HopCat and WYCE will present live music on downtown’s Blue Bridge Sept. 29-30 with sets by Michigander, The Great Ones, Watching for Foxes, Bootstrap Boys, Yolonda Lavender & more. See the schedule.
For the second year in a row, West Michigan bands will serenade ArtPrize visitors with two days of diverse music on the Blue Bridge spanning the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.
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Grand Rapids community radio station WYCE (88.1 FM) and HopCat are teaming up to host the Blue Bridge Music Festival on Sept. 29-30 as part of the ArtPrize 9 international art competition that will return to central Grand Rapids in late September and early October.
“What’s always been important to me is to showcase the music of West Michigan to the visitors of our city during ArtPrize,” said Quinn Mathews, station manager for WYCE. “Our concept from the get go was to put live performances from the talented music from this region smack dab in the middle of downtown for free, for all the folks walking around taking in the art. Visitors coming to town to see the art should get a chance to ‘hear’ the art as well.
Bands performing this year will be The Great Ones, Watching for Foxes, The Bootstrap Boys, Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish, Brad Fritcher’s MOODS and Asamu Johnson & The Associates of the Blues from Grand Rapids, Yolonda Lavender from Kalamazoo, and Michigander from Midland/Kalamazoo.
“At WYCE radio, we consider our station ‘A World of Music,’ meaning of course, you will hear anything and everything from blues to jazz to rock, folk, reggae and everything in between,” Mathews noted.
“We don’t have to look too far for music from all of those genres, which I think is really impressive and something I want to showcase to the visitors to our city … during one of the biggest art events in the world.”
NEW SYSTEM FOR ARTPRIZE SONG CONTEST WITH ONE WINNER CHOSEN
As in previous years, a number of musicians and bands have also entered original songs into the ArtPrize competition (which focuses primarily on visual arts), including those playing the Blue Bridge fest. But unlike past years, there will be no separate genre categories for 2017 and no separate “judges’ choice” awards for song entries.
Instead, Mathews said, the one song that receives the highest number of votes in public ArtPrize voting will win $1,000 and receive an invitation to play the ArtPrize awards ceremony (where they’ll receive another $500 for performing).
Last year’s Blue Bridge Music Festival was marked by rainy weather, though bands did still perform for small groups of fans who braved the conditions to gather on the bridge for sets by Flint Eastwood, Heaters and others.
“One thing I’ve learned becoming a Michigander is to not worry about the weather, because no one will ever be able to predict it here,” Mathews said.
“Though we had rain last year, it honestly caused no problems for musicians, fans and promoters: It was a completely successful event and we all left talking about the next year. Also, for the record we have a backup indoor venue this year if it’s needed.”
See coverage of the 2016 event at Local Spins here.
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