The first-year festival pumped up three different Kalamazoo venues Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — and Local Spins was there to capture the action in words and photos.
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Indoors and out, Kalamazoo’s inaugural Sounds of the Zoo festival has unfurled autumn-like splendor in the form of kaleidoscopic musical colors this week at different venues in the Southwest Michigan city.
After kicking off the seven-day event at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe on Monday, the festival moved to Hilton Garden Inn on Tuesday, Old Dog Tavern on Wednesday and The Xperience on Thursday (with outdoor shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday still ahead at Bronson Park).
Local Spins was there to capture the Michigan-centric celebration in words and photos. Check out the recaps here, and scroll down for photo galleries by Derek Ketchum and Chelsea Whitaker.
Consider it a good start for an event that organizers and volunteers aim to continue for years to come.
“I am thrilled with the response and attendance of the community supporting Sounds of the Zoo,” said event founder Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert, “and extremely excited for the rest of the festival.”
TUESDAYWith Kalamazoo’s Carrie McFerrin hosting an interview-style Songwriter Showcase in which she asked each performer questions about their music and writing processes one-on-one, the newly renovated Hilton Garden Inn Garden Grille was packed with attendees — not to mention the occasional hotel guest stopping by to listen. McFerrin opened the night with a song of her own, and transitioned between acts by performing herself.
The evening wowed the audience with sets by 16-year-old up-and-comer Kanin Elizabeth (who recorded her latest record in Los Angeles), the R&B vibes of Dylan Tolbert — providing a twist to the traditional singer-songwriter sound — and performances by Kait Rose, Nicholas James Thomasma and Darcy Wilkin, with a closing duet featuring McFerrin and Brian Koenigsknecht. – By Chelsea Whitaker
WEDNESDAYThe night at Old Dog Tavern kicked off with a small gathering of musicians and recording professionals discussing best practices and preparation for making a record, a chat led by Ian Gorman of Kalamazoo’s La Luna Recording and Sound. He was joined by industry professionals Angelo Kim, Asha Kitchen, Mike Roche and Paul Schaedig.
Immediately following, the Nathan Moore Affair delivered a tribute to late Southwest Michigan powerhouse Dacia Bridges (who passed away unexpectedly in 2019). Moore brought out a few guests to help pay homage to the singer and guitarist: Sounds of the Zoo founder Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert, singer-songwriter Grace Theisen, Annabelle Fuerst and others. World music virtuoso Samuel Nalangira closed out the night with a Ugandan dance party.
Attendees may have been outside at Old Dog Tavern in the chilly fall temps, but that didn’t stop them from coming out and soaking up the music. Fans filled the backyard space, equipped with extra layers and blankets to keep warm. – By Chelsea Whitaker
Kalamazoo’s The Xperience truly was an experience on Thursday. The good-sized room with great drinks and a lot of room to dance hosted soulful Grand Rapids act Serita’s Black Rose, who uncorked a fun set for fans. DJ Mel V closed out the night, getting many in the small crowd out of their seats to dance the rest of the night away. Thursday’s event opened with a music journalism workshop, presented by Hudson-Prenkert and writer Ryan Boldrey. – By Derek Ketchum
Check out Local Spins’ coverage of Monday’s opening night at Bell’s Brewery here: Funk, hip hop, rock light fuse for first-ever Sounds of the Zoo festival
PHOTO GALLERY: Sounds of the Zoo, Days 2 and 3
Hilton Garden Inn and Old Dog Tavern
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
Hilton Garden Inn and The Xperience
Photos by Derek Ketchum
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