Downtown Grand Rapids’ Studio Park piazza will also host summer appearances by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, The Crane Wives, The Verve Pipe, Erin Zindle, Desmond Jones and Red Wanting Blue.
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When it comes to summer 2022, the “Listening Lawn” series has upped the ante when it comes to outdoor concerts in downtown Grand Rapids.
After showcasing local and regional acts with limited seating during the pandemic, the Studio Park piazza off Ionia Avenue SW will rev up starting in June with diverse national touring acts Hiss Golden Messenger & Aoife Donovan, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Pokey LaFarge, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Carsie Blanton and Red Wanting Blue while boosting capacity to 500 for its 2022 concerts.
And much-beloved Michigan acts will be part of the three-month series, too, including the return of folk-rock’s The Crane Wives, platinum-selling alt-rock band The Verve Pipe, Ann Arbor’s Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds, singer-songwriter Brie Stoner, Grand Rapids jam band Desmond Jones and The Insiders Tom Petty tribute, which launches it all on June 8.
The folk-hued Hiss Golden Messenger wraps up the series on Aug. 15, with Grammy Award-winning Irish-American singer Aoife O’Donovan.
“I’m super proud on any given night in Listening Room that we feature local, regional, national and international talent, and of course, want to achieve that for the outdoor programming as well,” said Quinn Mathews, Studio Park’s director of music and programming.
“Because of the lack of touring due to the pandemic the past few summers, we haven’t been able to achieve that. Now that folks are back on the road, I’m thrilled to welcome them to our Listening Lawn stage in downtown Grand Rapids.”
Tickets — ranging in price from $15 to $60 — go on sale today (Thursday, April 27) at listeningroomgr.com.
Mathews said while socially distanced seating for Listening Lawn shows during the pandemic was limited to 100-200 people, the 2022 series will boost capacity to 500, with most concerts offering both seated and standing-room tickets.
He stressed that for shows with a seated option, “it will not be ‘bring your own’” chairs because “there will be a premium seated section in front where chairs are provided” with standing general admission in the back. A full bar and snacks will be available, not to mention food from various restaurants surrounding the piazza.
Emily Loeks, director of community affairs for Studio C, called it “a patch of green in the center of Grand Rapids” and “a great place to gather and enjoy a show.”
LOCAL SPINS FEST KICKS OFF STUDIO PARK’S SUMMER OFFERINGS ON MAY 21
The Studio Park piazza and Listening Room actually kick off the summer in robust fashion in May, when Local Spins Fest rolls out six acts over eight hours on May 21, part of a week-long 10th anniversary celebration of the website and online publication. Headlined by Traverse City alt-folk band The Accidentals, Local Spins Fest will also feature sets by the Public Access super-group (with guest Emilee Petersmark of The Crane Wives), Full Cord Bluegrass, Cabildo, Hannah Rose Graves and DJ SuperDre. Tickets for that mini-fest, $20, are available online here.
“I love the idea of staging a mini fest in the piazza; it’s such a community space right in the heart of downtown,” said Mathews.
“Nothing gets me more excited to think of folks being able to come throughout the afternoon and evening for six bands. Come on! In summer 2020, I sat in that piazza alone one night and just thought to myself, just wait, just wait, we’ll get there. And we are there, folks. May 21st is going to be a blast with all of my favorite people in one spot.”
Additional investments in staging and sound have been made to the outdoor venue over the past two years, along with a pavilion featuring a full bar and snacks.
Mathews added that spotlighting regional stars such as The Crane Wives, who’ve been on hiatus, and Brie Stoner for the Listening Lawn series is a special treat, too.
“Those are my two most anticipated shows,” he conceded. “I try not to pick favs, but man oh man, am I excited for The Crane Wives.”
From New Orleans funk/R&B/jazz/bebop ensemble Dirty Dozen Brass Band to the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo (which was the last band to play Listening Room before 2020’s pandemic shutdown), the summer series covers a lot of musical ground and “fun energy,” Mathews said.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band (2020)
Carsie Blanton, “Party at the End of the World”
Red Wanting Blue, “Younger Years”
Ladysmith Black Mambazo (2018)
Pokey LaFarge, “Fine to Me”
Hiss Golden Messenger, “Sanctuary”
Aoife O’Donovan, “Phoenix”
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