John Sinkevics

Keeping the spotlight on talented West Michigan bands and the burgeoning regional concert scene: That’s been a mission of John’s since becoming a lead music critic and entertainment writer for The Grand Rapids Press 15 years ago. As publisher of Local Spins, that’s continued with news updates on Grand Rapids-area musical happenings, guest columns, photo galleries, concert reviews and weekly features on different artists who appear on radio on Local Spins Live.

John holds an honors degree in journalism from the University of Michigan and is co-founder of The Honeytones, once described as “the deans of Grand Rapids’ pop-rock scene” and a band that stages an annual Feedback concert to benefit Access of West Michigan’s food pantries for the needy. He’s also a diehard fan of the Detroit Tigers and, especially, the Detroit Lions, proudly wearing a “Rebuilding Since ’57” T-shirt which, sadly, has proven to be the case year in and year out for this underachieving NFL franchise.

    Local Spins in Caricature: The release of limited line ‘Cartoon Sinkevics’ merchandise for 2022


    Local Spins is elated to announce the release of a limited line of “Cartoon Sinkevics” merch with spectacular artwork by Bad Love Design.

    This surprise merchandise was unveiled at Local Spins Fest (much to the surprise of Local Spins editor and publisher John Sinkevics) and includes t-shirts, posters and stickers! Now available at our online Gift Shop here.

    Writer’s Note: Greetings, Enrique Olmos here. I’ve been writing for Local Spins for the last seven years. From the moment I met John Sinkevics, his character was that of an energetic cartoon with a zest for life and an unending zeal for the Michigan music scene.

    What I’m saying is: I had this idea from the moment I met him and the recent 10-year anniversary celebration of Local Spins was the perfect time to actualize what I envisioned in my head. I also had a whole lot of help pulling off this surprise and would like to specifically thank a few individuals who made this a reality:

    Special thanks to:

    Vernon James Reaume of Bad Love Design – for so vividly creating the image I had in my head. Vernon and I started talking about this project last November and he was incredible to work with.

    Bill Chesney at Brownlee Press

    Devin Zdanciewicz at Hill House Printing

    Paul Sinkevics, Anna Sink, Elizabeth Sinkevics

    Loren Johnson

    Local Spins’ Team of brilliant writers, photographers and interns

    (ANOTHER NOTE: The T-shirt and poster also pay tribute to John’s mom, Antonija, who passed away in 2022, and his sister, Irene, as well as his band, The Honeytones.)

    View all of Local Spins’ varied merchandise options here and help us continue our mission of spotlighting Michigan’s music scene.

    THE T-SHIRTS, POSTERS AND STICKERS (Free Sticker with Every Purchase!)

    Copyright 2022, Spins on Music LLC

        Album Reviews: Mighty Big Rig, Laurel Premo, Edison Kitt, The Shook, Adam Main, John Piatek

        This October roundup of new Michigan releases covers artists from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids to Traverse City, including instrumental projects and a collection inspired by loss.

        Rousing, Relaxing, Inspiring: This week’s batch of releases spotlighted at Local Spins.



        October’s second batch of Michigan-bred recordings reviewed at Local Spins includes projects that uncork instrumental brilliance, some rock ‘n’ roll fire and a compelling collection inspired by personal loss.

        Delve into the releases below and check out previous Local Spins album reviews online here.

        Mighty Big Rig

        What Stands Out: Just by listening to their newest album, “Solitude,” you wouldn’t believe that members of the Kalamazoo-based Mighty Big Rig only have a few years of jamming under their belts. The rich grooves, the complex layers behind its instrumentation and solos that range from ear-melting to soul softening all resonate as they point to veteran musicianship. Above all else, “Solitude” doesn’t just lay out a musically interesting roadmap, but it punches holes in its trajectory. The sheer balance of variety, mastery and confidence that permeates this album oozes greatness well worth listen after listen.
        Digging Deeper: When I step back and say I could write an essay just on “Rut,” you know you’ve struck some kind of gold. But immediately, I wasn’t sold. One of the best tracks on the album led with what initially kicked off with a slow start gradually began to blossom. It unfolded layers of wavy bass riffs and echoing guitar noodling that created space, but didn’t yet step into it. Then, Andrew Chiu’s drums filled that canvas behind massive vocals. It flips the track into this emotional breakdown that embodies the song’s metaphorical boiling point. And with a mind-warming guitar solo to match, you have yourself a winner.
        Perfect For: Big headphones and battling creative roadblocks. – Nick Moran
        Listen: “Rut”

        Laurel Premo
        “Golden Loam”

        What Stands Out: Golden Loam is a meditative listening experience, intimately woven from Laurel Premo’s work on electric guitar and lap steel, with the occasional additions of her singing, Nic Gareiss’ percussive dancing (tracks 5&9), and Eric Breton on bones (track 3). The warmth of the Traverse City multi-instrumentalist’s playing and presence on this self-produced record invites listeners into Laurel’s personal space, soaking in the sounds of her home, surrounding the passion of her songwriting and instrumental performances. A sense of calm permeates the record, and room within each composition is left for other emotions to express themselves, much like meditation allows the mind to wander while returning to the breath.
        Digging Deeper: In a relentless world cluttered with noise, media and an overworked schedule demanding our attention, Golden Loam carves out space to retreat to and find healing. Laurel Premo is known internationally for her work with her duo, Red Tail Ring, and it is clear why so many listeners love her artistry: the sincerity, the depth of emotion in her artistic expression, and the transparency in what she shares with an audience with every note.
        Perfect For: A chilled autumn day, sitting on a sun-soaked porch sipping a warm cup of tea and letting yourself breathe for a moment; Netflix and your 3 p.m. Zoom meeting can definitely wait. – Dutcher Snedeker
        Upcoming Shows: Oct. 29 at The DAAC in Grand Rapids (Album-Release Show); Dec. 1 at The Robin Theatre in Lansing (Album-Release Show)
        Listen: “Hop High”

        Edison Kitt
        “Whiskey Ramblings”

        What Stands Out: As frontman for Grand Rapids country-folk-rock band Edison Kitt & The Strangers, Kitt’s newest solo album “Whiskey Ramblings” tells the story of a “whiskey-induced” period of his life while mourning the passing of his best friend. Kitt’s vocals on this record unfold as a mix of angst, sorrow and passion, which suit the subject matter of each song. The album has a theme of soft intros that lead to a full band sound, giving it all a genuine, invigorating feel.
        Digging Deeper: Kitt leads us through tales of romantic escapades, loves lost and looking forward to new beginnings. In “Been a Long Time,” Kitt sings “It’s been a long time since I called you mine/Been a long road and we’re taking our time/Been a long time since I called you a friend/And I’d like to do so once again” making that point again in “You’re in My Head,” “Please don’t believe I’d ever let you slip away/Into the dark/Cause I could never find/ Someone to fill the hole you left inside my head and in my heart/The greatest memory of mine.” Grappling with the loss of someone from his past while still holding hope that that love will be found again. Although, on the last song of the album, “Let Me Say Goodbye,” he finally lets go: “Our love is just a memory/But I feel you holding on to me/Darling please just let me say goodbye.” The record is a journey of going back and forth with someone, hoping an answer will come without having to actually lose them for good. It makes for a compelling listen.
        Perfect For: Anyone going through a loss. – Liv Conaty
        Upcoming Show: Nov. 19 at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids (with Stovepipe Stover)
        Listen: “Let’s Start This Over”

        The Shook
        “Hermetic Revelry”

        What Stands Out: Northern Michigan’s The Shook deftly melds the melodic power of classic rock with New Millennium edginess and delicious sonic psychedelic-ness. The band’s second EP, “Hermetic Revelry,” bursts out of the gates with “Easy” and doesn’t let up on this rock ‘n’ roll roller coaster ride until the final notes of “Fire” that wraps things up.
        Digging Deeper: Initially formed by Petoskey’s Benjamin Stephenson (guitar) and Andrew Newville (vocals), The Shook proclaims in its band description that “the sharper the shaker, the rockier the roll.” Suffice to say, these guys are rolling toward a bright future if they keep this up.
        Perfect For: Cranking up the volume for a household project, weekend revelry or a much-anticipated road trip. – John Sinkevics
        Listen: “Easy”

        Adam Main
        “Flying All the Way to the Ground”

        What Stands Out: “Flying All The Way to The Ground” showcases Adam Main’s strengths as a performer and songwriter by combining the comfortable nature of his artistic expression with the lyrical quality of his approach to the instrument. This solo, finger-style guitar playing is difficult and leaves the performer exposed to the audience, yet each tune feels effortless in its execution. Every tune showcases this Grand Rapids guitarist’s artistic range and his influences, drawing inspiration from folk, Americana, blues, and even some classic rock elements, making for a well-rounded and intimate listening experience. 
        Digging Deeper: Main, an instructor at Kalamazoo Academy of Rock, plays from a deep appreciation for the guitar and storytelling. Even if the words are absent, the content and imagery are clear with every note. Each tune is easily digestible, yet it also showcases Adam’s clear mastery of his craft and attention to little details as an arranger.
        Perfect For: Long fall drives with stops along the way, soaking in the scenery as these wonderful tunes complement a calm afternoon. – Dutcher Snedeker
        Listen: “Sleight of Hand”

        John Piatek
        “John Piatek & Friends”

        What Stands Out: There’s plenty of surprising complexity to Traverse City singer-songwriter John Piatek’s music. Rhythmically intriguing from the opening track, “Dayride,” Piatek and fellow collaborator Jake Myers unfurl a collection that spans rock, jazz and pop with a plethora of special effects and a dreamy milieu that enhances whispery, atmospheric tracks such as “Weightless,” “Slow Burn,” “Plastic” and “Sand.”
        Digging Deeper: With repeated playing, it’s a 10-track project that serves as a real salve to the pains of a lengthy pandemic or whatever else ails you. Piatek and company plan to release new music soon, so there’s more in store for fans of this intricate, semi-psychedelic buffet.
        Perfect For: Contemplating the future – or the past – on an autumn day. – John Sinkevics
        Upcoming Show: Piatek plays Acoustic Taproom in Traverse City on Nov. 5.
        Listen: “Dayrider”

        Copyright 2021, Spins on Music LLC

            Album Reviews: Michigan Rattlers, Annagail, Lipstick Jodi, Brother John, IBIJ, Atkinson

            As August continues to heat up, Local Spins spotlights six new releases by West Michigan artists, from compelling Americana to lively indie-pop to reimagined punk. The reviews, with audio samples.

            The August Roundup: Six releases covering a wide swath of styles.


            It’s been a peculiar couple of years to be sure, and after a tumultuous 2020, even 2021 is starting to make folks feel a little edgy as worries about COVID-19 resurface (and complicate live music once again).

            Luckily, there’s plenty of recorded music via albums, EPs and singles being churned out by West Michigan’s music scene — a salve for all that ails you.

            Today, we take a peek at a half-dozen new releases covering a wide swath of styles from Americana/folk to synth-laden indie-pop to reimagined punk and more. And if you missed earlier Local Spins reviews of new releases, check them out here.

            Michigan Rattlers
            “That Kind of Life”

            What Stands Out: There comes a tipping point in nearly every successful artist’s career when everything comes together in signature fashion, hitting on all cylinders – from finding a songwriting groove to settling on “that sound” that best represents what they do. For Michigan Rattlers, that tipping point has come with “That Kind of Life.” With their own distinctive Americana/alt-country bent, the band unfurls a mostly subdued collection of poignant power that never feels like it lags, and makes an upbeat roots-rocker such as “Sleep In It” feel like it fits right in. And it oozes an atmosphere that engulfs listeners and places them on an isolated dirt two-track or in the eye of an approaching storm.
            Digging Deeper: Starting as a duo in Petoskey, guitarist Graham Young and upright bassist Adam Reed have since added keyboardist Christian Wilder and drummer Tony Audio to the fold and “That Kind of Life” makes full and dynamic use of every tool in their kit – from stellar organ enhancements on “Like a Kid” to the Springsteen-hued, saxophone-driven “Desert Heat” that wraps it all up. But it’s the strength of the songwriting that carries this project, the smartly crafted slices of nostalgia — nights on the road and falling “into the arms of my love” – that touch the heart and entrance the listener. And the aforementioned “Desert Heat” is an apropos closer, a love song of sorts to the band’s Michigan roots, coming back home after spending time out West: “All the stars that felt like rain/Washed upon everything/Led us back to where we came/I was yours and you were mine, it was all the same.”
            Perfect For: Evenings spent on a remote Michigan highway, in the woods or on a Lake Michigan beach; fans of Nathaniel Rateliff, Jason Isbell, Jamestown Revival and Bob Seger. – John Sinkevics
            Upcoming Shows: 8:15 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 14) at Hoxeyville Music Festival in Wellston; Aug. 18 at Top Cats in Cincinnati
            Listen: “Like a Kid”

            Lipstick Jodi
            “More Like Me”

            What Stands Out: For Grand-Rapids alt-pop trio Lipstick Jodi, “More Like Me” is a “genuine” project, as frontwoman Karli Morehouse told Local Spins, and reaps the rewards of that passion with an addicting sound. The synth-laden album is glitzy and glossy, filled to the brim with atmosphere-building work on the keys and larger-than-life choruses that feel like an extension of swelling verses. At the front of it all is Morehouse’s breathy, powerful vocal lead, which is soft to the touch, but leaves a personal, inspiring impression.
            Digging Deeper: Sifting through the track list of “More Like Me” is like wandering a neon-lit, ’80s-inspired art gallery. So many of the tracks leave listeners with something unique, but also unifying. “do/SAY” is a prime example, with a criminally catchy, compositionally suave melody that works its way throughout the song. Even its absence is a tool, as it gives way to Morehouse’s simple, emotional chorus, which is bookended with matching synth hits. Those synth-pop influences work their way down the track list, shining in a pop-inspired light on “Only One.” The vibrating fuzz of keys pairs effortlessly with Morehouse’s warm vocals and layered sounds that add complexity to each passing chorus.
            Perfect For: Fans of The Weeknd, Andrew Huang or CHVRCHES. – Nick Moran
            Upcoming Shows:
            Listen: “do/SAY”

            Brother John & The Lonely Roads
            “A Different Gospel”

