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2019 Articles | Page: | Show All

The Doors Opened: A tribute to one of the greatest bands of the classic rock era

Sometimes when listening to some of the latest acts, I find echoes of that distinct guitar sound that was a hallmark of the early days of rock music. These guitar-heavy sounds rooted in the raw energy of rock and roll from this era are popping back into vogue from solos to samples.

Locally, you will have a chance to experience a former rock and roll act of the late '60s/early '70s — The Doors — when tribute band The Doors Opened sets up on the Tip Top Stage in our city’s westside neighborhood. 

This tiny venue is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to experience such a tribute act, for it echoes what it must have been like to hear many of these classic tunes before they became hits for the arena stage shows the band would play at the end. (The Doors music would go on to become the first American band to accumulate eight consecutive gold and platinum LPs.) 

And while we cannot get the band back together, The Doors Opened is a great way to experience the joy of such an amazing rock and roll act from the classic era in a venue that really is fitting for such a tribute.


Hoptoberfest at HopCat Knapp's Corner: To Germany and back, one pour at a time

It would not be the fall season without an Octoberfest or two on your calendar, so why not plan on visiting the newest HopCat to open locally at the Knapp’s Corner location as they celebrate Hoptoberfest on Sunday?

For those who are up for this beer adventure, they will experience an array of special tap takeovers of carefully curated brews from the United States and Germany. 

At press time, HopCat Knapp’s Corner will be offering these special beers on tap:
  • HofBrauHaus {Munich, Germany} – Oktoberfestbier – 6.3% - Festbier
  • Cedar Springs Brewing Co. {Cedar Springs, MI} – Kusterer Salzburger Märzen – 6.7% - Märzen
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. {Chino, CA} – Oktoberfest – 6% - Märzen
  • Erdinger Weissbrau {Erding, Germany} - Oktoberfest – 5.7% - Hefeweizen
  • 12oz Bottle Spencer Brewery {Spencer, MA} Trappist Festive Lager – 7.5% - Trappist Märzen
In addition, this brand new and beautifully-styled restaurant will offer a limited amount of Oktoberfest steins, so arrive early if freebies are your bag. 

And no worries if your companion isn’t into German-style brews; HopCat’s Knapp’s Corner has 80 taps so there is certainly something for everyone’s taste. 

A Boy, A Girl, A Dream: And the West Michigan red carpet premiere!

Grand Rapids film history continues to evolve as folks begin to leverage their talents honed here as well as abroad to make an impact in the art of filmmaking.

Case in point is the West Michigan premiere on Thursday night of the Sundance 2018 competition breakout film, "A Boy, A Girl, A Dream,” which was executive produced by former Grand Rapidian Jash'd Belcher.

"A Boy, A Girl, A Dream” is the story of Cass (Omari Hardwick), a Los Angeles club promoter who meets a Midwestern woman named Frida (Meagan Good) in the City of Angels on the night of the 2016 presidential election. This film weaves a hopeful story about the power of our dreams and those around us who help us clear our vision. You can catch the trailer here.

On Thursday night, audiences will have a chance to see the film — which screened in competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival — at Celebration Cinema South (1506 Eastport Dr. SE). The film opens to general audiences on Friday, September 14. 

After Thursday night’s local premiere to benefit Zion’s Dream and a panel discussion, attendees will migrate to Downtown Grand Rapids where at 9:30 p.m., a community celebration of the film will commence and likely continue into the morning hours.

If you cannot attend the Thursday event but want to see the film with a local, excited audience, then consider the special Sunday, Sept. 16, 4 p.m. fundraiser screening. You will need to purchase tickets here in advance to attend the Sunday event.

For advance tickets for Thursday’s special screening, please visit Zion’s Dream website. 

From Mercury with Love: Ultimate Queen show arrives in Grand Rapids via Flint's planetarium

While the new Queen film “Bohemian Rhapsody” doesn’t arrive in local theaters until November, fans of the music of this iconic British rock band are in luck as the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) welcomes a new production set to their music.

