The ambitious week-long showcase of Michigan bands unfurls at eight different venues, plus some busking stations. Get the background, schedule and a playlist at Local Spins.
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When Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert launched the ambitious Sounds of the Zoo festival in Kalamazoo last year, she knew it was worth the hard work, scheduling hassles and financial struggles to showcase the region’s wide-ranging musical talent.
“There is absolutely no shortage of musical talent in Michigan and we can’t wait to showcase the variety of music with the community. We aim to support and shine a light on local, regional and national bands,” she said.
“We have 55 bands this year and we could honestly host a second or third week of music if we had the funds to support it. Michigan is and should be considered a music destination state.”
The free-admission, week-long Sounds of the Zoo – unfurling performances at seven different Kalamazoo venues not counting several busking stations around town – kicks off Monday (Sept. 25) at Bell’s Brewery Back Room and continues through Oct. 1, with the final weekend boasting some big names in Michigan music playing the Bronson Park stage.
Established and emerging regional favorites from across the stage are on tap for the 2023 festival. They include Desmond Jones, Last Gasp Collective, Dixon’s Violin, Full Cord, Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds, Patty PerShayla & The Mayhaps, Jake Kershaw, Hannah Rose Graves, Kait Rose & The Thorns, Nathan Walton & The Remedy, Whorled, Avalon Cutts-Jones and more.
The eclectic, multi-cultural lineup of Michigan acts covers literally every genre, from hip hop and jazz to rock, blues, Americana, folk, bluegrass and soul.
“The goal for year two was to keep Sounds of the Zoo as a unique, free, week-long music festival and symposium that brings together people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy a diverse lineup of talented musicians and music industry topics,” said Hudson-Prenkert, festival founder and executive director.
“Our mission statement is, ‘Creating change through music.’ And we do that by showcasing amazing musical talent, education and connecting our audience, while also inspiring change in both mental health and environmental sustainability spheres.”
So the robust, seven-day entertainment lineup also features a Tuesday workshop covering “A Gigging Musician’s Guide to Live Sound” at La Luna Recording & Sound, singer-songwriter and young artists’ showcases at The Clover Room, and a Sept. 30 workshop on “An Introduction to Blues Guitar.”
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS, ESTABLISHING KALAMAZOO AS A MUSIC HUB
The festival kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Monday (Sept. 25) at Bell’s with performances by three Southwest Michigan acts: soul-based artist Yolonda Lavender, singer-songwriter Elisabeth Pixley-Fink and pianist-singer Sophia McIntosh & The Sages.
It continues at The Clover Room on Tuesday, Old Dog Tavern on Wednesday, Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition and Ruggers Up & Under on Thursday, and Bronson Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Saturday lineup also includes busking stations at Kalamazoo State Theatre, Burnham & Flower Insurance Group and Rocket Fizz featuring 18 different acts, with the performances running from noon-6 p.m.
Building on “solid relationships” with area businesses, Hudson-Prenkert said she’s “very hopeful that Sounds of the Zoo will increase the overall attendees in all our venues located throughout Kalamazoo for the second year.”
As a growing hub in West Michigan’s music scene, Kalamazoo is poised to make a real impact on musicians and audiences through Sounds of the Zoo, she added.
“Sounds of the Zoo was created to help build and unite our community around alive music. By making this a free music festival to all, we break down barriers and create new connections that strengthen our community,” she said.
“Kalamazoo is unique in both its geographic location between Chicago, Detroit and Grand Rapids and its special history in music. This makes it a great candidate to be a music hub, allowing us to help cultivate and establish Kalamazoo as a music destination city in our nation.”
Get a detailed festival schedule that includes busking performances and more information online at soundsofthezoo.com. And save the image of the schedule below on your smartphone to take along with you to the festival.
SOUNDS OF THE ZOO 2023: THE SCHEDULE
SOUNDS OF THE ZOO 2023: THE LOCAL SPINS PLAYLIST
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