The unusual August contest boasts thousands of dollars in prizes for winning performers and songwriters, with this year’s festival limited to 25 bands and 25 solo artists or duets. The deadline is April 28.
Grand Haven’s popular Walk The Beat festival returns Aug. 19, and performers have until April 28 to apply for one of 50 slots in the musical showcase event in this tourist-friendly lakeside town.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
Grand Haven singer-songwriter and Walk The Beat’s administrative director Loren Johnson said the fourth annual event has a team working hard on a great cause: raising money to buy instruments for youngsters.
“I have complete confidence in the team we put together, and how the community is responding and getting involved,” said Johnson, a performer at past Walk the Beat events. “It has been nothing but a positive experience so far, and I think this year’s event is really going to reflect that.”
The nonprofit Walk The Beat was founded by Grand Haven resident Dave Palmer to put instruments in the hands of students who may not otherwise be able to acquire them, helping them to learn and develop a new way to express themselves and have fun.
“My favorite part about getting involved with Walk the Beat as an organization is giving instruments and lessons to kids,” Johnson said. “Every time we give a child an instrument, or fund their lessons and watch them develop their skills – it’s pure joy.
“We are really in the business of giving, for the pure sake of generosity: we want to empower young people – regardless of their economic background – to learn a skill that connects them with absolutely everybody, and gives them fulfillment in the process.”
FOCUSING ON GRAND HAVEN’S EAST SIDE, CONDENSING PERFORMANCES
Johnson said this year’s edition of Walk The Beat will be concentrated mostly in the city east of U.S. 31 so it’s more “walkable.” The number of acts for 2017 will be capped at 25 bands and 25 solo artists or duets, as opposed to more than 70 acts in previous years.
“We’ve also made it easier to sign up and get involved, through changes to the website and how we operate as an organization,” Johnson added.
Palmer said musicians will try to earn audience votes with the grand prize winner claiming 40 hours of production and studio time with Bill Chrysler’s Third Coast Recording Company; a music video with David Darling of D2 Creative; a professional photo shoot from Michelle Risley Photo; website design from Nicholas Lill; and a “Victory Tour” of performances arranged by Local Spins.
Last year, teen blues-rock guitar sensation Jake Kershaw and his band won top honors. (As a result, he recently played SpeakEZ Lounge as part of Local Spins Victory Tour, which continues with another show at Rockford Brewing on May 19.)
In addition, a song competition carries a prize of $2,500. For a $25 entry fee, singer/songwriters can enter an original song using the form on the walkthebeat.org website. A three-judge panel will decide the winner. Last year, best original song went to Grand Rapids rock band The Legal Immigrants for its song, “Fork in the Road.”
Audience members strolling from venue to venue vote for their favorite musicians and can enter prize drawings for dozens of giveaways during the festival. They can also purchase $10 raffle tickets for a $5,000 grand prize (or two-year car lease). Those buying 10 tickets for $100 are automatically entered into drawings for all 100 door prizes.
As a singer-songwriter who has competed in past Walk The Beat festivals, Johnson said her favorite part is was the opportunity to connect with other musicians.
“I love meeting and hearing the other bands and soloists during the event,” she said. “It really brings home the concept of the West Michigan music scene – it really is a family, and Walk The Beat only encourages the good vibes and friendships between musicians and music lovers alike.”
Walk the Beat also plans a “sister” event this year in Albion, with 20 venues and 40 acts performing. Registration for that begins in May.
Visit walkthebeat.org for more information and to download the artist registration form.
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC