An impressive cast of regional musicians joined the singer-songwriter for the next-to-last Tuesday Evening Music Club show of 2023. The recap and photo gallery.
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It’s not uncommon for local music fans to run into Ralston Bowles at numerous West Michigan music events, but once a year — as part of Tuesday Evening Music Club at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park — they get to see him perform with an impressive cast of regional musicians.
Such was the case on Tuesday for the next-to-last TEMC show of the summer, when the founder of the series and ambassador of West Michigan’s music scene entertained the crowd with a hefty assist from Jamie Dionne, Justin Wierenga, Nik Carman and Grupo Aye.
Before kicking things off, the Grand Rapids singer-songwriter explained the origins of the series that began two decades ago with Bowles playing every Tuesday. Eventually, the concert series morphed into an opportunity for different local musicians to showcase their talent.
Bowles thanked the gathered fans several times throughout the night for their support of Michigan music, though the audience easily could have said the same right back for all that he’s done to lift up the local scene over the years.
Noted one concertgoer: “I’ve been listening to Ralston for such a long time now —about 50 years — and being here at this show is very comforting.”
While the local icon’s music certainly stands on its own, the addition of Tuesday’s special musical guests enhanced and bolstered his mission of showcasing regional music.
All of the artists brought their varied musical influences to the stage — from folk to bluegrass to salsa music — sending many to the dance floor in front of the stage for the latter half of the show.
“This may be my last time doing this,” Bowles said during an emotional speech in-between songs, “because I’d like to end on a high note and it doesn’t get much higher than tonight.”
(The final Tuesday Evening Music Club show at Meijer Gardens takes place at 7 p.m. Aug. 29 with the Grand Rapids Ballet.)
PHOTO GALLERY: Ralton & Friends at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Holly Holtzclaw