West Michigan’s week started with indie-rock’s In the Valley Below and ended with country singer Gary Allan, with much in between: WO-Stock, Jordan Hamilton, The Legal Immigrants, Ladyfest GR.
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West Michigan's music scene
Showcasing talent of every genre, age and stripe might have been the theme for mid-March when it comes to West Michigan’s music scene.
West Ottawa High School’s annual WO-Stock Festival spotlighted 30 young and emerging acts, LadyFest GR lit up The Pyramid Scheme with performers, speakers and more, Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo hosted a “A Tribute to Women in Hip Hop” with DC and Lady Ace Boogie, Final Gravity Brewing presented a night of emerging stars with Jordan Hamilton and Georgia Rae, and SpeakEZ Lounge brought back Dan Rickabus & Friends, with talented young singer Sierra Skye Baker turning heads to open the evening.
Then there were impressive homecoming shows at The Pyramid Scheme by In the Valley Below (with Lipstick Jodi and Caleb Byers), and Desmond Jones (with Hannah Rose & The GravesTones and eRoy), Grand Rapids’ own The Legal Immigrants opening for People’s Blues of Richmond at Founders Brewing, and finally, country singer Gary Allan revving up the Kalamazoo State Theatre on the same night that Trevor Hall, Dirtwire and Will Evans played a sold-out show at Bell’s.
Check out the images exclusively at Local Spins.
WO-STOCK 2019 AT WEST OTTAWA HIGH SCHOOL
WO-Stock erupted once again over the weekend with a thunderous musical bang. Holland’s West Ottawa High School hosted its 17th annual WO-Stock festival on Friday and Saturday, with an astounding 30 bands performing from across Michigan.
For two nights, the student-led event featured bands playing black and white stages simultaneously at the high school’s North Building, including well-known bands such as Boy From School, Midwest Skies, The Skinny Limbs, Cosmic Dregs, Tiger & Frame and Pretoria along with a bevy of up-and-coming acts.
“I went to WO-Stock when I was in high school to see a metal band my friends were playing in,” said Holland guitarist and singer Tanner J. Burns, who returned for second year and performed on Friday night.
“As someone who wanted to write and play music one day, the crowds, stages and energy of the performances definitely left an impression. The idea of playing somewhere as inclusive as a high school campus, and hopefully leaving a similar impression on inspired young people who are interested in local underground music, is pretty exciting.”
Proceeds from the two-day festival will be used by the school’s Cultural Technological Environmental Exchange (CTEE) program to send and repair computers and other technology overseas to support the education of students from the Republic of Cameroon.
“This event isn’t just about making a global difference,” said Juliana Malinowski, a West Ottawa High School graduate and Michigan State University student who helped oversee this year’s festival along with teacher Mike Jaeger.
“We also hope to bring the community and local music scene closer together.”
And while the turnout was smaller than expected, Malinowski said organizers “did get a lot of cool bands this year. A lot of variety. I personally met a lot of great people over the two nights.”
WO-Stock 2019 also featured an open-mic session on the second floor of the high school, allowing attendees to enjoy intimate performances.
“As a teenager, WO-Stock was a really great opportunity for someone like me who was curious and excited about new and local music but who was also too young to get into bars or leave Holland for shows,” noted Burns. “Several artists that I consider ‘local legends’ have played there and the name has always carried some prestige, for me at least.” – By Matthew Tep
PHOTO GALLERY: WO-Stock 2019 (Friday-Saturday)
Photos by Juliana Malinowski
PHOTO GALLERY: Gary Allan, Justin Adams at Kalamazoo State Theatre (Sunday)
Photos by Derek Ketchum
PHOTO GALLERY: Trevor Hall, Dirtwire at Bell’s Brewery (Sunday)
Photos by Derek Ketchum