Familiar names populate the March Hot Top 5, but the resurgence of the Kalamazoo hip-hop cellist’s year-old album also mirrors his comeback from a devastating accident. The back story at Local Spins.
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Like all artists, Jordan Hamilton has felt the pain of the pandemic and the formidable challenges of navigating a career in music.
But Hamilton also has endured the physical pain, adversity and complications sparked by a jarring 2021 car crash that kept the Kalamazoo hip-hop cellist from playing, working and performing for several months.
In August, Hamilton was driving through a Kalamazoo intersection when his car was struck and demolished by a stolen vehicle that ran a red light. He suffered a broken collarbone and a concussion, with vestiges of those injuries still affecting him today.
“It is miraculous that he is not in worse shape,” fellow musician and friend Seth Bernard wrote in announcing a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help cover Hamilton’s medical bills and lost income. “His car is absolutely destroyed.”
Fans and fellow musicians responded, raising more than $33,000 for the cause.
And with help from his mother and sister – and rehabilitation exercises – Hamilton has been back on stages doing what he does best: Wowing audiences with his musicianship, compelling songs and rhymes, and his uplifting attitude.
“It’s still a little bit blurry. There are moments when it’s completely fine and there are moments where I just feel like everything’s ringing and I’m in a daze,” said Hamilton, adding that moving his left arm to play the cello can still be “a bumpy ride. … Other than that, I’m good to go.”
Hamilton’s comeback even extends to airplay for an album, “Vibrations,” that he released more than a year ago: The instrumental recording jumped back into the Local Spins Hot Top 5 Chart for March, a chart representing the local and regional releases receiving the most airplay at Grand Rapids’ WYCE (88.1 FM).
That album recorded with Andy Catlin, which Hamilton describes as speaking “to the classical part of my life,” is the first wholly instrumental project that he’s released. And he’s hoping to add to that discography in coming months.
He plans to release a series of singles and EPs called the “Freedom Project” starting in May, when he’ll also kick off a host of public performances and summer festival appearances.
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“I’m always surprised when people listen to my music, let alone like it. I’m always surprised and grateful,” he said, crediting radio programmers such as those at WYCE who have a “keen ear” for his boundary-pushing tracks.
“My fan base is always very generous. They’re always trying to support not only me, but various artists. They’re generous with their time, generous with their energy. … I want my fan base to be more of a community. I want them to come for each other, not necessarily for me.”
Hamilton, a member of Kalamazoo’s Last Gasp Collective who was named Local Spins’ Emerging Artist of the Year in early 2020, will be featured as part of a star-studded Local Spins’ 10th anniversary celebration in May. He’ll join Julio Gomez, Eric Engblade and Patty PerShayla at Listening Room on May 17 in a special Local Spins edition of Nicholas James Thomasma’s “Songtellers” series. Get tickets online here.
Beyond that, Hamilton’s busy summer includes performances at Blissfest, Cowpie Music Festival, Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Hoxeyville Music Festival and Pumpstock, as well as two appearances at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
Like Hamilton, most of the other names on the March Hot Top 5 are familiar to West Michigan fans.
For the third month in a row, Kalamazoo progressive bluegrass band Greensky Bluegrass retained the No. 1 spot on the chart with its latest album, “Stress Dreams.”
And Grand Rapids vintage country act The Bootstrap Boys continued its run on the chart with the band’s latest release, “New Beginnings,” which came in at No. 4.
An album by another Kalamazoo artist, WOOTS, first showcased at Local Spins in April 2021, found its way to No. 2 on the chart for March, with Michigan native and Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Anna Ash’s new album, “Sleeper,” at No. 3.
Listen to tracks from all of the releases below and view previous Local Spins Hot Top 5 Charts here.
THE LOCAL SPINS HOT TOP 5 ON SPOTIFY: March 2022
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