            What Stands Out: Brother John & The Lonely Roads’ music is a complex concoction of joy, comfort, wisdom and recollection. “A Different Gospel” touches on all of those points — oftentimes hitting several throughout a single track — without sacrificing cohesion or charm. Frontman Caleb Lawson is a fearless guide as his comforting voice takes listeners on a journey through self-exploration. It’s a tall order with a lot to unpack, but “A Different Gospel” is beyond approachable both due to touching lyricism and graceful, engaging musicianship.
            Digging Deeper: If there is anything that lingers after a handful of listens, it’s that Lawson has a gift for intimate songwriting and ridiculously catchy choruses. The former hits its stride in “Pushin’ (The Gospel Plow),” which also acts as a strong representative for the album’s themes. Lawson not only boasts a stellar vocal range and surrounds himself with incredible support through backing vocals and eerie guitar picking, but he drives back themes of persistent faith amid doubt, turmoil and temptation. This sense of continually pushing the gospel plow forward is reinforced with repetition and the vivid word-building Lawson wields. “Oh, Susannah” is a masterclass in less-is-more musicianship. It’s lyrically curt and paired with simple noodling and even simpler lyrics that beg to be sung along with. Better yet, the barnyard acoustic breakdown at the song’s end lands on the perfect note, with an uplifting sing-along that contrasts intentionally with a sorrowful, introspective chorus.
            Perfect For: A little bit of soul-searching or heartstring-tugging introspection. – Nick Moran
            Listen: “Oh, Susannah”


            What Stands Out: The band’s first full-length album since 2007, “Home” tells the classic tale of “there’s no place like home,” while redefining what home actually means. Jennifer Adams’ pixieish voice and Jared Adams’ soulful rock tone match perfectly in “Rise,” a song that emphasizes that they’ll come back up together after every hardship, even if they have to “knock it down.” After Jennifer’s battle with Lyme disease and their Zeeland house burning down in 2019, the couple is more than familiar with picking up and moving forward after every trial and tribulation. The title track, a haunting but comforting tune, grapples with the idea that home is not just a house: It’s your community, your relationships and your passions that bring you home.
            Digging Deeper: Jennifer’s enchanting voice continues on the track “Gypsy Spirit,” likely an autobiographical song about a woman with long blonde hair, who is likely running away to somewhere where she doesn’t feel invisible. “A gypsy spirit, a body on the run/Can anyone see her/Heading toward the sun.” In true Americana fashion, the album closes out with “Whiskey and Wine,” which feels like having a nice drink after a long, hard day, and looking forward to a new journey. The album does a great job of rounding out the band’s personal stories in a way that others can relate to.
            Perfect For: Anyone coming off of a hard time. – Liv Conaty
            Listen: “Home”

            I Believe in Julio
            “Been Around: The Remixes”

            What Stands Out: The best way to enjoy “Been Around: The Remixes” is to pair it with I Believe in Julio’s 2019 album “Been Around,” which is the basis for the Grand Rapids group’s new release. Hearing the jump from garage punk to eclectic, experimental remixes truly highlights the artistic liberties each of the guest artists brought to reimagining the 2019 album. While “Been Around” was in your face, rough around the edges and raw, the remixes are more experimental, daring and unapologetic. The album is surely worth the listen, independent of any background — with some really interesting liberties taken by each feature that crafts a linked anthology of married tracks with punk ancestry — but truly shines when listeners can appreciate how far it comes from 2019.
            Digging Deeper: Most of the tracks on “Been Around: The Remixes” feature a reimagined look through the eyes of a guest who steers the song in an entirely new direction. Bermuda Teenager’s remix of “Feelin’ It,” is a prime example. The track has the original album’s brash vocals front and center while pairing it with echoing keys and reliable percussion. The reverb-laden guitar solo and the revisited, vibe-heavy soundscape turns down the original track’s rip current pace into a complex lazy river cruise that’s worth savoring. Frontman Julio Gomez even took his hand at a ska-infused remix of “Six Eyes,” which is the playful fraternal twin of its core track. With an intro that could have come from The Specials, the remix connects the dots between ska and punk’s interwoven influences in a really elegant way. The harmonica hits, tinny vocals and groovy bass work gives the remix a lot to work with, and makes me want to hear more of Gomez’s takes on his own work — as well as some more ska.
            Perfect For: Those interested in artistic lenses who especially like to dig their fingers into musicianship. – Nick Moran
            Listen: “Six Eyes (Julio Gomez Skamix)”

            Travis Atkinson

            What Stands Out: The frontman for Grand Rapids’ country band Deep Greens & Blues, Atkinson spent his time in quarantine on a new solo path. The rootsy, jazzy feel of this EP is a fresh sound for Atkinson, and something he felt paired well with the feelings he expressed in the tracks. The opener, “Monsters of the Wind,” includes a haunting fiddle with a heavy blues guitar, making for an effortless soulful sound. The back-to-back fiddle and guitar breaks in “Two Gardens” act as opposing teams, which matches the subject matter of the song: “I’m growing two gardens, roots and leaves make the most of fertile ground/Smell the season, see the harvest/The best intentions have been scattered all around.” We are then taken to the final track, “Marionette.” This song shows the variation between Deep Greens & Blues and Atkinson’s solo material the most, a jazzy chill tune complete with a trumpet.
            Digging Deeper: Being the first solo project Atkinson has made in 12 years, he felt inspired to open himself up to different types of sounds. He plans to release two more EPs after “Pain,” resulting in a full-length album at the end of the year. While some bands decided to wait out the pandemic to start back up, Atkinson took the opportunity to express himself in his own journey with music.
            Perfect For: Getting excited for autumn, walking amongst the leaves. – Liv Conaty
            Upcoming Shows: Aug. 18 with Deep Greens & Blues at First Lutheran Church in Muskegon; Aug. 22 solo at Borrowed Time in Douglas
            Listen: “Marionette”

            Copyright 2021, Spins on Music LLC

                Concert magic from Kid Rock to Haim to Kiss to Elton John to Steve Aoki: Photos of Tony Norkus

                For eight years, Local Spins has published some spectacular concert photography. And some of the best photos have been taken by Tony Norkus, who today shares his favorites, along with stories about each image, from Bassnectar fans to Charles Bradley’s Grand Rapids debut.

                Concert Images Galore: Some of Anthony Norkus’ favorite photos.



                The first time photographer Tony Norkus and I communicated was not long after I decided to launch the Local Spins website in 2012.

                I had seen his photos and, somehow, he had found the fledgling Local Spins site about a year after he had started sneaking his camera into shows and was interested in contributing images to the online publication as a concert photographer. I didn’t hesitate for a second, eager to bring aboard what I perceived as a standout, top-of-the-heap concert photographer.

                Tony Norkus (Photo/Tyler Steimle)

                Nothing over those eight years has changed my mind. Tony has an incredible eye, a knack for capturing emotion and action on stage, and a brilliant feel for editing the images that he snaps. Oh, and as other photographers will point out, he’s VERY tall and uses that to his advantage.

                More than that, he adores live music and has alerted me to artists and tours that I might otherwise have overlooked. It takes a special talent to be a good concert photographer amid fast-moving action and challenging lighting conditions, and those with a passion for the music itself have a leg up on other shooters.

                So, I asked Tony to submit some of his favorite photos, along with brief descriptions and stories about the concerts and artists he’s captured with his arsenal of cameras. Of course, narrowing down the best from this catalog was virtually impossible, so consider this just a “snapshot” of his work over the years.

                In coming weeks, we’ll spotlight the work of other freelance photographers who’ve been showcased at Local Spins. Consider it our way of drawing attention to the hardworking, dedicated photojournalists who’ve documented the most compelling concerts in West Michigan’s recent history.

                Here are some of Tony’s favorite photos, accompanied by something rare: The stories behind those images in his own words. Plus, there’s a full photo gallery with more images below. Enjoy. – John Sinkevics

                Editor’s note: Photographers retain copyrights. Used with permission.

                Twin Peaks at Mo Pop

                Twin Peaks (MoPop Festival 2016) – Sometimes when you’re shooting a band, you get sucked into shooting one member because they’re so animated, you can’t take your camera off of them. That’s what happened here. About 80 percent of the shots I took from of their set are of this guy.

                Twenty One Pilots at Van Andel Arena

                Twenty One Pilots (Van Andel Arena 2016) – Good drummer shots are hard to get because they’re usually buried somewhere in the back of the stage, but the drummer for 21 Pilots was right up front with great lighting. Besides Kim from Matt & Kim, I’ve never seen a drummer play so hard or intense either.

                Kid Rock at Van Andel Arena

                Kid Rock (Van Andel Arena 2017) – Say what you want about Mr. Rock, but he puts on a killer show and his jumping skills put Diamond Dave’s to shame.

                Father John Misty at Mo Pop

                Father John Misty (Mo Pop 2016) – If Jesus played guitar, I think he’d kind of look like FJM here. Very cool.

                Fall Out Boy at Van Andel Arena

                Fall Out Boy (Van Andel Arena 2016) – I’m 100 percent convinced that Pete Wentz knew I had my camera on him and did this pose for me. It’s too perfect. And when FOB came back 2 years later, I got the exact same shot again. Pete must practice this move at home.

                Elton John at Van Andel Arena

                Elton John (Van Andel Arena 2016) – I’m just a casual fan, but it was so surreal standing 5 feet away from Elton John. Usually big arena acts like Elton make photographers shoot from the soundboard, but we all got to shoot from up against the stage at this show. You could tell he was playing it up for all the photographers up front too, looking right into our lenses making sure every photographer got at least one good shot. Such a great performer.

                Charles Bradley at The Pyramid Scheme

                Charles Bradley (The Pyramid Scheme, 2013) – I’ve never seen anyone sing with more emotion than the late Charles Bradley. His facial expressions were so powerful. I usually move around a lot and shoot from different spots at shows to get some variety. But this one I just stood in one spot and zoomed in on his face as close as I could. Shooting someone like Charles Bradley is a photographer’s dream.

                Lana Del Rey in Detroit

                Lana Del Rey (Masonic Temple in Detroit, 2014)– My wife is a huge LDR fan, so any time she comes close to Michigan, we have to go see her. I didn’t have a photo pass to this show or any special access, so I just went as a civilian like everyone else. We heard she’ll sometimes meet & greets with fans after shows, so we hung out by the back entrance with about 40 other fans, waiting for her to come out. After an hour or two, she came out and talked to everyone, signed autographs, and took pictures. I just had a point and shoot 35mm film camera with me. I was kind of bummed when I first saw this photo because her eyes were cropped out, but its one of my all-time favorite photos now. Its anonymous in a sense but you can still tell its her from the “Paradise” tattoo on her hand. Plus love the smile. It’s a great moment that I’ll never forget.

                Kiss at Van Andel Arena

                Kiss (Van Andel Arena 2019) – Sometimes it’s depressing shooting older bands because their shows don’t have the same energy they did 30 or 40 years earlier. This Kiss show was a blast to shoot, though. I imagine they looked and played exactly the same in the ’70s that they did here.

                GWAR at the Orbit Room

                Party Wolf (GWAR at The Orbit Room, 2015) – This was some fan that dressed up for the show and was roaring. Or maybe he was in GWAR. Can’t tell the difference.

                Haim at Mo Pop

                Haim (Mo Pop, 2016) – I don’t know if the term “bass face” was coined because of Este Haim here, but she was the reason I first heard of it. Google it and her photo is the first one that pops up.

                Punk Fans at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill

                Tip Top Punks (Skitchin Fest 2.0, 2018) – I was assigned to cover this event for a Local Spins story and to get a photo of the organizer and creator, Tyler Dykema. I think we took a couple outside by himself but they didn’t feel right. So we got all of his friends together and took these group photos, which I thought captured the whole grassroots and DIY vibes of the event.

                Marilyn Manson at The Orbit Room.

                Marilyn Manson (The Orbit Room, 2015) – I was very nervous about shooting Manson because I heard he likes to mess with photographers and breaks their gear + spits on them. I was expecting the worst at this show, but he was great to shoot, and he was playing it up for all the photographers.

                Bassnectar Fans (DeltaPlex, 2016) – Bassnectar performs from a very tall stage, and it’s almost impossible to get any clear shots of him from the photo pit. So the only thing you can do as a photographer from that close is to turn around shoot the crowd. One of the few shows where I prefer shooting the crowd instead of the artist.

                Andrew W.K. (The Pyramid Scheme, 2015) – There are usually rules against using flash at concerts, but this Andrew W.K. show was so insane, I knew nobody would notice or care if I used one. So during the last half of the show, I got as close as I could to the stage and and fired away. I’ve shot WK three times. This is my favorite pic I’ve snapped of him because there’s a great connection between him and the crowd here.

                Fan at Electric Forest

                (Electric Forest, 2014) – Snapped this photo while walking through Electric Forest. Not sure what he’s on, but I thought it was funny that you had this densely-packed crowd and everyone gave him enough space to pass out like this in the middle of it. I like it a lot because it shows a side of Forest that isn’t as glamorous or as pretty as most of the photos you see taken there.

                Steve Aoki at Grand Valley State University

                Steve Aoki (GVSU, 2013) – I don’t have a lot of favorites from EDM shows, but I really love this shot of Aoki. Super high energy and he really interacts well with the crowd during his set, as opposed to sitting behind a laptop pressing buttons and looking bored.

                Tony Gebhard crowd-surfing at Killswitch Engage at The Intersection.

                Blind Crowd Surfer (Killswitch Engage @ Intersection 2016) – Getting this shot was pure luck. Was at the side of the photo pit towards the end of KSE’s set and looked up and saw this blind guy crowd-surfing. Raised my camera and and just happened to get this shot. I think I shared it with KSE that night, and they re-posted it on their Instagram and the guy, Tony Gebhard, kind of became famous after this with local media (including Local Spins) doing some stories about it and interviewing him. I met Tony after this and he’s a real cool guy. We even went downtown to take some photos together and they turned out great. (This photo also appeared in the 2017 Local Spins calendar.)

                PHOTO GALLERY: A sampling of the best of Tony Norkus

                Copyright 2020, Spins on Music LLC

                    Devin Weber talks John Prine’s lasting impact, new Dead Frets EP, solo material

                    The Grand Rapids singer-guitarist chatted about his music and performed for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted new tracks by Wuzee, Lybrandt, Celeste Allison, Further Closer, Analog Kid and more.

