe for a moment be immersed enough in the music that we can create that illusion for them. We continually add new songs to keep the concerts fresh and new."

Cheboygan's George Krawczyk, an original band member, will play the show's keyboard score. Mike Freymuth, of Gaylord, plays lead acoustic and electric guitar. Jack Boyd, a native of Waterford, is on bass guitar and Cadillac's Matt Wohlfeill plays drums and percussion.

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