The three-day Festival of the Arts launched Friday amid sunny, 90-degree weather with more than two dozen performances on five stages. Browse the recap and view the Saturday-Sunday schedule.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERY, SATURDAY-SUNDAY SCHEDULE
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When the Fast Hands Band, Bruce Matthews Band, Eastown Swing and Straight Shot Band launched the 2023 edition of Festival of the Arts on various stages in downtown Grand Rapids on Friday afternoon, the temperature stood at a sizzling 90-plus degrees.
Undeterred, Eastown Swing and GR Groove dove into their jazzy strains in the searing late afternoon and early evening sun, with no canopy covering or shading the Clocktower Stage.
And inside the tented di Suvero Stage, Lowell’s Bruce Matthews and his bandmates even seemed to embrace the sweltering conditions, unfurling a Civil War-themed song about Gettysburg that featured the line, “It was a hot day in July.”
Early June’s July-like heat likely affected Festival’s turnout on opening day, though crowds grew as evening fell.
Other highlights from Day 1, courtesy of writer Holly Holtzclaw:
The Junky Swinger – It’s safe to say this Grand Rapids-based jam band has invented a brand new genre that cannot quite be achieved by anyone but themselves. The Junky Swinger’s lively mix of rockabilly, blues and rock ‘n’ roll intrigued the early evening City Stage crowd and even inspired some to get up and dance. These Festival newcomers are sure to have piqued enough interest for some fans to catch another of their numerous shows this summer (which you can find here).
Heather Bartman Band – When Heather Bartman took the Clocktower stage wearing a sweet sundress and a bright teal blue guitar, the crowd might never have suspected that her twangy country tunes would be delivered with such an emo-rock edge. Bartman’s unique vocal style and heart-wrenching lyrics brought a unique quality to the 8 p.m. set and certainly kept the audience on its toes.
Pretoria – Excited fans, many wearing Pretoria T-shirts, rushed to the barricade the second the band took the stage at Rosa Parks Circle for the 9 p.m. show. It’s no secret that Pretoria has a dedicated fan base here in West Michigan and fans proved their dedication by singing along to every word, dancing non-stop, and even providing the band with a can of bug spray to combat the swarm of gnats on stage. Pretoria’s timeless and catchy indie-rock drew newcomers and long-time fans alike for a high-energy set that closed out Festival’s first night.
PHOTO GALLERY 1: Festival of the Arts, Daytime
Photos by John Sinkevics
Photos by Holly Holtzclaw
THE SATURDAY/SUNDAY SCHEDULE
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