Hundreds of fans strolled the streets on Grand Haven’s East Side on Saturday in the return of the popular one-day festival which raises funds to assist young musicians. Recap, photos.
After joining the rest of the music world in canceling its 2020 event, Grand Haven’s Walk the Beat festival returned Saturday afternoon to bring the lakeshore city’s East Side alive again with music and fans — and making Grand Rapids’ Stone Soup & The Broken Teeth the grand prize winner in this year’s band competition.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
Nearly two dozen shops and storefronts along the Beechtree Street corridor each hosted a pair of musical acts over the course of the sun-splashed afternoon, with groups from across Michigan unfurling a wide swath of genres and styles for fans who strolled or biked from venue to venue to vote via text for their favorite performers.
In the end, Stone Soup and the Broken Teeth — which prides itself on the seven members’ broad musical tastes, including country, rock, blues, funk and soul — earned the most votes and won 40 hours of recording time at Grand Rapids’ Third Coast Recording Co. Nick Roberts came in second, winning 10 hours of recording time.
“February 2020 was our last show,” said Branden Garner, the band’s guitarist. “And I’m so glad this is our first chance to return. We have been writing new music all through COVID, so it’s great we have a chance to play it.
“I just like that you can walk down the street, and hear so many different kinds of music, from so many different people who just love what they’re doing. It’s always a great day, I’m just thankful.”
The fun was by no means reserved for people in front of the microphones and amps.
Shawn Krohn works with her father at Krohn’s Auto Service, located along Beechtree Street. With their shop back again for the second time as a host venue for the Walk the Beat Festival, Krohn said it has quickly become her favorite event of the summer.
“This event is fantastic,” Krohn said. “It gets people on to the East end of Grand Haven. There aren’t many other events on this part of town. Plus we can communicate and grow closer to other businesses on the east end of town.”
Even more special is the work which continues when the festival has ended. With help from funds collected through a festival raffle, the nonprofit Walk the Beat sponsors countless endeavors and partnerships with groups all across Michigan, all geared toward helping young people learn to play and grow in music. Several programs include providing lessons and instruments to students who would otherwise not be able to afford them.
The event also helped kick off the Ric VanWeelden Music Fund, created in memory of a beloved West Michigan musician who passed away after a battle with cancer. VanWeelden was also a huge supporter of Walk the Beat.
“I’m so excited to bring music back to the streets of Grand Haven’s East side, and to help showcase some of the new businesses that have opened in our neighborhood the last couple of years,” said Bob Moore, president of Walk the Beat. “It’s a nice place to be.”
Moore called the event a great success, with more volunteers helping out the cause than ever before.
And while Stone Soup and the Broken Teeth may have taken home the coveted grand prize, there were many winners on Saturday: fans, performers, venues, volunteers and Walk the Beat staff, who embraced the return of local, live music on the streets of Grand Haven.
PHOTO GALLERY: Walk the Beat 2021 (Grand Haven)
Photos by Matt Marn