For 19 years, West Michigan residents gathered for Muskegon Summer Celebration, an 11-day party to celebrate the best of summer on the shores of Muskegon Lake.
The festival brought national big-name acts to scenic Heritage Landing, along with thousands of people who patronized downtown businesses after the concerts and other festivities.
Since the 2011 demise of Summer Celebration, several local business owners and entrepreneurs have stepped up to organize more unique, boutique-type festivals and fill the economic void and create a positive and memorable experience that will make visitors want to return.
This year, the Kalamazoo Blues Fest is relocating to Wings Event Center, a move that will double the number of musical acts and keep the festival in the black.
Not long after announcing she’d return to Grand Rapids for a headlining show at The Pyramid Scheme, critically acclaimed New York singer-songwriter Mitski took to social media to confess her love for our fair city, and divulged a secret, dream desire to maybe someday move here.
Festivals and summer go hand-in-hand -- no other season can you spend hours in the hot sun with a corn dog (or two) in one hand and a craft beer in the other, listening to a local band jam out while you browse some arts and crafts. And if that’s not up your alley, we have all kinds of festivals; film, cultural, food, sandcastles, art, and so much more.
This year's Music Issue profiles of some of our favorite bands on the come up in West Michigan, from lesbian indie rockers to an ever-shifting urban collective of skilled rappers, singers and instrumentalists. Also: Our guide to scores of festivals to check out this summer.
As any musician will tell you, buying an instrument is definitely something to be done in person, because you have to hear and feel the damn thing. So whether you’re a seasoned vet, a rookie or even just looking to get started, pay a visit to one of these local musical instrument shops and let their expertise guide your important investment.
There’s no doubt that West Michigan is home to a rich music scene. Yet even with no shortage of traditional venues hosting some of the best in local and touring talent, sometimes it’s the places that may be off the radar, or perhaps boast another claim to fame, that are offering up some of the best shows this side of The Mitten. Here’s a list of some true West Michigan standouts.
At 24 years old, The Autumnatic’s Nick Arthur might seem young to some, but he’s an old-soul veteran when it comes to the local music scene.
The founder, lead vocalist and rhythm/lead guitarist for one of Grand Rapids’ newest and most exciting bands, Arthur grew up on the tried and true grit of Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Neil Young. Taking a cue from such self-made legends, the Cascade native started writing his own songs at a young age and by 16 got his first break when he performed on television.
Before starting the genre-defying Last Gasp Collective, guitarist/vocalist Justin Jay Jackson had an epiphany.
He had just read an article that challenged his reality by posing one important question about his very existence: What would you do if you only had your last gasp left?
For him the answer was simple: Make music.