Our Saturday round-up of West Michigan music news ranges from info about a rocking new exhibit at Grand Rapids’ presidential museum to a second-year talent competition in Rockford.
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It may not be the first place you’d consider for an exhibit of classic, milestone guitars, but the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids will focus on just that starting later this month.
“America at the Crossroads: The Guitar and a Changing Nation” kicks off Jan. 27 at the Ford Museum, displaying 40 instruments that represent “significant moments in America’s evolution, from the earliest Spanish invasion to the nation’s modern status as a global superpower.”
The traveling exhibition from The National Guitar Museum makes its debut in Grand Rapids and will run through May 28, supplemented by videos, photographs and illustrations outlining significant events, artists and instruments.
As the National Guitar Museum so aptly notes, the guitar has been America’s most popular instrument and “a symbol for everything from generational differences and racial divide on to politics, consumer marketing and fashionable relevance.”
To kick off the exhibit, the Ford Museum will present a talk by luthier and author Dick Boak at 7 p.m. Jan. 27. Hired by C.F. Martin & Co. as a design draftsman in 1976, Boak has not only been involved in conceiving more than 100 signature guitar collaborations with star musicians (Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Paul Simon, Steve Miller), but he led formation of Martin’s Artist Relations Department.
Admission to the Ford Museum, 303 Pearl St. NW, is $12 adults, $10 senior citizens, $9 college students, $6 children 6-8. Get more info online here.
PHIL TOWER MOVES FROM ‘INTERIM’ TO NEW STATION MANAGER AT WYCE
After officially being named station manager at WYCE (88.1 FM) at the end of 2022, veteran Grand Rapids radio announcer Phil Tower has a lot on his plate when it comes to the future of the volunteer-powered community radio station that’s dedicated to showcasing eclectic and regional music.
The station is in the midst of a major studio upgrade, has plans for four “micro” on-air fund drives, will host its traditional Jammie Awards show at The intersection on Feb. 24 and kicks off a new World Music Series at Kusterer Brauhaus on Bridge Street NW at 4 p.m. Sunday (with Celtic music’s Selkie playing the first concert).
Tower had served as interim manager since the spring of 2022 after Jess Martin stepped down from that post.
With more than 25 years of on-air experience – most recently at WOOD AM/FM Radio in Grand Rapids – Tower has a wealth of know-how when it comes to radio operations. Not only that, but he actually served as WYCE’s station manager from the middle of 1995 to the end of 1998, calling that stint “easily one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life personally or professionally.”
In addition, radio veteran and WYCE music director Shane German has added program director to his title and duties. German has served as music director at WYCE since 2018.
SECOND-YEAR ROCKFORD’S GOT TALENT COMPETITION UNFURLS SATURDAY NIGHT
For the second year, the Rockford Area Community Endowment is hosting a “Rockford’s Got Talent” competition at the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium at 7 p.m. tonight (Saturday, Jan. 7).
Nine singers, musicians and performers from the Rockford area will compete in the adult and youth categories with cash prizes awarded to the winner in each. Plus, a separate “people’s choice” award cash prize will go to a performer based on online voting by fans.
Interestingly, last year’s adult winner – pianist and songwriter Porter Kenyon – and the 2022 youth category winner – singer-guitarist Lily Harper – will compete in this year’s talent show, too.
Others performing live for judges will be Mike Boerman and Lauren Hendrick in the adult category; Kaylee & Reese, Madalyn Kennedy, Everleigh Murphy, Brigid Byrne and Izubel in the youth category.
Proceeds from ticket sales and 50 percent of donations from online voting will benefit the Krause Memorial Library Expansion Fund. Get more details and online voting info here.
Tickets are $15 at the door, if any remain.
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