AHMEEK – When local milkman Howard Hart’s brother, Steve Hart, passed away in July of 2004, his love of music inspired Howard to continue with what Steve loved to do. Howard practiced for about a year and then performed at the Agate Beach Jam. While he was nervous about his first time, his performance was well received. After that he was invited to Pete Antala’s Jam in Trap Rock Valley. Impressed with what he saw there, Howard decided to renovate Hart’s Quick Stop and turn it into The Milkman’s Jamboree and it’s been going strong ever since.
Despite enjoying music, there are a couple of reasons why this Jamboree is special.
“We’re hoping to accomplish a real good time and make some money for the Ahmeek Volunteer Fire Department,” Hart said.
Hart said people should come out for the show so they can see some of the best local talent the Copper Country has to offer. Also performing at the Jamboree is Paulina Jayne, a Lower Michigan-native singer who has local ties and has been receiving national attention.
While Jayne is not a natural born Yooper, some of her family are.
“My grandma and just about every family member of hers was born in the U.P.,” Jayne said. “Her father owned a bakery up there and her father was the mayor of Calumet. We’re pretty entrenched in the Calumet society and city. I love going up there and hanging out with everybody. It’s a lot of fun.”
Jayne became involved with the Jamboree through her grandmother, who is also a musician, but suffers from dementia.
“She can’t remember my name, she can’t remember my mom’s name, but she can remember how to play the piano,” Jayne said.
Jayne’s grandfather takes his wife to Hart’s Milkman Jamboree just about every weekend and when Jayne and her mother were up visiting, they went with them.
“I brought my guitar, played a few songs and had a lot of fun,” Jayne said. “It was really cool. It was such an American thing that was going on in this house/old grocery store. I enjoyed myself and wanted to come back and do it again so I talked to Howard and here we are.”
Jayne said performing for her is like a high.
“Some people get a high from drinking alcohol or doing drugs or something like that, but in my world, I get an insane high from playing and performing and just doing anything that involves music. There’s just something about it that’s intoxicating,” Jayne said. “It’s a passion of mine. Every time I’m doing it, I’m feeling it. It’s coming from my heart, not just my mind. I love when other people can feel that joy and share it with me.”
Aside from her upcoming performance at the Jamboree, Jayne has been keeping busy by performing around Detroit as well as in Nashville. She also played at the Faster Horses Festival last year at the Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, which she will be performing at again this year.
“The books are pretty packed and I like it that way,” Jayne said.
Jayne has also auditioned for NBC’s “The Voice,” which she did in February. However, she hasn’t heard anything back yet from the show, but remains hopeful.
“It went really well, I had a great time and got to meet a lot of phenomenal singers and artists,” Jayne said. “Basically I’m just in that waiting period where you sit back and relax and wait to hear back or wait to not hear back. That’s what I’ve been doing for these past few months.”
When Jayne gets back in the U.P., one thing she’s looking forward to doesn’t have anything to do with music at all.
“Slim’s has this thing where they have a turkey dinner every Sunday and they have this rutabaga and down here we don’t eat rutabaga. Every time we go there, I kid you not, we get four take-outs of rutabaga and it’s so good. It’s one of my favorite parts of going to the U.P. But I’m also really looking forward to seeing my grandparents and my friends,” Jayne said.
The Milkman’s Jamboree will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday in Ahmeek’s Gabriel J. Chopp Park. The event is free but donations to the Ahmeek Fire Department are appreciated.