The Summer Sessions series debut on a sun-splashed Monday night along the Grand River channel kicked off July in impressive fashion. Review, photos and video highlights at Local Spins.
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When Texican rock band Los Lonely Boys played Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for the first time with Los Lobos more than a decade ago, I described it as “one of the most magical nights of music” I had ever experienced.
The band’s bluesy, uplifting and dance-inspiring debut Monday night at Grand Haven’s new Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium also proved to be magical in more ways than one:
• The first major concert at this striking and picturesque riverfront venue – hosted by Seven Steps Up, Third Coast Recording and the city of Grand Haven – showcased the sublime potential of this 2,500-capacity stadium which is substantially larger than the Meijer Gardens amphitheater. (The stadium officially opened for events last summer.)
By bringing in a larger stage, adding beer concessions and equipping the venue with a superb sound system, the Summer Sessions series delivered a first-class concert experience at the stadium for the 1,000 or so folks who turned out for the series’ inaugural show. As with any “first show,” some tweaks and improvements are likely for future concerts.
But make no mistake: The spectacular setting on the river channel across from Dewey Hill with the sun setting and boats gliding by really sets this venue apart. Bill Chrysler of Third Coast Recording went so far as to describe it as the “Red Rocks of West Michigan,” referring to Colorado’s highly touted and scenic Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
• With a contagious, upbeat stage presence, Los Lonely Boys may have been the perfect choice to kick off this summer series, frequently toasting and interacting with fans, and churning out dazzling guitar work and vocals.
AN ‘AMAZING’ VIBE ALONG THE RIVER CHANNEL
Los Lonely Boys brothers Henry, JoJo and Ringo Garza, who scored a mammoth hit with the single, “Heaven,” back in 2004 (and closed out Monday’s show with the song), have played the Grand Rapids area several times over the past dozen years, but it’s unlikely they’ve ever performed on a stage like this, with powerboats honking their approval and kayakers cheering them on.
Opening act Tony Lucca, a Michigan native who’s been a frequent performer at Spring Lake’s Seven Steps Up, added to the pleasant summery vibe, with his band delivering a fan-pleasing set of pop-hued country and rock to get things started.
“This is so amazing,” Lucca gushed as seagulls flew by.
That was the same word used by some fans checking out the venue for the first time, with concertgoers taking advantage of the stadium’s varied seating: lawn chairs and blankets on the grassy tiers, folding VIP chairs in front of the stage, bleacher seating at the back, even café tables with umbrellas.
A FUTURE HOT SPOT FOR LIVE MUSIC?
Of course, Los Lonely Boys’ headlining 1-hour-and-20-minute set was the big draw for many and they didn’t disappoint, from their opening cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Bayou” to fiery LLB gems like “Don’t Walk Away,” “Crazy Dream” and “Oye Mamacita” that showed off guitarist Henry Garza’s lightning quick and silky smooth leads, all dripping with emotion.
It seemed only apropos that the night would end with Grand Haven’s Musical Fountain activating a bit early to accompany Los Lonely Boys’ rendition of “Heaven,” the geysers of water on Dewey Hill in the background swaying right along with the happy fans in front of the stage. (See video below.)
All of it made for a loud, passionate and idyllic evening of music on the waterfront in a town that hasn’t seen anything quite like this before, even if too few people experienced it. But when word spreads about this venue, it’s liable to become a summer hot spot.
For those who missed out on Monday’s show: The Summer Sessions Concert Series continues July 18 with country rock’s Poco, Pure Prairie League and Firefall. Details, tickets online here.
PHOTO GALLERY: Los Lonely Boys, Tony Lucca at Waterfront Stadium
Photos by Anthony Norkus
VIDEO: Highlights from Summer Sessions w/ Los Lonely Boys, Tony Lucca
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