The week before Christmas and all through West Michigan’s house, there’s plenty stirring musically, including Paul Hoffman/Joe Sturgill, Super Happy Funtime Burlesque and Quadraphonic’s return.
Grand Rapids Symphony’s Cirque de Noel
7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday
DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids
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No need to purchase a 2013 monthly planner or worry about returning that ugly sweater after Christmas. At least, that’s the message from soothsayers convinced we’re doomed as of Friday, when the Mayan calendar ends. Don’t buy it, though you certainly have an opportunity to party like its 1999 again with some entertaining end-of-the-world bashes this week. And there are some great concerts after the world ends. Which it won’t.
Hard to ignore this combination of classical music, aerial artistry, contortionism and dancing: Cirque de Noel returns to Grand Rapids for three visually stunning, pre-Christmas shows with the Grand Rapids Symphony, featuring everything from “Sleigh Ride” to “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” performed while jugglers juggle, gymnasts spin and magicians get magical. Read more in Jeffrey Kacmarczyk’s swell MLive story.
Get more details and tickets through the Grand Rapids Symphony’s website.
Fareed Haque and MathGames
9:30 p.m. Thursday
Life Size Ghost, Native Signal, The Wildfire
9:30 p.m. Saturday
Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
Fareed Haque’s instrumental prowess is unassailable and it’s even more astonishing with his band, MathGames. As he puts, “We are from the future.” It’s back to the future when he returns to Founders this week with his Chicago-based “jazztronica” virtuosos to leave folks’ mouths agape. Check out a video of that musical prowess below.
And on Saturday, it’s an unassailable Michigan lineup of rock bands, headlined by Life Size Ghost, an instrumentally adroit five-piece band I recently discovered to my delight. Add Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire to the mix and this is a fab night, indeed.
Paul Hoffman, Joe Sturgill, Bob Buchanan
Inside the Mitten Concert Series
7 p.m. Friday (doors open at 6 p.m.)
$10 advance, $12 day of show
Watermark 920, Muskegon (920 Washington Ave)
This concert showcase hosted by Watermark Live and featuring Michigan-based musicians and bands has put the spotlight on some ultra-talented acts in 2012 and that continues with Friday’s show starring a remarkably eclectic lineup of singer-songwriters.
The bill features Muskegon native Paul Hoffman, aka PHoffman, mandolinist for the award-winning Kalamazoo-based bluegrass outfit Greensky Bluegrass, guitarist-singer Joe Sturgill, of Muskegon’s now-on-hiatus Four Finger Five, and veteran folk-blues musician Bob Buchanan, who started by playing Greenwich Village in the early 1960s and collaborated with the legendary Graham Parsons.
This shapes up to be a pre-Christmas evening to remember, with a moderated discussion with the artists led by Lou Jeannot. The intimate setting also features a bar with Michigan beer and wine, sandwiches and more. There are even arrangements with a nearby hotel for out-of-towners. Get more information at the official website and purchase tickets online through Brown Paper Tickets.
To preview the concert, I’ll spotlight Sturgill on my Local Spins Live radio show at 10 a.m. Wednesday on News Talk 1340 AM.
Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts’ End of the World Party
With Tokyo Morose, Haunted Leather
8 p.m. Friday
$8 ($4 for UICA members)
UICA, Grand Rapids
This “last hurrah” bash coincides with the UICA’s opening of the “Utopia/Dystopia” exhibition, and features live music by terrific West Michigan bands Tokyo Morose and Haunted Leather, food, drink and, yes, palm readings (which would seem to suggest there is a future). As the institute puts it, “Wouldn’t it be the best party ever if you pretended you only had a few more hours to live?”
Get tickets by clicking here and details at the UICA website. And read a review of Tokyo Morose’s new album as part of the Local Spins end-of-year roundup, which should motivate you to buy those tickets for this show.
Super Happy Funtime Burlesque 50th Anniversary Show
10 p.m. Friday (doors open at 9 p.m.)
The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
Corey Eno Ruffin and his irreverent Super Happy Funtime Burlesque gang are back, surely to poke fun at this whole apocalypse-is-here thing. With a live band and an “all brand new” production of comedy, satire, skits, striptease and “genre-defying” stuff, this 18-and-older show is musical theater like you’ve never seen before. Tickets available here.
