The young modern jazz band led by Dutcher Snedeker kicks off the International Wine, Beer & Food Festival in Grand Rapids Thursday, with a full-length album set for release in 2020.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO, PLUS BAND SCHEDULE FOR WINE, BEER & FOOD FESTIVAL
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The lineups may change, but the mission remains the same.
West Michigan keyboard player Dutcher Snedeker formed the contemporary jazz group Blushing Monk three years ago with the goal of showcasing the varied musical influences of emerging jazz musicians.
“We’re one of a few young jazz groups in West Michigan doing original music and we’re all bringing multi-genre influences to this project with our writing and arrangements,” said Snedeker.
“All of these people bring different backgrounds, flavors, styles, education … looking at jazz as this kind of canvas and coloring it with different notes and harmonies that we bring to the table.’
Snedeker’s first version of the band featured Olin Clark, Brad Fritcher, Joe Vazquez and Jordan Otto, aka, players from Western Michigan University, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University jazz programs.
All of those players eventually moved out of state to pursue other jazz projects, so the roster of Blushing Monk continues to fluctuate as different musicians enter the local jazz scene.
The band currently features Snedeker, saxophonist Caleb Elzinga, drummer Ryan Demeniuk, guitarist Travis Swanson and bassist Kazuki Takemura. Takemura is the newest member, joining the band after moving to Kalamazoo to pursue his master’s degree at Western Michigan University.
Blushing Monk will play as a quartet on the Vineyard Music Stage at the International Wine, Beer & Food Festival at DeVos Place at 6 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 21), with Ian Thompson filling in on bass for Takemura.
Watch a video of Blushing Monk’s in-studio rendition of “Working Title,” performed for Local Spins on WYCE earlier this year.
VIDEO: Blushing Monk, “Working Title” (Local Spins on WYCE)
It’s a robust young lineup of talented musicians, steeped in the tradition of “all the greats” such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, but exploring various modern influences with their own compositions.
“It’s part of the Michigan crew that we’ve all come to know each other through different projects. … a good mix of jazz talent,” Snedeker said. “Jazz is definitely a great tool for navigating a lot of other styles of music.”
Blushing Monk, which released a five-song EP in 2017, recently returned to the studio to record a few new songs. The tracks will appear on a full-length album, “Serendipity,” sometime next year with cover artwork by The Crane Wives’ Emilee Petersmark.
“We have new music ready to go, but I still need to order the CDs,” Snedeker said. “We recorded three new songs of mine and we’re packaging them with remastered versions of the EP tracks to put out one full-length, physical debut.”
Blushing Monk is among several performers at this year’s International Wine, Beer & Food Festival taking place Thursday-Saturday at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. Tickets are $15 Thursday, $20 Friday and Saturday, $40 for a three-day pass. Get details online here.
Vineyard Music Stage Schedule
6-9 p.m. Thursday – Blushing Monk
5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday – Third Coast Gypsy Jazz
2:30-5:30 p.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday – A League of Our Own
Beer City Station Music Stage Schedule
6-9 p.m. Thursday – The Jake & Jimmy Band
5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday – The Jake & Jimmy Band
2:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday – Valentiger
Grand Gallery Music Stage Schedule
6-9 p.m. Thursday – Jake Stevens
6-9:30 p.m. Friday – Alistair Beerens
2-5 p.m. Saturday – Mark Sala
6-9:30 p.m. Saturday – Brandon Ward
Tune in to Local Spins on WYCE (88.1 FM) at 11 a.m. Friday when Brent Shirey of Valentiger will be the in-studio guest.
WINE, BEER & FOOD FESTIVAL 2019: The Local Spins Playlist
NOTE: Portions of this story appeared earlier this year at Local Spins.
Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC