Muskegon is a city that works hard and plays hard. While some of the businesses have moved away, others thrive at the hands of entrepreneurs and idealists who keep the city lively. Grab your best pair of jeans and a t-shirt and you can hang out with violinists, painters, bikers, activists, industrialists and paupers all under the Taj Mahal of the lakeshore: the beer tent.
Over the years Grand Rapids has had its fair share of quality music venues. From the oft-remembered classics such as the Reptile House, the Orbit Room and the old Intersection in Eastown, to new stalwarts like Founders, the DAAC, and MXTP just north of downtown, there has nary been a shortage of places to play.
It didn't take long for a little rock and roll anarchy to turn up at the newly re-launched Val-Du-Lakes Amphitheatre. The moment arrived just three songs into the first live set in more than a decade at the legendary outdoor theater. Sal Coz Costa, the lead guitarist for opening night opener My Darkest Days, invited fans to tip over a barricade fence and rush the stage.
After a year and a half performing live, the Kari Lynch Band is creating quite the sensation. From playing out of state to doing shows in local bars, the small town country band has come a long way in a short time.
The Grand Rapids-based country band released its self-titled EP on Tuesday, May 17 on iTunes. The five-song CD showcases lead singer Kari Lynch, Matthew Kok on acoustic guitar, Ryder Jones on electric guitar, Sam Briggs on drums and Chris Bardolph on bass.
Gags, gusto and far more than simple guitar riffs mark New Odyssey's unique stage show. Three guys wield 30 instruments and combine their individual virtuosity to form a raucous production featuring comedy, skits and audience participation.
Matthew Forbush just spent $350 on Lady Gaga tickets. Now, this is a guy who takes pop seriously. "I'm really just a fan of the enormous amount of pop culture she represents," Forbush said. As frontman of Grand Rapids-based electro-pop duo Alexis, Forbush doesn't consider the world of pop an inferior one.
After Labor Day, September becomes a month that triggers a spontaneous whimsy in me that I attribute to some Pavlovian imprint from my hedonistic years. It is rooted in grade school-era visits to autumn apple orchards, indulging in cider and coffee; naked collegiate nighttime soirees in apple orchards, indulging in spiked cider and coffee; the return of the doughnut as an acceptable carbohydrate to the diet.
Some of the best local apples and cider comes from two of the oldest apple orchards in West Michigan. Instead of picking up some hum-drum cider at your grocer, try some from the farm in Kent City at Fruit Ridge Hayrides (11966 Fruit Ridge Ave.). This scenic farm has been operating for more than 125 years. A great excuse to come would be around the third week of September, when owners Kirk and Nancy Briggs launch the Fall Harvest Festival.
Sitting in my cabin up north, where the walls are lined with dead mammals, I couldn't help but think of hiring a taxidermist to wall-mount my favorite dishes for the kitchen. My first Chateau Briand steak lingering in limbo with wood-fired asparagus would hang next to my first Weber-grilled T-bone; Venetian gelato in a Dixie cup could sit next to an old Sweetland's malted.
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