G-Sync

Unlike anything else that you have experienced on our local theatrical stages comes Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s “White Rabbit Red Rabbit,” a fresh and rare production where every night is a new opportunity to experience something truly remarkable. First off, the production features a different guest star in the lead role each night and kicks off once the solo actor is handed a sealed script that they have not read or seen to perform cold for the audience. All this happens without the aid of all the usual trappings associated with theatre, with no director, no ...
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There has not been a more exciting moment for the superhero cinema genre than right now as the nation prepares for a game-changing new film. For if the numbers hold, then “Black Panther” will opens nationwide on February 16 as a true blockbuster. When folks started tracking the pre-sales of “Black Panther,” they were shocked that what was once forecasted as a $125 million opening has now logged in more than $150 million-plus in advance ticketing. But we could have seen this momentum coming after the teaser dropped a year ago and racked up an astonishing 89 million ...
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The city is full of options each year that seek to celebrate the legacy and meaning of Black History Month. And while we have many choices, one organization, our downtown Grand Rapids Public Library, has a plethora of educational programming that flows throughout the month, offering a diverse array of topics and experiences. By far the library’s (and possibly the city’s) biggest event during Black History Month is its Taste of Soul Sunday, where they invite locals to come downtown and experience African American history and culture. What makes this year’s sensational ...
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Over the last five years, a group of spoken word artists have been gathering downtown at Stella’s Lounge for a night of performances organized under the header “The Drunken Retort.” (2018 is their fifth anniversary.)  And while the team made up of AutoPilot, Rachel Gleason, and Fable the Poet have often used their Monday night platform to elevate this art form, locally inviting other poets to join them on the stage as guest performers, for The Drunken Retort’s Black History night on February 19, the star is you and your voice. This group of artists invite folks to come ...
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It is hard to imagine those days in 1987 when LaFontsee Galleries (then called The Underground Studio) opened in a tiny space on Grand Street in the middle of a neighborhood just east of Heritage Hill. Back then if you were looking to purchase art, you had to visit Eastown, the Amway Grand Hotel, or the mall. And even then, the costs to secure a work of art was out of reach for most of us who were looking to take down our Spencer Gifts’ Erté prints or posters we inherited from our college days or Believe in Music. Over time, proprietors Scott and Linda LaFontsee began to crack the ...
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The timing of the annual Grammys Awards ceremony is always an exciting time because it means that we are just a few days away from our own local music awards show, The Jammies. Recognizing West Michigan's best albums and songs of 2017, the Jammies XIX, presented by WYCE 88.1 FM, used to be held on a weeknight until 2013 when the event took a huge leap under then station director Kevin Murphy’s leadership and vision. And to say the least, there has been no going back since this move brought so much fresh energy to the two stages it is held on Friday night. Now the awards show has ...
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As the city prepares to celebrate GR Beer Month, the Creston Brewery—the city’s only black owned brewery—continues to test their community-focused model in the heart of the Creston neighborhood with a special new event that places the focus on black women entrepreneurs. This day long event that stretches into late night is being called Black Girl Magic and is the brainchild of Bri Ross and Kyd Kane. These two powerful women have invited area Black women of our community to showcase their creations and services for all those who venture. In addition to checking out new ...
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It is hard to imagine a time without a home computer and a printer to produce the materials one needs to have your voice heard on a topic. But this is the realities of the era that would produce fierce pussy, a collective of queer women artists in New York City in 1991. Their "giving a care" drive in the face of a nation’s complacent silence as the raging AIDS epidemic was killing so many people sparked a new era of activism that feels very DIY by the standards of today’s tools. Because of their contributions, they were able to mobilize folks around LGBT rights, but also ...
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Modern cities are full of examples of weekend warriors who start out on a Friday with a task and then by Sunday present their solutions. Locally, this act often takes the form of young entrepreneurs assisting one another to deliver a viable startup business plan or a group of designers solving a problem for a local nonprofit. But for some time, groups within the arts scene of Grand Rapids have been doing this far longer. One such group, the Grand Rapids Film Festival (GRFF), champions collaborative filmmaking and exhibition but also—through its 36-hour Challenge— provide a working ...
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Last November on the banks of the Grand River’s westside, the Grand Rapids’ Ford Presidential Museum welcomed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame traveling exhibition, “Louder Than Words: Rock, Power, Politics,” with a lavish opening night complete with a tribute to the sounds of punk rock. Now Winter Punk Fest, a punk rock music event, is returning this weekend to the westside venue Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill. But don’t let this no frills venue with a old school moniker of a name fool you. This is a great venue to experience music, and for three days, punk acts ...
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Since the 1960s and the decades after, artist and band leader George Clinton has piloted his mother ship of acts from The Parliaments to Funkadelic to Parliament Funkadelic to the most recent P-Funk All Stars, who will roll in to Grand Rapids’ 20 Monroe Live. As a fan, I can say, at 76 years old, George Clinton doesn’t act his age on stage. He's a serious performer whose concerts’ length and energy would put other younger acts to shame for his mammoth sets filled with classic tunes from a canon of music that only a master could assemble over fifty years.  In fact, when ...
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In a musical that vacillates between the worlds of could’ve, would’ve, and should’ve, “If/Then” is the latest production from Actors’ Theatre to hit Grand Rapids Community College’s Spectrum Theatre. The musical is actually made up of many stories following the character of Elizabeth as alternative versions of her life and possibilities play alongside each other, often flowing back and forth with tiny clues delivered via the lighting or through the use of eye glasses. (I guess Elizabeth develops poor sight in one version of herself or else the ...
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If you have driven by East Hills’ Richard App Gallery over the last week, then you know that while the cold, white stuff has been retreating, a new brilliance of color has entered your vision as the gallery prepares to welcome the work of Roger Bruinekool. Titled “The Refined Line,” Bruinekool’s latest exhibition is a visual delight for the eye with rich colors freely weaving across the surface in a playful and powerfully bold manner. Bruinekool, a graduate of the Kendall School of Design in 1957, has a wonderful history in our region over the decades, from being a ...
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The history of Grand Rapids’ vinyl revival would not be complete without taking a moment to acknowledge the contributions of our local DJ scene. Grand Rapids Soul Club (GRSC) is one such group that has not just made a dent in our history through their contribution to our nightlife scene, but actually actively promotes the joys of soul music on vinyl. Over the last few years GRSC’s booking has solidified an ushering in of a new era of coolness here as they showcase internationally renown guest DJs with solid resumes. On Friday, our local GRSC crew made up of DJs Andrew ...
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Reflecting on my many local live music experiences in the city of Grand Rapids, one such act, Cabildo, has secured more than one slot on my list of great performances. Counting on one hand, I can name many distinct live music experiences from Cabildo over the years that range from an early debut show at UICA on Sheldon Blvd., to a 2012 warehouse courtyard fundraiser/party under a canopy of stars, to their opening performances at LoveWins at the Rainbow Bridge. This local music act with a talented group of musicians from various backgrounds has won me and so many fans’ hearts over the ...
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Over the years, a lot of area eateries have attempted to create distinct experiences aimed at attracting guests to their establishment.  One area bar that has been committed to building an event within their space to attract the classically trained artist or the creatively inquisitive is Grand Rapids Brewing Company, whose Studio Night has been inviting audiences from downtown dwellers to the suburbanites to pop on down for a unique night of socializing at the city’s only organic brewery. For this next outing of Studio Night, GRBC is welcoming our local professional design chapter of ...
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Enmeshed: Bridging individual visions

Artist reception Friday, Jan. 19, 5:30 p.m. (members) 6 p.m. (public)
Opening Friday until March 18, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) will transform its first and lower floor to accommodate their newest exhibition, Enmeshed. Culled from the work of five artists, Enmeshed builds a solid group show that seeks to bridge the personal, the political, and the spiritual. Unifying these artists, whose professional resumes are as equally diverse as their bodies of work, is their shared unique connection to Michigan. Enmeshed artists, which include Tyanna J. Buie, Curt Ikens, Jillian Dickson Ludwig, Andromeda Schmidt, and Dana Freeman, will present a ...
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Returning to the downtown branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library is the wildly successful History Detectives, who will use their time at this day-long event to explore various pockets of our city’s past. Entering its eleventh year, History Detectives features six distinct program topics shared over the course of a day. All of the talks are lecture style with visuals and an opportunity at the end of each presentation for a community Q&A session around the topic. The 2018 series includes these area of “sleuthing” for attendees: 9:30 a.m. Welcome to the Madison Square ...
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This past week as we celebrated MLK day in West Michigan, I was able to steal away some free time to attend Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s latest production of “All The Way.” Set in November 1963 and a short time after President Kennedy’s assassination, “All The Way” is an incredibly complex, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat look at the year that followed as the main character Lyndon B. Johnson is thrust into the presidency. In addition to the sudden shift of power and style of leadership, Johnson must attempt to navigate the choppy waters of D.C.’s power ...
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As anyone who has attended college as a freshman can testify, there are plenty of 101 level classes to consider. But a new “class” experience has arrived in downtown Muskegon and it is truly a 101 level experience unlike any other you have probably had in your life. For starters, “Buzzed Bard: Shakespeare 101” is different because it takes place at the stunningly beautiful 18th Amendment Spirits Co. in downtown Muskegon and is performed by the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company— Michigan’s only year-round, touring, professional Shakespeare company. This brand ...
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Typically one’s career does not take off as a result of being booted off the stage during an audition. But that is exactly what happened when Clownvis Presley attempted to woo the judges at the TV audition for America's Got Talent’s Season Five. From that moment on, Clownvis Presley, who is referred by the L.A. Weekly as "Better than the real Elvis,” became a stable on the alt comedy scene of Los Angeles. Known for his rowdy trifecta of talent that covers genres of comedy, song, and magic, Clownvis Presley arrives in Grand Rapids on Thursday, January 11 at Tip Top ...
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For those not willing to make the journey to the Wheatland Music Festival each September comes the Winter Wheat Festival—the perfect, bite sized portion-of-a-festival—in January to Grand Rapids’ Intersection Lounge. Continuing to build on Wheatland Music Festival’s 44 years of operation, the Winter Wheat Festival’s dynamite line up of acts are committed to the preservation and presentation of traditional music and arts. Folks who will venture out to the Intersection will be treated to a day-long festival with two stages packed with the best of our regions Cajun, ...
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There are few musicians that I follow on Twitter and Tunde Olaniran is one of them. Besides the fact that we hail from the same hometown of Flint, he’s just a fascinating artist with a plethora of interesting takes on life and music.  Tunde Olaniran, who was described by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2015 as one of the 10 new artists you need to know, truly is an artists’ artist because of the care that goes into each of his concerts. With an electronic beat and lyrics richly alive with a social consciousness, Olaniran was described by Rolling Stone as “a self-sustaining ...
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MLK in the city: Four ways to celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy

Monday, Jan. 15
Greater Grand Rapids, various locations
For the 2018 MLK day celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, we present these four events for your consideration. 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place, 303 Monroe NW, Jan. 15, 7:00 a.m. On Monday morning, you can join area business leaders at the The Urban League of West Michigan’s 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast at DeVos Place. The theme of this year’s breakfast, presented by Premiere Title Sponsor Steelcase, is The Time Is Always Right To Do What’s Right. Expect to be seated with more ...