                    Working on Solo and Band Recordings: Devin Weber (Photo/Anthony Norkus)



                    Countless musicians and songwriters have spent the past few days trying to process the lasting impact of John Prine, who died Tuesday after a battle with COVID-19.

                    The influential and down-to-earth country, folk and Americana songwriter left a massive musical legacy and an impressive catalog of compelling tunes that have been covered, emulated and otherwise revered by artists across the globe.

                    On Stage: Weber (Photo/Nathan Purchase)

                    Count Grand Rapids’ Devin Weber among those fans.

                    “When I discovered John Prine he made every other person I’d ever been aware sound phony. I couldn’t think of anyone who was more real in his writing than him,” said Weber, frontman for rock’s Devin & The Dead Frets and guitarist for the Hazy Past cover band.

                    “I discovered him pretty late. But when I did, I said, ‘This is the guy. This is my guy who I’ve been waiting for.’ … Everything about him I identified with. Of course, I will never be a fraction of the songwriter that he was, but it’s inspiring to have all this music left over for us to listen to.”

                    So not surprisingly, Weber insisted on playing a John Prine classic, “Souvenirs,” for this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, along with a solo acoustic rendition of a new Dead Frets tune. Watch the video for “(There Goes My) Appetite” here, and scroll down to listen to the full radio show podcast and his version of “Souvenirs” below.

                    VIDEO: Devin Weber, “(There Goes My) Appetite” (Acoustic)

                    For Weber, as with other area musicians, the recent stay-at-home pandemic has interrupted work on musical projects, specifically plans for finally releasing a new Dead Frets EP and recording new solo material.

                    In spite of that, Weber released the Dead Frets single “(There Goes My) Appetite” – originally recorded a couple of years ago – earlier this month and hopes to complete mixing and final details for the band EP after the coronavirus crisis has passed. The single features Jordan Kerbyson on drum, Nathan Walton on lead guitar, Ricky Olmos on keyboards and Doug Watkins on bass.

                    “I hate to sit on the songs and not put ’em out,” he said of the Dead Frets EP.

                    The New Normal: Host John Sinkevics interviewing Weber via Skype.

                    As for his solo project, which he described as more “nuanced” than the Dead Frets’ straigh-ahead rock, “I do have pretty detailed demos of all the songs, but I’d like to get tracks of them with other people,” he said. “It (COVID-19 shutdown) has derailed releasing my solo album because I had planned to use this time to record it.”

                    But he also noted that he’s setting up a recording studio at home to lay down tracks for the solo project.

                    Weber, who grew up in Hopkins, joined Hazy Past about a year ago, crediting the covers band for giving him an outlet for performances and honing his guitar skills.

                    “It’s been awesome. This has given me an outlet to play all those songs you love and that you just wanted to play but never had an avenue for it,” he said. “It’s certainly made me a better guitar player because now I’m having to learn certain parts, things that I was always too lazy to do before.”

                    This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which showcases local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) – also featured the on-air debut of new tracks by Lybrandt, Loone Wolf, Further Closer (this week’s musician’s pick by Weber), Wuzee, Analog Kid, Celeste Allison Trio and Inkless, along with songs by Hawks & Owls and Plain Jane Glory. Listen to the radio show here.

                    PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (4/10/20)

                    Official Sponsor of Local Spins on WYCE

                    Copyright 2020, Spins on Music

                        Local Spins on Michigan Radio: Sadie Bass, John Sanger, Laurel Premo

                        There are compelling stories behind each of this month’s West Michigan artists featured on Michigan Radio’s “Stateside.” Listen to the podcast, get the back story on these three acts.

                        Crowd-Pleasing Country: Sadie Bass is showing that off this week in Michigan and in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo/Eric Stoike)


                        Grand Rapids singer-songwriter John Sanger overcame throat cancer to deliver what could be the best album of his career.

                        Up-and-coming country singer Sadie Bass not only has made a splash with her performances and her music — including her most recent single — but is rubbing elbows with some of Nashville’s royalty this week on a Gulf cruise.

                        And Red Tail Ring’s Laurel Premo has turned plenty of heads with her mesmerizing new solo instrumental album, including Cynthia Canty, host of Michigan Radio’s “Stateside.”

                        All three artists were featured by Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics on the statewide broadcast of the Local Spins segment for November. Listen to it here, with full versions of songs by the featured artists below.

                        LISTEN: Local Spins on Michigan Radio (November 2019)

                        John Sanger’s New Album

                        1. John Sanger, “Defective” from “The Sanger Family Album” – Holland native and Grand Rapids-based singer-songwriter John Sanger has been performing and recording across West Michigan for more than 20 years. But after feeling “a little scratchiness” in his throat following some shows early this year, he went to the doctor and got a shocking diagnosis: He had throat cancer. Subsequent chemo and radiation treatments forced the busy performer to the sidelines for about six months, sapped his energy and saw him lose about 60 pounds. But it also gave him an “amazing sense of perspective,” especially because he was right in the middle of working on a new album about his family and “the roller-coaster of life’s trials and tribulations.” So his new “The Sanger Family Album” really is a case of “life imitating fiction” and features some truly heart-rending material. The life-changing diagnosis also convinced him to gig less frequently and focus more attention on family and friends, he says. He recently played a couple of October gigs to celebrate the new album, and plays Bostwick Lake Inn outside Rockford on Nov. 15 and Iron Well in Grand Rapids on Nov. 24. Read more about John Sanger in this Local Spins Artist Spotlight.

                        LISTEN: John Sanger, “Defective”

                        2. Laurel Premo, “Fox & Hounds” from “The Iron Trios” – As I put it in my review of the album, this is a “subtly breathtaking” instrumental project filled with melancholy-yet-alluring tracks that celebrate the beauty of fiddle music. Traverse City violinist Laurel Premo is best known as half of the award-winning indie-folk duo Red Tail Ring (with guitarist Michael Beauchamp). On this solo project – which also features guitarists Owen Marshall and Joshua Davis and fiddler Aaron Jonah Lewis – she takes an old-timey sound and flavors it in contemporary fashion with what she calls “a bloom of underlying harmonic drones, minimalist repetition and rich polyrhythms.” The track I selected may be the most upbeat of the collection, which oozes a somewhat plaintive atmosphere that makes an absolutely perfect soundtrack for observing the fall colors and Michigan’s change in seasons. The Laurel Premo Trio plays The Sandbox Listening Room in Kalamazoo on Dec. 6; The Yurt at the Little Fleet in Traverse City on Dec. 7 and the Second Sunday Folk Dance in Crystal Falls, Michigan on Dec. 8. Red Tail Ring, by the way, plays the Michigan Academy of Folk Music in Holland on Nov. 14. Check out a review of Premo’s new album at Local Spins here.
                        LISTEN: Laurel Premo, “Fox & Hounds”

                        3. Sadie Bass, “Wear It Out” (Single) – Let’s move from the sort of traditional fiddle tunes that helped inspire country artists many decades ago to modern country music. Sadie Bass is a mid-Michigan country singer from Bath, Mich., who’s made quite the splash with her band in Michigan over the past couple of years, opening for a slew of national country stars and playing big country music festivals like Summer Jam, Country Boots and Bands, B93 Birthday Bash and more. She actually gave up a softball scholarship and dropped out of college to “tackle this career head-on.” And this week, that decision is really paying off because Sadie and her band won an online fan-based contest to play superstar Brantley Gilbert’s “Kick It in the Ship Cruise” which set sail from Miami on Monday with other stars such as Chase Rice, Lanco, Diamond Rio and Jon Langston. Bass played a pre-party in Miami and will play twice on this week’s cruise. The 23-year-old’s band features musicians from Holland, Lansing, Jackson, Homer and Marshall, and she released the single “Wear It Out,” earlier this year. She plans to release an EP in the spring and is working with Smokin’ Sleddog Records to book national shows next year. Country fans – lots of them in West Michigan in particular where she’s performed frequently – seem to really appreciate this down to earth, small-town girl who grew up hunting and fishing with her dad, and they will definitely want to keep an eye on this emerging talent. I expect we’ll see lots of bookings in 2020. Read a Local Spins feature on Bass here.
                        LISTEN: Sadie Bass, “Wear It Out”

                        Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC

                            John Mellencamp, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Dr. Dog, Candlebox, Shad shake up February

                            This Local Spins wrap-up of Grand Rapids concerts includes everything from a video montage of an impressive Doors tribute to photo galleries of national tour stops by wildly popular artists, new and old.

                            Midwest Rock Icon: John Mellencamp made a Grand Rapids tour stop on Sunday night. (Photo/Jamie Geysbeek)


                            The “John Mellencamp Show” made a tour stop Sunday night at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, with the renowned heartland rocker bringing his arsenal of hits to Grand Rapids (even as the media buzz continued with news about Meg Ryan getting engaged to Mellencamp).

                            Fans were treated to classic Mellencamp tunes as well as deeper cuts. Here’s the set list courtesy of Lawless Times, Troubled Land, Minutes to Memories, Small Town, Stones in My Passway, Lonely Ol’ Night, Check It Out, Long Gone (From the Bowlin’ Green), We Are the People, Longest Days, Jack & Diane, The Full Catastrophe, Easy Target, Overture, Rain on the Scarecrow, Crumblin’ Down, Authority Song/Land of 1000 Dances, Pink Houses, Cherry Bomb, Long Gone (from Bowlin’ Green) Reprise.

                            Meanwhile, funky Baltimore jam band Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has been crisscrossing the country on what’s been an almost ceaseless touring schedule as it keeps growing an avid fan base. On Saturday, the band proved its live-show mettle yet again, this time firing up a full house at The Intersection with help from Mungion.

                            The same night, pyschedelic Philadelphia rock band Dr. Dog made a stop at Calvin College’s Covenant Fine Arts Center, with The Nude Party also on the bill.

                            That followed West Michigan appearances by Seattle grunge rockers Candlebox (with Coldville and To Whom It May) at 20 Monroe Live, Toronto-based rapper Shad playing Calvin College, Grand Rapids alt-country band Deep Greens & Blues hosting a packed album-release show at Creston Brewery and Doors tribute band The Insane Theatre pumping up an enthused baby-boomer crowd at SpeakEZ Lounge. Local Spins was there to cover the action in photos and video.

                            PHOTO GALLERY: John Mellencamp at DeVos Performance Hall (Sunday)
                            Photos by Jamie Geysbeek

                            PHOTO GALLERY: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at The Intersection (Saturday)
                            Photos by Eric Stoike

                            PHOTO GALLERY: Dr. Dog, The Nude Party at Calvin College (Saturday)
                            Photos by Anna Sink

                            PHOTO GALLERY: Candlebox, Coldville, To Whom It May at 20 Monroe Live (Friday)
                            Photos by Anthony Norkus

                            VIDEO: Deep Greens & Blues, “Roll On” at Creston Brewery (Friday)
                            Video by John Sinkevics

                            VIDEO: The Insane Theatre at SpeakEZ Lounge (Wednesday)
                            Video by John Sinkevics

                            PHOTO GALLERY: Shad at Calvin College (Tuesday)
                            Photos by Kendra Kamp

                            Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC

                                Big List (Jan. 21-27): Sublime with Rome, Eric Johnson, Gregory Alan Isakov, Walk the Moon, Jesse McCartney, Rick Springfield, Ice Jam

                                Also in this week’s lineup: Ann Arbor Folk Festival, Lady Ace Boogie, Serengeti, Dirty Deville, Byron Stripling, Chely Wright, Bass Country and a “Synth Night.” And win tickets to Bass Country.

                                Audience-Pleasing Shows: Lady Ace Boogie’s weekend gig is among many in West Michigan this week. (Photo/Anthony Norkus)


                                THE BIG LIST: Jan. 21-27

                                For an expanded list of upcoming shows at West Michigan venues, check out The REALLY Big List at Local Spins.

                                Have concert listings you think deserve to be spotlighted? Email date, time, ticket prices, location and details to

                                To be included in our “Big List of Michigan Music Festivals,” organizers should email  with 2019 dates, the event location, contact information and any other pertinent details. Organizing a summer concert series? It’s time to send us your line up to ensure your (free) place on the list!


                                Paul Brewer and Robin Connell

                                PAUL BREWER QUARTET
                                When: 6:30 p.m. Monday
                                Tickets: $15 ($10 members)
                                ($5 more for food ticket)
                                Where: Casino Club, 3260 Salerno Drive NE, Grand Rapids

                                Grand Rapids trombone player Dr. Paul Brewer of Aquinas College will headline this week’s “Jazz Gumbo,” the latest edition in a series put on by the West Michigan Jazz Society that features an evening of jazz music alongside a gumbo dinner.

                                The quartet includes jazz pianist Robin Connell. Dinner and music tickets are $15 for Jazz Society members and $20 for non-members; music-only tickets are $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Details online here.

                                Official Sponsor of The Big List Concert Guide


                                Eric Johnson (Photo/Eric Stoike)

                                ERIC JOHNSON
                                When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
                                Tickets: $37.50 seated, $27.50 standing
                                Where: The Intersection, Grand Rapids

                                LOCAL SPINS TICKET GIVEAWAY: Congratulations to readers James Jarvi and Lori Metzler. They were the first two people to email with “ERIC JOHNSON” in the message field and won a pair of tickets to Wednesday’s show. Check The Big List every week for your chance to win concert tickets.

                                Eric Johnson is known to be a master of his craft, having ventured into blues, jazz, classical, and even country throughout his lengthy musical career. The gifted guitarist and multi-instrumentalist will make a stop at The Intersection as part of his Ah Via Musicom tour, performing his landmark 1990 release in its entirety.

                                This show was rescheduled from Oct. 30 of last year. Tickets and details can be found online here.

                                Roosevelt Diggs (Photo/Taylor Mansen)

                                LOCAL SPINS WEDNESDAY:
                                ROOSEVELT DIGGS

                                When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
                                Admission: Free
                                Where: SpeakEZ Lounge, Grand Rapids

                                West Michigan Americana powerhouse Roosevelt Diggs has long been a favorite in the region, with fans embracing the group’s lively and entertaining performances.

                                Now, the band — Logan and Levi Duddles, Jon Shears and John Ellsworth — has a dynamic, brand new album that elevates their music even more with compelling songwriting, crisp harmonies and catchy melodies, making “Better Days” one of West Michigan’s best releases of the year. Revel in an intimate evening of Americana, bluegrass, country and folk-rock. The album is nominated for several WYCE Jammie Awards on Feb. 8, with Roosevelt Diggs also performing that night.

