Saturday’s long-awaited gala paying tribute to Michigan’s music scene boasted more than 20 performances on several stages, along with an outdoor pre-party. The recap in words and photos at Local Spins.
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It was truly a celebration for the books at The Intersection on Saturday night.
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It was a chance for music lovers from all across West Michigan and beyond to gather once more — to enjoy, share and celebrate live local music from all ends of the genre spectrum.
The WYCE Jammie Awards Show had returned.
From the early evening until late into the night, supporters of West Michigan music and Grand Rapids community radio station WYCE (88.1 FM) celebrated the return of the beloved Jammies, on hiatus due to COVID since 2020. And for the first time, an outdoor pre-party at downtown’s Studio Park got fans warmed up with afternoon sets by KJ & The Good Time Family Band and Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions.
The 22nd Jammies welcomed fans, performers and music lovers of all ages into The Intersection’s three venues. And while the event was modified in some ways from pre-pandemic outings — and attendance wasn’t as robust as some past Jammies — the sets from more than 20 artists still delivered an eclectic range of talent and the attendees had the same happy gleam in their eyes.
One of those modifications from the past: Because of the long COVID hiatus, WYCE opted to give out just a limited number of awards. The 2022 Listeners’ Choice Award — decided by a public vote — was presented to northern Michigan guitarist and singer Jake Allen.
The Ovation Awards, created in partnership with the Michigan Music Alliance, honored those who made a significant impact during the pandemic to save West Michigan stages when venues were closed, specifically individuals who were “trying to uplift the community in very difficult times.”
Those awards honored Scott Hammontree of The Intersection, Michelle Hanks of Spring Lake’s Seven Steps Up, Robby Fischer and Tito Mendoza of Grand Rapids’ Dogtown Studio, Kalamazoo’s Yolonda Lavender, Grand Rapids’ Emilee Petersmark and Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles. (More about that below.)
COMMUNAL ENJOYMENT: ‘THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF GOOD MUSIC’
One of the evening’s first performances came from soulful, West Michigan Americana singer-songwriter Rin Tarsy.
“It’s great, such a beautiful event,” the first-time Jammies performer said after her set. “I am honored to be a part of this amazing community. And now, it will be nice to be able to kick back and enjoy some of the other music from other amazing local groups.”
Albion blues-rock phenom Jake Kershaw had experienced the Jammies before but was no less thrilled to return to the event. Kershaw and his band supercharged the crowd, displaying his impressive, blazing-fast blues-rock guitar licks.
“If you have fun, they have fun. They can tell. That’s what is so amazing about this show,” he said afterward. “It brings so many people together. We need that, especially now when so many things try to tear us apart. These people are out there enjoying the same thing, together. That’s the most important part of good music.”
One of those who’s long championed good music across West Michigan, Ralston Bowles, found his moment in the spotlight more than once on Saturday. Not only did Bowles open the Jammie Awards show with his traditional “Jammies Song,” but he helped close things out by receiving the final Ovation Award of the evening.
A respected singer-songwriter, WYCE programmer and host/founder of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s Tuesday Evening Music Club concert series, Bowles has been a familiar sight cheering on regional acts, drumming up album and merchandise sales for performers and emceeing events.
“The fact that you were here tonight supporting local music says a lot about this community,” he told the crowd, holding his award. “We’ve come through a hell of a lot together. And if it wasn’t for WYCE, I don’t know what the last two-and-a-half years would have been like.”
THE 2022 JAMMIE AWARDS SHOW: SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS
Pre-Party at Studio Park with KJ & The Good Time Family Band, Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions – At downtown’s “Listening Lawn,” Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions kicked things off with an authentic “Dad Rock” performance. KJ & the Good Time Family Band followed with a funky set to get the small but attentive crowd ready before heading over to The Intersection.
