This weekend recap of West Michigan’s live music ranges from the neoclassical zest of Detroit’s BLKBOK to the enduring fan favorites of Sublime and some local rock fire.
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Emblazoned with tattoos, flaunting a tank top and sporting sneakers and a baseball cap, BLKBOK cuts a figure quite unlike any other classical piano virtuoso attacking a Steinway on stage.
But with an approach that combines poetry, photo slides, anecdotes and eye-popping keyboard prowess, the Detroit musician regaled a small but enthusiastic crowd at Midtown in Grand Rapids on Thursday with neo-classical compositions he hopes attracts “a new generation of classical music listeners to the genre.”
Unfolding tales of his youth, his mother and his passions, BLKBOK — aka Charles Wilson III — paid tribute to African-American pioneers in the classical music field and even dedicated one song to all young piano students.
Performing songs such as “Cookie Waltz” and “Michelle’s First Day at the White House” from his full-length “Black Book” album released in 2021 (followed by the expanded “Black Book DLUX” in 2022), BLKBOK expertly combined pensive, sinuous passages with dynamic, dramatic flourishes throughout his set — likely adding to his “new generation” of fans. (Scroll down for video highlights and read the Local Spins interview with him here.)
The intimate show was just part of another eclectic week of concerts across West Michigan —captured in Local Spins photos below — that included Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime returning to The Intersection on Friday, and Ficus, Carbon Decoy, Overdrive Orchestra and Levitator playing The Pyramid Scheme on Saturday.
It all was leading up to today’s Super Bowl hoopla, though non-football fans can escape the frenzy tonight by checking out Stovepipe Stover’s first “Songwriter’s Night” with Emilee Petersmark and Chain of Lakes at The Pyramid Scheme; Pat McGee, Alice Peacock and Chris Trapper making a tour stop at Midtown; or Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds and August playing Holland’s Park Theatre.
VIDEO: BLKBOK at Midtown in Grand Rapids
PHOTO GALLERY: Badfish: Tribute to Sublime at The Intersection
Photos by Eric Stoike
PHOTO GALLERY: Ficus, Overdrive Orchestra & More at The Pyramid Scheme
Photos by Katy Batdorff