The New York musician and singer brings his Midwest solo tour to Grand Rapids’ Midtown on Friday. Learn more about this tunesmith and watch a video of a recent performance.
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New York singer-songwriter Ari Hest grew up in the Bronx, but considered Spring Lake’s Seven Steps Up one of his second homes on tour.
He played the now-shuttered listening room more than a half-dozen times over the years, striking up a friendship with the late Gary Hanks and his wife, Michelle, who owned the unique West Michigan venue before selling it last year.
“So many great memories, but I’ll never forget how kind Gary and Michelle were to me and how dedicated they were to making that venue work,” Hest told Local Spins.
“Gary was a big baseball guy, St. Louis Cardinals fan, so we always talked baseball when I got to the venue each time I played there. It was a haven for independent singer-songwriters and we are all sad it had to end, but so grateful to the two of them.”
This week, Hest returns to Michigan, bringing his compelling songs to the 200-capacity Midtown in downtown Grand Rapids at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $25-$35 and available online here.
The Grammy Award-nominated songwriter has released several albums and toured the nation for more than two decades, with several of his songs featured in films and television shows. He released a 17-track retrospective album, “I Remember When,” in 2021.
Hest said he’s been “writing a ton lately” and audiences on his Midwest tour will get a chance to hear those songs as well as older originals and possibly “a cover or two.”
“Right now, I am writing new songs that I am only releasing through my Patreon page,” he said. “Those who have signed up to hear these songs will vote at the end of the year for their favorites, and I will remix them, possibly add some parts, and put out an album of the fan favorites in early or mid-2024.”
His solo Midwest tour this week also includes stops in Illinois as well as a Saturday (Oct. 7) show at 20 Front Street in Lake Orion, Mich.
As for the best and worst parts about touring? “The best is simply to get up on the stage and play. As I get older, I appreciate it more and more. Worst is the traffic I have to sit through every day to get to the next city or town I’m playing,” he said.
“There’s a little more excitement from audiences lately, perhaps because they harnessed a lot of energy during the months they spent inside staying as safe as possible (during COVID) and want to let it all hang out. At this point, things seem pretty normal out on the road overall.”
For Hest, it’s a musical journey that started after high school, inspired by the likes of Pearl Jam, U2, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young and Carole King. And he’s enthused about getting back in front of Michigan audiences.
“I usually come to Michigan at least once a year, but haven’t played Grand Rapids in at least five years,” he said, “so I’m very much looking forward to my return.”
VIDEO: Ari Hest, “Strangers Again”
VIDEO: Ari Hest, Live With Judy Collins
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