The post-storm weekend of wondrous weather unfurled rock, bluegrass, hip hop, soul and polkas for big West Michigan audiences. Local Spins was there to capture it in photos and video.
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In downtown Grand Rapids, an historically long tradition unwound this weekend not far from a new one.
The city’s longest-running ethnic festival — the Dozynki Polish Harvest Festival hosted by the Polish Heritage Society of Grand Rapids — fired up polka music, Polish food and a colorful marketplace on Calder Plaza, where polka dancers scampered to and fro to upbeat strains from bands such as Gerry Kaminski’s Polka Network, Jimmy K & The All-Stars and the Bruce Packard Band.
Just down the road — in the city’s Monroe North District — the second annual Return to the River Festival sponsored by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., meanwhile, drew crowds of folks who wandered from stage to stage along the Riverwalk Pathway flanking Sixth Street Park along the Grand River for art installations, food trucks, various activities and performances ranging from hip hop to soul to rock and world music.
Both festivals continue today (Sunday, Aug. 27) amid what can only be described as ideal weather for outdoor celebrations. Get the Polish Festival schedule here; the Return to the River Festival online at downtowngr.org.
The late-August musical fun didn’t stop there.
On Friday, hard-rocking Florida band Alter Bridge heated things up indoors at GLC Live at 20 Monroe with Sevendust, while 34 miles away, West Michigan’s own Full Cord bluegrass band — along with special guest, banjoist Michael Bont of Greensky Bluegrass — pumped up a big crowd amid sunny skies at Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium in Grand Haven for the final “Grand Haven Free Fridays” concert of the season.
In Kalamazoo, Friday’s lineup boasted The Baseball Project — the super-group featuring R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Mike Mills, plus Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon — at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe, while Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish revved up Old Dog Tavern nearby. On Saturday, Presidential Brewing hosted a band battle to send the winner to the finals at Kalamazoo State Theatre on Oct. 6, with The Dots coming out on top.
And earlier in the week, The Beths and Disq made a tour stop at Bell’s Beer Garden.
Scroll down to browse all the Local Spins photo galleries.
PHOTO GALLERY: Dozynki Polish Harvest Festival at Calder Plaza
Photos by Holly Holtzclaw and John Sinkevics
PHOTO GALLERY: Return to the River Festival in North Monroe District
Photos by Joshua Tufts and John Sinkevics
PHOTO GALLERY: Alter Bridge, Sevendust, MJT at GLC Live at 20 Monroe
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek