Two Grand Rapids-based acts led the way in what organizers called the biggest, most successful Walk the Beat ever, with throngs of fans strolling the city’s east side to vote for their favorites.
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Grand Rapids rock, funk and reggae band Melophobix topped more than 50 other entries in the 2017 Walk the Beat band competition on Saturday in Grand Haven, with West Michigan “gypsycore” band Cosmic Knot winning this year’s song competition.
Thousands of concertgoers reveled in picture-perfect summer weather on Saturday afternoon, strolling from venue to venue — from auto repair shops to parks to an ice cream shop and more — to vote for their favorite performers and register for a bevy of prizes in what lead event organizer Dave Palmer described as the best Walk the Beat ever in four years of the unusually captivating one-day festival.
“This place is great: all the right ideas and all the right places. It’s more than this community helping this community, it’s this community helping everyone around them,” said Stefan Paul, singer and guitarist for winner Melophobix, an engaging, horn-infused live act that’s grown its audience of fans as fast as any Grand Rapids-area band over the past year.
The group’s performance at Bolt Park on Grand Haven’s east side drew a large and energetic crowd on Saturday afternoon as the group churned out everything from a cover of Billy Joel to dance-hued originals.
“When we played the event last year, Walk the Beat worked through hell and high water to show everyone a good time,” Paul said. “When we played that show last year, we vowed — we made it our quest — to come back and win this year. We need to thank everyone and their dad who came out to help and support us, today and all along the way.”
BEAUTIFUL WEATHER, COMMUNITY AND TRUE HAPPINESS
Sunny all day with temperatures in the 80s, it was a sharp contrast from the torrential rain and tornado that threatened the festival last year.
But just as in 2016, those that turned out for the festival relished sets by local and regional performers representing a wide variety of music styles.
The east side of Grand Haven steadily began to fill with people as the afternoon began. Families with little children, older couples, and everyone in between came on foot and by bicycle to catch sets by 52 bands and solo acts spread out across 26 local businesses that served as host venues across the east end of Grand Haven.
“I am overjoyed at how many people we gave a good day to today,” Palmer said before the winners were announced at Bill Chrysler’s Third Coast Recording Co. at the end of the day.
“My life has changed since I started this, thanks to all of you. I couldn’t go more than five or six steps today without someone stopping me and saying, ‘Great job, Dave.’ And I always answer back, ‘It was all of us,’ because it is all of us. The music community is about all of us.”
WINNING STUDIO TIME AND MORE
Melophobix, the winner of text voting for best band, won a grand prize that includes 40 hours of recording time at Third Coast Recording, a professional website design, photo shoot and sessions for a music video.
Cosmic Knot, led by singer-songwriter Tom Wall, won this year’s best song competition — chosen by a panel of judges — for the original tune, “Like a Gypsy.” The award carries a $2,500 prize.
For Palmer, the record turnout and upbeat vibe “really confirms that I know a lot of kick-ass people. I love this. It really does show there are people out there who care about each other. It is a good bunch to know: their heart is into the music –and the heart is right next to the soul.
“We’re all a part of this, we all share credit. … We all worked hard on this. I’m so happy… I think the word is, bliss. It’s just a wonderful feeling. It’s true happiness – which is what we’re all looking for.”
Saturday’s event also featured performances by 2016 winner, teenage blues-rock guitarist Jake Kershaw and his band, and an after-party that included a bluesy-funk jam session led by Palmer’s own 12-year-old grandson, Avery Jorgensen.
Read more about band winner Melophobix in this Local Spins Artist Spotlight: Melophobix goes cage-free with unfettered horn-hued fusion of rock, funk, reggae and more
Read more about song contest winner Cosmic Knot: West Michigan’s Cosmic Knot untethers lively ‘gypsycore’ music, touts soothing positivity with debut album
VIDEO: Walk the Beat Highlights 2017
Video by John Sinkevics
PHOTO GALLERY: Walk the Beat 2017
Photos by Matt Marn, Stephani Fulks and John Sinkevics
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC