Ralston Bowles, Sweet J Band, ‘mystery guest’ Brian Vander Ark, Lux Land, Peter Mulvey create perfect musical ending to Tuesday Evening Music Club (video)
GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP — An inspired, yeoman’s performance by singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey.
A kid-friendly, audience-engaging special appearance by The Verve Pipe’s Brian Vander Ark and his family, including ever-bracing Americana singer Lux Land.
And finally, a near-brilliant, sometimes-off-the-cuff set by Grand Rapids’ very own folk-rock hero Ralston Bowles backed by the Sweet J Band and violinist Jeffrey Neimeier, with Mulvey joining in for spine-tingling harmonies on a poignant rendition of Bowles’ “Fragile” to end the picture-perfect summer night.
That’s how the 2012 edition of the Tuesday Evening Music Club at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park bid adieu to the season on Tuesday, with about 2,000 concertgoers on hand to salute the closing installment of the weekly series that pays tribute to local and regional musical artists.
As usual, Bowles used the opportunity to charm fans and celebrate his musical chums on the final night of the series.
He brought in longtime pal Mulvey from Wisconsin, and spotlighted the considerable prowess of a versatile band of Grand Rapids musicians in Sweet J Band as well as local superstar Vander Ark (who played several children’s songs to get the younger set dancing and twirling, including tunes from The Verve Pipe’s popular kids’ CD).
The night’s various artists performed their sets with two Terratrikes on stage, after Bowles and Mulvey rode the recumbent bikes from Saugatuck to Grand Rapids earlier in the day.
The climactic culmination of the 10th season of Tuesday Evening Music Club shows, which Bowles founded and continues to host every summer, had a certain endearing, by-the-seat-of-the-pants quality with some members of the Sweet J Band showing up a tad later than expected, Mulvey consequently playing a longer, but thoroughly entertaining, opening set as a result, and Bowles inventing lyrics to songs on the fly.
But with Niemeier providing spellbinding accents on the fiddle as an honorary Sweet J member, Bowles’ set with the talented band also took on a singular, once-in-a-blue-moon quality that many in the audience will long remember.
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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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