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People who use CMH services organize fifth annual music fest

Mental Health Matters by: Jim Bloch
Originally published in the Bluewater Voice 8.6.08

Five bands, five hours, five bucks.

That's the bottom line of the fifth annual Yale Music Festival, which will be on the tented front lawn of Integrity Clubhouse, a couple of blocks east of downtown at 516 North Street. Oh - and the fact that the five bucks is a donation and that the event is organized by people with mental illness who use the social-psychological rehabilitation services provided by the clubhouse.

Al Langolf, the Marysville bassist of the classic rock band Voodoo Doctors, is lining up the musicians for the event for the third straight year.

"I'm getting excited," Langolf said. With 10 days to go before the festival, some of the bands and some of the details still had to be worked out.

Al Langolf, who plays bass and harmonica in the classic rock band Voodoo Doctors, is putting together the slate of musicians for the Yale Music Festival.

For the second consecutive year, Cliff Erickson is scheduled to headline the festival. Erickson, who plays a mix of covers and originals, was born and raised in Port Huron. He has opened for big name stars like Ringo Starr, Harry Chapin, Glenn Campbell, and Kenny Rogers. Last year, he played Kid Rock's birthday party.

Erickson will probably take the stage around 7 p.m., Langolf said.

Burnwood, the popular St. Clair County country rock band, which last played together in the early 1990s, is reuniting for the Yale event.

"It's the first time they have played together in about 15 years," Langolf said.

The Burnwood Reunion Band will likely play at 6 p.m.

David Marc is also reuniting - with himself. For years, Marc entertained locally as a top notch Elvis impersonator. After five years out of the limelight, Marc will reprise his repertoire of The King beginning around 5 p.m.

The Black River Bluegrass Boys get the afternoon rolling at 4 p.m. with their mandolin and banjo-driven tunes.

Langolf's band the Voodoo Doctors will likely fill the 5 p.m. slot, playing the hits of Grand Funk Railroad, Jimmy Buffet, Lynyard Skynyard, Carl Perkins, the Beatles, and other early 1960s bands. The Docs will also close the day of music with an 8 p.m. set.

"Al and the Voodoo Doctors have been great to us," said Lynn Vinson, executive director of Touchstone Services, which operates Blue Water Clubhouse in Port Huron clubhouses in Saginaw and Ann Arbor, and ran Integrity Clubhouse.

Ironically, the Integrity Clubhouse, which served people from the rural areas of Lapeer, Sanilac and St. Clair counties, fell victim to funding cuts this summer and is officially out of business. Most of the people who attended the clubhouse are now attending Blue Water Clubhouse.

"Even though Integrity closed in July, we wanted to go ahead with Music Fest because it's something the clubhouse members work on and plan throughout the year," Vinson said. "The landlord worked with us to still hold the event at Integrity this year."

Vinson, her staff and members at Blue Water Clubhouse are looking for a venue for 2009.

"As the members who attended Integrity are now participating in the clubhouse in Port Huron, Blue Water will take over Music Fest," Vinson said. "We might need to find a new location for next year, but we definitely plan to carry in the tradition. After so many years, it has become a part of Touchstone's identity."

Langolf has an idea of where he'd like to see the festival.

"It would be great to do the event in Pine Grove Park with all of its shade," he said.

Serving people with severe mental illness, one of the functions of the clubhouse movement nationally is to offer opportunities for members to develop ties to the community by planning and organizing social activities.

Members will sell hot dogs, bratwursts, roast corn, pop, ice cream and other snacks, Vinson said. They will also sell handmade arts and crafts on site.

For the final lineup of bands and the times they play, call the clubhouse on the day of the festival at (810) 387-3232. Events get under way at 3 p.m. and continue through 8:30 p.m. Members are asking donations of $5 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under and $15 for a family of not more than five members.

"We had a good turnout last year. We look forward to another good year this year," Vinson said.