ON THE MUSICAL RADAR: The Jammies
Traditions aside, I won't wear my jammies to The Jammies. Despite the punny practice embraced by fun-loving volunteer programmers at community radio station WYCE-FM (88.1), the world truly is better off not seeing me in my sleepwear at the annual awards show celebrating West Michigan's vibrant music scene. But while my jammies will miss the 14th annual bash at The Intersection on Feb. 22, I won't: It remains the single most important — and likely most musically entertaining — evening of the year, with dozens of live performances on two stages and hundreds of musicians.
"It's a total who's who. Everyone is there," said Karisa Wilson, Grand Rapids singer-songwriter, Jammies' 2008 album of the year winner who's nominated again for her latest, Stronger. And she'd attend, regardless. "I go every year. I have a good time."
That upbeat vibe never changes. But with WYCE celebrating its 25th anniversary as the region's most eclectic radio station, one big change rocks the Jammies in 2013: For the first time, the February awards show will be held on a Friday night, rather than Tuesday.
"Traditionalists who object to change of any kind have already expressed their dismay, which I take as affirmation of the move being a good idea," said WYCE Station Manager Kevin Murphy, noting this year's Jammies will take place the night before the popular Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark. "Since Bell's (Brewery) is once again our main sponsor for the show, they are going to incorporate the Jammies into their official Beerfest plans for the weekend."
More important, Murphy says, the switch to Friday should "encourage more people to stay" for the entire show because they won't worry about getting up early for work the next day. And with stellar acts such as The Crane Wives, The Go Rounds and The Fauxgrass Quartet scheduled to perform, and with more than 130 local recordings up for album of the year honors, it promises to be a night of live music folks will long remember. (Doors open at 5 p.m.; get updated information online at wyce.org.)
Three words of advice: Get there early.
"It's already a pretty packed event, but I would anticipate it being standing-room-only on a Friday night," said Intersection General Manager Scott Hammontree, who describes the Jammies as one of the nightclub's favorite events. "It should be the best one ever in terms of attendance."
It will also serve as a showcase for potential future bookings.
"We love to see the local community come out and support local artists," said Hammontree, who describes the Jammies as "a real energetic night with a room full of great people. Gives us an opportunity to take a listen to some acts that might not normally play the room, and in turn, we can try to bring some of them back on other shows."
Not only will Friday's energy mean folks will be "more inclined to hang around until the end," says Murphy, but it could give extra oomph to planned after-parties. It shapes up as a very late night indeed, so maybe packing pajamas isn't such a bad idea after all.
See the full Jammies line-up here.
LOCAL CD RELEASES
Lost in the Shadows
For 16 years, Kalamazoo's Willamena has weathered the highs and considerable lows of the music business while churning out undeniably infectious rock. Now, it might finally capitalize on some of that breakout buzz. Tales of love's power and shortcomings abound on this 10-track CD the four-piece band recorded in different studios around the country over seven years, getting a boost from noted Nashville producer Kevin Beamish (REO Speedwagon, Kenny Chesney, Henry Rollins) on a couple of songs, including the opening track, "When Love Rescued Me," released to radio in mid-January. They also tapped the talents of New Jersey producer John Seymour (U2, Dave Matthews). All that sweat equity and attention to detail paid off. Guitarist-singer Chad Hendrickson said, "We wanted to make sure this record branded Willamena for who we are and have always been: A rock 'n' roll band with pop influences." Mission accomplished.
Thirsty Perch Blues Band
City Lights EP
This is Grand Rapids blues, pure and simple. Driven by Andy Ogrodzinski's killer guitar licks and Chuck Luscombe's soulful harp work, the Thirsty Perch outfit returns to pay tribute to its hometown's "City Lights," not to mention covering the usual tried-and-true blues themes. The unassuming songs just provide an open canvas for the band — Ogrodzinski, Luscombe, Chris Collins, George Ferguson and Chris Carr — to shine and muscle up instrumentally in this EP produced by Michael Crittenden and recorded at Mackinaw Harvest Music.
Music critic and entertainment writer John Sinkevics comments on the local and national music scene at localspins.com (Spins on Music), spotlighting artists at 10 a.m. Wednesdays on Local Spins Live at News Talk 1340 AM.