Things aren’t quite back to normal with live music, but WLAV’s free Thursday night blues shows and live music in Founders’ beer garden means Grand Rapids fans will move closer to a pre-pandemic vibe.
When it comes to live music, the summer of 2021 isn’t quite back to those pre-pandemic halcyon days of old, but two new developments in Grand Rapids prove that it’s getting closer.
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WLAV (96.9 FM) has announced three free “Blues on the Grand” shows at Ah-Nab-Awen Park along the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids in July, August and September, and Founders Brewing Co. will host its first-ever performance in its outdoor beer garden later this month.
Billed as the “LAV/Miller Late Blues On The Grand Powered by Impact Power Sports” series, the outdoor concerts on Thursdays will feature Memphis blues-rock guitar Eric Gales on July 15, Serbian-born blues rocker Ana Popovic on Aug. 19 and Michigan’s own young blues guitar phenom Jake Kershaw on Sept. 9.
The shows will start at 6:30 p.m. with “Tone’s Homegrown” local opener, followed by headliner at 7:30 p.m.
West Michigan bands can apply to open the shows online here.
WLAV has a long legacy of “Blues on the Mall” shows on Wednesday nights in the summer — concerts that moved from downtown’s Rosa Parks Circle several years ago to the parking lot outside Walker’s DeltaPlex Arena.
But last year’s COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the Wednesday night series, along with many other events.
‘LIKE COMING BACK HOME’: FOUNDERS TO HOST FIRST BEER GARDEN SHOW
Meanwhile, the Founders Brewing taproom will host its first live music in 16 months when Kalamazoo singer-songwriter (and one-time Founders sound guy) Morgan Haner will play an outdoor show in the beer garden at 6 p.m. July 14. It’s the first time Founders has staged a show in the beer garden.
“Getting to play at Founders feels like coming back home after being away for a long time. I’ve got a lot of friends who still work there, and I really can’t think of a better way to start off a summer of shows,” said Haner, who recently released a new alt-country solo album, “Pocket Knife.”
“This will also be the first time, to my knowledge, that they’ve ever had acoustic acts playing in the beer garden, so it feels like quite an honor to get to be the first to do that as well.”
Isabelle Golczynski, Founders’ retail marketing coordinator, said Haner will perform in between the staircases in the main area of the beer garden. If it rains, the show will be moved indoors to the main stage.
And more live music is in the offing at Founders in the future.
“We’re slowly but surely starting to book more shows and offer live music not only in the beer garden, but on the Founders stage again,” Golczynski said.
Like many Michigan venues, Founders closed in mid-March 2020 due to the pandemic, and has canceled its popular Founders Fest the past two years.
Read more about Morgan Haner and his new self-produced album in this Local Spins Artist Spotlight.
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