Celebrating Local Spins’ 11th birthday and Michigan’s powerful female artistry, the second annual festival drew enthused crowds Saturday for six regional bands. The recap, photos and video at Local Spins.
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For Nashville-based Americana/country singer Kari Lynch, who launched her career in West Michigan, Saturday’s Local Spins Fest in downtown Grand Rapids was electrifying in more than one way.
“There’s an energy about getting to come home and play for your people in your hometown. Grand Rapids has always been incredibly supportive to us so we’ve been excited about this gig for a while now,” she said after her early evening set at the event celebrating the Local Spins website’s 11th anniversary, which boasted six female-driven regional bands.
“Having formed my band in West Michigan, watching the scene of female artists come up over the last several years has been amazing. Us independent artists live for organizations like Local Spins that give us support and set up an event like this. It gives us a way to get out there, play our music, and be heard. There’s no price tag you can put on that.”
Fan Hannah Jones put it this way: “I think it’s very empowering to see all the female-led bands tonight. It’s great to have that representation and to celebrate local bands here at the same time.”
The second annual summer kickoff outdoors at the Studio Park piazza reveled in sunny skies and cool breezes with Grace Theisen Band, Lokella, Sarena Rae, Earth Radio and In the Valley Below joining Kari Lynch Band for a one-day celebration full of upbeat, energetic and musically diverse sets
It inspired the following recaps from Local Spins writers Holly Holtzclaw, Bobby Novak, Destiny Patrolia and Cassandra Kipp:
• Grace Theisen Band – “Delivered a soulful and raw sound, overall rich and textured approach. The lead singer’s voice accompanied by the violin possessed qualities of grit, passion and emotional depth.”
“Grace Theisen set the tone for a day of celebrating women in music with songs that unapologetically include feminist and queer themes. Theisen noted that these are not topics that are commonly addressed in the Americana genre, but that she hopes to change that trend.”
“The Grace Theisen Band showed off its chemistry, bringing intensity to the festival’s opening set. Her killed violinist even went so far as to replicate synthesizer effects with her bow strikes.”
• Lokella – “Lokella’s Jennifer Bartlett lit up the Listening Lawn stage with her neon pink hair and infectious energy from the moment she stepped onto it. The band played a mix of fun alternative rock covers and favorites from their original catalog to serve as a bittersweet send-off for the band’s current lineup.”
“With an energetic stage presence and powerful vocals, their fast-paced, aggressive sound created an intense and exhilarating atmosphere.”
“Lokella’s Jennifer Bartlett brought intense enthusiasm to the band’s set, writhing dramatically and even jumping off stage to sing to a young fan during ‘Ain’t It Fun.'”
• Sarena Rae -“A Grand Rapids treasure, Sarena Rae transformed Studio Park into a soulful, bluesy, Motown jam session. Rae serenaded the audience with her old school, yet velvety vocal runs. The performance of songs such as ‘Heaven’ channeled authentic emotions that were understandable and empowering”
“Her set rolled out as a groovy musical experience, with elements of soul, rhythm and blues, funk and jazz. The saxophone and trumpet brought expressive power which contributed to the band’s texture.”
“Sarena Rae’s voice generated early-evening hype, with festivalgoer ‘Dancing’ Daina Puodzinas calling her a favorite of the festival. ‘She’s all heart and people can feel that,’ she said.
• Kari Lynch Band – “The band members exhibited a down-to-earth, authentic and engaging atmosphere. With a sweet, warm sound, they created a rich and melodic country sound.”
“Kari Lynch Band was right at home as they performed for a lively crowd at Local Spins Fest. The five-piece seamlessly came together as one to create an extremely original twangy rock, alternative country sound.”
• Earth Radio – “Groovy, jazzy, futuristic, funky, downright out of this world. Earth Radio is almost inexplicable. The foursome, consisting of vocals, keys, bass and drums, is able to create progressive, genre-melding rhythmic soundscapes that words don’t do justice. ‘I’m super excited to play here with all these female-led bands and grateful that Local Spins put this together,’ said singer Hannah Laine.”
“A captivating musical ensemble whose sound is both groove-oriented and exploratory. A genre-defying and immersive musical experience.”
• In the Valley Below – “In The Valley Below closed out the night with a powerful and haunting indie-rock set that included plenty of new, never-before-heard songs as well as longtime crowd favorites such as their 2014 hit, ‘Peaches.’ Vocalists Jeffrey Jacob Mendel and Angela Gail Mattson captivated the crowd with their chemistry, especially on personal songs about their relationship, including ‘Lie With Me.’
“An energetic and electrifying set that cultivated authentic, creative intimacy.”
The event drawing hundreds of fans also featured information booths for Access of West Michigan, Michigan Music Alliance and The Diatribe.
Local Spins Fest thanks its army of volunteers and staffers, including Michigan Music Alliance’s Elle Lively, Sounds of the Zoo’s Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert, Court Buffinga, Amanda Croley, Kelsey Feddema, Michael Feddema, Jes Lamden, Ryan Malott, Stacy Noonan, Jonathan Beaver, Lea Oliver, Rory Root, Michelle Strzyzewski, Kevin Gilbert, Holly Holtzclaw, Derek Ketchum, Cassandra Kipp, Tony Norkus, Bobby Novak, Destiny Patrolia, Cassandra Kipp, Anna Sink, Eric Stoike, Jeanette West, Chelsea Whitaker, Chad Wedeven, Seth Rivard and anyone else who pitched in to make the event a success.
And a big shout-out and gratitude to everyone at Studio Park and Midtown who hosted the event, and our 2023 sponsors: Dan Terry & The West Michigan’s Songwriter’s Festival, LIV Cannabis, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and Rockford Brewing.
Browse photo galleries and watch a video below, and come back next week for a special video of Local Spins Fest 2023 highlights by Hosi Olah.
VIDEO: Local Spins Fest 2023
PHOTO GALLERY 1
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
Photos by Derek Ketchum