In April, the well-known radio personality kicked off a partnership with Big Event Studios to showcase regional and national stars in a unique way, using a rustic Grand Rapids freight elevator as a backdrop.
EDITOR’S NOTE: No. 9 in Local Spins’ countdown of its top 2020 stories revisits the April world premiere of Kevin Matthews’ ‘Elevator a Go Go’ project that’s teamed up with photo/video guru Robert Neumann to showcase unique video performances by a wide variety of artists. The series launched with singer Bobby Haggard, but has produced several other videos since, including the latest video starring West Michigan rock band Nathan Walton & The Revolving Door. Scroll down to to watch the videos below.
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Take an old freight elevator, fire up some state-of-the-art video and sound gear, bring in some much-admired artists for performances and what have you got?
With confidence that the unusual project would “change the way the world sees, hears and discovers entertainment,” well-known radio personality Kevin Matthews teamed up with Grand Rapids’ Big Event Studios early this year to create an inventive new music video and online series that kicked off in April with veteran West Michigan singer Bobby Haggard.
Regional and national acts followed in the series being produced in a long-empty freight elevator located inside a 100-year-old warehouse just south of Founders Brewing Co. in downtown Grand Rapids.
“I have always been a fan of resources like ‘Jam in the Van’ or the ‘Tiny Desk’ series on NPR, saw this empty freight elevator and thought, ‘We can do something in here,’ ” said Matthews, who made his mark on WLAV-FM in Grand Rapids and as drive-time host on Chicago’s WLUP (with his Jim Shorts radio character considered legendary in the radio business).
“For the past 20 years, I have dived into the Internet world, including live-streaming and podcasting. I have always loved discovering new talent, especially music. Since my radio career, I have always supported and played music I have discovered and wanted to play, not some lame program director telling me what to play.”
Elevator a Go Go represents a collaboration between Matthews, photographer Bob Neumann of Big Event Studios (where the elevator is located) and sound engineer Bob VanProyen. The videos are posted on Facebook and Instagram, as well as on the Elevator A Go Go website.
Neumann said the 48-square-foot elevator has been “transformed into a state-of-the-art visual and sound recording studio,” where his “longtime friend” and singer Bobby Haggard brought his powerful voice for a soulful rendition of William Dawson’s “Soon-Ah Will Be Done” for the first video. (Scroll down for Local Spins’ special premiere of the video.)
BEAUTIFUL SONGS, UNIQUE SETTING RIGHT IN GRAND RAPIDS
Matthews called Haggard “a treasure here in Grand Rapids and has followers around the world. He has had struggles, but these challenges have made him an even more beautiful human being. Bobby chose a stunning song to sing; the only instrument Bobby chose to use was his soul. This beautiful song could not have come at a better time, but Bobby provides calm during this viral storm we are all experiencing.”
The series followed up with the Nashville “modern traditional country” duo The Young Fables, with others still to come. Those interested in having an act booked for the series can email email@example.com.
During the lockdown period caused by the coronavirus pandemic, some artists have performed via Skype or FaceTime. “Our plan is to have them tape a session and then broadcast from the elevator,” said Matthews, noting he’s “reaching out to some great friends in the music world” for future episodes.
“We cannot wait to tap into the world of music, including what is directly in our own backyard of Grand Rapids, but also include the spoken word and other forms of art,” he said.
Matthews — who said Neumann has “the best camera eye in the business” and VanProyen “the best audio ears and mind I have ever worked with” — said the Ellsworth Avenue setting for the Elevator a Go Go Show is perfect for the new venture.
“I have always loved this building, this studio. Bob and his wife have built a mammoth playpen for someone like me and others,” said Matthews, whose son, Trevor Menear, wrote the theme song for the series.
“Having this building so close to Founders is also a great plus. I love the owners and the love that they have for music, entertainment and the best suds in the business. This is going to be great fun while promoting some of the best talent in the world. And it’s all being done here, in Grand Rapids, Mich.”
VIDEO: Bobby Haggard (Elevator a Go Go)
Elevator a Go Go Featuring Bobby Haggard from BIG EVENT STUDIOS on Vimeo.
VIDEO: Nathan Walton, “Show Me The Money” (Elevator a Go Go)
Copyright 2020, Spins on Music LLC