(By the way, if the planet survives, SHFB brings its show to Kalamazoo on Saturday, playing a 9:30 p.m. show at Bell’s Eccentric Café, $15,)
Get more details about the show and SHFB’s upcoming schedule at its official website, if there’s anything official about this troupe, that is.
The Verve Pipe’s Holiday Show with AG Silver
7 p.m. Saturday
The Intersection, Grand Rapids
This is the eighth time Brian Vander Ark and The Verve Pipe have hosted a holiday party at The Intersection, which makes this a real rock ‘n’ roll tradition in Grand Rapids.
Don’t expect to hear a bunch of jingly holiday melodies, just hits and crowd faves from The Verve Pipe catalog. With a new album, “Hold On,” to promote, AG Silver opens the show, creating a can’t-miss gathering of West Michigan rock stalwarts. Get more details and the rest of the December concert schedule at The Intersection website.
The Legal Immigrants CD-Release Show with Streetwalking Cheetahs, Chicago Drive, Gunnar Nyblad
8 p.m. Saturday
The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
I’m happy to say I just unwrapped my copy of the new Legal Immigrants’ CD and it busts out of the gate impressively with the kind of fiery and honest sort of rock that falls somewhere between The Strokes, Jack White, Jet and Led Zeppelin, with some scintillating guitar work to boot.
On Saturday, you can experience it all live when the band unveils the new album at The Pyramid Scheme with three other fine local acts. Get more information about the show at this Facebook event page and at the band’s website.
Tickets are available online here. By the way, the Legal Immigrants plan a live recording of their performance so you can sort of be part of history.
Tony Bennett and Mitch Albom at the “One Life Touches Another” Have Faith Haiti Mission benefit at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park (7:30 p.m. Tuesday) – This intriguing pairing of a legendary singer, Tony Bennett, with a best-selling writer, Detroit’s Mitch Albom, should make for quite the evening in the Garden Room at Frederik Meijer Gardens, 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE. Tickets are pricey at $250, but this includes cocktails and dinner and it’s for a good cause: Albom took over leadership of Have Faith Haiti Mission after 2010’s earthquake in Haiti with a goal of providing a safe, nurturing environment for Haitian children, aiding them medically, nutritionally, educationally and spiritually. Bennett will perform with his quartet and Albom will speak. Tickets available through Star Tickets.
The Weatherheads play Acoustic Stew at One Trick Pony (8 p.m. Thursday) – The entertaining form of Americana/country/folk that Grand Rapids’ The Weatherheads produce is perfect for the cozy atmosphere of One Trick Pony. Actually, the same is true for The Trace’s acoustic classic rock and that trio plays One Trick at 8 p.m. Saturday. Call 235-7669 for reservations.
Valentiger at Mulligan’s Pub in Eastown (9:30 p.m. Friday) — This is part of Valentiger’s holiday tour of Michigan. The band plays Shakespeare’s in Kalamazoo on Thursday, followed by Mulligan’s in Grand Rapids on Friday, and The Old Miami in Detroit on Saturday. Admission to the Mulligan’s show is free and The Campanellis, The HandGrenades and Jon Timm also are on the bill. Consider it an early Christmas gift. And check out a video below.
A Billy’s Lounge weekend with blues guitarist Donald Kinsey (9:30 p.m. Friday) and the return of Quadraphonic (9:30 p.m. Saturday) – Honestly, if you never seen either of these acts, it’s high time you did. Donald Kinsey moved to West Michigan from the Chicago area several years ago and we’re lucky to have this legendary guitarist in our presence after he’s played with the likes of Bob Marley and The Kinsey Report. Not only that, but he’s a terrific guy.
As for Quadraphonic, this eclectic, bluesy-rock outfit — Phil Stancil, Conrad Marshall, Ian Jauw, Collin O’Brien and Joe Jauw – first formed in East Grand Rapids and gets back together around Christmas every year to light it up with some amazing music, this time with the band Genetics. Both Billy’s shows sport a $5 cover. (Check out the story I wrote a few years ago about Marshall’s remarkable comeback from heart transplant surgery here. By the way, he tells me he’s doing well, finishing up college in Colorado and looking forward to rocking once again on Saturday.)