                                Local Spins Wednesdays are presented by Local Spins, SpeakEZ Lounge, Perrin Brewing and WYCE, with free parking in the Sixth Street Park lot just to the north of SpeakEZ Lounge on Monroe Avenue NW (or a small city lot just to the south, kitty-corner from SpeakEZ).


                                Official Sponsor of The Big List Concert Guide


                                Melophobix (Photo/Derek Ketchum)

                                SUBLIME WITH ROME

                                When: 7 p.m. Thursday
                                Tickets: $32-$59
                                Where: 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids

                                Sublime with Rome, the long-running second act of iconic 90s band Sublime, will bring their unique blend of ska-punk and reggae rock to 20 Monroe Live. Sublime scored a string of hits in the mid-90s with songs like “Santeria” and “What I Got” before frontman Bradley Nowell’s tragic death in 1996. Singer/guitarist Rome Ramirez leads the band these days, and on Thursday they’ll be joined by Tropidelic and Grand Rapids’ own “cage-free funk” band Melophobix, who just released a full-length debut album.

                                Tickets can be found online here.

                                Chely Wright

                                CHELY WRIGHT
                                When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
                                Tickets: $32-$42
                                Where: Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake

                                This West Michigan listening room welcomes celebrated country/Americana singer-songwriter Chely Wright, who first made a splash in the mid-1990s, hailed by the Academy of Country Music as the top new female vocalist in 1995 following release of her debut album, “Woman in the Moon.” Since then, she’s released numerous albums, including 2010’s “Lifted Off the Ground” and a 2018 Christmas EP. She’s currently working on her ninth full-length album, “Revival,” slated for release this year.

                                Get more information here and call 231-557-7687 for tickets for this show or for Friday’s return of singer-songwriter Tony Lucca (8 p.m. Friday).


                                SERENGETI, DREAS
                                When: 8 p.m. Thursday
                                Tickets: $10
                                Where: Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill, Grand Rapids

                                Hip-hop music influenced by his home state of Illinois, Serengeti will be putting on a show for Grand Rapids. Serengeti released a new EP earlier this month which is sure to be heard Thursday.

                                Also performing is hip hop/electronica artists Dreas with doors opening at 4 p.m., ages 21-and-older. Tickets are available online here.

                                Official Sponsor of The Big List Concert Guide


                                Walk the Moon

                                WALK THE MOON
                                BEAR HANDS

                                When: 8 p.m. Friday
                                Tickets: $38-$59
                                Where: 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids

                                The group behind the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit single “Shut Up and Dance” will be bringing its neon-alternative energy to 20 Monroe Live as a part of a 2019 tour. (The band has a new single, “Timebomb.”)

                                Joining Walk the MoonNicholas Petricca (singer/keyboardist), Kevin Ray (bassist), Eli Maiman (guitarist), and Sean Waugaman (drummer) — for the ride will be Bear Hands, a post-punk rock band from Brooklyn, N.Y. Doors for this all-ages show open at 7 p.m. Tickets can be found online here.

                                The Gorgeous Oranges

                                DIRTY DEVILLE
                                THE BLACK DUNES
                                THE GORGEOUS ORANGES
                                CASA BLUE

                                When: 9 p.m. Friday
                                Tickets: $5
                                Where: Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill, Grand Rapids

                                This stacked lineup of Michigan natives will come together Friday to show off their various rock-infused styles. Formed in 2011, Dirty DeVille credits its eclectic group of musicians for its unique sound. The Ann Arbor band released its most recent album, “Come All Lunatics,” early last year.

                                This is a 21-and-older show; tickets can be found online here.

                                Byron Stripling

                                GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY:
                                RAGTIME, BLUES & ALL THAT JAZZ W/ BYRON STRIPLING

                                When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
                                Tickets: $18-$90
                                Where: DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids

                                Byron Stripling is being welcomed back to the Grand Rapids Symphony Pops series. Stripling’s a renowned trumpet player, performing with symphonies across the country, and will unfurl a “heartfelt tribute to Louis Armstrong” as part of this Grand Rapids engagement.

                                Grand Rapids Pops series combines new and old to create an unforgettable music event. Tickets are available online at

                                Brandi Carlile (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                ANN ARBOR FOLK FESTIVAL:
                                BRANDI CARLILE, GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV,
                                HALEY HEYNDERICKX, PARSONSFIELD,
                                RUFUS WAINWRIGHT,
                                I’M WITH HER, JOAN OSBORNE’s DYLANOLOGY,
                                POKEY LAFARGE

                                When: Friday-Saturday
                                Tickets: $100 each night
                                Where: Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

                                This annual fundraiser for The Ark — the Ann Arbor Folk Festival — has become an uber-popular tradition, bringing in highly regarded national starts in the folk/roots/indie-rock scene for short sets over two nights in a gorgeous setting.

                                Friday’s lineup kicks off with the Americana/country of Michigan Rattlers, a Petoskey-bred group, and features Brandi Carlile, Gregory Alan Isakov, Haley Haynderickx, Parsonsfield and Sam Lewis. On Saturday, Ann Arbor’s own bluegrass icons The RFD Boys get things started, with Rufus Wainwright, I’m With Her, Joan Osborne’s Dylanology (featuring Jackie Greene), Pokey LaFarge and Ahi on the bill. Only a few tickets remained early in the week. Get info online here.

                                Official Sponsor of The Big List Concert Guide

                                Official Sponsor of The Big List Concert Guide


                                The Go Rounds (Photo/Derek Ketchum)

                                PERRIN ICE JAM:
                                THE GO ROUNDS
                                THE LEGAL IMMIGRANTS
                                THE TURNIPS
                                SYD BURNHAM BAND

                                When: 3:30-8 p.m. Saturday
                                Tickets: $10 donation
                                Where: Outside Perrin Brewing, 5910 Comstock Park Drive, Comstock Park

                                For the third straight year, this Comstock Park brewery will celebrate winter with its “Ice Jam Winter Festival,” this one featuring regional rock stars The Go Rounds, The Legal Immigrants, The Turnips and the Syd Burnham Band. The performances take place inside a giant heated tent, and good thing, because temps are liable to be VERY chilly this year (unlike 2018, when spring-like weather set in for Ice Jam).

                                The event supports Kids’ Food Basket, with a Frostbite 5k Run/Walk immediately preceding the festivities. You can make a donation online or at the door, or bring needed food items.

                                Get more details online at

                                Gregory Alan Isakov

                                GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV
                                When: 7 p.m. Saturday
                                Tickets: SOLD OUT
                                Where: Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids

                                Celebrated singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov is making a stop in Grand Rapids as he tours the nation in support of his new album, “Evening Machines.” And like many of the other dates on Isakov’s tour, Saturday’s show at Fountain Street Church sold out quickly. He’ll be joined by Danny Black of the Philadelphia indie folk band Good Old War, and those who were lucky enough to get tickets will be treated to an unforgettable evening of music in the intimate setting of Fountain Street Church.

                                Fans willing to venture across the country can still get tickets to other dates on the tour here. He also plays the Ann Arbor Folk Festival on Friday.

                                KALAMAZOO UN-HOLY F@#K FEST:
                                DEAD EYES ALWAYS DREAMING
                                DEAD NERVES, SCAPE GOAT

                                When: 7 p.m. Saturday
                                Tickets: $8
                                Where: Papa Pete’s, Kalamazoo

                                Papa Pete’s will be home to some of Michigan’s best metal acts heralding from Grand Rapids, Detroit, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Saturday night as the venue plays host to the Kalamazoo Un-holy F@#k Fest.

                                Put on by Merciless Booking and Promotions, the hardcore showcase will feature Dead Eyes Always Dreaming, Dead Nerves, ScapeGoat Dethrone The Deceiver, Coffin Talk, Discontent and Guard Rail. More information can be found here. General admission tickets for this 18-and-older show can be purchased at the door.

                                Jesse McCartney

                                JESSE McCARTNEY
                                When: 8 p.m. Saturday
                                Tickets: $33-$45
                                Where: 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids

                                One of the most crushed-on heartthrobs of the 2000s, Jesse McCartney has made a comeback with his single, “Better With You,” his first song release since the album, “In Technicolor,” was released back in 2014.

                                The show is all ages and doors will open at 7 p.m. Tickets can be found here.

                                Pink Sky

                                SYNTH NIGHT, VOL. 1:
                                PINK SKY, JES KRAMER
                                BRONZE WOLF, DARKLY

                                When: 8 p.m. Saturday
                                Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show
                                Where: The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids

                                Indie electronica, synth pop/folk, R&B/soul, and experimental pop will be showcased with these various Michigan artists, led by Grand Rapids’ Pink Sky which has made a splash over the last several months with its latest album, “Forms.” The evening will also newly released music from Jes Kramer. (And tune in to Local Spins on WYCE at 11 a.m. Friday at 88.1 FM when Kramer will be the in-studio guest.)

                                Doors open at 7:30 p.m., ages 21-and-over. Tickets are available online at

                                FINKEL (Photo/Derek Ketchum)

                                HOW TO LIVE TOGETHER
                                BASIC COMFORT

                                When: 8 p.m. Saturday
                                Tickets: $10
                                Where: Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Café, Kalamazoo

                                Jane and Brian Spencer of FINKEL return to their old stomping grounds of Kalamazoo, bringing with them their experimental blend of futuristic pop filled “hypnotic electronic pulsations” and enchanting vocal harmonies. Former founding members of Less is More, the duo has been making waves in their new hometown of Los Angeles and releasing a slew of singles of late as they prepare to put their debut LP out into the world.

                                Opening the show will be experimental Kalamazoo act Basic Comfort and Grand Rapids’ electropop duo How To Live Together. General admission tickets for this 21-and-older show can be found online at BellsBeer.Com or purchased at the Bell’s box office. Read more about FINKEL in this Local Spins feature.

                                Lady Ace Boogie (Photo/Anthony Norkus)

                                LADY ACE BOOGIE
                                LAST GASP COLLECTIVE
                                CHRIS GOOD MUSIC

                                When: 8 p.m. Saturday
                                Admission: Free, 21-and-older after 9 p.m.
                                Where: Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids

                                Linda (Lady Ace Boogie) Tellis leads this all-star cast, unleashing her feel-good hip-hop beats to celebrate Michigan’s 182nd birthday. Lady Ace Boogie’s powerful lyrics draw from personal stories of others and herself, and she weaves them together seamlessly with her rapping skills to encourage and inspire people to live right and care for others.

                                Joining Lady Ace Boogie on the bill is the Last Gasp Collective and soulful funk guitarist Chris Good Music. The celebration begins at 11 a.m. with special grill offerings; music begins at 8 p.m. More information can be found here.

                                BASS COUNTRY WINTER 2019
                                When: 8 p.m. Saturday
                                Tickets: $30 advance, $35 day of show
                                Where: The Intersection, Grand Rapids

                                LOCAL SPINS TICKET GIVEAWAY: The first two people to email with “BASS COUNTRY” in the message field will win a pair of tickets to Saturday’s show. Check The Big List every week for your chance to win concert tickets.

                                The reverberating sounds of electronic dubstep will dominate all the stages of The Intersection again as Bass Country Winter 2019 blasts off. Bass Country will be introducing its largest lineup to date: Rusko, Spag Heddy, Shlump, Protohype, Dodge & Fuski, Hi I’m Ghost, BIJOU, LICK, Attak, Dissonance, COOKN, KAR POW, and SP Chase. This stacked cast will be delivering sick addicting beats throughout the night.

                                Rusko, Spag Heddy, Shlump, Attak, and Dissonance
                                will be playing The Intersection stage: Protohype, Dodge & Fuski, Hi I’m Ghost, and COOKN will be rocking the Elevation stage, and on The Stache stage will be BIJOU, LICK, KAR POW, and SP Chase.

                                More information and tickets can be purchased at

                                Official Sponsor of the Big List Concert Guide and Local Spins Live at River City Studios Series


                                The Crane Wives (Photo/Derek Ketchum)

                                THE CRANE WIVES
                                When: 6 p.m. Sunday
                                Admission: $15
                                Where: Salt of the Earth, 114 E. Main St., Fennville

                                One of West Michigan’s most popular folk-rock bands, The Crane Wives, brings its infectious music, stellar harmonies and lively stage presence to the intimate confines of Salt of the Earth in Fennville to close out the weekend. Call 269-561-7258 for reservations, tickets.

                                Get details online here.

                                Rick Springfield

                                RICK SPRINGFIELD
                                When: 8 p.m. Sunday
                                Tickets: $36.50-$125
                                Where: 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids

                                Australian native and rock ‘n’ roll musician Rick Springfield is bringing his “Stripped Down” show to Grand Rapids. Along with his iconic songs such as “Jessie’s Girl” and “I’ve Done Everything for You,” Springfield will be getting close and personal by giving solo performances with music and storytelling in what’s billed as a “stripped down” evening with the 69-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter.

                                More information and tickets can be purchased online here.


                                UNDER-THE-RADAR PICKS

                                Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration Closing Performance with the Opera Grand Rapids Chorus and Mark Rucker, 6 p.m. Monday, Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, free — Join the community celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with this performance featuring “local opera treasure” Mark Rucker and the Opera Grand Rapids Chorus performing selections that include the event’s “signature anthem,” “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

                                Arlie and Parlor Voice playing The Mint inside The Intersection in Grand Rapids, 6:30 p.m. Monday, $12 advance, $13 day of sale – Described by bassist Jason Antwi as “raw almond pistachio pop,” Nashville’s Arlie is making waves in the indie/alternative scene. They’ll be joined by the Grand Rapids band Parlor Voice as they take over The Mint at The Intersection on Monday evening.

                                Michigan Mark Depree and Johnny Gist playing JT’s Pizza, 6716 Old 28th St. SE in Grand Rapids, 7 p.m. Tuesday, free – This Grand Rapids duo – Michigan Mark on guitar, Johnny Gist on sax and flute, will perform Motown, blues, old rock “and even some folk and originals” at JT’s.

                                The Hill People (Photo/Local Spins)

                                The Hill People at Fricano’s Pizza on Alpine Ave. in Grand Rapids, 6-8:30 pm Thursday, free — After 35 years, historic Grand Rapids string band The Hill People have reunited and are back out performing energetic bluegrass, ole time, swing, gypsy jazz, and rock n roll.

                                Weezil Malone Band at One Trick Pony, 8 p.m. Thursday, free – Having been described as a “blues institution” in West Michigan, the Weezil Malone Band is hardly new to the Grand Rapids music scene. These musicians have years of experience behind them, and “the rockin’est little blues band around” is sure to deliver when they take the stage Thursday night.

                                King Tuff with special guest Stonefield playing The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, 8 p.m. Friday, $18 advance, $20 day of show – King Tuff brings his “The Infinite Smile Tour” and his grungy garage rock sound to Grand Rapids, and also on the bill is Stonefield.

                                Lynn Thompson (Photo/Local Spins)

                                Lynn the Band playing Creston Brewery in Grand Rapids, 9 p.m. Friday, free – Fresh from an on-air appearance for Local Spins on WYCE, singer-songwriter Lynn Thompson brings his “mountain music” and more to Creston Brewery, promoting a new album, “Hangman Comin’.”

                                The Odds Elite, Head and Barrel Bones playing Mulligan’s Pub in Grand Rapids, 10 p.m. Friday, free – Rocking the roof off of Mulligan’s will be three talented local bands: The Odds Elite, Head and Barrel Bones.

                                The Barley Saints playing Quinn & Tuite’s Irish Pub on Plainfield Avenue in Grand Rapids, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, free – Muskegon Celtic rock outfit The Barley Saints fires up Quinn & Tuite’s, with The Saltbound Remnants also on the bill.

                                Tell Yo Mama playing Rockford Brewing in Rockford, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, $5 – Lansing band Tell Yo Mama brings its fun-to-dance-to, soul-funk fusion to West Michigan.

                                The Smokin’ Dobroleles

                                The Smokin’ Dobroleles, Bootstrap Boys and Strings and Slide playing at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids, 9 p.m. Saturday, $10 — The bluegrass and country-influenced bands bring their strings, harmonies, and twang together at this 21+ show. Tickets can be found here.

                                Moto, Short Hair Domestics, and The Setbacks playing 741 (on Leonard St.) in Grand Rapids, 10 p.m. Saturday, free – Rock trio Moto alongside Short Hair Domestics and The Setbacks will unfurl their rock/heavy/groove tunes all night.

                                Hempy Keyboard Series: Rufus Ferguson at Saugatuck Center for the Arts in Saugatuck, 2 p.m. Sunday, $15 – Based in Kalamazoo, jazz pianist Rufus Ferguson is the next upcoming musician in the Hempy Keyboard Series.

                                Bruce Ling: Eric Engbalde’s Songwriters Sundays at The Peoples Cider Co. in Grand Rapids, 5 p.m. Sunday – Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist Bruce Ling will be showcasing his musical experience live at The Peoples Cider Co. and live on Facebook.

                                Sleep Waker, Hollow Front, Spirit Breaker and Foxfollow playing at Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, 7 p.m. Sunday, $10 advance, $12 day of show— Local band Sleep Waker brings its dark-hardcore show to The Pyramid Scheme with tourmates Hollow Front and Spirit Breaker, along with special guests Foxfollow at this all-ages show. Tickets can be found here.


                                Official Sponsor of The Big List Concert Guide


                                Union Guns will play Back Forty Saloon this weekend.
                                (Photo/Eric Stoike)

                                Monday, Jan. 21
                                Conrad Shock + The Noise/Kickball Forever, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                Arlie/Parlor Voice, The Mint under The Intersection
                                BassBin: PRIM/Henry Brooks, Billy’s Lounge
                                John Shea, Rockwell Republic
                                Jazz Jam, What Not Inn, Fennville
                                Paul Brewer: West Michigan Jazz Society Jazz Gumbo, Casino Club
                                Opera Grand Rapids Chorus & Mark Rucker: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration, Fountain Street Church
                                Ohme/The Ophelias, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo
                                Tom Duffield, Old Dog Tavern, Kalamazoo

                                Tuesday, Jan. 22
                                Ray Townsend (5 p.m.), E.B. Coffee & Pub, Caledonia
                                Michael Drost and Jordan Finn, The New Standard, The Grand Bar, Grand Haven

                                Wednesday, Jan. 23
                                Roosevelt Diggs: Local Spins Wednesday @ SpeakEZ Lounge
                                Eric Johnson, The Intersection (rescheduled from Oct. 30)
                                River North Jazz, The Old Goat
                                Tom Hagen Trio featuring Rick Reuther, Noto’s, Cascade
                                Versus, Cedar Springs Brewing Co., Cedar Springs
                                Ivan Akansiima, Mizu Sushi, Holland
                                Pablo Mahave-Veglia, cello/Sookkyung Cho, piano, Arts At Noon, Cook-DeWitt Center, Grand Valley State University Allendale Campus
                                John Sanger, Gun Lake Casino, Wayland
                                WMU Jazz Students, The Union Cabaret & Grille, Kalamazoo
                                Michael McIntosh, Potter’s Lounge @ Four Points Sheraton, Kalamazoo

                                Thursday, Jan. 24
                                Sublime with Rome/Melophobix, 20 Monroe Live
                                Weezil Malone Blues Band, One Trick Pony
                                Serengeti/Dreas, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                Autumn Ridge/Clyde Park Avenue, Mulligan’s Pub
                                The Blinders, Brass Ring Brewing
                                The Hill People, Fricano’s Pizza, Alpine
                                Bucket O’ Maybes, Gipper’s Bar & Grill, Cascade
                                JMM Jazz, Noto’s, Cascade
                                Travis Radaz, Rockford Brewing Company, Rockford
                                Nate Holley, Itty Bitty Bar, Holland
                                Checkers Morton, Sandy Point Beach House, West Olive
                                Chely Wright, Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake
                                Andy Frisinger, Grand Armory Brewing, Grand Haven
                                Front & Center, Gun Lake Casino, Wayland
                                DMNY, Shakespeare’s Lower Level, Kalamazoo

                                Friday, Jan. 25
                                King Tuff/Stonefield, The Pyramid Scheme
                                Grand Rapids Symphony, “Ragtime, Blues, and All That Jazz with Byron Stipling,” DeVos Performance Hall (Jan. 25-27)
                                Walk The Moon/Bear Hands, 20 Monroe Live
                                Dirty DeVille/The Black Dunes/The Gorgeous Oranges, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                The Odds Elite/Head/Barrel Bones, Mulligan’s Pub
                                Lynn the Band, Creston Brewery
                                Cooper/Connell Jazz Trio (5 p.m.), Harmony Hall
                                John Shea, JW Marriott
                                Edye Evans Hyde, Rendezvous Lounge @ Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
                                Invisible Mansion/Astro Bats/Natural Body, 741
                                Funkle Jesse, Flanagan’s Irish Pub (Jan. 25-26)
                                Sonimatic, Log Cabin Lounge
                                Union Guns, Back Forty Saloon (Jan. 25-26)
                                Just Jill, Bier Distillery, Belmont
                                Right Side Up, Woody’s Press Box, Wyoming
                                In The Blue Jazz Ensemble, Village Inn Pizza 44th St. Sports Bar & Grille, Wyoming
                                Toby Bresnahan, Saugatuck Brewing Company, Douglas
                                Cheap Dates, Itty Bitty Bar, Holland
                                Delilah DeWylde, Hops at 84 East, Holland
                                CANCELED Wisp/Tanner J. Burns/Another Man’s Trash, Park Theatre, Holland
                                Gabrial James, Our Brewing, Holland
                                Jordan Dodson (guitar), John and Dede Howard Recital Hall, Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, Hope College, Holland
                                “Digging Through The Darkness: The 5 Browns Story,” documentary film, Knickerbocker Theatre, Holland
                                Vinylicious, New Holland Brewing’s Pub On 8th, Holland
                                Big Daddy Fox & Friends, The Alley Door Club, Frauenthal Center, Muskegon
                                JMM Jazz, 18th Amendment Spirits Co., Muskegon
                                Lighting Matches, Grand Armory Brewing, Grand Haven
                                Tony Lucca, Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake
                                The Williams Family, Hilliards Corner Lounge, Wayland (Jan. 25-26)
                                All In, McDuff’s Bar and Grille, Wayland
                                Donald Benjamin Band, Lucky’s Roadhouse, Wayland
                                Jack Leaver/P.S. Dump Your Boyfriend, Gun Lake Casino, Wayland
                                Earthwork Music Songwriting Retreat Weekend, Circle Pines Center, Delton
                                Jeff Mueller (5 p.m.)/No Tomorrow/Old Main Trainwreck (8 p.m.), Louie’s Trophy House, Kalamazoo
                                Borr McFerrin, Final Gravity Brewing Company, Kalamazoo
                                Ghost Bunnies/Full Frontal Cortez/Nothing New, Shakespeare’s Lower Level, Kalamazoo
                                Carter Lezman, Potter’s Lounge @ Four Points Sheraton, Kalamazoo
                                Allie Garland, JB’s Whiskey Old Style Grill, Springfield
                                Red Deluxe/Fusion, Czar’s 505, St. Joseph
                                The Jared Rabin Band, Box Factory for the Arts, St. Joseph
                                Allison Downey, Dave Boutette & Andy Baker: Foundry Hall Songwriters Showcase, Black River Tavern, South Haven
                                Chely Wright/Eric Burgett, Acorn Theater, Three Oaks
                                Engelbert Humperdink, Silver Creek Events Center, Four Winds Resort & Casino, New Buffalo

                                Saturday, Jan. 26
                                Jesse McCartney, 20 Monroe Live
                                Pink Sky/Jes Kramer/Bronze Wolf/Darkly: Synth Night Vol. 1, The Pyramid Scheme
                                Rusko/Spag Heddy/Shlump/Protohype/Dodge & Fuski/Hi Im Ghost/Bijou/Lick/Attak/Dissonance/Cookn/Kar Pow/SP Chase: Bass Country Winter 2019, The Intersection
                                Natchez Trace, One Trick Pony
                                Botala, Creston Brewery
                                DJ Omega Supreme, Billy’s Lounge
                                Grand Rapids Symphony, “Ragtime, Blues, and All That Jazz with Byron Stipling,” DeVos Performance Hall (Jan. 25-27)
                                The Smokin’ Dobroleles/The Bootstrap Boys/Strings and Slide, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                SOLD OUT Gregory Alan Isakov, Fountain Street Church
                                Lush, River City Saloon
                                Scott Veenstra Trio, JW Marriott
                                Edye Evans Hyde, Rendezvous Lounge @ Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
                                River City Jazz Ensemble (7:30 p.m., church music benefit), 2nd Congregational Church @ Cheshire Street NE
                                Moto/Short Hair Domestics/The Setbacks, 741
                                Funkle Jesse, Flanagan’s Irish Pub (Jan. 25-26)
                                The Barley Saints/The Saltbound Remnants, Quinn & Tuite’s Irish Pub
                                Silent Bark, Log Cabin Bar
                                Union Guns, Back Forty Saloon (Jan. 25-26)
                                Sam Kenny, Rocky’s Bar & Grill
                                Azz Izz, Shots on the River, Belmont
                                John Shea, Noto’s, Cascade
                                Josh Rose and the Founding Fathers, LowellArts House Concerts, Lowell
                                Project 90, Rogue River Tavern, Rockford
                                Tell Yo Mama, Rockford Brewing Company, Rockford
                                Rocket Fuel Haulers, Woody’s Press Box, Wyoming
                                Alex Mays, Pub @ Saugatuck Brewing Co., Douglas
                                Tombo, Wick’s Park Bar & Grille, Saugatuck
                                Dean Allrick Jazz Piano, What Not Inn, Fennville
                                The Whiskey Charmers, Trail Point Brewing, Allendale
                                Bar Code, Itty Bitty Bar, Holland
                                Let There Be Rock (AC/DC tribute), Park Theatre, Holland
                                Dylan Tolbert, Hops at 84 East, Holland
                                Whiskey Charmers, Trail Point Brewing Company, Holland
                                Dave & Connie D, Big Lake Brewing, Holland
                                Stereolithic, Waverly Stone Gastropub, Holland
                                Dunegrass, Grand Armory Brewing, Grand Haven
                                Jeff Lynn, Hennessy’s Pub, Muskegon
                                Chirp, Unruly Brewing, Muskegon
                                The Williams Family, Hilliards Corner Lounge, Wayland (Jan. 25-26)
                                Sweebe Nation, McDuff’s Bar and Grille, Wayland
                                Brenda Loomis Band/P.S. Dump Your Boyfriend, Gun Lake Casino, Wayland
                                Kalamazoo Symphony, “Tchaikovsky’s 5th,” Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo
                                Dead Eyes Always Dreaming/Dead Nerves/ScapeGoat/Dethrone the Deceiver/Coffin Talk/Discontent/Guard Rail: Kalamazoo Un-holy F@#k Fest, Papa Pete’s, Kalamazoo
                                Finkel/How To Live Together/Basic Comfort, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo
                                Toby Bresnahan, Potter’s Lounge @ Four Points Sheraton, Kalamazoo
                                The Backups, The Livery, Benton Harbor
                                Luke Gitchel, Ridge Cider Co., Grant
                                “A Night of Poetry, Song & Stories,” Spirit of the Woods Music Association, Brown Township Hall, Manistee

                                Sunday, Jan. 27
                                Rick Springfield, 20 Monroe Live
                                Isaac Berkowitz (4 p.m.), Creston Brewery
                                Greg Miller (10 a.m.), Sunday Brunch, JW Marriott
                                River North Jazz Brunch (11 a.m.), The Old Goat
                                Robin Connell & Jim Cooper (2 p.m.), Harmony Hall
                                Randy Marsh & Friends, SpeakEZ Lounge
                                Sleep Waker/Hollow Front/Spirit Breaker/Foxfollow, The Pyramid Scheme
                                Fishgutzzz & the Stinkin’ Orchestra/The Riverside Shivers, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                Grand Rapids Symphony, “Ragtime, Blues, and All That Jazz with Byron Stipling,” DeVos Performance Hall (Jan. 25-27)
                                Bruce Ling: Eric Engblade’s Songwriters Sundays, The Peoples Cider Co.
                                Tony Halchak, Cedar Springs Brewing Co., Cedar Springs
                                Uneven Ground/David McIntire & Kevin Donovan, Hennessy’s Pub, Muskegon
                                Rufus Ferguson, Hempy Keyboard Series, Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Saugatuck
                                The Crane Wives, Salt of the Earth, Fennville
                                Carrie McFerrin, Hilliards Corner Lounge, Wayland
                                Duffield-Caron Project (11 a.m.), Sarkozy Bakery, Kalamazoo
                                Blue Jam Crossroads, Old Dog Tavern, Kalamazoo

                                Official Sponsor of The Big List Concert Guide

                                ON THE HORIZON

                                Here Come the Mummies (Photo/Derek Ketchum)

                                Monday, Jan. 28
                                Conrad Shock + The Noise/Bedroom Ceilings, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                BassBin: Pressed & Proper/Richard Oxegynn, Billy’s Lounge
                                John Shea, Rockwell Republic
                                Jazz Jam, What Not Inn, Fennville
                                FACS, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo

                                Tuesday, Jan. 29
                                West Michigan Jazz Society Membership Drive & Musician of the Year Reveal Party, SpeakEZ Lounge
                                Panic! At The Disco/Two Feet, Van Andel Arena
                                Michael Drost and Jordan Finn, The New Standard, The Grand Bar, Grand Haven

                                Wednesday, Jan. 30
                                Lindsay Beaver/Hank Mowery & the Hawktones, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                River North Jazz, The Old Goat
                                Tom Hagen Trio featuring Rick Reuther, Noto’s, Cascade
                                Flatland Grip, Cedar Springs Brewing Co., Cedar Springs
                                “Sizwe Banzi Is Dead,” Arts At Noon, Cook-DeWitt Center, Grand Valley State University Allendale Campus
                                Ivan Akansiima, Mizu Sushi, Holland
                                El Brandino, Gun Lake Casino, Wayland
                                WMU Jazz Students, The Union Cabaret & Grille, Kalamazoo

                                Thursday, Jan. 31
                                Here Come The Mummies/Sun Stereo, The Intersection
                                Serita’s Black Rose, One Trick Pony
                                Audio Birds, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                Pre-SXSW Networking Night with Michigan House, Creston Brewery
                                Ty Zhang, Grand Rapids Community College International Guitar Series, Albert P. Smith Music Center, Linn Maxwell Keller Recital Hall
                                Lynn the Band, 7 Monks Taproom
                                JMM Jazz, Noto’s, Cascade
                                Jim Spalink, Rockford Brewing Company, Rockford
                                Nate Holley, Itty Bitty Bar, Holland
                                Andy Frisinger, Grand Armory Brewing, Grand Haven
                                Front & Center, Gun Lake Casino, Wayland
                                MJ Epperson’s Phenomenal Trio, The Union Cabaret & Grille, Kalamazoo

                                Friday, Feb. 1
                                Dennis DeYoung & the Music of Styx, 20 Monroe Live
                                Dylan Scott/Seth Ennis, The Intersection
                                Downlink/Eliminate/Dissonance/D-Wrex, Elevation @ The Intersection
                                The Crane Wives/Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery/Max Lockwood, The Pyramid Scheme
                                Katie’s Randy Cat/Ghost City Searchlight/Donny Zuzula, Mulligan’s Pub
                                Charles Walker Band, Billy’s Lounge
                                Rabbit Ain’t Lucky/Bare Knuckle Hooligans/October Bird of Death/The Scants/ChuggeR: Winter Punk Fest Day 1, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                John Shea, Rendezvous Lounge @ Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
                                Entourage, JW Marriott
                                Kathy Lamar, Noto’s Restaurant, Cascade
                                Grand Rapids Symphony, “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire,” DeVos Performance Hall (Feb. 1-2)
                                Funkle Jesse, H.O.M.E. At The B.O.B.
                                DC-90, Flanagan’s Irish Pub
                                Beer For Breakfast, Log Cabin Lounge (Feb. 1-2)
                                Decades, Shots on the River, Belmont
                                All In, Woody’s Press Box, Wyoming
                                Kristen Kuiper, Castle Brewing Co., Greenville
                                West Michigan Symphony with Alessio Bax, pianist, “Choral Fantasy,” Frauenthal Center, Muskegon
                                Jesse Ray & the Carolina Catfish, Grand Armory Brewing, Grand Haven
                                Fusion, Itty Bitty Bar, Holland
                                Musical Showcase Concert, Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, Concert Hall, Hope College, Holland
                                Trixy Tang (80s dance & costume party), Park Theatre, Holland
                                Dale Wicks, Tripelroot, Zeeland
                                Coty Bouchard, Hilliards Corner Lounge, Wayland
                                Innduendo, McDuff’s Bar and Grille, Wayland
                                Dennie Middleton/Breakfast Club, Gun Lake Casino, Wayland
                                Iverson/Earth Radio, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo
                                Tusk (Fleetwood Mac tribute)/Hired Hands Band, Kalamazoo State Theatre, Kalamazoo
                                Off The Ledge, The Union Cabaret & Grille, Kalamazoo
                                Lisa Mackie, Final Gravity Brewing Company, Kalamazoo
                                Joe Cherian & Dylan Tolbert/Lisa Mackie Moaiery/Kaitlin Rose/Matthew Borr/Mike List and Richard Lanting/Blue Veins/Goodsky/Carrie McFerrin and Mike List/The Missing Generation: Gibson Night @ Art Hop, Old Dog Tavern, Kalamazoo
                                Allie Garland, JB’s Whiskey Old Style Grill, Springfield
                                The North 41, The Livery, Benton Harbor
                                Three Doors Down, Soaring Eagle Casino, Mt. Pleasant

                                Saturday, Feb. 2
                                The Verve Pipe: 20 Monroe Live Birthday Celebration, 20 Monroe Live
                                How To Live Together/Bermudas (dual album release)/hi-ker, The Pyramid Scheme
                                Mike Studd, Elevation @ The Intersection
                                Mega 80s, The Intersection
                                That Beatles Thing, One Trick Pony
                                Devious Ones/Cheeztones/Paper Thin/No Bails/The Bitters: Winter Punk Fest Day 2, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                Grand Rapids Symphony, “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire,” DeVos Performance Hall (Feb. 1-2)
                                Mike Stud, Elevation below The Intersection
                                Universal Xpression/King Jazzy/DJ Sanjay: Bob Marley Birthday Bash, Billy’s Lounge
                                Levitation Jones/Rest In Pierce/Patches O’Malley, Creston Brewery
                                Maggie May/Carmel Liburdi/Pancho Villa’s Skull/Epcya, 741
                                Beer For Breakfast, Log Cabin Lounge (Feb. 1-2)
                                Entourage, JW Marriott
                                Noel Webley Trio, Rendezvous Lounge @ Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
                                Third Coast Gypsy Jazz, The Old Goat
                                Rebel Line, Back Forty Saloon
                                John Shea, Noto’s Restaurant, Cascade
                                Hawks & Owls, LowellArts House Concerts, Lowell
                                Plain Jayne, Rogue River Tavern, Rockford
                                Outlaw Express, Woody’s Press Box, Wyoming
                                Basement Superheroes, Itty Bitty Bar, Holland
                                The Who’s Who (The Who tribute), Park Theatre, Holland
                                Chris Clayton Loop, Waverly Stone Gastropub, Holland
                                The Bri Baron Band (visual artist Nichol Skaggs opening night), Great Legs Winery Brewery Distillery, Holland
                                Catfish & the Man, Trail Point Brewing Company, Holland
                                Tim Johnson & Co., Porto Bello, Grand Haven
                                The Cerny Brothers, Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake
                                Dance Contraption, Unruly Brewing Co., Muskegon
                                Legal Rehab, Hennessy’s Pub, Muskegon
                                Hugye, Beavan Schock Trio, 18th Amendment, Muskegon
                                Brandon, Wick’s Park Bar & Grille, Saugatuck
                                Dean Allrick, What Not Inn, Fennville
                                Billy Dalton, Ridge Cider Co., Grant
                                John Sanger, McDuff’s Bar and Grille, Wayland
                                Delilah DeWylde: 1959 Winter Dance Party, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo
                                Project 90, Louie’s Back Room, Kalamazoo
                                Jimmie Stagger/Seventh Son Blues Band/The Root Doctor: Winter Blues Fest, Franke Center for the Arts, Marshall
                                Three Doors Down Acoustic, Silver Creek Events Center, Four Winds Resort & Casino, New Buffalo
                                Dan Dietrich/Cliff Ritchey/Josh Kaufman, The Livery, Benton Harbor

                                Sunday, Feb. 3
                                Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra (5:30 p.m.), Founders Brewing Company
                                Kiwi Army/Desiring Dead Flesh/Boob Sweat/Old Fire/Alien Dogs: Winter Punk Fest Day 3, Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill
                                Mike Frost/Mike Hyde (10 a.m.), Sunday Brunch, JW Marriott
                                River North Jazz Brunch (11 a.m.), The Old Goat
                                River Rogues Jazz Band (2 p.m.), Harmony Hall
                                Randy Marsh & Friends, SpeakEZ Lounge
                                Tom Knific Quartet, Sunday Classical Series, Grand Rapids Art Museum
                                Shawn Butzin, Creston Brewery
                                Jason Wheeler & Friends (noon), Cedar Springs Brewing Co., Cedar Springs
                                Alex Austin, Hilliards Corner Lounge, Wayland
                                University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts, Manistee

                                Copyright 2019, Spins on Music

                                    The travails of ‘making it’ as a Nashville musician: Dominic John Davis in the RSVP Music Chat

                                    Ralston and Sink’s Virtual Podcast caught up with the Michigan-bred bassist in a Grand Rapids studio and he opened up about doing ‘a lot of juggling’ to survive during a ‘weird time’ in the music biz.

                                    ‘Hard to Find the Wins’ in the Business But ‘Not All Doom and Gloom’: Dominic John Davis at Goon Lagoon. (Photo/Local Spins)



                                    To be sure, many musicians would love to be in Dominic John Davis’ shoes.

                                    The top-notch instrumentalist and Detroit native relocated to Nashville several years ago and serves as lifelong pal Jack White’s bassist. He’s also enjoyed fruitful musical relationships with icons such as guitarist and producer Buddy Miller, not to mention continuing to perform regularly with his wife and singer Rachael Davis as well as with northern Michigan singer-songwriter Joshua Davis.

                                    In the Studio: From left, Jesse Ray, Tommy Schichtel, Dingo Hopp and Dominic John Davis.

                                    But even as an in-demand player with a stellar reputation, life as a musician can be difficult, unpredictable, “strange,” “impossible” and requires “a lot of juggling” to survive and get by.

                                    That was part of Davis’ revealing and robust conversation with Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics and Grand Rapids singer-guitarist Ralston Bowles in the seventh episode of the RSVP Music Chat, and the first podcast in the series featuring a special musical guest.

                                    Bowles and Sinkevics caught up with Davis last week at Tommy Schichtel’s Goon Lagoon recording studio in Grand Rapids, where the bassist was laying down tracks for Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish’s upcoming new studio album — the sort of project, Davis says, that makes him happy (as does touring with Joshua Davis, who played The Pyramid Scheme on Saturday).

                                    Listen to the wide-ranging and informative podcast — subjects ranging from ASCAP/BMI fees to the intersection of art and commerce to the media’s short attention span — then leave a comment via voice message through SpeakPipe here or suggest another podcast topic.

                                    RSVP MUSIC CHAT: Episode No. 7 (11/17/17)

                                    LEAVE A SPEAKPIPE VOICE MESSAGE FOR RSVP MUSIC CHAT

                                    You can sign up for all Local Spins podcasts via iTunes and never miss a show. (Interested in sponsoring this increasingly popular RSVP Music Chat? Email

                                    Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC

                                        Week-in-Review Photo Galleries: John Prine tribute, The Accidentals, The Mainstays, Rusted Root, Waldo, Brian Oberlin & Friends

                                        An all-star cast of Michigan musicians is paying tribute to icon John Prine in a week that also saw high-profile shows by The Mainstays, The Accidentals, Rusted Root, Waldo, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot and more.

                                        Prime Prine Time: Wealthy Theatre hosted an all-star Michigan tribute to John Prine on Friday. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                        Prime Prine Time: Wealthy Theatre hosted an all-star Michigan tribute to John Prine on Friday night. (Photo/Anna Sink)



                                        For a generation of singer-songwriters and roots musicians, John Prine’s self-titled 1971 debut album stands as one of the most iconic, influential and downright memorable collections ever recorded by an American artist.

                                        "Paradise": Mark Lavengood led the tribute to John Prine. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                        “Paradise”: Mark Lavengood led the tribute to John Prine. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                        So, it’s not surprising that Friday’s Michigan-bred all-star tribute to Prine, dubbed “Prine Time,” kicked off at Grand Rapids’ Wealthy Theatre by performing all six songs on Side One of that legendary LP, followed by an entertaining mix of tunes from Prine’s 45-year career.

                                        Of course, Prine-aholics Mark Lavengood, Seth Bernard, Dan Rickabus, Max Lockwood and Michael Beauchamp also regaled the near-capacity crowd with the rest of that 1971 album later in the show, with many fans singing along to Prine’s most recognizable tunes — from “Paradise” to “Angel from Montgomery.”

                                        The evening was part of a Michigan mini-tour that wraps up Sunday night at Salt of the Earth in Fennville at 7 p.m. Admission to that concert is $15; get more information online at

                                        PHOTO GALLERY: Prine Time at Wealthy Theatre
                                        Photos by Anna Sink

                                        Elsewhere and earlier this week:        


                                        KALAMAZOO: THE MAINSTAYS, RUSTED ROOT, THUNDERBOLT & LIGHTFOOT

                                        In Kalamazoo, it was a weekend that featured a sellout, a much-anticipated CD-release show and a preview of an upcoming album by a Southwest Michigan acoustic duo.

                                        The Mainstays on Saturday night delivered “an incredible, high-energy performance” at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe as the band officially released its new studio album, “Another Way,” reports Local Spins photographer Derek Ketchum. As Ketchum put it, it was “a celebration of six months in the studio that had everyone dancing all night” with lead singer Andrew Schrock bringing his father and brother up on stage to play a couple songs. The bassist from Groovement, which opened the evening, also joined The Mainstays for a jam.

                                        Earlier in the week, longtime Pittsburgh folk/indie-rock/world music group Rusted Root revved up a capacity crowd at Bell’s and the Thunderbolt & Lightfoot acoustic duo previewed some songs from a forthcoming new recording as part of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Art Hop event.

