Category Archives: Local Entertainment

Meijer Gardens concerts: Great names in July but summer is waning

Elvis Costello & the Imposters will be one of a dynamite run of four great shows in five days, July 16-20. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


July is the peak of summer and often the high-point of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series — and there are three takeaways from those facts: a ton of top-notch talent is coming to town; they are mostly sold out but available for a price; and you better make some party plans before fall rolls in.


There will be 10 shows in 19 days this month starting with Sheryl Crow on Wednesday, July 12, and ending with Lifehouse and Switchfoot on Monday, July 31. In between is dynamite run of four great shows in five days, July 16-20 — Huey Lewis & the News, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Barenaked Ladies, and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers with the Wood Brothers.


The Shins (a great alt-pop project of James Mercer) may well be the show of the season. (Supplied)

All four shows are sold out, as are all but one of the July shows, including the highly anticipated July 27 visit by The Shins (a great alt-pop project of James Mercer) — at least it is my most anticipated show. But still not sold out, so at regular Meijer Gardens price, is what should be a great show of relatively new-to-the-scene talents of Andrew Bird with Esperanza Spaulding on July 24.


And, of course, Lyle Lovett will be in town. (Supplied)

And speaking of not being sold out … of the remaining 11 shows in August, seven of them still have tickets available, including Lyle Lovett’s annual visit, Garrison Keillor’s latest Prairie Home tour, the Punch Brothers, Tegan and Sara, John Butler Trio, and the improv/jam-band sounds of moe. with Railroad Earth.


Don’t know much about Railroad Earth but like a lot what mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan said, in supplied material, about the band’s live performances.


“Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song,” Skehan said. “There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.”


After a busy July and August, the Meijer Gardens Summer Concert season will come to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40 — also not sold out.


Also this month, Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater will host its Tuesday Evening Concert Series, with general admission to the Gardens getting people in for  some great local and regional musical acts. The diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all starting at 7 p.m. Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.


For complete information on the concert series tickets and admission prices, visit .


Review: Saints and soul singers at Meijer Garden

Paul Janeway, lead singer of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, put on a show at Meijer Gardens. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

By K.D. Norris


60-second Review 

St. Paul and the Broken Bones, with Durand Jones & the Indications opening, June 9, at Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Mi. 



Having only briefly touched on the music of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, via the song “Call Me” while cruising through my SiriusXM spectrum, I had little knowledge and less expectations when vocalist Paul Janeway and his band hit the stage.


What I got was a tight, often spectacular, set of modern soul — new soul? — during a 19-song, 1-hour and 45-minute set cut a little short, Janeway pointed out, by the Garden’s usual concert curfew.


The band may only have two albums to choose its set from, but the Broken Bones seemed like they had plenty of great songs to offer up: my favorites were “Waves” and “Sanctify”, both off their most recent release, Sea of Noise, while “Call Me” is from their 2014 release Half the City. But the attractiveness of songs such as “Is it Me?”, “Tears in the Diamond” and the encore-closing “Burning Rome” cannot be denied.


To be perfectly honest, however, it is Janeway that makes the Broken Bones unique and may make them a really big band. With all due respects to stellar guitarist Browan Lollar and keyboardist Al Gamble, and the rest of the high-energy band, the night was all about Janeway.


Paul Janeway, of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, waded into the audience at one point the show. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

He pranced around the stage like the love-child of Elton John and Tina Turner. He dove in the audience with the longest mic cord I’ve ever seen — and nobody got strangled. With his deep south accent giving it color, his voice is as soft and soulful, or as rip-it-up soulful, as needed.


After the concert, I can’t wait to see what the band’s third album bring us.


The soulfulness of the night was set up perfectly with Durand Jones & the Indications’ 9-song set, with “Make a Change” being my favorite but maybe the best part of the set being watching Jones channelling James Brown.


May I have more, please? 


Short and sweet here: How did the band get their name?


In a 2014 interview with the University of North Carolina Charlotte News, Janeway was asked.


“The ‘St. Paul’ part is kind of a joke on me, I don’t drink or smoke,” he answered. “The ‘Broken Bones’ is a lyric from probably the first song me and Jess (Jess Phillips, bassist with the band) wrote. ‘…broken bones and pocket change is all she left me with.’ So all she left me with was no money and this band.”


