The fifth year of this unique Grand Rapids house show festival has unfurled in four Eastown homes this weekend with an eclectic blend of music and performances. (Photos)
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On a chilly fall evening in Eastown, it was a quiet walk down Benjamin Street.
But drawing closer to the correct address, fans could start to glean music flowing out of a home nearby and they knew they had come to the right place.
Lamp Light Music Festival 2016, billed as a celebration of local music and community in Grand Rapids’ Eastown neighborhood, has unfurled in four different houses along Benjamin Street this weekend.
And with living room stages and even an attic in one house, the music that fans are soaking up come in the form of the most authentic, intimate performances they’ll likely ever enjoy.
DJ Viernes, a member of the lead production team of Lamp Light 2016, said that even if music is already a passion and you’ve already attended a lot of other festivals, Lamp Light’s vibe is special and an event that shouldn’t be missed.
“The intimate environment really creates a respect for the music. The audience is attentive and respectful, and the performers really love that and feed off of that.”
Viernes had a point: Attendees outside chatted with each other, and perhaps even quietly in the kitchen of a particular house, but as audiences drew closer to performers, the surrounding noise level dropped to nearly nothing.
Crowds listen attentively to performers, nodding or swaying, taking in the words and melody of the musicians and singers.
TURNING IT UP AND ‘A GREAT WAY TO GET PEOPLE TOGETHER’
That’s not to say that things don’t get rocking in some of these intimate spaces. Hip hop performers such as Rebel Kuzco had the sound system cranked way up, to the point that fans could hear the artist and his words outside.
Music lovers inside pumped their hands to the beat with local hip hop wordsmiths, joined by other guest performers and talents, including Grand Rapids’ Lady Ace Boogie, winner of the 2016 WYCE Jammie Award for best new artist.
“There’s nothing like it,” Lady Ace Boogie sIS of the Lamp Light Music Festival. “It’s a great way to get people together, and to hear some good-ass music.”
Jessica Fogle played Saturday at Lamp Light, but it wwasn’t her Lamp Light debut. In fact, a Lamp Light festival in prior years helped convince her that West Michigan was where she should stay and continue to pursue her love for music.
“I’m kind of an introvert with my music,” Fogle said. “I never thought of myself as a festival person. But it’s such a welcoming environment here. It is very inspiring. Just being part of such a welcoming, creative environment — its unreal.”
Fogle also said even if you are familiar with the performers on the schedule, there are things you won’t see anywhere else but Lamp Light. Indeed, Michael Beauchamp’s late Saturday night set at Bird House ended up being an all-star affair, with Seth Bernard, Dan Rickabus, Max Lockwood and Mark Lavengood (fresh from their “Prine Time” weekend shows) plus Fiona Dickinson all joining the Kalamazoo artist on stage.
“There are new collaborations between artists, as well as stripped-down versions of popular sets,” she said. “You’ll see new sides of these performers you’ll never see anywhere else.”
That unparalleled experience continues today (Sunday) with Bernard kicking off a day of 11 performances at noon at Bird House, with things wrapping up there at 8:30 p.m. with Kalamazoo’s The Go Rounds. Get the full schedule online here.
PHOTO GALLERY: Lamp Light Music Festival 2016
Photos by Anthony Norkus, Anna Sink and Matt Marn