“The Queen Light Show: From Mercury with Love”, a rock and roll light show presented at the GRPM’s Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, will open on Saturday night and run through November 21.

Arriving in Grand Rapids by way of the Longway Planetarium of Flint, this projected production brings to life a visually rich experience via the music of Queen. 

Attendees will enjoy 10 of Queen’s greatest hits packaged in “The Queen Light Show: From Mercury with Love,” including favorites like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “You’re My Best Friend.”

The Queen show will only be playing at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Planetarium tickets are $4 each with each purchased general admission to the Museum or $5 each for a planetarium-only ticket. And of course, it is free to GRPM members. To ensure your seat for what is certain to be a very popular show, please purchase tickets in advance by visiting this link

Bands at Blandford: Hollywood Makeout closes out this popular outdoor music series

On Friday, you have one last chance to catch the local-focused outdoor concert series, Bands at Blandford.

Held at the Blandford Nature Center’s farm, this annual outdoor music series has featured numerous local music acts. But the 2018 series ends on September 14, so your time to experience live music in such a unique setting is coming to a close this weekend. 

For the last concert of the series, Bands at Blandford welcomes the WYCE 88.1 FM Jammie Awards XIX Special Jury Prize winners, Hollywood Makeout. 

The band formed in 2012 with Tim Broderick (drums), Cedric Canero (guitar), Tim Warren (guitar), and Erin Lenau (guitar and vocals). They present a sound fully embracing the power of energetic guitars and banging drums, ushering in an instrumental sound and strong vocals that contour up reflections of surf music with a twist of ‘80s LA New Wave vocals. 

Make a night of the occasion by packing a picnic dinner, a blanket, and (of course) your friends. The Center will be selling beer and pop on site, too.

Those worried that this may sell out should order their tickets in advance here or by purchasing tickets at the start of the event.

To hear the music of Hollywood Makeout, visit their Bandcamp site.

ArtPrize 10: A decade of creating community conversations around art

Rolling back into town for the tenth year is the wildly popular Grand Rapids event: ArtPrize.

What started off in many ways as the anti-art festival has developed into a full-blown urban arts event that spans not just the annual public- and curator-driven voting process; it also provides space for pop-up events that in the past have included music, special movies, and even a bevy of private parties all honoring the party atmosphere that downtown becomes for 19 days each year.

And 2018 appears to be just as expansive as in the past with many venues kicking off a full week in advance with preview parties and artist receptions. 

And while Rapid Growth does not cover the artists who are entering the event to ensure that an even playing field is produced for the many who journey to take their shot at the big prize money, the best part of ArtPrize is truly the experience of it all.

And then after year 10 comes to an end on October 7, ArtPrize will return as a biennial event starting in 2020 with the off years being devoted to a new platform called Project X.  Project 1 will launch in Fall 2019.

Free Pinball Night: Stuck in town this weekend? Get your balls rolling at The Scheme.

Just because you might be low on funds this last holiday weekend of summer, does not mean you have to stay home.

In fact, with the college semester in full swing already (signaling to many that summer of 2018 is truly over) you might discover that downtown this year might be a little busier than it has been the last few weeks as folks have tried to squeeze one or two more adventures out of this warm season.

One such draw downtown this Sunday is the monthly event “Free Pinball Night” at the Pyramid Scheme.

This downtown bar with an indie concert venue out back is not just home to one of the baddest juke boxes and a mouthwatering selection of Short’s Brewing Company’s best beers, it also houses some of the world’s greatest pinball machines. 

And on Sunday, Sept. 2 from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m., these pinball machines of distinction are entirely free to play all night long. 

So don’t stay home this weekend, hit the Scheme for some serious ball action at one of the coolest bars in the city. 

GR Swing Dance: Only a few more chances left to dance under the open sky

If you have not attended one of the many GR Swing Dance events that have been popping up at downtown Grand Rapids’ Rosa Parks Circle since May 1 of this year, then you have missed one of the cultural gems of our entire city.

More than once, I have been entertaining folks downtown, only to turn a corner on a Tuesday and discover it was GR Swing Dance night as hundreds upon hundreds pack the entire circle, all dancing to the music coming from the stage. It is truly an amazing scene to witness — so many diverse ages and people having so much dancing fun under the open sky!

Tuesday, September 4 is just one of five dance events left this year taking place at Rosa Parks Circle, and with the threat of weather patterns shifting with each passing week this fall, why wait to experience this much fun in the city?

Get out and down at Rosa Parks Circle for GR Swing Dance while the summer warmth is still with us. 

Night Sky Trivia: Lighting of the night ... and your intellect

One of the perks of being at the late stage of summer is that sunset appears earlier with each passing day, making for earlier stargazing activities.

And on Thursday, Sept. 6, the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPL), along with the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association, invites the public come out for a special education-focussed evening that promises to light up the imagination and intellect as they ask we turn our focus to their Night Sky Trivia event.

This one night only event starts in the GRPL’s Chaffee Planetarium, which seeks to showcase how to identify the summer constellations, and will also offer an extended version of the Under Scorching Skies live show.

Immediately after the planetarium show, attendees will venture outside for a hands-on telescopic observation event with the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association (GRAAA). 

This group will showcase what is viewable from the city under the summer night's sky. You will learn how to work with a star chart and meet astronomy experts who will help answer any questions and also guide the experience. 

GRAAA projects that with clear conditions, guests will be able to see Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, as well as some of the very brightest stars such as those that make up the Summer Triangle.

The outdoor observation portion is weather-dependent and so should it rain, plan on participating in the alternate indoor activities, which include a trivia tournament in the museum’s newly renovated Meijer Theater.

Tickets are $8 for Museum members, and $12 for non-members. GRPM doors open at 7 p.m., with the planetarium show beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Ralston & Friends: Meijer Gardens summer season winds down with locals center stage

If you live long enough, you find tiny traditions that fill your life with excitement but also some sense of meaning …. and often art has a hand in these moments.

One such moment in our city is the annual music series, Ralston & Friends, held each summer at the world class Frederik Meijer Gardens and hosted by local music legend Ralston Bowles.

Each summer, Bowles welcomes to the outdoor, open air stage special musical guests who are never revealed until they walk out on the stage. And over the years he has had a series of musicians join him that, should one take the time to dig into these musicians resumes, will be quite impressed with the talent that graces this summer series.

But all things must come to an end so after a summer of local shows organized under the “Tuesday Evening Music Club” Ralston & Friends is the last one the 2018 season.  

In the past they have welcomed guest artists like Larry McCray and Thornetta Davis, as well as The Accidentals and Marshall Crenshaw. So you can see the level of talent Bowles is able to bring with him to this festive, local musician-focused event.

Bowles promises a few really great artists surprises and will debut a few new songs as well at this final “Tuesday Evening Music Club” series. 

These special Tuesday night concerts are free for members and are included with each paid admission to Meijer Gardens for the general public. Guests may bring picnic food during the shows or enjoy the Taste of the Gardens Café and amphitheater concessions. Chairs of all heights are welcomed at this particular event.

Pink Sky: Dawn of the new via album release concert

This week’s issue of G-Sync Event is focused on the joys of our local music scene. And what is more exciting than the chance to see a band debut a new album of brand new material on a local stage that is also known for hosting some of the best indie acts this world has ever produced?

On Saturday night, Grand Rapidians will have a chance to catch live the new electronic band, Pink Sky, who only started about a year ago. The band will hit the Pyramid Scheme stage on the occasion of their double LP being released on this same evening. 

With so many musical styles happening here from rock to hip hop, one area that is often overlooked by some is the richly layered sounds of our electronic music scene.

