Red Sea Pedestrians, Megan Dooley, Neil Jacobs, Dragon Wagon, Nicholas James, Bob Rowe, Fauxgrass light up downtown Kalamazoo during the day-long celebration. (Story, photo gallery, video)
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERY, VIDEO
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
Non-stop concerts, hordes of music lovers, and guitars, guitars, guitars.
OK, there were plenty of banjos and ukuleles and other beautifully crafted stringed wonders on hand, too, but guitars – and the dozen or so West Michigan bands and solo artists who played them – really ruled the day at the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival on Saturday.
With more than 3,500 people and dozens of vendors jamming Kalamazoo Valley Museum in downtown Kalamazoo, the annual free celebration of stringed instruments boasted an upbeat vibe and boatloads of regional talent.
“It’s great to see a lot of old faces and a lot of new faces and see the smiles on the faces of people having a good time,” said Chris Falk, the museum’s special events coordinator.
He noted the festival seems to be drawing a more diverse audience every year.
PEOPLE BRINGING OWN INSTRUMENTS TO PLAY, CHECKING NEW ONES OUT
“Every year is different. I always feel like I’m getting a bigger demographic every year, but I always get surprised. This year, I see a lot of kids with instruments and that never happened before. More people have shown up with their instruments than any other year.”
The event actually launched with an impressive kick-off concert on Friday night starring Grand Rapids folk-rock band The Crane Wives, a band that’s on the cusp of releasing a new studio album, “Foxlore,” that was recorded in Kalamazoo by Ian Gorman, who performed a rousing, festival-ending set Saturday with The Red Sea Pedestrians.
The upbeat festival’s four stages – especially the Museum Stage – were packed all afternoon Saturday with avid fans and casual spectators alike, with performances by the aforementioned Red Sea Pedestrians, Megan Dooley, Fauxgrass, Nicholas Jams & The Bandwagon, Mark Sahlgren and the Fragile Egos, Brotha James, Joel Mabus, The Northern Fires, The Corn Fed Girls, Bob Rowe & The Green Valley Boys, Neil Jacobs, Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra and others.
Instrument vendors and luthiers of all kinds filled the hallways, with veteran and novice musicians testing out guitars, ukuleles and more as attendees – veterans as well as first-timers – strolled through the various floors of the two buildings where the festival is housed.
Numerous workshops attracted capacity crowds in classrooms at Anna Whitten Hall, too, with musicians and songwriters expounding on everything from live sound to country blues to “banjo majic.”
As a grinning Falk put it at the end of the day, with the Red Sea Pedestrians firing up their peppy, gypsy- and klezmer-hued strains: “A good day.”
A good day, indeed.
PHOTO GALLERY: Fretboard Festival photos by Derek Ketchum
Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC