It’s a singer-songwriter double-header this Sunday: ArtRat’s first show featuring Darcy Wilkin precedes the evening return of Nik Thomasma’s ‘Songtellers’ at Midtown. Details at Local Spins.
When Kalamazoo singer-songwriter Darcy Wilkin headlines the first “Americana Sundays” concert at Grand Rapids’ ArtRat Gallery this weekend, she’ll be well primed and warmed up for an afternoon of riveting tales and rootsy music.
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After all, Wilkin also hosts “The Darcy Wilkin Whatzit Hour” at Kalamazoo’s Dormouse Theatre, with Chicago musician and songwriter Gerald Dowd helping Wilkin pump up the fifth episode of the engaging series at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I am totally kicked and honored to be kicking off this series. The lineup for it is great,” said Wilkin, who released her debut solo album, “Bristol,” in 2020 and is also a member of the Americana band The Corn Fed Girls. “I haven’t played in Grand Rapids as much as I’d like, so this is wonderful.”
For Nancy Tobin and Matthew Rothenberg, co-owners of ArtRat Gallery, 46 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids, hosting Americana-leaning, regional artists in “this beautiful space downtown” represents another opportunity to incorporate live music into the gallery’s offerings. The gallery also hosts a monthly “Saturday Musicians’ Co-Op Open Mic” that’s hosted by Nate Winkelman.
“It’s exciting to see how different artists and audiences use (the space),” Rothenberg said, noting the idea for the Sunday Americana series was conceived during the recent ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids when the gallery hosted a performance by artist Gray Reynolds, along with Ruby John and Nic Gareiss.
“After the show, Kris Stableford of The Stableford Agency approached me about putting on some shows with other roots musicians from Michigan. We’d already been hosting hip-hop poets and other performers, so an Americana series seemed like a great addition.”
Admission to Sunday’s 3 p.m. concert by Wilkin is $15, with tickets available online via Eventbrite here.
Wilkin said she plans to play a mix of her original material “along with some traditional tunes and the odd cover. I’ll also be playing some electric guitar, which is relatively new for me.”
LISTEN: Darcy Wilkin, “Waiting for the Wildflowers”
ArtRat continues the series with The Schrock Brothers Holiday Show on Dec. 11 ($20), Drew Nelson on Jan. 15 and Rollie Tussing on Feb. 19.
“We hope that local audiences enjoy weekend afternoons with the region’s best Americana acts and that they take full advantage of our downtown neighborhood,” said Rothenberg, who relocated with Tobin – a painter trained at Kendall College of Art & Design and San Francisco Art Institute – to Grand Rapids in 2016 after residing in San Francisco and New York.
The gallery encourages concert attendees to park at the nearby Weston Commerce Ramp, consider a pre-show stop at Rockwell Republic and then “spend a couple of hours surrounded by art and enjoying music.”
The 6 p.m. Saturday open-mics continue Dec. 17, Jan. 7 and Feb. 11, with the gallery supplying a backline, P.A. system and drum kit. Signups start at 5 p.m.
Fans of singer-songwriter charm have a chance to enjoy a double-header this weekend: They can follow Wilkin’s Sunday appearance at ArtRat with the return of the fifth season of Nicholas James Thomasma’s “Songtellers” series at 7:30 p.m. at the Midtown venue nearby at Studio Park, 123 Ionia Ave. SW (formerly Listening Room).
Thomasma started the “Songtellers” series in 2016 at Creston Brewery and later moved it to Midtown, noting the songwriters-in-the-round format spotlights artists “talking about the creative process and then playing stripped-down versions of original songs.”
In the acoustically pristine setting of Midtown, he added, listeners can “learn about the stories behind the songs and then really focus on the lyrics during the performance.”
The series continues Dec. 11 with Sadie Bass and Kanin.
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