The world music trio topped Nathan Walton, Elijah Russ and Melophobix in the “friendly competition” that raised $3,700-plus for ShelterBox on a sun-splashed Saturday in Rockford. Recap, photos.
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In the end, the bands, the fans and an international organization that aids those displaced by the war in Ukraine among other things went home happy on Saturday.
The first-ever Rotary Rocks one-day festival and fundraiser along the Rogue River in downtown Rockford raised more then $3,700 for ShelterBox, a disaster-relief nonprofit that aids those across the globe who’ve lost their homes and belongings due to war, conflicts and natural disasters.
The world music trio Whorled came out on top in what was described as a “friendly competition” to see which of the four bands performing at Rockford’s Garden Club Park on Saturday could raise the most money through the online Juke platform in which fans “voted” for their favorite band by donating to the cause.
West Michigan’s Whorled — featuring violinist Ke Venema, accordionist Mariko Venema and guitarist/didgeridoo player Thom Jayne — came in first, followed by funk-rock’s Melophobix (which had folks dancing away at the end of the day), Nathan Walton & The Remedy and The Elijah Russ Collective.
Whorled won studio time at Rockford’s Planet Sunday Studios, a performance slot at the Hoxeyville Music Festival in Wellston in August, a Local Spins gift pack and artist development classes with Elle Lively of the Michigan Music Alliance. (The band also will play the Sparta Celtic Festival in Sparta on Aug. 13.)
It’s the second big win for Whorled: Earlier this year, the band won the inaugural battle of the bands staged by The Stray Cafe in Grand Rapids.
Crowds grew throughout the sun-splashed day, with families reveling in the summer weather and the diverse music that eventually had folks grooving on the “dance floor” to the horn-infused strains of Melophobix, which wrapped up the event hosted the Rotary Club of Rockford.
“I’m happy,” said organizer Todd Olson of the Rockford Rotary. “It’s a little like throwing a party, right? You get everything ready and you don’t know if somebody’s going to show up. So it was nice to see people that showed up have a great time and a lot of fun.”
He noted that the club plans to stage the event again in 2023.
“We can build on it again, absolutely,” he said. “Next year, hopefully bigger. The dream is that I would love to fill this whole area. … We have so many great musicians in West Michigan.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Rotary Rocks at Garden Club Park in Rockford
Photos by Anna Sink