After a hiatus of nearly three years due to COVID, the popular series will spotlight a wide spectrum of Michigan-based bands and solo artists twice a month. The schedule, plus listen to music from featured acts.
SCROLL DOWN FOR A PLAYLIST OF SONGS BY FEATURED SPEAKEZ ARTISTS
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
When Local Spins Wednesdays hosted its pre-St. Patrick’s Day show at SpeakEZ Lounge in March 2020 just as the COVID pandemic heated up, no one suspected it would be nearly three years before the series would officially return to the Grand Rapids venue.
But after enduring health restrictions, staff changes, financial setbacks and more, SpeakEZ once again will partner with Local Spins to showcase a wide array of Michigan bands for mid-week shows twice a month.
Starting with February tributes to David Bowie and Tom Petty, the 2023 Local Spins Wednesdays series will spotlight some of the state’s most promising and compelling performers representing a diverse musical spectrum, including Nathan Walton & The Remedy, Brie Stoner, Kate Pillsbury (of The Crane Wives), Jake Kershaw, Conklin Ceili Band and Selkie (for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day party and Conklin Ceili album-release show), Kate Hinote Trio and Organissimo.
“It’s difficult to fully elucidate how tickled I am to bring live music back to the SpeakEZ stage. It means Local Spins can once again regularly showcase our region’s incredible talent in a unique and intimate setting — talent that’s only grown over the past three years,” said Local Spins publisher John Sinkevics.
For SpeakEZ owner Eric “EZ” Albertson, it’s been a lengthy, difficult haul to get to this point.
“We are very excited to bring live music back to Grand Rapids. But we need to do it in a way that is at least cost neutral as our cost of goods has skyrocketed along with inflation, and labor costs have gone higher still. I’ve never seen margins this slim in 32 years in the bar industry,” said Albertson, who said SpeakEZ may have to consider cover charges for its live music in the future.
“I am really excited to ‘get back to normal’ after a three-year slog trying to survive a global pandemic and all the extra unforeseen headaches it produced like labor shortage, supply shortage and inflation. Let’s play some jams. Yes, we have been getting a ton of calls and emails asking if we have live music, so the public seems to no longer be shy about gathering.”
A TRADITION OF MID-WEEK CONCERTS, PLUS FEBRUARY’S ‘TRIBUTE MONTH’
Challenges remain, especially for a small venue that had to struggle with capacity and social-distancing restrictions during COVID, followed by labor shortages.
“Finally, we have the staff, the capacity, the demand and the safety to bring live music back to SpeakEZ,” Albertson said.
The series, curated by Local Spins for more than six years before the pandemic settled in, has highlighted Michigan bands exclusively as part Local Spins’ mission to bolster the state’s music scene. And February traditionally has rolled out as “Tribute Month” with regional artists paying homage to some of music’s most influential acts.
Since March 2020, Local Spins has hosted just three one-off shows at SpeakEZ Lounge, including a jam-packed May 2022 co-headlining show with The Concussions and Earth Radio to help celebrate Local Spins’ 10th anniversary.
The 2023 series — with sponsorship by NC1 Agency — will go on hiatus for the summer, with hopes of resuming in the fall, though a final decision on that hasn’t been made. For now, there’s just excitement about cranking up Wednesday shows again for the winter and spring, especially with a lineup that features some of the region’s most popular emerging stars.
“It’s been a long three years,” Albertson said, “but as George (Harrison) wrote, ‘Little darlin’, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter. Little darlin’, it feels like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun.’ ”
LOCAL SPINS WEDNESDAYS PLAYLIST
VIDEO: The Concussions, Earth Radio at SpeakEZ Lounge
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC