A very parched Michigan greeted some much-needed rain this week. The crops have been withering in 90+ degree temperatures, and even though sunshine is fairly uncommon in a state that is so often shrouded in clouds from its neighboring Great Lakes, seeing the thunderheads roll in was something of a relief to many of us (especially the gardeners in the band). Yet the bluegrass crowds continue to turn out! A couple of weeks ago we played the annual Manitou Arts Festival's "Dune Climb" at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, way up in Empire, Michigan. For those of you have haven't been there, Sleeping Bear is a sleeper hit of a park: a rolling shoreline of ancestral sand dunes towering above sparkling Lake Michigan. Our friends at the Glen Arbor Arts Association put on a concert every year at the base of a massive 750-foot sand dune that the rangers permit visitors to ascend (hence it's name, the "Dune Climb,") and this year over 2,000 people braved the relentless sun and heat to come hear us play. It was a pretty awesome site from the stage, looking out over a sea of people framed by sand stretching up to the horizon. Sales of CDs and water were brisk. The dune (and the stage) faces due west, so the sinking sun blasted the stage with a shriveling glare until it finally dipped below the top of the dune. Along with it went the temperature, which must've dropped twenty degrees in ten minutes! Acoustic instruments are tough to keep tuned in such conditions, but the crew endured and the audience was very appreciative. And now, the rain comes to wash away the dust and tease our crops to grow a few more inches, to fatten some fruit, to reach up toward the sky rather than down in search of moisture. As we write this, the clouds are gathering again.