Jammin’ at the Jamboree: Aura to host 38th annual music festival

AURA – Tune up that banjo, blow the dust off the accordion and break out the musical spoons. It’s almost time for the Aura Jamboree.

Dozens of the best folk, bluegrass, country and traditional bands from throughout the Midwest will be descending on the Baraga County community of Aura Friday and Saturday for the 38th annual Aura Jamboree. There will be main stage performances and dances both days at the Aura Community Hall, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The biggest draw, however, might be the informal acoustic jams that take place under large tents outside the hall, giving old friends the chance to reconnect, and beginners the chance to play with the pros.

“You can just walk up to any group that’s jamming on the grounds and play with them,” said Glenda Hiltunen, who spearheads the jamboree as president of the Aura Hall Board Association.

“It’s like a big reunion for the musicians,” she added. “They all like jamming together, and some don’t see each other until the next year.”

The Jamboree kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday running until midnight, and continues from 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday. Main stage performances run until about 8 or 9 p.m. each night, with dances afterward and jam sessions throughout.

Hiltunen said performers will be coming in from several states including Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin and Montana. There will also be plenty of regional favorites, such as Whitewater, Wil Kilpela, the PasiCats, Dennis Boe, Jack Chamberlain and Finn Folk. Newcomers include Richard Koski from New York and recently-formed Copper Country band the Street Sweepers.

“The last band on Friday night is a surprise,” Hiltunen said. “Probably a good surprise, too. They’re people we recognize, local guys, but they don’t know what to call themselves because they all play in other local bands.”

Hiltunen expects a good crowd for the Jamboree – she said about 1,500 people attended last year, and there have been as many as 2,000 in the past.

There is some camping available across from the hall, but facilities are limited and campers need to be self-contained, Hiltunen warned. There’s no charge for camping, but organizers “pass the hat” to support the Jamboree, she said. There are also campgrounds nearby with more extensive facilities.

Off the main stage, Hiltunen said she’s looking forward to Betty Primeau’s Finnish jam session, even though she won’t be joining in herself.

“I don’t play. I like to dance,” she said.

For a full schedule, directions and other information, go to facebook.com/aura.jamboree.