Chances are, if there is a fountain of youth, then Bill "Billy" Vits has discovered it.
Not only has this musician led a bright life in the stage lights of DeVos Hall, where he is the principal percussionist with the GR Symphony, but Vitts is also an energetic band mate of our surfer rock band The Concussions, who perform in full skull masks and often in 80-plus-degree heat.
When he's not performing, Vitts can often be seen out in the city supporting other musical acts. (He is often spotted tapping out a beat at his table.) How he has the energy to accomplish so much is beyond most people's comprehension, but I personally attribute it to something in his bones. I'm not talking about his genetic DNA programming but something very close to it, actual bones, which is a name given to those instruments whose earliest forms were used for creating rhythms.
Folks who enjoy creating beats will enjoy knowing that Vitts will be welcoming guests from more than 12 cities from the U.S. and Canada for the 18th
annual Rhythm Bones Festival that Grand Rapids is hosting this year. While the convention will be rattling their stuff from August 7 - 10, Vitts invites folks who make music or simply enjoy music to attend their free variety showcase at The Guest House on Saturday night.
Sure, there will be some folks in attendance who use beef ribs or shin bones, but Vitts promises he will be sticking to his preferred hardwood bones of oak, maple, cherry, or rosewood. The key to this festival's charm is that almost anything can be used to produce a beat.
"We even have 'bones' made from stone, slate, Bakelite products and, most recently, a 3-D printed bone of plastic," says Vitts. "There will be something for everyone as the free concert will feature everything from bluegrass to traditional Irish to Civil War re-enactors to even heavy metal bones."
Admission: Free Concert (donations accepted) / Conference information is here www.rhythmbones.com