Kari Lynch Band, Skankadank, Rick Chyme, Max Colley III, The Muteflutes, Blue Water Ramblers, Conklin Ceili Band, Union Guns and more revved up crowds on Friday. (Photo gallery, video)
By John Sinkevics
and David Specht
Grand Rapids’ Festival of the Arts showed off its power and magnetic appeal on Friday in glorious fashion — an opening day filled with alluring food, intriguing art, diverse music and just-as-diverse crowds who embraced some of the best weather in the event’s 45-year history.
Organizers and volunteers assembling the three-day celebration in downtown Grand Rapids couldn’t have scripted a more satisfying opening salvo, with sunny skies, ideal temperatures and a family-friendly vibe that permeated streets, parking lots, Calder Plaza, Rosa Parks Circle and more by early evening.
And Saturday will bring more of the same: Check Local Spins’ Festival picks for the rest of the weekend.
Local Spins was here, there and everywhere on Friday, capturing much of the action in photos and words with contributions by David Specht, Anna Sink, Tori Thomas and Anthony Norkus.
And check out a video of Festival as night falls, with performances by The Muteflutes, Grand Rapids Symphonic Band, Skankadank, Conklin Ceili Band, Union Guns, Blue Water Ramblers, Jordan Koller Band and more.
Here’s a roundup of mini-reviews from Friday’s stages:
• Blending elements of country, pop and rock, Grand Rapids’ Kari Lynch Band had no problem drawing a sizable crowd to the Calder Stage to listen to a few tracks from their recently released self-titled album.
• From bare feet to heavy bass lines, reggae rock trio Mystic Dub from the Grand Haven area had all of the ingredients to keep those at Festival of the Arts grooving throughout the early evening.
• When punk-rock’s Murder Party! became dissatisfied with the minimal amount of dancing during their set on the City Stage, the band did the only thing it could do – kidnap a member of the audience, and holding her for ransom until more people were willing to dance.
• With an energy level that matches his towering stature, and technical rhymes that would impress Big Pun himself, Rick Chyme had no problem rocking the mic at the Fountain Stage tent early in the evening.
• As the sun began to set, indie folk-rock quintet The Muteflutes kept folks at the Clock Tower Stage moving with tracks from their latest album, “American Dream,” as well as a folky cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”
• Union Guns proved its country mettle as a West Michigan favorite, lighting up the City Stage with a fervent array of uptempo tunes.
• Protesters at Calder Plaza carrying signs such as “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows,” were confronted at one point Friday evening by punk-rockabilly artist Vacant Dave, who gave an impromptu performance challenging the group, attracting an intrigued crowd of spectators in the process.
• The Blue Water Ramblers, dressed impeccably, delivered a rousing final folk set of the night at The Outer Fringe stage to adoring fans who sang along enthusiastically to one of the band’s crowd favorites, “Home Grown Tomatoes.”
• Skankadank closed out the evening on the Clock Tower Stage with a soulful smorgasbord of sweat-drenching R&B and blues ranging from Janis Joplin to Aretha Franklin, drawing a capacity crowd and a bevy of dancers who were inspired to gyrate to the late-night set. The eight-piece horn-driven rock band managed to keep Grand Rapids grooving for just one more hour with its soul-funk jams.
THE LOCAL SPINS PHOTO GALLERY: FESTIVAL 2014 (MORE PHOTOS BELOW)
VIDEO: NIGHT FALLS ON FESTIVAL
THE SCROLLING PHOTO GALLERY: BY ANTHONY NORKUS, ANNA SINK, TORI THOMAS
Email John Sinkevics at email@example.com.
Copyright 2014, Spins on Music
A veteran journalist and former music writer for The Grand Rapids Press, John Sinkevics is editor and publisher of LocalSpins.com, profiling regional artists and commenting on West Michigan's music scene. He hosts "Local Spins Live" on News Talk 1340 AM in Grand Rapids at 11 a.m. Wednesdays, with a preview at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays on WLAV-FM (96.9). He also hosts the hour-long "Local Spins on WYCE" at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE-FM (88.1).
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