Lipstick Jodi — Lipstick Jodi set the tone with catchy synth-pop jams that energized and entertained the Jammies’ earliest attendees on the main Showroom Stage. Between lead singer Karli Morehouse’s powerful vocals and the introduction of a brand new song, the band captured the growing crowd’s attention. “WYCE’s been playing Lipstick Jodi since the very beginning so I think it’s really cool for bands to be able to collaborate here as well,” Morehouse said. “And being able to actually see these other bands because a lot of times we all have shows on the same day.”
Rin Tarsy – Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Rin Tarsy kicked the dust off of The Stache stage with a soft folk-rock set to launch things. Accompanied by a full band, Tarsy’s soothing voice, alongside her acoustic guitar, set the tone for night.
Brie Stoner — Brie Stoner was joined onstage by five band members who accompanied her captivating vocals with a dreamy indie-rock sound. The crowd nodded along, entranced by the cohesive sounds and visuals of the performance.
The Hacky Turtles — The Hacky Turtles drew a large crowd to Elevation with their feel-good funk-rock tunes, quickly inducing fans to sing and dance along. The band included a few brand new songs in their set and were even joined by fellow Michigan musicians Savannah Buist and Katie Larson of The Accidentals for their final song.
MIC Book, Wuzee and Samil – Revving up The Stache stage, MIC Book, Wuzee and Samil delivered a healthy dose of hip-hop bangers. With chunky production and an onslaught of rhymes distributed by the MCs, the set was more than worthy of the enthusiastic applause it received.
The Skinny Limbs — The Skinny Limbs’ signature indie-pop sound enticed fans to Elevation. The five-man band played a few new tunes as well as some classics to engage the audience. “During the pandemic, we couldn’t see live music for a long time, so it feels really nice to be performing at The Intersection and get that connection with the audience,” said Skinny Limbs guitarist Andrew Deters.
Desmond Jones – The Grand Rapids five-piece band lit the 8:30 p.m. time slot ablaze on the main Showroom Stage, unleashing everything from light and airy Americana to crushing Led Zeppelin-infused hard rock. With every member performing in bathrobes in honor of the “jammies,” Desmond Jones certainly didn’t take itself too seriously, except for having a blast on stage and sharing their energy with fans.
Lazy Genius – Genre-melding alternative psych-rock band Lazy Genius uncorked an eardrum-shattering set with heavy dynamics. The hard-rocking band put a slow-core twist on its performance with slow tempos and deep bass.
Major Murphy – At Elevation, indie-rock’s Major Murphy grabbed and held hostage every molecule of oxygen within the venue. Clearly influenced by ’90s bands such as The Breeders, Slowdive and Mazzy Star, Major Murphy’s sound was nothing short of cacophonously beautiful in a live setting.
Odd Space – Odd Space offered up a fresh take on modern indie-rock. Combining silky smooth vocals and crisp guitar riffs, with spacey production (something Portishead might create if they were still around today), Odd Space’s distinctive sound stood out at the Jammies. “I think it is just a wonderful night of music with a lot of local musicians putting on the best show of the year,” said frontman Joey Frankovich. “Before ever playing the Jammies, it was on my bucket list to someday play here, and I would come here year after year as a fan just loving it.”
The Accidentals – A WYCE Jammies staple, The Accidentals, closed the awards show in high-energy fashion with drum solos, special guests — including rapper and Rockford native Rick Chyme — and a contagiously energetic stage presence. With orchestral accents courtesy of their trademark violin and cello, the Traverse City alt-folk band had the crowd chanting for an encore.
Local Spins writers Enrique Olmos, Matt Marn, Holly Holtzclaw, Robert Novak and Benjamin Blackburn contributed to this report.
VIDEO: The 2022 Jammie Awards and Pre-Show
PHOTO GALLERY: The Jammies at The Intersection, Pre-Party at Studio Park
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
PHOTO GALLERY: The Jammies at The Intersection
Photos by Derek Ketchum
PHOTO GALLERY: The Jammies at The Intersection
Photos by Holly Holtzclaw