Today’s look back at November 2019 spotlights milestones for a pair of beloved West Michigan music icons, not to mention a St. Joseph musician’s ambitious, unique attempt to play 100 breweries in 100 days.
When The Accidentals, Local Spins and others hatched plans in 2019 for a compilation album that would raise money for beloved Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles — whose wife, Cindy, was battling cancer at the time and later passed away — they put out the word in Michigan’s music community.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
The outpouring of support and contribution of tracks (many of them brand new) was immediate and overwhelming. The result? A Michigan-centric, 33-track, double-album unlike any other in the state’s rich musical history.
Featuring regional stars such as May Erlewine, The Crane Wives, Lindsay Lou, Rachael Davis, Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds, Seth Bernard, Nicholas James Thomasma, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Appleseed Collective, Rick Chyme and many others, the album was a big hit: Hundreds of copies of the album sold in late 2019 and into 2020, with proceeds going to support Bowles.
But that wasn’t the only milestone from November 2019: Bluegrass hero Billy Strings was featured in a two-part interview at Local Spins as he prepared to wrap up a year when he became a true international star and mounted a sold-out national tour that ended with a New Year’s Eve homecoming show at Grand Rapids’ The Intersection.
Plus, Local Spins gave readers a peek into one of the most unusual musical projects of the year: Singer-guitarist St. Joe Jack’s mission to play 100 breweries in 100 days. (Yes, he eventually completed the marathon tour.) Revisit all three stories today at Local Spins.
THE UNPRECEDENTED ‘MICHIGAN MUSIC’: SHOWING LOVE FOR RALSTON BOWLES
That’s how long it took to get commitments from more than 30 Michigan artists for tracks that would appear on the 2019 “Michigan Music” compilation album raising funds to support Ralston Bowles, whose wife, Cindy, was battling cancer.
“Some of the bands we asked to participate asked other bands that they were friends with and we ended up with a double-album,” said avannah Buist, multi-instrumentalist for Traverse City’s The Accidentals.
“There are artists from Kalamazoo, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, all the way up to Iron Mountain on this compilation album. It is a testament to the music scene in Michigan and to the impact Ralston has had on so many in our community.”
The final “Michigan Music” compilation features 33 songs on two CDs, including a classic from Bowles himself: “One More Holiday,” which first appeared on 2004’s highly acclaimed “Carwreck Conversations.”
The roster of Michigan artists includes established acts such as May Erlewine, Thornetta Davis & The Larry McCray Band, The Accidentals, Seth Bernard, Lindsay Lou, Appleseed Collective, Rachael Davis, Nicholas James Thomasma, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Hannah Rose Graves, The Crane Wives, The Honeytones and Miriam Pico among others.
It also features up-and-coming stars Charlie Millard, Remnose, Stephie James, Oh Brother Big Sister, Michigander and Political Lizard, one of several acts contributing previously unreleased tracks to the project.
“When we asked Joe Hertler for a song, he said, “Take whatever song you want. Use it for good. That’s what it’s for, right?” That pretty much sums up the entire Michigan music scene,” Buist said.
All proceeds from CD sales will go “in perpetuity” to support the Bowles family with medical bills and living expenses. The album is available online at theaccidentalsmusic.com, online at Local Spins, and via cdbaby.com.
Like many artists, The Accidentals have been impacted by the work of Bowles, a fixture in the folk and Americana scenes who’s long promoted and nurtured touring bands and singer-songwriters.
Read the rest of the original story here.
BILLY STRINGS MISSES MICHIGAN HOME AMID METEORIC RISE AS BLUEGRASS STAR
With a new album that spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums chart and a sold-out national tour, Michigan-bred Billy Strings has seen a lot of his dreams come true.
As he puts it: “I’m just manifesting my own destiny in a way.”
His latest album, “Home,” debuted at No. 1 right after he snagged guitar player of the year and new artist of the year honors at the International Bluegrass Music Awards in Nashville, where he’s made his home since late 2015.
“Home,” produced by East Lansing’s Glenn Brown and Billy Strings, aka William Apostol, resonates with classic bluegrass fire, psychedelic touches and even a gospel-driven, harmony-filled finish via “Freedom,” which closes out the album.
The sold-out national tour behind that release wraps up in late December (2019) with two shows at Detroit’s Majestic Theater and a New Year’s Eve bluegrass blast at The Intersection in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids show sold out almost immediately after tickets went on sale.
Read the rest of the interview with Billy Strings online here.
ST. JOE JACK PLAYING 100 BREWERIES IN 100 DAYS
Playing 100 breweries in 100 days sounds like the perfect challenge for a beer-loving Michigan musician.
But take it from St. Joe Jack – otherwise known as St. Joseph multi-instrumentalist Jack Adams – this ambitious musical odyssey has required great persistence, dogged determination and a fun-loving, never-say-die attitude.
Since late August (2019), Adams has been rolling out his one-man-band looping show and wetting his whistle nightly at brewpubs across Michigan, from Benton Harbor to Traverse City, Copper Harbor to Grand Rapids.
So far, that journey has covered about 6,000 miles.
Not only that, but as he counts down the days toward his goal, he has brewery patrons at each watering hole crooning a line from “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” to create a “traveling video” that he’s splicing together for a complete song after his unusual tour wraps up in January.
“The booking takes a lot of patience, persistence and follow-up,” conceded Adams, 21, who graduated from St. Joseph High School and attended Grand Valley State University.
“Most of the breweries I’ve contacted were cold calls. I’ve had a lot of laughs and ‘I’ve never heard anybody doing that before,’ and general enthusiasm from whoever is on the phone.”
Copyright 2020, Spins on Music LLC