Teen phenoms Jake Kershaw and Sammy Melchi are among the slate of performers for Heritage Guitar’s party on Saturday commemorating a century of Gibson in Kalamazoo.
Whether Gibson or Heritage, the plant at 225 Parsons St. has churned out some of America’s best-made guitars.
Heritage Guitar Inc. in Kalamazoo may still be a year away from the completion of its renovations but that won’t stop the amount of guitars rolling out of the historic factory at 225 Parsons. And it won’t stop time.
On Saturday, the plant — the original and longtime home of Gibson Guitars and current home to Heritage Guitar — will celebrate 100 years of producing some of the finest guitars this country has ever known.
The free family-friendly event will feature live music, tours of the building, an exhibit featuring historical artifacts, a hands-on guitar experience, a kids area complete with inflatables, complimentary food and more.
The entertainment schedule boasts a number of Heritage sponsored musicians. Bookended by a pair of up and coming teen guitar sensations — Jake Kershaw kicks things off at 11:30 a.m. and 15-year-old Sammy Melchi performs at 4 p.m. for a two-hour set — Kalamazoo’s Shelby Lentz and Rendal Wall, Paul Erdman (Indiana) and Nashville’s Wild Bill Durkin will also hit the stage.
“We’re really excited to have a lineup that represents the history and future of Heritage Guitar and music in Kalamazoo,” said Victoria Leach, sales representative at Heritage. “The lineup has guys who have been playing Heritage guitars for 30 years as well as some young up and comers who are the future of our music industry. It should be great day of music.”
There will be a break in the musical action at 3:30 p.m. as representatives from Plaza Corp., Heritage Guitar and local public officials will speak to the past and present, as well as the future plans of the building at 225 Parsons.
Among the most publicized plans of the plant’s future has been the community-driven effort to save the iconic Gibson smokestack, which has towered above Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood for what is now a century. According to Leach, Heritage is now 25 percent of the way toward reaching its $570,000 goal to accomplish that feat. For more on the stack-saving fundraiser, visit savethestackkalamazoo.com.
“The save the stack campaign is the perfect example of what Heritage means to this community,” Leach said. “And for Heritage Guitar, as well, being in Kalamazoo is truly the heart and soul of what the company is all bout. Along with the craftsmanship and the commitment to quality, one of the things that defines Heritage is the place where we are at 225 Parsons. We hope that everybody in Kalamazoo comes down to help celebrate this major milestone for the community.”
(There is also an invite-only VIP event on Friday night.)
Read more about the history of Kalamazoo’s famous factory as well as renovation plans — which call for a museum, large event space, adjacent restaurant and beer garden that will feature live music — in this recent in-depth Local Spins story.
Heritage Guitar isn’t the only longstanding musical institution celebration a major anniversary in Kalamazoo this weekend: The State Theatre will celebrate 90 years this Friday night. Read more about that event online here.Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC