Michigan’s wintry weekend delivered more than snow: Bands heated up stages from Grand Rapids to Comstock Park to Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor. The photo galleries and recaps at Local Spins.
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Five years ago, unseasonably warm temperatures turned Perrin Brewing’s outdoor “Ice Jam” into a “Spring-Like Thaw Fest.”
But with freezing temperatures, snow on the ground and more snow on the way and falling fast, Saturday’s return of the January mini-fest lived up to its Ice Jam moniker.
Hundreds of revelers toasted this Winter Wonderland outside the Comstock Park brewery while being entertained inside a mammoth tent by West Michigan’s Low Phase and all-star bands led by Eric Engblade and Austin Benzing.
And while Low Phase bassist John Bomer quipped that he wasn’t about to pull off playing quick 32nd notes in 30-degree weather, musicians in all three bands rocked out admirably with a bit of help from heaters and supportive attendees.
Speaking of wildly supportive fans, about 2,000 of them turned out the night before at GLC Live at 20 Monroe to cheer the jam-band prowess of regional favorite Umphrey’s McGee, which kicked the night off with “There’s No Crying in Mexico” from the band’s 2021 album (which boasts a ridiculously long 16-word title).
The two-set-and-and-an-encore night also included “Small Strides” and “Hiccup” from Umphrey’s latest recording, 2022’s “Asking for a Friend,” with the band closing out the night and its encore with “All in Time.”
That was just a small part of a rambunctious weekend of music, spearheaded by the return of the in-person Ann Arbor Folk Festival in Ann Arbor. That event started off with the first-ever BanjoFest on Friday night with Valerie June, Rachael Davis, Thao and Yasmin Williams taking the stage for an evening of “magic” at The Ark.
Emceed by Peter Mulvey and SistaStrings, Saturday’s star-fueled lineup at Hill Auditorium featured Ani DiFranco, Patty Griffin (who plays Grand Rapids’ St. Cecilia Music Center tonight), St. Paul & The Broken Bones and many more, captured in photos by Andrew Rogers. As fan James Bullinger put it on Facebook: “Lots of great music last night.”
The rest of the weekend featured Lucius Fox, Bloody Pickups, American Cheese and T.H.V. on Thursday scorching The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, the same venue where Hail Your Highness, Marawanna, Shelby O and Celeste Allison revved things up on a snowy Saturday night.
On Friday at The Intersection, it was all about the funk/electronica strains of The Floozies in the main showroom, and the electronic/hip hop/DJ spectacle of Buku and G-Rex inside Elevation.
In Kalamazoo, meanwhile, fans saw The Clover Room and Sounds of the Zoo roll out the “Teeny-Tiny Winter Music Fest” with Jessica Ivey, Brandon Fitzpatrick, Jordan Hamilton, ilyVox!, Faith Quashi, Grayson Nye, Santino Jones, Brian Koenigsknecht, The Pairs, Bill Caskey and Megan Dooley. Topping it off, Matt Borr played Kalamazoo’s Chili Cook-off and Mark Stuart joined Darcy Wilkin for her Whatzit Hour at Dormouse theatre.
PHOTO GALLERY: Ice Jam at Perrin Brewing in Comstock Park
Autin Benzing, Eric Engblade, Low Phase (Saturday)
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker and John Sinkevics
PHOTO GALLERY: Umphrey’s McGee, Doom Flamingo
GLC Live at 20 Monroe in Grand Rapids (Friday)
Photos by Anthony Norkus
PHOTO GALLERY: BanjoFest at The Ark in Ann Arbor (Friday)
Ann Arbor Folk Festival at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor (Saturday)
Photos by Andrew Rogers