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It is hard to imagine that when director Frank Capra’s popular holiday film, “It's A Wonderful Life” made its debut in 1946 that it was actually a cinematic bomb. And this is despite all it had going for it including starring one of America’s biggest stars of this era, James Stewart. But over time as the film became part of the public domain in 1974 (thus freeing up its copyright and having to pay royalties), “It's A Wonderful Life” would become beloved through its free viewings on numerous TV stations over the years. This would last for many years ...
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While others are dashing to get those last minute gifts, those who have been good at pacing themselves are in for a real treat this Christmas Eve. Founders, one of downtown's most popular destinations, welcomes Michigan’s Earthwork Music label artist Mark Lavengood for a special music showcase with friends joining him on stage. Lavengood is a Grand Rapids native with international touring cred and a body of work to back it up. Described best as an multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, Lavengood is an emeritus member of Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys and known for his ...
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Time is running out for you to showcase your ugly sweater this Christmas and so on Sunday Christmas Eve night, you could wear it one more time while you attend any one of the numerous  candlelight services this Christmas Eve. Or you could roll the dice and take a chance that your beloved mess of acrylic (a.k.a. your ugly holiday sweater) is actually a true hidden winner.  To find out, drag your gay apparel down to The Apartment Lounge, who will be offering a special night of Happy Hour drink pricing until midnight as they hosting a Christmas Eve Ugly Sweater contest. The evening's ...
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While folks try to work the week after Christmas, at night you can be certain that they will still be blazing out in the city as they seek any one of the many watering holes that are sure to welcome your friends and family who might be visiting. But for those who are seeking something different to engage with others during the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, why not give your life the night off to flex your creativity by taking a class at Light Gallery + Studio on S. Division’s Avenue for the Arts. Many folks may already be familiar with the gallery’s ...
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It is not just because it is fun to say out loud, but for the last 11 years, TUBACHRISTMAS audiences members can attest that this annual festive and unique holiday music-filled event arrives back in Grand Rapids for a stellar 12th time! Unlike other festivals that appear each year, TUBACHRISTMAS seems to attract an eclectic set of musicians and fans from all over the state who descend on the stage at Downtown Grand Rapids’ Fountain Street Church. One never knows who will be performing according to one local organizer and tuba player extraordinaire Karen Dunham, who has seen everything ...
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It is hard to believe that we are celebrating 10 years of the annual Santa Crawl. Each December, the Grand Rapids Bar Crawl (GRBC) hosts a special St. Nicholas edition of their popular pub-hop touring event, where attendees are encouraged to dress up like jolly ol’ St. Nicholas. What can only be described as part pub crawl/part pure live theatre, this annual GRBC event sets the stage for a night of memory-making as you and your friends tour bars and clubs throughout the city in a festive and fun themed event. Over the years, the GRBC has built solid relationships with area venues and ...
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While the city has no shortage of brew pubs offering something unique from great tap rooms, to award-winning pizza, to gaming nights, one neighborhood venue has managed to create something truly rich in their expansive, glass-walled space: a pub where you can enjoy a beer while building a connection to a vibrant community. This is the charm of the Creston Brewery, whose impressive first year has included some incredible nights of original programming in a space filled with local contemporary art. One area in which they excel is their commitment to the arts though the offering of their space ...
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After two years of waiting, “The Last Jedi,” the newest and 8th installment of the popular George Lucas created “Star War” saga that began 40 years ago, arrives on the big screen. Since no advance screenings were available at press time, we can share that from the initial reviews starting to trickle out, this one is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Following in the footsteps of episode 7, “The Force Awakens,” in “The Last Jedi” you will experience another journey with familiar characters like Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker, as they continue on their ...
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When we think of the advances to the culture of West Michigan, we often begin with those who have stepped forward to place their names on our buildings and street signs. But that is only a part of the advances made here over the years and, lucky for us, a new book that Rapid Growth covered in “Voices of the people: New book to showcase Grand Rapids' activist community” last spring is finally completed and is ready for release (and just in time for the holidays.) This anthology from various points of Grand Rapids' grassroots moments features area activists whose ...