                                        PHOTO GALLERY: The Mainstays, Rusted Root, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot
                                        Photos by Derek Ketchum

                                        MUSIC TO BENEFIT MUSIC: THE ACCIDENTALS, MARK STUART

                                        It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate headlining act for a benefit raising money for music education than Traverse City’s The Accidentals.

                                        After all, these three inventive, uber-talented young multi-instrumentalists – Savannah Buist, 21, Katie Larson, 20, and Michael Dause, 21 — are a product of music education programs in the state of Michigan, and they’ve already translated that into a burgeoning, successful career as one of the country’s fastest-rising indie-folk acrts (performing 230 shows a year).

                                        With Nashville singer-songwriter Mark Stuart opening the musical portion of the evening, The Accidentals engaged the capacity crowd at Hudsonville’s The Pinnacle Center on Saturday night with charming stories, familiar songs, new tunes and an intriguing, fresh cover of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe.”

                                        The evening, which featured a dinner and auctions that boasted an impressive roster of prizes and merchandise, added to the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised over the past several years for the nonprofit Music to Benefit Music. The organization purchases instruments, musical equipment and more to benefit schools in the Grand Rapids area — the longstanding mission of Pinnacle Center co-owner Bill Worst and his wife, Donna.

                                        PHOTO GALLERY: The Accidentals, Mark Stuart
                                        Photos by Taylor Mansen

                                        WALDO, BRIAN OBERLIN, ATMOSPHERE

                                        Elsewhere this week, Waldo, The Seventh, SuperDre and Joose the Conqueror pumped up The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids on Saturday night, Brian Oberlin & Friends played an acoustically pleasing homecoming show in Rockford (after mandolinist/Grasshoppah member Oberlin was inducted into the Rockford Public Schools Hall of Fame), and Atmosphere, Brother Ali and Dem Atlas ignited a mid-week show at The Intersection. 

                                        WEEKEND PHOTO GALLERY
                                        Pyramid Scheme photos by Katy Batdorff
                                        Brian Oberlin & Friends photos by John Sinkevics
                                        Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Dem Atlas photos by Nathan Purchase

                                        Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC  

                                            Mo Pop set to light up Detroit riverfront with Borns, M83, G-Eazy, Father John Misty and ‘some of the top performers in the world’

                                            This weekend’s music festival in the Motor City’s West Riverfront Park boasts acts ranging from Seattle’s The Head and Heart to Michigan’s Tunde Olaniran. See — and save — the full schedule.

                                            French Connection: M83 brings its synthpop to Detroit's Mo Pop festival.

                                            French Connection: M83 brings its synthpop to Detroit’s Mo Pop festival.


                                            RETURN TO LOCAL SPINS FOR PHOTOS AND COVERAGE OF MO POP 2016

                                            A strong gust of wind cut across the Detroit River last Sunday, brewing up muscular waves in the deep, blue waters alongside West Riverfront Park, which was relatively serene.

                                            Save this image on your smartphone

                                            Save this image on your smartphone

                                            This weekend, thousands of music lovers will take over the grassy, 20-acre waterfront park where M83, G-Eazy, The Head and The Heart, Shakey Graves, Father John Misty and West Michigan’s own, Borns, will all perform as part of the Mo Pop Festival.

                                            The two-day festival begins on Saturday with Tunde Olaniran – a Flint-based R&B artist who gave a wildly entertaining performance at The Jammies in February – and ends on Saturday night with pop-rock superstars, M83.

                                            “The line-up for Mo Pop this year is incredible, with some of the top performers in the world – two being Michigan natives Borns and Tunde Olaniran – and I’m trying to let go from all the craziness happening around us,” said Drew Drialo, of Detroit’s Assemble Sound, a musical residency program, collective and studio housed in an old church.

                                            “I think it’s important to support events like Mo Pop because we are not a go-to market for many of these acts they’re booking, so it’s cool to show these artists the level of love and support Detroit has and hopefully encourage them to come back more often. Plus, it’s major actually having a festival like this within city limits.”

                                            It also happens to be the only Michigan tour date posted for Borns, aka Garrett Borns, a Grand Haven native now based in Los Angeles who has soared in popularity over the past year with his psychedelic pop music, the single “Electric Love,” and his debut album, “Dopamine,” released last fall on Interscope Records.

                                            (Read more about Borns in this Local Spins exclusive that appeared the weekend the album was released.)

                                            Get more information about Mo Pop online here. Weekend tickets are priced at $125, with single day passes available for $89.50. Tickets can be purchased at, as well as in-person at a number of Michigan businesses, including Vertigo Music in Grand Rapids. Check here for a full list of locations.



                                            Over its short life span, Mo Pop has seemed to always boast a plethora of revered artists, ranging from international pop-stars to hometown heroes. An impressive list of previous acts include Modest Mouse, City and Colour, Passion Pit, Iron & Wine, Young the Giant, Brand Flowers, James Bay, Walk off the Earth The Front Bottoms, Flint Eastwood, Andrew Bird, Manchester Orchestra and The Soil and the Sun.

                                            A joint effort by AEG Live and Crofoot Presents, Mo Pop started in 2013 as a one-day event, located at Sterling Heights’ Freedom Hill Amphitheater. Due to an extremely successful first two years, festival organizers soon sought alternative locations to further grow the music gathering.

                                            Last year, Mo Pop found a new home at the newly developed West Riverfront Park, and despite an opening day hindered by rain and thunderstorms, saw around 10,000 attendees each day.

                                            Borns (Photo/Paul Sinkevics)

                                            Borns (Photo/Paul Sinkevics)

                                            In addition to live music, the festival facilitates what they have dubbed “Villages,” which are nearby areas hosting unique vendors and activities. Villages include Food Truck Rally Alley, Craft Bazaar, Riverside Biergarten, Cnet Mo Tech and Credit Karma Arcade.

                                            With its extensive list of performers, a devoted following and unmatched views of Motor City’s rigid skyline and the towering Ambassador Bridge, Mo Pop 2016 is poised to be an epic musical party.

                                            “I’m most looking forward to drinking a lot of beer,” Drialo said, “and soaking in summer vibes on the Detroit riverfront.”

                                            Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC

                                                UV Hippo, John Nemeth, The Crane Wives, Big Dudee Roo, Ben Rector heat up a cool week: Weekend Photo Galleries

                                                Check out images from a week of live music across West Michigan that featured performances by Rachel B, Hank Mowery & The Hawktones and another LadyFest GR. (Photos, video)

                                                Foxlore Celebration: Kate Pillsbury and The Crane Wives regaled a capacity crowd at Founders Brewing on Saturday. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                                Foxlore Celebration: Kate Pillsbury and The Crane Wives regaled a capacity crowd at Founders Brewing on Saturday. (Photo/Anna Sink)


                                                It was a terrific way to start the week. Singer-songwriter Ben Rector has proven that he’s a musical force to be reckoned with. The Nashville artist, who once used to tour solo in his Honda Accord to play empty bars and living rooms, is now selling out theaters across the country.

                                                The deafening, sold-out crowd at Grand Rapids’ Calvin College that greeted him at the Covenant Fine Arts Center on Tuesday could only be quelled with an evening of Rector’s music.

                                                And he delivered, blowing through a fun, high-energy set amid more than a few shrieking fans, displaying impressive diversity by performing everything from R&B to rock ‘n’ roll – and of course, Rector’s signature singer-songwriter pop. East Nashville-based singer-songwriter Marc Scibilia opened the show.

                                                PHOTO GALLERY: Ben Rector, Marc Scibilia at Calvin College
                                                Photos by Jamie Geysbeek

                                                THE CRANE WIVES AT FOUNDERS

                                                When it comes to big shows at Founders Brewing Co., few bands draw the kind of attention and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds like Grand Rapids’ The Crane Wives, especially when the folk-rock band is staging a CD-release show.

                                                That was the scene Saturday night as Emilee Petersmark, Kate Pillsbury, Dan Rickabus and Ben Zito — with special guest Steve Leaf on guitar — revved up their new album, “Foxlore,” for an adoring, sing-along throng with Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe igniting their own amped-up indie-folk display to start the evening.

                                                “Holy crap, it is unreal to see so many of you singing with us,” Petersmark gushed at one point, before the band unfurled another selection from “Foxlore” amid a celebratory vibe at Founders. The new material, which stretches the band’s sound while retaining its harmony-laden approach, was more than well-received by fans.

                                                “It is so special to share this night with you guys,” a grinning Rickabus declared.

                                                Check out the photo gallery here, with some video highlights below.

                                                PHOTO GALLERY: The Crane Wives, Olivia Mainville at Founders Brewing
                                                Photos by Anna Sink

                                                ULTRAVIOLET HIPPOPOTAMUS AT BELL’S

                                                You know a band has a serious following and is serious about its music when it essentially plays six hours over two nights at the same place — packing the venue to capacity both nights.

                                                Grand Rapids’ Ultraviolet Hippopotamus did just that at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo on Friday and Saturday, the first volley in a spring tour that will also have the band playing two-night stands in Florida and Colorado. As they put it, the band is “emerging from the murky depths for more than just a breath of air this time” as it works on a new recording.

                                                Local Spins photographer Derek Ketchum noted that “people were on their feet dancing the whole night” during Saturday’s sold-out affair.

                                                PHOTO GALLERY: UV Hippo at Bell’s Brewery
                                                Photos by Derek Ketchum

                                                THE REST OF THE WEEK

                                                Rector’s early-week romp was followed by:

                                                • Pittsburgh indie-pop singer Rachel B, a native of Traverse City, bringing a multi-date Michigan tour to Grand Rapids, performing along with drummer/guitarist Billy Castle as part of the Local Spins Wednesdays series at SpeakEZ Lounge (following a morning appearance on Local Spins Live on News Talk 1340 AM WJRW).

                                                Hank Mowery & The Hawktones and The JetBeats, also on Wednesday night, helping Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill co-owner Ted Smith celebrate his 50th birthday during a party that even had Smith joining The JetBeats on stage for a rendition of The Who’s “My Generation.”

                                                Mark Lavengood playing a mostly solo Bluegrass Bonanza show on Thursday night at Rockford Brewing.

                                                • Blues/soul singer and harmonica player John Nemeth making a Friday night tour stop at the Tip Top Deluxe, showing off his stellar vocals.

                                                Big Dudee Roo warming things up by playing three sets on a snowy April 2 day during the first Starkbierfest in the parking lot of Cedar Springs Brewing Co. in downtown Cedar Springs early Saturday evening.

                                                • The annual LadyFest GR celebration once again took over The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids as well as several other locations on Saturday, with workshops and performances by the likes of Brooklyn’s alt-rock band TEEN, Austin’s Moving Panoramas and Kalamazoo’s Yolonda Lavender & DC, with a host of Grand Rapids acts also playing an early evening variety show.

                                                WEEKEND PHOTO GALLERY (March 30-April 2)
                                                Rachel B, Hank Mowery, Mark Lavengood photos by Anna Sink
                                                John Nemeth, Big Dudee Roo photos by Anthony Norkus

                                                LadyFest GR photos by Katy Batdorff

                                                VIDEO: The Crane Wives CD-Release Show at Founders Brewing
                                                Video by John Sinkevics

                                                Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC

                                                    Michigan Album Reviews: The Crane Wives, Nathan Kalish & The Lastcallers, Big Dudee Roo, Dear Tracks, Loren Johnson, The Timnz

                                                    No fooling, the April 1 batch of new local and regional albums is a blast of fresh air, starting with The Crane Wives who host a CD-release show Saturday at Founders Brewing. Reviews, videos, audio.

                                                    More Adventurous: The Crane Wives release "Foxlore" at Founders Brewing on Saturday. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                                    More Adventurous Album: The Crane Wives release “Foxlore” at Founders Brewing on Saturday. (Photo/Anna Sink)



                                                    The Crane Wives

                                                    Welcome to the new face of folk-rock. As Dan Rickabus, drummer for The Crane Wives puts it, the music on the folk-rock band’s upcoming album is “more adventurous and more out there” than the sister CD, “Coyote Stories,” released last summer and also recorded at La Luna Recording in Kalamazoo. That doesn’t mean longtime fans should be alarmed: “Foxlore” cements the Grand Rapids foursome’s distinctive, harmony-laden approach and retains the infectious hooks that have marked its songs since the band emerged on the scene back in 2010. But with an increased emphasis on electric guitars and the “rock” part of that folk-rock equation – plus some clever new arrangements – “Foxlore” certainly represents another bold step forward for this ultra-likable and increasingly popular Michigan act. “Down the River” even features a drum solo of sorts, buoyed by a throbbing, jam-band vibe. That’s followed closely by the airy and atmospheric “Ribs,” with an almost-jazzy milieu, morphing into the sow-cooking, uber-psychedelic, banjo-and-strings balladry of “Can’t Go Back” and the old-timey, clarinet-fueled swing of “Curses.” This is a band finding triumph and pleasure in testing its boundaries. Last month, that paid off when The Crane Wives won a Jammie Award in Grand Rapids for best rock/pop album of 2015 for “Coyote Stories.” Don’t be surprised if they repeat that success with “Foxlore.” – John Sinkevics

                                                    Upcoming Shows: 10 p.m. Friday at Rare Bird Brewpub in Traverse City; 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids (CD-release show with Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe); April 30 at Short’s Anniversary Party in Bellaire; May 6 at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo
                                                    Video: The Crane Wives, “Ribs”


                                                    Nathan Kalish & The Lastcallers
                                                    “Continental Breakfast of Champions”

                                                    For those who’ve followed Nathan Kalish’s career, there’s always been a certain familiarity and comfort resonating from the singer-songwriter’s vocals, a powerful message that’s always weaved its way through his slice-of-life’s-foibles lyrics. But while Kalish’s early solo work and collaboration with Grand Rapids’ Wildfire band had a sort of gritty Replacements-meets-Ryan Adams-meets-country-punk vibe, the guitarist-singer’s more recent projects with The Lastcallers place him firmly in a Steve Earle-hued Americana vein, frosted by rollicking vintage country. “Continental Breakfast of Champions” cements Kalish and his hard-gigging, crisscross-the-nation band as a true force on that scene with tales from the road and street prophet-styled commentaries on “Religious Freedom,” “Rich Man’s Tool, Then Die,” and “Overdosin’ on the U.S.A.” Recorded at Native Sound in St. Louis and engineered by Kalish himself, this follow-up to last year’s “How Am I Supposed to Get Back Home” is chock full of Eric Soules’ distinctive thumping bass, Mike Hopper’s twangy, fiery guitar work and Kalish’s earthy philosophy – culminating in the haunting final track, “High Desert.” It’s an incendiary, provocative mix of players and songs, and the way country music is supposed to sound. – John Sinkevics

