West Michigan music fans have fresh events to embrace this winter: Stovepipe hosts a new songwriter show Feb. 12 at The Pyramid Scheme; Kalamazoo Valley Museum returns in March with its Fretboard Fest.
After operating as a “virtual” event during the COVID pandemic, the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival returns to Kalamazoo Valley Museum in early March as an in-person celebration with performances by Michigan artists on three stages.
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“We are thrilled to be back in person,” said Anna Koenig, weekend programming coordinator for the museum at 230 North Rose St.
“We have worked really hard to continue the festival in the virtual world over the last few years, however, it is really great to see community members come together and really be engaged with luthiers, performers, vendors, and having that all rooted in Kalamazoo’s rich history of guitar manufacturing. It is really special and uniquely Kalamazoo.”
Kicking off on Friday evening with two sets by the Bahar Ensemble and a lecture by Kalamazoo College professor Beau Bothwell on “The History of the Lute & Oud,” Saturday will feature a full day of performances and workshops, along with vendor booths and displays.
Performers — ranging from folk to blues to Americana — will include Mark Sahlgren and Darcy Wilkin, Grace Theisen Band, Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra, Dave Johnson, Bob Rowe & The Green Valley Boys, Fareed Haque and Goran Ivanovic, Joel Mabus and Crossroads Blues Band.
Mabus — a Michigan folk icon and regular performer at Fretboard Fest — also will host a workshop on the basics of claw hammer banjo, with Adam Main leading a session on “Physical Health for Guitarists.” Koenig stressed that organizers are still finalizing the performance and workshop roster.
“We decided to take a conservative approach to bringing the festival back as an in-person event,” Koenig said, noting that the festival might revive its traditional “play-in contest” for performance slots in 2024.
“We have pared down the number of performances, vendors and workshops from previous years, to allow us the space to rebuild capacity, while maintaining a safe environment for staff, attendees, and participants.”
The museum will also provide a livestream of performances and workshops. Get more information and updates online at fretboardfestival.com.
STOVEPIPE STOVER TO HOST NEW ‘SONGWRITER’S NIGHT’ AT THE PYRAMID SCHEME
Justin “Stovepipe” Stover envisions “a listening room-type show but with The Pyramid Scheme ‘rock club’ vibe.”
The Grand Rapids Gothic folk singer-songwriter is launching what he hopes will be a regular “Songwriter’s Night” at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, starting with Emilee Petersmark (The Crane Wives), Chain of Lakes (Kyle Rasche) and Stovepipe’s Caravan at 7 p.m. Feb. 12.
Stover said each performer will play a full set while also talking about the songwriting craft. The set-up will differ from the “in-the-round” type format often associated with singer-songwriter concerts.
“One spin we are doing is encouraging each performer to bring in guest musicians to share the larger scheme stage and give some variety, also in hopes of introducing those musicians so don’t necessarily play center stage but are incredible talents nonetheless,” Stover said.
Audience members will be cautioned to “talk all you want in between sets but give singer-songwriters your attention” during their performances.
Stover hopes to host four or five of the songwriter’s nights at The Pyramid Scheme throughout the year, depending on turnout for the shows.
“We get a lot of great singer- songwriters at The Pyramid Scheme,” he said, “but people seem to think of it more as a rock club, so I’m trying to highlight this angle more.”
Tickets for the Feb. 12 show are $12 and available online here.
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