Know nothing about the break-up he’s talking about, but she got the short end of that split.


Grand Rapids jazz festival to offer two days of free music, familiar and new

Edye Evans Hyde and the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra will open the annual free GRandJazzFest. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


There will be some new sounds and some familiar sounds dancing around “The Circle” as the GRandJazzFest 2017 returns to Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19-20.


Jazz will flow from the opening set — the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with the superb Edye Evans Hyde fronting, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday — to the closing set of Grammy nominated keyboardist Nate Harasim & NILS featuring Brandon Willis, at 7 p.m. on Sunday.


The JazzFest, presented by DTE Energy, is free to the public, with a come-and-go, festival seating format.


Richard Elliot (Supplied/Lori Stoll)

Saxophonist Richard Elliot will headline the festival, with a Saturday night closing set at 8 p.m.


“We’re thrilled to have Richard Elliot headline the sixth annual GRandJazzFest,” Audrey Sundstrom, festival founder, said in supplied material. “He’s a huge name in the jazz and R&B world.”


The Scotland-born, Los Angeles-based, Elliot is one of 11 performers and bands who will play throughout the two-day weekend. The eclectic array of jazz performances includes genres from big band to straight-ahead, from contemporary to Latin-Cuban.


“We have music for everyone,” Sundstrom said. “The great thing about jazz is there are so many types.”


Performers such as the Big band sounds of the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with Evans Hyde of vocals, and the jazz organ trip of “organissimo”, with Jim Alfredson on the Hammond B3, Larry Barrris on guitar and Randy Marsh on drums, will be pleasingly familiar to local audiences, the festival always opens eyes and ears to something new.


Pianist Nate Harasim will likely be one of those pleasing new sounds for most people.


Nate Harasim, from an album cover.

In addition to three contemporary urban jazz recordings – including 2011’s very well reviewed Rush – Harasim’s work as a composer, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist earned a Grammy nomination for his work on Dave Koz’s Billboard No. 1 Jazz Album Hello Tomorrow and a 2014 Soul Train nod for Vandell Andrew’s  No. 1 hit “Let’s Ride.” Harasim’s hundreds of stage appearances include performing at President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball with best pal Rahn and playing twice at the Dubai International Jazz Festival, according to his website.


For more information on the GRandJazzFest and a complete line-up, see the event’s Facebook page @GRandJazzFest .

Meijer Gardens summer concerts: No tickets? No problem … yet

A probably sold-out crowd at a previous Meijer Gardens Summer Concert series concert. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Tony Norkus)

By K.D. Norris


St. Paul & The Broken Bones. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/David McClister)

The first concerts of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series hit the stage this week, and most years aftermarket tickets are all that is available for the majority of the shows — and late comers pay the price: this week’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones show, original ticket price of $35, is sold out but available on StubHub for $102.35.


But this season, at last count, 16 of the 28 remaining concerts were not sold out. But, admittedly, many have only a few tickets remaining, with some of them having been returned for sale by the band.


Some of this month’s concerts with tickets available from Meijer Gardens include this week’s Diana Krall show, on Wednesday, June 7, as well as Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot! on June 18, Boz Scaggs on June 21, Daughtry on June 25 and Trombone Shorty on June 29.


Elvis Costello (Supplied Meijer Gardens)

For my money, the most surprising shows with original price tickets still available include Elvis Costello & The Attractions on July 17 — come on, Elvis will be in the building! — as well as the unique pairing and unique music of Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spaulding on July 24, and the always-great summer night with Lyle Lovett (with his large band) on Aug. 2.


Alas, possibly the show of the Meijer Gardens season, the July 27 visit by The Shins (aka James Mercer) and their inventive, modern alt-pop sounds, is sold out, with originally-priced $57 tickets now priced on StubHub at $111. At that price, you may as well head over to Chicago for the Sunday, Aug. 6, Lollapalooza day of concerts and catch The Shins with a ton of other great bands — StubHub tickets are currently $126.


The Meijer Gardens Summer Concert season will come to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40.


Michigander (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Adam Podboy)

Starting in July, Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater will also host its Tuesday Evening Concert Series, with general admission to the Gardens getting people in for  some great local and regional musical acts. Starting Tuesday, July 4, with Green On Blue and The Red Sea Pedestrians, the diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all starting at 7 p.m. Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.


For complete information on the concert series tickets and admission prices, visit .


‘I Am Not Your Negro’ screening at Saugatuck Center for the Arts

By Taylor Koopman

Saugatuck Center for the Arts


The Real to Reel program at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts show the Academy Award-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” on Thursday, June 8, at 7 p.m.


Tickets are general admission, priced at the door at $7 for non-members.


“I Am Not Your Negro” is based on novelist and activist James Baldwin’s last book, “Remember This House”. The unfinished novel was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of Baldwin’s close friends – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In this incendiary documentary, filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book Baldwin never finished.


The film examines race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and rich archival material, questioning black representation in Hollywood and beyond. “I Am Not Your Negro” is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. Peck and Baldwin challenge the very definition of what America stands for.


The New York Times says “whatever you think about the past and future of what used to be called ‘race relations’ this movie will make you think again, and may even change your mind.”


The Saugatuck Center for the Arts is located at 400 Culver St., Saugatuck. For more information visit or call 269-857-2399.


Judy Collins highlights St. Cecilia’s peek at 2017-18 concert series lineups 

Judy Collins will be making her St. Cecilia Music Center debut in early 2018. (Supplied)

St. Cecilia Music Center


The 2017-18 concert season at St. Cecilia Music Center includes the always remarkable Chamber Music of Lincoln Center series and a dynamite lineup for the Jazz Series. But the highlight of the winter may well be a visit  by the incomparable Judy Collins as part of the Acoustic Café Series.


“Since its inception in the 2015-16 season the Acoustic Café Folk Series has expanded its offerings and brought some of today’s up and coming artists, as well as some of the veterans of the singer/songwriter genre,” said Cathy Holbrook, St. Cecilia executive director. “We currently have two artists booked who represent generations of great music making … (including) the appearance of renowned and beloved singer Judy Collins.”


St. Cecilia’s Royce Auditorium stage concerts begin Oct. 26 and run through spring 2018. Series and individual ticket sales have started.


The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center perform three times during the season with CMS artistic directors Wu Han and David Finckel featured in two of the three concerts. Programs include the works of Mozart, Brahms, Dvořák, and Beethovan. Concert dates are Nov. 2, Jan. 18, 2018, and April 19, 2018.


The 11th season of SCMC’s Jazz Series is appropriately entitled “The Encore Season” as it brings back favorite performers from the past 10 years. This special season will feature four concerts with performers who have all appeared at SCMC: Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride on Nov. 16, contemporary jazz pianist Brad Mehldau on Nov. 30, Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter on Feb. 22, 2018, and multi-Grammy nominated baritone vocalist Kurt Elling on March 22, 2018.


As part of a still-evolving Acoustic Café Series, singer/songwriter Collins will make her first appearance at St. Cecilia on Feb. 1, 2018. Before that, guitarist Leo Kottke will return to the Royce stage on Oct. 26. The Acoustic Café Series, in partnership with the syndicated radio show of the same name and its host Rob Reinhart, will bring these two legends of folk to the 2017/2018 season, with additional concerts to be announced later in the year.


Series subscription tickets are available now — subscription prices represent a 15 percent discount on regular single ticket prices and a reduced $7 fee for the pre-concert reception. The usual cost of the pre-concert wine and hors d’oeuvres reception is $15 per person, per concert for all Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Jazz Series concerts.


Single tickets are also available at this time. A post-party is included with each ticket where patrons are able to meet the artists and obtain signed CDs of their music.


For more information and tickets, visit, call St. Cecilia Music Center at 616-459-2224, or visit the box office at 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids.


Law enforcement charity hockey game to benefit 9-1-1 dispatcher

Michelle Bouwens, with her family, is battling cancer and is the focus of a benefit hockey game May 20. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


A 9-1-1 dispatcher — a person who is “always there for you, waiting for your call” — is now in need of support from the community. And the annual Kent Area Law Enforcement’s Old Time Hockey Game offers the public the ability to support while watching some fun hockey action.


The Old Time Hockey Game will take place Saturday, May 20, at Byron Center’s Southside Ice Arena, 566 100th St., with the game beginning at 1 p.m. and an open skate to follow.


Proceeds from the event will benefit Michelle Bouwens, an 18-year veteran 9-1-1 dispatcher who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, according to her boss, is currently in the fight of her life.


“They are always there for you, waiting for your call.  Now, one of them needs your help,” Matt Groesser, Emergency Communications Center manager for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, said in an emailed statement. “The men and women of the Kent County Communications Center answer over 140,000 9-1-1 calls per year (that’s one call every 4 minutes on average).  They are responsible for emergency communications in a community of over 435,000 people.  … Come join us, and hundreds of others from the area, at the 21st annual Kent Area Law Enforcement Charity Hockey Game.”


The charity hockey game is the longest-running law enforcement hockey game in the state. The event is open to the public, with donations accepted.


Bouwens is married and has two sons, ages 9 and 10. She is taking unpaid time off to undergo treatment and surgeries, according to supplied information.


For more information visit the event’s Facebook link.


On tap: Beer Explorers gets cheesy; Black Goat soon on the loose

The Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program will team with Brewery Vivant to offer a class on the tasty relationship between beer and cheese.

By K.D. Norris


The latest Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum is a partnership with Brewery Vivant as participants in the class will learn about pairing beers with a variety of cheeses on Thursday, May 11.


The class will be led by Brewery Vivant’s “Wandering Monk and Certified Cicerone” Ryan Engemann.


Although wine is typically assumed the ideal pairing with cheese, beer is actually the traditional beverage to pair with cheese, according to supplied material. Both traditional farmhouse products, beers pair well with a variety of cheese and can enhance the flavors on your palate.


The class begins at 6:30 p.m. Admission to class, limited to 40 persons, includes three beer samples and cheese samples, as well as access to the Museum’s first two floors. A cash bar will be available.


Tickets are $18, $8 for museum members, and all participants must be age 21 or older. For tickets and more information visit


Perrin Brewing set to release Black Goat


On Friday, May 12, Comstock Park’s Perrin Brewing will unleashing its Black Goat double black lager from its bourbon barrels and offering it on tap at the Perrin Pub. (Bottles will be available on May 15.)


The beer is described as “a bold, sweet vanilla bean aroma rises from the nose which is followed closely by flavors of complex dark chocolate and ripened stone fruit,” according to supplied material. “This lively lager finishes with a unique charred oak character and a smooth, warm caramel bourbon flavor that will exceed all taste bud expectations.”


A whole lot of taste buds can’t wait.


Eclectic mix: Meijer Gardens free Tuesday concert line-up ranges from jazz to indie rock

Slim Gypsy Baggage will be one of the “must hear” regional bands at the Meijer Gardens free Tuesday concert series this summer. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/John Rothwell)

By K.D. Noris


While many big-name musical acts come through town as part of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Summer Concert Series, one of the true pleasures of a West Michigan summer is an evening at the Garden’s amphitheater exploring local and regional acts as part of the Tuesday Evening Music Club concert series.


Red Sea Pedestrians (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Brian Powers)

Starting Tuesday, July 4, with one band known for jazzy explorations and another for musical journeys just about everywhere else — Green On Blue and The Red Sea Pedestrians — the diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all in the 1,900-(mostly grass)seat venue and all starting at 7 p.m.


Oh, and did I mention the concerts are free with Gardens’ admission?


Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.


Michigander (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Adam Podboy)

Playing that night with singer-songwriter Benjaman James, Michigander is described as “emotive indie-rock, delivered through powerful vocals and cerebral lyrics.” The hook for me is the description of the band from its Facebook page: “Michigander has been the toil and passion of Jason Singer since 2013. It’s being built in basements and churches and vans without mufflers. It’s living on stages, floors, and in studios — sounding big and packing light.”


