Starting with another Tuesday Evening Music Club show at Meijer Gardens to weekend-ending tour stops and the debut of a new West Michigan concert venue, it was a week to remember.
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Six days later, acclaimed singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and rapper Meshell Ndegeocello closed out the weekend with two shows inside the intimate confines of Grand Rapids’ Midtown while Maryland rock band O.A.R. reveled in yet another sold-out tour stop at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park just seven miles away.
In between, Kalamazoo launched its Wednesday Beats on Bates series along with a special “Black Music Month” show at The Clover room, followed by Thursday’s appearance by the All American Funk Parade at Old Dog Tavern.
In Allegan County, Chicago blues icon Duke Tumatoe and The Power Trio christened the brand new outdoor venue at Liquid Note in Otsego on Friday, with Zion Lion bringing its reggae charm on Saturday to Allegan for the Island City Festival.
Rockford, meanwhile, unfurled its long-running, four-day Start of Summer celebration on Thursday, with several bands performing throughout the weekend — including Nathan Walton & The Remedy, Overdrive Orchestra and The Insane Theatre tribute to The Doors at Rockford Brewing’s beer tent.
The weekend also featured the return of Grand Rapids’ Asian-Pacific Festival, this year held at Calder Plaza with a variety of band and dance performances, as well as Muskegon’s new Starlight Room hosting a performance by Asamu Johnson & The Associates of the Blues.
PHOTO GALLERY: Grace Theisen, Jordan Hamilton at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
PHOTO GALLERY: Beats on Bates w/ FlyLiteGemini, Out of Favor Boys
The Clover Room’s Black Music Month
Photos by Cassandra Kipp
Lavender’s work included a series of covers interspersed with spoken-word pieces, raps and comedic stylings. With evocative and powerful lyrics, the teacher certainly knew how to grip the room, using often clever similes and metaphors musing on what she has learned working with the next generation.
Jayden Lipsey, one of Lavender’s recent graduates, also performed a piece, his rhythmic sense immaculate and bars philosophical and new. Lipsey is working on breaking out into more public performances.
The Clover Room also brought out a small local jazz ensemble to jam — part of Wednesday night’s lineup where all artists are welcome to perform and improvise. A
That same night featured the kickoff to the Beats on Bates concert series, with acts performing at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays in downtown Kalamazoo behind a fleet of restaurants in Bates Alley. West Michigan’s FlyLiteGemini opened the night with warped steel guitar accents and solid instrumentation, with the band performing tracks from its latest album, “Bigger on the Inside.”
Kalamazoo blues favorites Out of Favor Boys followed with a funky and soulful set, delivered by a band that’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. – By Cassandra Kipp
PHOTO GALLERY: Start of Summer Celebration at Rockford Brewing (Thursday-Saturday)
Nathan Walton & The Remedy, Overdrive Orchestra, Insane Theatre
Photos by Anna Sink