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When one is thinking of the holidays, these thoughts often accompany a sense of dread. And with good reason. Amidst the family drama, the political talk (we all try to avoid), and the unexpected dietary matters that pop up at the dinner table more and more and without warning, is the recipe for disaster that we gladly show up for year after year. But what if we could let a little air out of this season with humor? Lucky for us seeking a little levity this year, Late Night Grand Rapids (LNGR), a local performance group in our city, is hosting “Stranger Tidings: A Holiday Sketch Revue ...
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There is no greater joy in the city than to see artistic community-focussed groups advance. And one group this for nearly 10 years is our West Michigan Gay Men's Chorus, who now joins a long list of area choirs that celebrate the art of song via the performances they deliver to our region. It is nice to have so many options! On Sunday afternoon, take a stroll downtown to Fountain Street Church for the return of the festive and fun holiday musical showcase from our West Michigan Gay Men's Chorus. Prepare yourself for classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Silent ...
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Rock and roll is a powerful force for change with roots that stretch over time but also to those pockets where the human voice often struggles to be heard. One movement of rock and roll—punk—is a reaction to the status quo as it sought, through this music form, to have its point of view heard via the bands who perform it. And on Wednesday night, punk will be—for the first time in my memory—performed at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. This powerful form of music, showcased on Wednesday evening at ‘70s Punk Night, has always emanated from the subculture, ...
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There are no shortages of fun holiday themed events in our city that range from holiday artists markets to special dining opportunities with million dollar views. But what if I told you that there is an event in the city where the celebration involves characters who are known for wearing furry coats year round or for diving into chilly waters in search of a meal?  Well, that is just part of the fun in store for folks who will venture to the Westside to visit the John Ball Zoo for their annual Christmas for the Animals. True to the name, this holiday event focuses on providing space for the ...
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If you live long enough you will soon  watch your childhood tunes become the stuff nostalgia shows re-discover and (often) repackage for a new generation. One area of this revival trend that has roots in other cities as well as ours, is the tribute show.  For the 1997 Tribute Show at the Pyramid Scheme our area’s performers from a variety of music acts have organized into popular acts. All told nearly 30 local music acts have contributed their talent to this night’s line up. Featured on Friday at this one night only performance will be the albums released in 1997 and will include ...
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As an avid fan of discarded media, I find a lot of pleasure and joy in its reinvention and exhibition like one can see at the Found Footage Festival, which rolls back into Grand Rapids at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts. Hosted by creators Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, whose credits include The Onion and The Colbert Report, UICA is once again the setting for the return of a brand new tour of fresh material, but also a few fan favorites. It works like this: the curators of this festival scour the country in search of cast off videos or obscure programing that can be showcased in ...
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The city is flush with many ways to showcase an idea and (hopefully) if it connects with an audience or gatekeeper, it will become a business reality. But what about those whose ideas are not something that cannot be monetized because they are driven by a different criteria for success? The City of Grand Rapids presents a pitch night on the Southeast side of the city where folks can showcase an idea aimed at reducing neighborhood violence. Now before you get all defensive and shoot down the idea, here me out. While violence in our cities (as well as suburban and rural committees) is a matter ...
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With the holidays just around the corner—and because we know our city truly loves a festival where beer and wine (and cider and spirits) freely flow—comes the Tenth Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival to DeVos Place. This is a great opportunity to learn something new while also discovering new beers and wines alongside a long list of artisan products to add to your holiday gatherings. Here are a few of the key highlights to consider at this annual event: Enhanced Elite Wine Collection: nearly 50 wines hand-selected by our consulting sommeliers and importing ...
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I really had thought that the days of seeing Michigan native and musician Joshua Davis in our community’s smaller venues might be a thing of the past after his rocket rise to the finals at The Voice (Season 8). As a musician of the Michigan-based Earthworks Collective, Davis has popped up on stages from local venues like Wealthy Theatre to the tiny stage at Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, Michigan. And with each appearance, he has delighted audiences both locally and now internationally via The Voice. Davis stops in Grand Rapids as a part of his Michigan tour (and in advance of his ...