                                                    Upcoming Shows: 9 p.m. Friday at Park Theatre in Holland (with Watching for Foxes, The Fever Haze), Wednesday at Grand Rapids Main Library (Music in the Stacks); April 8 at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids; April 13 at SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids
                                                    Video: Nathan Kalish & The Lastcallers, “Hopper’s Revenge”


                                                    The Timnz
                                                    “1000 Yd Stare”

                                                    Growling vocals and hard-hitting instrumentals compose the backbone of The Timnz’s “1000 Yd Stare.” A blend of classic rock ‘n’ roll and psychedelic-rock, with elements of reggae, the album is a rollicking rollercoaster of sonic diversity that takes all the right turns. A crunchy organ melody leads the way on album opener, “The Last Song,” and the verses, chorus, and instrumental interludes get comfy and stay awhile in this 7 minute track. “Walking for President,” a politically steaming track, channels blues/Southern rock, opening with gritty guitars and howling harmonica, once again taking its time (and pleasingly so) with a one-minute-and-30-second intro. Organs return on the album closer, “Does it Come in Gold?” in addition to the funkiest of bass lines and whaling, soul-filled vocals – the perfect ending to a rock joyride. For rock fans and music lovers of any genre, The Timnz deliver a 13-track musical feast big enough to curb any musical appetite. – Ricky Olmos

                                                    Upcoming Shows: April 29 at The Park Theatre in Holland
                                                    Listen: The Timnz, “The Last Song”


                                                    Dear Tracks
                                                    “Soft Dreams”

                                                    “Soft Dreams” couldn’t be any more of an appropriate album title. Dear Tracks’ four-song EP is all things dreamy, psychedelic, airy, and ethereal. Opener, “Moment Of Clarity,” features rich guitars and reverb-soaked vocals with lively, washed-out drums propelling the track forward. Floating through the rest of the album, a striking congruency is noticed. Each song is different while maintaining a familiar tone. The title track includes haunting guitar group vocal harmonies and surf-rock-like guitar hooks, the kind that sound like the instrument is being played under water. In all its reverb-filled glory, “Soft Dreams” is the perfect album for a night drive or a night in with a pair of headphones, providing the listener a lush soundscape to get blissfully lost in. If any discrepancy is present, it’s that there are only four songs and not a full-length album in which to bask. – Ricky Olmos

                                                    Upcoming Shows: April 16 at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids, April 17 at Replay in Lansing
                                                    Listen: Dear Tracks, “Soft Dreams”


                                                    Loren Johnson

                                                    Each song on this EP tells a story. And Grand Haven singer-songwriter Loren Johnson is a born storyteller, arranging words in original ways to create something all her own, enhanced by smooth vocals and hummable guitar instrumentals and melodies. The EP starts with an upbeat tempo, with the title song “Sleepsick,” about moving on with life, and embracing where you are going. Later, on “Waiting on You,” she delivers an upbeat tribute to her friends and loved ones who’ve helped her get through all the rough patches in life. She takes a different, more serious tone on “Theodora,” based on the historical figure of the same name. The song shines a light on the impact courage can have on life – on history itself – when you stand up for what matters. “Love changed the law of this war-torn land,” Johnson sings. “When we’re both gone, they’re gonna know who I am.” This debut EP by a young artist generating a buzz in West Michigan proves she’s off to a fantastic start – in playing, singing and use of language and imagery in her lyrics. (Read more about Johnson in this Local Spins Artist Spotlight.) – Matt Marn

                                                    Listen: Loren Johnson, “Theodora” (Live)


                                                    Big Dudee Roo
                                                    “Dudee Free”

                                                    Big Dudee Roo sets an interesting pace and tone with its latest EP, “Dudee Free.” The band not only mixes reverb and rock ‘n’ roll with country twang, but tosses in cosmic sounds and effects – a musical journey that transports listeners out beyond even the stars (which is actually the idea behind lines in the opening song). The lyrics are another force to be reckoned with, especially on the contemplative song, “Here in our Hands,” which serves as a call to action, inviting people to take a stand: “The revolution’s here, in our hands.” The imagery and metaphors meshed with the band’s psychedelic vibe prove to be powerful storytelling tools for Big Dudee Roo. “Dudee Free” demonstrates that this Grand Rapids band has fashioned a musical style that’s all its own – not so easy to pigeon-hole into a specific genre, but plenty easy to enjoy. – Matt Marn

                                                    Upcoming Shows: 6 p.m. Saturday at Cedar Springs Brewing Co.’s Starkbierfest in Cedar Springs; 9 p.m. May 7 at Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids
                                                    Video: Big Dudee Roo, “Heavy Weather”

                                                    Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC

                                                        Ratatat, John Hiatt, Taj Mahal, Bangups, Heaters, Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish, Tallest Man on Earth: Weekend Recap, Photo Gallery

                                                        The weekend’s stunning array of shows by national and local acts paced a week of invigorating live music as Labor Day 2015 approaches. All highlighted in a Local Spins recap, photos and videos.

                                                        Heating Up: Heaters fired up their wall-of-sound psych-rock on Friday at The Pyramid Scheme. (Photo/Anthony Norkus)

                                                        Heating Up: Heaters fired up their wall-of-sound psych-rock on Friday at The Pyramid Scheme. (Photo/Anthony Norkus)


                                                        SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERIES, VIDEOS

                                                        Back in the day, before emailing or texting, this sort of uber-wild night of live music would have been “something to write home about.”

                                                        Buoyant Bangups: The band brought its new foursome attack to Founders’ stage on Saturday. (Photo/Anthony Norkus)

                                                        Buoyant Bangups: The band brought its new foursome attack to Founders’ stage on Saturday. (Photo/Anthony Norkus)

                                                        Instead, Local Spins wrote about it for readers, with a passel of photos and videos to help prove the point.

                                                        Friday night’s diverse, unusual, unorthodox and unhinged kickoff to the Labor Day holiday weekend in Grand Rapids ranged from the blues and rootsy rock of seasoned favorites Taj Mahal and John Hiatt at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to the retro/psych-rock of the up-and-coming Heaters and La Luz at The Pyramid Scheme to the raucous, rockabilly-fueled garage rock of Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill to the “power funk” of the instrumentally adroit Brooklyn ensemble Turkuaz in The Stache at The Intersection.

                                                        Three of those four shows boasted capacity or near-capacity crowds which is an impressive feat for a set of concerts on any holiday weekend. Here’s a brief recap of those three jam-packed shows, with some video highlights below. And Friday was just the beginning …

                                                        Another Sellout: Taj Mahal regaled a big crowd at Meijer Gardens on Friday. (Photo/John Sinkevics)

                                                        Another Sellout: Taj Mahal regaled a big crowd at Meijer Gardens on Friday. (Photo/Local Spins)

                                                        JOHN HIATT & THE COMBO, TAJ MAHAL TRIO @ MEIJER GARDENS

                                                        Taken at face value, there’s nothing really surprising about an evening of veteran musical storytellers inspiring an audience of devoted fans.

                                                        But bluesman Taj Mahal and roots rocker/Americana artist John Hiatt – who have more than 90 years of combined stage experience between them – upped the ante on Friday night at Meijer Gardens, buoyed perhaps by absolutely perfect weather and word that the amphitheater concert had sold out about five minutes after gates opened.

                                                        Indeed, Taj Mahal at 73 is beloved for good reason: His congenial demeanor, world music-tinged blues, engaging tales, multi-instrumental prowess and gregarious attitude – along with his trio’s engaging renditions of tunes such as “She Caught the Katy” and “Mean Old World” – sparked comments (overheard from concertgoers) such as “I just love Taj Mahal,” “great blues,” “he’s such a good storyteller” and “he’s so happy.”

                                                        The same might be said for Hiatt, 63, whose graciousness was only overshadowed by the musicianship and muscle of his crack-jack band which featured scintillating Nashville guitarist Doug Lancio – an outfit that impressively rocked the amphitheater on “Perfectly Good Guitar,” “Real Fine Love,” “Tennessee Plates,” “Cry Love” and “Thing Called Love.”

                                                        In acknowledging his opportunity to share the stage with one of his musical heroes, Hiatt told the crowd that he “might not have been making music” if he hadn’t heard Taj Mahal as a teenager. “This is a very wonderful, mystical thing,” he suggested. “Music is so powerful.” And that certainly was the case on Friday night at Meijer Gardens.

                                                        TAJ MAHAL, JOHN HIATT PHOTO GALLERY: Photos by Eric Stoike

                                                        La Luz at The Pyramid Scheme (Photo/Anthony Norkus)

                                                        La Luz at The Pyramid Scheme (Photo/Anthony Norkus)

                                                        HEATERS, LA LUZ @ THE PYRAMID SCHEME

                                                        Grand Rapids psych-rock/garage-rock heroes Heaters weren’t the headliners for Friday night’s Pyramid Scheme show. That was reserved for Seattle retro-rockers La Luz (with Today’s Hits opening the evening). Indeed, Heaters had billed Friday night’s hometown set as a CD-release show for a new album, “Holy Water Pool,” but unfortunately, it didn’t arrive on time for the concert.

                                                        No matter. The lion’s share of the near-capacity crowd clearly was there to cheer on Heaters’ mind-bending, reverb-laced, glorious wall-of-sound attack and they weren’t disappointed. This is a band whose magical, super-groovy, black-light-appropriate rock inspires fans to pound the stage with their fists, bob/gyrate/swoon and generally get mesmerized by the loud waves of spiraling beauty. And these same fans likely would be more than thrilled to flock to a rescheduled CD-release show – whether the CD ever shows up. (Photos below in the Weekend Photo Gallery.)

                                                        VIDEO: Heaters at The Pyramid Scheme

                                                        Blazing Hot: Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish even set cymbals on fire with their flaming show at Tip Top Deluxe. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                                        Blazing Hot: Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish even set cymbals on fire with their flaming show at Tip Top Deluxe. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                                        JESSE RAY & THE CAROLINA CATFISH @ TIP TOP DELUXE BAR & GRILL

                                                        Picture this scene: an over-the-top, uber-exuberant throng in the cozy confines of the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill, screaming, fist-pumping and crowd-surfing – with most tables in the bar removed – while the uber-loud, uber-ferocious garage-rock/rockabilly duo of Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish untethers songs from its new album, “Dead Man Walking,” in a sweaty, balls-to-the-wall display that even featured a flaming cymbal at the end of the night.

                                                        With singer-guitarist Jesse Ray leaping off amps, hooting and generally doing his best Iggy Pop-meets-young-Elvis Presley-meets-Pete-Townshend shtick and drummer Josh Worsham literally knocking the stuffing out of his kit, the sold-out bunch got its money’s worth during a musical spectacle that kicked off with the talented Tom Hymn and Hannah Rose & The GravesTones and later featured Jesse Ray and Worsham winding their way through the packed house to the stage after an impassioned introduction by musician pal Nick Stevenson. It was a local rock show for the ages. (Photos below in the Weekend Photo Gallery.)

                                                        VIDEO: Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish at Tip Top Deluxe

                                                        Power Funk: Turkuaz in The Stache. (Photo/Aris Hampers)

                                                        Power Funk: Turkuaz in The Stache. (Photo/Aris Hampers)

                                                        • The same night, the nine-piece Turkuaz impressed a small but enthusiastic turnout at The Stache in The Intersection with its funky smorgasbord of tunes;

                                                        • After recording a new studio album with Steve Albini, Grand Rapids’ Bangups unleashed their newfound four-piece rock vibe at Founders Brewing Co. on Saturday night, following sets by Mavericks & Monarchs and Hollywood Makeout. Guitarist-singer Joey Dornbos and drummer Brent French of the Bangups doubled their pop-vocal fun with their new lineup (which on Saturday featured guitarist Rusty Vining and bassist Neil Biegalle), uncorking fresh songs such as “Buddy Holly’s Ghost,” “Spirals” and “Illumination Hill.” Check out the video below. Oh, and surfy garage-rock outfit Hollywood Makeout has never sounded better.

                                                        Singing Bird: The Tallest Man on Earth at Dimnent Chapel on Saturday. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                                        Dark Bird in Holland: The Tallest Man on Earth at Dimnent Chapel on Saturday. (Photo/Anna Sink)

                                                        • Sweden’s The Tallest Man on Earth (aka Kristian Matsson) brought his indie-folk charm and a full band to Hope College’s Dimnent Chapel in Holland to help a bevy of enthused students kick off the new school year, touring behind his latest album, “Dark Bird is Home,” with singer-songwriter Lady Lamb opening the show.

                                                        • Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival fired up downtown’s District Square with sets by an array of international and regional bands, including Andrew W.K., The Joy Formidable, The Fall of Troy, Chon, July Talk, Northern Faces, Foxing, Tiny Moving Parts, Narco Debut, Heaters, Cardboard Swords and hi-ker, attracting a “wall-to-wall” crowd. As photographer Derek Ketchum put it: “What a show. Nothing better than a full day of music like that.”

                                                        Mark jackson of Hey Marco! at Billy's Lounge. (Photo/Tori Thomas)

                                                        Hey Marco’s Mark Jackson (Photo/Tori Thomas)

                                                        Hey Marco! morphed into Grand Rapids’ version of Steely Dan for the third time in three years on Friday night, powering up a full and impressive evening of Steely Dan tunes for a pumped-up crowd as part of tribute show at Billy’s Lounge in Eastown.

                                                        Plain Jane Glory made its SpeakEZ Lounge debut on Wednesday night as part of the Local Spins Wednesdays series, engaging a small-but-enchanted bunch at the intimate venue.

                                                        • Brooklyn’s Ratatat brought its full-bore, light-intensive rocktronica attack to The Intersection on Sunday night for a sold-out show for a happy, hyped-up bunch.

                                                        In addition, check out Local Spins’ photo gallery and full review from O.A.R.’s sold-out show at Meijer Gardens on Wednesday online here.

                                                        WEEKEND PHOTO GALLERY: Sept. 6, 2015