Pink Sky’s new album, created by husband and wife duo of Ryan and Angelica Hay, arrives much the same way as other artists who have gone through some experience and then used art as a vehicle to process it.

Except in this case, Ryan Hay, who was nearly killed in a car accident, found that through art the husband and wife were able to make sense of this harrowing experience.

And while the story of the band has been captured in depth via Revue’s “Synthesizers & Silver Linings” by Eric Mitts, music this layered and personal is always best experienced live.  

Opening for Pink Sky are acts Wing Vilma, Bronze Wolf, and Darkly. This is a solid ticket so if you are looking to guarantee a spot at this electronic powerhouse of a lineup, be sure to get your tickets in advance here

Breakaway Grand Rapids: The hit acts just keep coming to Grand Rapids newest and most exciting festi

Just because the local universities have started their fall semester classes doesn’t means that the rest of use (or those students for that matter) should bid adieu to the summer of 2018. 

In fact, with day temps still hovering in the high '80s and lows at night in the '70s, let’s keep that outdoor party vibe going a bit longer.

One such event that has filled the last summer festival slot is the Breakaway Festival produced by our state’s very own MiEntertainment Group and Prime Social Group. 

Breakaway Festival, held in Belknap Park on Friday and Saturday, August 24 and 25, will welcome a dynamite line up including Odesza, Khalid, Borgeous, Flatbush Zombies, Flosstradamus, Jaden Smith, Kayzo, NGHTMRE, Rich The Kid Dombresky, Grey, Maxo Kream, Tee Grizzley, and so many more guest artists.

“We started this festival by combining urban living with a carefully curated, multi-genre lineup that festival goers of all ages and music preferences could enjoy. With the success of the festival’s first year, it was a no brainer to return to Grand Rapids for its second year,” Managing Partner Adam Lynn says.

Breakaway Music Festival debuted in 2013 in Columbus, Ohio with names like Kendrick Lamar, Bassnectar, and twentyonepilots. The festival expanded to Grand Rapids in 2017 and was nominated for the first-ever “Grandy’s” Award Show for Outstanding Live Music Event. Since its debut, the festival brand has expanded to include five different markets: Dallas, Columbus, Charlotte, Nashville, and Grand Rapids.

Organizers say the best way to find the festival is to plug in this address for your GPS or ride sharing app: Griffs Icehouse: 30 Coldbrook St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

So with the days of summer counting down, you only have so many outdoor music events left to consider. For those looking to experience one more (or their first) festival this August, then Breakaway Music Festival is your best bet.  

Elton John Tribute: Chris Andrus & Steve Talaga at SpeakEZ

While there is no shortage of local bands taking the stages and festival grounds this summer, the tribute act is a bit of rarer beast. (But it’s out there if you look.)

And on Wednesday, August 29th at the North Monroe neighborhood’s SPeakEz Lounge will be a thrilling first hosted by our favorite all-things local music website Local Spins

For this special night of music, area guitarist-singer Chris Andrus (of The Mitten Brewing Company) and keyboard player Steve Talaga (a Hope College professor) will join forces on the SpeakEZ stage for a tribute night of music devoted to the legendary Elton John.

And while the music of Elton John travels nearly 50 years, the night will feature fan favorites of John, including “Levon,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” “Your Song, Philadelphia Freedom,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me,” “Bennie & The Jets,” and oh so many more.

Joining Andrus and and Talaga on a few numbers as guest musicians will be Local Spins’ very own John Sinkevics and author Charley Honey. 

The Local Spins Wednesday series production of the Elton John Tribute is presented by Local Spins, SpeakEZ Lounge, Perrin Brewing Company, and community-radio partner WYCE, with Michigan beer specials on tap. There is also free parking available at the Sixth Street Park lot, which is a block north off Monroe Avenue NW. (Editorial photo of Elton John in concert courtesy of Anthony Norkus/Local Spins.)