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Unlike the highly visible Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV) where in 2017 Grand Rapidians en force displayed a stunning 100+ transgender flags all over the city at area businesses, nonprofits, and places of worship, the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a more somber occasion as it commemorates the lives of those lost within a community that has for so many centuries suffered in silence. On Monday, Nov. 20, the Grand Rapids Pride Center, Grand Rapids Trans Foundation, and the TDoR Committee will once again return to the Goei Center for the 2017 Trans Day of Remembrance ceremony. At ...
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Tis the season of good will and spreading cheer, and what better way than to invite friends and family to tour our city’s amazing Meijer Gardens as they kick off our holiday season with the return of the 23rd Annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World Exhibition. This visually-rich program held from Nov. 21 to Jan. 7 will feature 42 Christmas and holiday trees with displays representing various countries and cultures from around the world. And for the kid in everyone is the return of the popular Railway Garden complete with a special wonderland with stops at 30 Grand Rapids ...
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When the temps get cool, folks start to return inside to the comfort of a warm and inviting neighborhood pub. One of our favorite neighborhood watering holes is Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill, a unique westside venue with a distinct patina that only a longtime neighborhood bar can build up over years of use. Part of the appeal of the Tip Top is the variety of creative acts from local musicians to special DJ nights to even indie music touring acts (and often with a rockabilly edge.) On Saturday another favorite (and traveling) act from Grand Rapids sets up shop for a night of steamy ...
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It is nearly impossible these days to visit any growing city in the U.S. and not be faced with the topic of gentrification. It is a topic that can be polarizing almost as soon as the word is used, but locally more and more folks are seeing this subject as a chance to engage more fully on its meaning and impact to our region and the overall health of our communities.  For this special series, SpeakUp GR, our downtown Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) once again welcomes the public for this special panel discussion on the topic. The panel, which includes Start Garden’s Darel Ross II, ...
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With the addition of the Creston Brewery to the Plainfield Corridor, a lot of good artistic energy has really begun to spring up from their programming that involves local music showcases, Geeks drinking and doing trivia, and even the occasional stand-up comic night. It is refreshing to see another brewery in GR that understands that the creativity one places in their beer making also attracts those artistic souls and their friends/fans to this Creston watering hole. On Wednesday night (and possibly inspired by Cabildo’s ready-to-bang drum lined up in front of the band at ...
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On Thursday, November 16, St. Cecilia’s Music Center kicks off their 2017/18 Encore Jazz Series with bassist, composer, and educator but also DJ, and artistic director for the Newport Jazz Festival, the talented Christian McBride. From the many activities listed on McBride’s impressive resume, it is clear that this teen prodigy jazz musician, born in 1972, never slows down, besting each triumph with his ever soaring heights of accomplishments. He has worked with jazz greats like Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Pat Metheny but also accompanied many pop giants, too, ...
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There is something really wonderful about attending a house party, but when a music festival hosted in a series of neighborhood homes continues to evolve year after year while still maintaining its sense of space, well, that my friends is heavenly. And this is the beauty of the Lamp Light Music Festival—a three-day music event taking place in homes within the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids. This year’s festival includes 29 local and visiting acts who will be performing in a variety of spaces from living rooms to basements. This year’s eclectic lineup is just as powerful ...
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Each year, you are faced with the challenges of what to give someone for Christmas, and if you are like me, one thing you worry about is giving something mass-produced and available by the crateful. .  An easy solution to this gift-giving phobia is The Recycled Art Market that pops up each November kicking off our region’s holiday markets. Unlike the mall, The Recycled Art Market welcomes more than 60 artisans to bring their works that must follow a strict entry guide with an emphasis on the repurposing, up-cycling, or recycling of the materials used in their production. This year, ...
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