Despite rain and unseasonable temps, The Crane Wives played their first show in more than two years in Grand Rapids, while in Grand Haven, solo performer Ryan Lynch won a wet edition of Walk the Beat.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Two much-ballyhooed and long-anticipated events endured day-long rain and unseasonable temperatures on Saturday: the return of The Crane Wives in Grand Rapids and the 2022 Walk the Beat festival featuring more than four dozen bands in Grand Haven. Local Spins was there to get wet and cover the action.
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THE CRANE WIVES MAKE SPLASH AS ‘THE RAIN WIVES’ IN GRAND RAPIDS RETURN AT STUDIO PARK
Never under-estimate the passion and perseverance of fans when it comes to a much-beloved band — especially when that band hasn’t played a live show in two-and-a-half years.
Despite persistent rain and unseasonably cool temperatures, more than 300 die-hard and very wet fans celebrated Grand Rapids folk-rock band The Crane Wives’ return to the stage Saturday as part of the outdoor Listening Lawn series in what can only be described as an emotionally triumphant and inspiring spectacle.
“We weren’t sure we’d see anybody out there today,” conceded singer and guitarist Emilee Petersmark, surveying the soggy piazza of downtown’s Studio Park near the end of the band’s set. “This is unbelievable.”
Noted fellow singer-guitarist Kate Pillsbury: “You make it so easy to come back to the stage.”
What the band rightly described as an “amazingly dedicated” legion of fans responded by dancing, vigorously cheering and singing along to every word of Crane Wives classics, all while the rain continued to pelt the piazza amid the gloomy West Michigan day.
With smiles on their faces and a new sense of appreciation for connecting with an in-person audience, band members Pillsbury, Petersmark, bassist Ben Zito and drummer Dan Rickabus didn’t seem to miss a beat after their long hiatus, caused by the pandemic and other concerns.
They unfurled crowd favorites such as “Down the River,” “Queen of Nothing” and “Allies or Enemies,” as well as a brand new song, “Mad Dog,” that earned a rousing ovation from the soused and doused faithful. (Scroll down for a video of the new tune.)
“There really are no other words than ‘thank you’ to express how grateful we are,” said Petersmark.
Northern Michigan singer-songwriter Seth Bernard, founder of Earthwork Music and Title Track Michigan, opened the show with an uplifting set backed by an all-star band.
Three members of The Crane Wives (Rickabus, Petersmark and Pillsbury) were all on stage to help uncork an apropos rendition of Bernard’s “Turkeys in the Rain” to close out the set. – By John Sinkevics and Holly Holtzclaw
PHOTO GALLERY: The Cranes Wives, Seth Bernard at Studio Park
Photos by Anna Sink and Holly Holtzclaw
VIDEO: Seth Bernard, The Crane Wives at Studio Park
WALK THE BEAT POWERS UP GRAND HAVEN AMID SHOWERS
No matter who you ask, Walk the Beat is always an adventure. The 2022 Walk the Beat event in Grand Haven on Saturday afternoon was certainly no exception.
With 25 shops and storefronts all along the Beechtree Street corridor on Grand Haven’s east side ready to play host to a total of 50 bands and musicians, each act went into the weekend ready to compete for the grand prize of 40 hours of studio time at Grand Haven’s iconic Third Coast Recording Company.
And then it rained. It rained a lot.
While the rain — frequently evolving into torrential downpours, complete with nearby thunder claps and lightning strikes — was a powerful presence at Walk the Beat, it couldn’t stop some buckets-braving music lovers from coming out, voting for their favorite performers and having a fantastic time, enjoying sets both indoors and out.
And in the end, singer and guitarist Ryan Lynch was crowned the winner of Walk the Beat, collecting the most votes in the band competition and winning the studio recording package. Originally from Ann Arbor and now based in West Michigan, Lynch performed Saturday at Floyd’s Tire & Auto.
Despite the rain, performers and attendees alike showed appreciation for the event, which also serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit group that provides instruments and lessons to young people.
“We like doing it. People get to walk around and see a lot of different kinds of music from a lot of different kinds of performers,” said Lowell Webster, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist for Christian pop-rock band Our Rock, which performed at the fittingly titled Rainy Day Cafe and has played several Walk the Beat events.
“And as performers, we also get to walk around and see other bands. It’s a community, you see so many people happy to be out. And so many bands don’t have many other opportunities to play out, this is a big chance for them to play. It’s really a blast.”
Those bands ranged from established regional performers Deerfield Run and Asamu Johnson & The Associates of the Blues to emerging acts and young ensembles such as the Grand Rapids West Catholic High School Jazz Band, led by Darren LaPrise.
Cliff Harris, president of the Albion version of Walk the Beat which takes place Aug. 27, called it a great year for the festival, as well as its parent nonprofit. Grand Haven’s event followed the debut of the first Walk the Beat in the White Lake area earlier this summer.
“This is our first summer with three cities,” said Harris. “The teams of each of the cities work together really well; there are different areas expertise in each city, and it all pulls together really well. It’s also a big boost for all three cities. In Albion, it’s a record-setting day for all of the businesses.”
He added that “no matter your talents or interests, Walk the Beat can help you get involved with music and the community in some way. It’s great for the kids who benefit from the nonprofit’s work, the performers who get to play for so many people, and for all the businesses and the foot traffic they get to enjoy.” – By Matt Marn
PHOTO GALLERY: Grand Haven’s Walk the Beat
Photos by Matt Marn