ON THE MUSICAL RADAR
May boasts at least a half-dozen first-time musical events, several with an unusual twist to give spring 2013 added zip. Here's a peek at the uncommon lineup:
West Michigan's Music Legends at We Do Care Charity Extravaganza, noon-8:30 p.m. May 5, free, Knights of Columbus Hall in Wyoming – Starring 17 acts from Grand Rapids' past – from The Eschelons to The Trace to Mona and Kristi Sallie – this benefit for We Do Care (aiding children with cancer) pays tribute to some of the area's most historically important artists. Organized partly by Kim Rush of the West Michigan Music Hysterical Society website, the show reflects "the earliest days of rock 'n' roll," garage-rock, jazz, soul, gospel, classic rock and blues.
Bimini Brothers 30th Anniversary Show, 8 p.m. May 11, $10 advance, $12 day of, The Intersection in Grand Rapids – Incredible as it seems, Dennie Middleton and Nick Lewis have put in three decades as the Bimini Brothers parody rock band: Middleton estimates that since 6thgrade in Sparta, the duo has played their "stupid songs" 4,000 times. "Hell, we've been at this as long as WLAV and AC/DC," he said.
Active Commute Week Celebration, 4:30 p.m. May 17, free, Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids – Organized by the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition (and coinciding with National Bike to Work Day and the Grand Rapids Film Festival), this concert features singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles, rock's The Mines and the debut of the bluesy Jim Shaneberger Band, plus screening of the film,Bicycle Dreams.
World Fiddle Day, 2 p.m. May 18, free, Riverside Park in Grand Rapids – Bows will be sawing and strings bending. Launched by musician Caoimhin Mac in Ireland last year, Remus fiddler Bruce Bauman pulled this Grand Rapids version together with Garry Zack, Jean Neal and Bruce Ling. Musicians representing "all skill levels" can drop in and jam the afternoon away. Violins, violas, cellos, upright basses and other stringed instruments are welcome; no wind instruments or drums.
Bona-Who? Pig Roast and Music Festival, noon-midnight May 18, free, Cedar Springs – Year four of this event designed to give young musicians a platform for performing has grown to feature nine youth and adult bands and a pig roast. Just bring blankets, chairs, beverages. Consumption of alcohol by minors strictly prohibited.
Honor by August playing the Seven Steps Up Courtyard Concert, 2:30 p.m. May 19, $10-$15 ($25-$40 VIP), Seven Steps Up in downtown Spring Lake – This first-ever outdoor concert hosted by Seven Steps Up's listening room features Washington D.C. modern rock's Honor by August and Grand Rapids prog-bluegrass'Fauxgrass Quartet, raising funds for The Little Red House adult care services agency. Organizer Gary Hanks says the courtyard holds 2,000 people, with local food and beer available on site.
Greg Nagy playing at Tip Top Deluxe, May 31; $5. Finish the month by whooping it up in a live recording of Michigan blues guitarist Greg Nagy and band playing two shows on May 31. Come and your cheers could forever be enshrined on CD.
For the generation raised on early rock, the B-sides of treasured 45s by The Beatles, Kinks, Zombies and even an obscure act like The Clique was a thrill unlike any other. Grand Rapids' appropriately named The B-Sides deftly revive that flush of excitement. Its two- and three-minute originals recall the twangy guitar pop, sweet hooks and delicious harmonies of the '60s ("Let Her Go," "Mary Had a Baby," "I'll Be There"), while adding a smidgen of modern garage rock. The B-Sides – Tommy Schichtel, Pete Curry, Christopher Schichtel and David Stanton – have roots in (and share sonic textures with) local retro bands The Concussions and The Fuzzrites. But like the slightly edgy, psychedelic B-sides of old, it all sounds like nothing else on 2013's musical landscape.
Flashing Blue Lights
The Formal Introduction of Flashing Blue Lights
From the opening guitar lines and rich vocals of "I Can't Breathe," it's clear Grand Rapids' Flashing Blue Lights is up to something delightfully rootsy and mighty good on this debut recorded at River City Studios. As songwriter/rhythm guitarist/bassist/co-producer Jason Roy puts it, the band inspired by Neil Young, The Beatles, Ryan Adams and Noel Gallagher set out to make a cohesive, layered album with straightforward lyrics, not just a "willy-nilly" collection of tunes. Roy, his brother/singer Tim Roy, lead guitarist Jordan Stricklen, drummer Luke Rockhold and co-producer Austin Ruhstorfer did that and more in an album that adroitly spans American and British influences, and rock, folk and country, too. 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.