Big crowds cheered The Soul Syndicate, Grasshoppah, Jake Kershaw, Jimmie Stagger, The Crane Wives, Michigander and all manner of Celtic bands in a week that embraced summer’s musical magic.
On a Tuesday night, record crowds cheered not only The Soul Syndicate at Rockford’s Rogue River After-the-Blues Series but Benjaman James and Michigander at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for the Tuesday Evening Music Club.
On Wednesday night, overflow crowds reveled in the blues-rock chutzpah of young guitarist Jake Kershaw and veteran bluesman Jimmie Stagger at the 97LAV Summertime Blues show outside Walker’s DeltaPlex Arena (an audience of about 3,000) and in the upbeat bluegrass fusion of Grasshoppah at Grand Rapids’ SpeakEZ Lounge for Local Spins Wednesdays (part of a Michigan reunion tour that also played Cowpie Music Festival). The same night, Garrison Keillor brought his “Prairie Home Love and Comedy” tour to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
Photos of The Soul Syndicate, Michigander by John Sinkevics
Photos of Jake Kershaw, Jimmie Stagger by Taylor Mansen and Derek Ketchum
Photos of Garrison Keillor by Kendra Kamp
SATURDAY: Sparta Celtic Festival
Recap, photos by Matt Marn
Michigan instrumental powerhouse The Moxie Strings brought the crowd to its feet at the main event stage. Diana Ladio’s violin work, along with equal parts of performance magic from cellist Alison Lynn and drummer Fritz McGirr, had the crowd clapping along with the song from the first song on. From perfecting blazing fast tunes so fast, it was hard to even keep up with the song tempo, to a beautiful, slow waltz that had dozens of audience members heading up to the stage to dance, the massive crowd loved every note of this fitting tribute to Celtic heritage.
“We are so privileged, especially at this point in time, to be artists who play music like this – to be in a position to be able to unite people, and bring people together,” Lynn told the crowd toward the end of their performance. “There’s a good chance other people around you right now don’t see things the same way you do… and that’s perfectly OK.”
A good reminder that, Celtic or not, we can all find our own reason to celebrate – enjoying the warm sunshine, outstanding music and community — together. — By Matt Marn
SATURDAY: Arcadia Ales’ Riversedge Music Series in Kalamazoo
Photos by Derek Ketchum