Saturday’s day-long event at Kalamazoo Valley Museum unfurled everything from folk to hip hop to blues courtesy of Red Tail Ring, Jordan Hamilton, Chris Canas and more.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERY, VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
With 15 acts on three stages, various instrument workshops, impromptu jam sessions, instrument-testing and several “pop-up” performances, there was no shortage of musical action at Kalamazoo Valley Museum on Saturday.
And if hallways and exhibition areas seemed less packed than usual in the museum and Anna Whitten Hall next door, no one seemed to mind, because the performance spaces themselves were jam-packed throughout the day with attentive fans reveling in folk, Americana, blues, country, bluegrass and more for the 14th annual Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival.
Attendee Jerry Wilinski, whose ukulele-playing wife took part in a workshop hosted by Portage folk icon Joel Mabus, said he was just “content sitting here and chilling” with music around every corner.
“I just love that Kalamazoo can support this whole thing,” Wilinski said of the free event that attracted thousands throughout the day. “I just appreciate that this is available. It’s a gift to the community.”
That “gift” included a rousing opening blues set by the Chris Canas Band (one of the winners of the festival’s play-in contest), fetching indie-folk from the likes of Red Tail Ring and Gifts of Creatures, the instrumental charm of the Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra and The Birdseed Salesmen, and the soulful rock of the Dacia Bridges Project.
THE AVANT-GARDE MAGIC OF JORDAN HAMILTON AND MUCH MORE
One of the most unusual – and striking – performances of the day came courtesy of classically trained cellist, experimental music and hip hop/soul artist Jordan Hamilton, who uncoiled a powerful mid-afternoon set on the Fretboard Festival’s Stryker Theater Stage on an instrument that, yes, has no frets.
With an intoxicating, avant-garde approach, the acclaimed Kalamazoo-based musician melded live looping with classic music interludes, hip hop, experimental rock, soul, jazz and more, even incorporating a singular cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” into his set.
The wide-ranging performance that leaned heavily on effects pedals, aka “Christmas toys,” was part political activism, part uplifting hopefulness, part performance art, part gorgeously
mesmerizing soundscapes, and all mesmerizing.
And his inspiring theme? “Do better every day,” said Hamilton, who owns his instrument in every possible way, plucking, sawing, pounding and caressing the cello to extract sometimes other-worldly sounds.
Check out photos and some video highlights from the Fretboard Festival here, including images from Friday night’s kick-off concert starring Ann Arbor’s Shari Kane and Dave Steele.
PHOTO GALLERY: Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival 2019
Photos by Derek Ketchum
VIDEO: Fretboard Festival Highlights
Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC