Crane Wives Preview


Photo courtesy of Crane Wives

Jamie Glenn

It’s the summer of 2012 and the Crane Wives are performing at the Grand Marais Bluegrass Festival. The four-piece folk Americana band, still finding a place among the music scene, entertains the crowd with their upbeat and catchy tunes. Fast forward to 2018, the group has won a number of awards, has been a part of National Public Radio’s “Tiny Desk” video series and played shows across the United States. The Crane Wives have ventured up to the U.P. to play shows before, but this time they are returning as a household name.

The Crane Wives, an indie folk rock band from Grand Rapids, Michigan, has played at the Ore Dock Brewing Co. a number of times throughout the years and will play the venue again at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29.

Ben Zito, a band member and the group’s social media manager, shared how he atmosphere of a venue can play a large role in how bands on stage are received by the audience.

“We try to create an atmosphere that is lighthearted, danceable and inclusive when we play. I say ‘we try’ because whether or not we’re successful depends largely on the give and take we get from the audience. One of the things that’s special about [the] Ore Dock is that the audience is usually right there with us having a good time,” Zito said.

Though this Michigan-native band is no stranger to the Marquette music scene, the group has some big aspirations moving forward, at the Ore Dock and far far beyond. The Crane Wives entered NPR’s nationally acclaimed video concert series “Tiny Desk Contest” in 2016, ’17 and now this year. The contest showcases “undiscovered talent,” musicians that don’t have a recording contract, and provides a large platform for those who win, including a national tour with NPR, according to The Crane Wives hope to win that competition, Zito said.

“We have our fingers crossed on that,” he said.
The fundamentals of a band can run deep, from stage presence to song writing, which can influence how a band is received by listeners and audiences. For The Crane Wives, songwriting is unique and a strong suit for the band, Zito explained.

“I think what resonates the most with people—that which really has them staying with us over the years—is the lyrical content. [Band members] Kate [Pillsbury] and Emilee [Petersmark] have a way of writing lyrics that are relatable to most people, either in experience or emotion. They write lyrics with an originality that has the ability to breathe fresh insight into human feelings and experiences that have long grown stale,” Zito said.

Kris Wierenga, the Ore Dock talent buyer and entertainment & floor manager, shared his excitement as the Ore Dock show approaches.

“I feel like that their sphere of influence has been steadily growing. More and more people are aware that they’re making some killer music,” Wierenga said. “I’m just really looking forward to hearing The Crane Wives again. It’s been about a year since they were around. They are just absolutely fantastic, so getting an opportunity to get lost in their music is a good day.”

The local band Wildhack will be opening the show before The Crane Wives take the Ore Dock stage. Tickets are $5 each.