Assassins: The most unlikeliest of musical topics comes (back) to local Grand Rapids stage

(Final Weekend) Thursday - Saturday, Aug. 16 - 18, 8 p.m.
There is something truly remarkable about an artist who can start their artistic career contributing to a knock-off of a Shakespeare play and then over time deliver a series of original musicals that change American Theatre.

The legacy of America’s greatest living musical artist Stephen Sondheim, whose early work on “West Side Story” would propel him to create award-winning works based on a giant art painting hanging in a Chicago Museum (“Sunday in the Park with George”) to a vengeful barber whose shaving skills prove deadly and delicious (“Sweeny Todd”), is a reminder of his incredible ability to take what could be humdrum and make it really sing.

Included often on those top lists of the composer’s best works is a tiny, more obscure musical titled “Assassins" — a show about a cast of folks who have attempted or succeeded in killing a U.S. President. Like I said, he can take the most unlikely of material and turn it into a memorable and completely hum-able production.

The musical format allows Sondheim to recast these historical assassins into a opening setting of a carnival. Right out of the gate, weapons are produced as the audience meets the cast one by one, which include John Hinkley, Jr., Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, Giuseppe Zangar, John Wilkes Booth, and many others. 

This new production of “Assassins” comes from our local Heritage Theatre Group and is the musical’s third time (at least) that it has been staged in Grand Rapids. It arrives (yet again) during a period of our history when violence in America is still a national topic, making the viewing of this latest production perfectly timed as the story dives into the motivations of these infamous characters brought back to life on stage. (Lifestyle Editor’s note: Actor’s Theatre of Grand Rapids has staged “Assassins” twice and it is probably the only musical in their history to be repeated twice.)

Our local production is filled with veteran actors of Grand Rapids stages as well as plenty of newish ones to our local theatre scene. 

“Assassins” is directed and choreographed by Krista Pennington with vocal direction provide by Ross Johnson and features actors Amy Cain, Will Porter, Nate Reynolds, Shane German, Ryan Owen, Ricardo Tavarez, Charles Decker, Ian Grell, Hope Swanson, and Eva Swiatek. The musical also has a chorus that includes Katy Scott, Rod Zamarron, Jeffery Wyckoff, and Audrey Moore. This production is stage managed by Carlie Bergsma. 

Sondheim is a true gift to the American musical theatre. If you miss this restating of “Assassins,” who knows how long before it returns again here locally. (Hint: Don’t miss it.) 

Night of Couture & Culture: New runway show goes to the movies

As a city, we have always had pockets of creativity where folks can gather and showcase whatever they are working on with others. Often times, this is seen in the fine arts community, but Grand Rapids has always had an underground fashion scene for as far back as I can recall. (And I am talking all the way back to Gaia where poets, musicians, and fashion designers staged after hours shows in the 1980s at this former East Hills eatery.) 

But with time and proper nurturing comes a maturity of a scene. Over the last few years we have seen a new era of fashion begin to emerge in Grand Rapids from beautiful small to institutions like KCAD with many creative folks taking to various spaces from the physical to the virtual to showcase their creations.

On Thursday, you have a chance to witness another chapter of our fashion evolve with a Night of Couture & Culture happening at the westside’s Goei Center. 

A Night of Couture & Culture is coming to us by way of Delasie, who has invited fellow design firms MelX Fashion, The Kyra Danaya Collection, and Bel Ren Couture Clothing to join her at this special night of fashion.

Inspired by the classic Eddie Murphy film, “Coming to America,” Delasie’s theme for the night has taken a page from the rich palette of royal African styles that populate the popular film. Expect to see colorful couture on and off the runway this night. 

The evening will include a cash bar, dancing, and a chance to purchase clothing from Delasie’s fashion line with 100 percent of the proceeds going to our local nonprofit counseling center Arbor Circle. 

The event organizers even invite the audience to wear their best attire for a chance to win a very special “Best Dressed” award. 

Tickets are just $25 and can be purchased online or at the door. 
2019 Articles | Page: | Show All
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