The next week, playing that night with the “downhome, psychedelic jam band” Bigfoot Buffalo, Slim Gypsy Baggage is led by lead singer Morgan Ingle who, accord to the bank’s website, “grew up in a musical family learning guitar from her father and honed her skills as a gifted singer/songwriter.  … Morgan signatures the Slim Gypsy Baggage vibe with her unique voice and thoughtful lyrics, as she covers the eclectic rock, funk and soulful sounds of the band.”


The hook, though, is checking out lead guitarist Cam Mammina. As the website states: “Cam shreds! … Mixing crunchy indie triphop licks, blues, funk, and surf rock sustains.  Needless to say, Cam brings a energized life and a driving shreddiness to SGBs sound.”


Two possible new words in the same sentence: “triphop” and “shreddiness”.  Oh ya.


The rest of the concert series includes:


Miss Atomic and The Zannies, on July 11. Miss Atomic is described as “a melodic blend of modern soul and pop-rock, fresh to the local scene,” while The Zannies is “an antic mishmash of alt-rock, punk, and blues.”


Rollie Tussing & The Midwest Territory Band and The Muteflutes, on July 18. The first is “an old-timey, unique balance of country, early swing, and blues, backed by vaudevillian percussion,” while second is “lilting, thought-provoking, lyric-driven indie folk rock.”


The Moxie Strings and The Dave Sharp World’s Trio, on July 25. Well known to local audiences,


Moxie Strings (Supplied)

The Moxie Strings is “a foot-stomping, rock-influenced, progressive spin on traditional Celtic and Americana classics and originals. While Dave Sharp World’s Trio is “a collaboration between renowned bassist Dave Sharp, Igor Houwat on the ‘oud’ (a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringer instrument), and percussionist Carolyn Koebel, featuring Arabic-based, impromptu adventures into jazz and folk.”


The Moonrays and 6-Pak, on Aug. 1. Two bands also well known locally, The Moonrays offer “vintage, instrumental surf-rock,” while 6-Pak is “an all-girl band, originally formed in 1967, performing the grooviest hits from that era.”


Amy Andrews (Supplied)

Amy Andrews and Taylor Taylor, on Aug. 22. Amy is “a  modern day torch singer and award-winning vocalist, once referred to as a female Elvis” — not my words. Taylor offers “a fresh, young blend of pop and R&B, performing acoustic guitar-driven originals.”


Finishing up the series, as usual, is local music icon Ralston Bowles, as Ralston & Friends will his the stage Aug. 29. Describing Ralston’s music, let alone that of his always changing cast of “friends” is impossible. Start at “folk” and just enjoy the ride from there.


For more information visit .


Saxophonist Richard Elliot to headline 6th annual GRandJazzFest

Headliner Richard Elliot (photo by Lori Stoll)

By Molly Klimas

GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation has announced the performance lineup for the sixth annual festival being held Saturday, Aug. 19, and Sunday, Aug. 20, at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids. Festival organizers announced the lineup at a Lineup Reveal Party held April 26 at H.O.M.E. at The B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids as part of International Jazz Day.

Eleven diverse acts are on tap for West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival coming up the third weekend in August. Saxophonist Richard Elliot headlines the festival. The complete performance lineup for the August event in order of appearance:


  • Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with Edye Evans Hyde, 12:30 p.m.
  • Terry Lower / Jazz Expedition Sextet, 2 p.m.
  • Ed Stone and the Flowmasters, 3:30 p.m.
  • Tumbao Bravo, 5 p.m.
  • Bryan Lubeck, 6:30 p.m.
  • HEADLINER – Richard Elliot, 8 p.m.


  • Jazz Student Band – Blushing Monk, 1 p.m.
  • The Isaac Norris Project, 2:30 p.m.
  • organissimo, 4 p.m.
  • Four80East, 5:30 p.m.
  • Nate Harasim & NILS featuring Brandon Willis, 7 p.m.
Edye Evans Hyde (photo supplied)

“We’re thrilled to have Richard Elliot headline the sixth annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation!” GRandJazzFest Founder Audrey Sundstrom said. “He’s a huge name in the jazz and R&B world. We can’t wait for the energy that he’ll bring to the stage!”

Scotland-born, L.A.-based Elliot is one of 11 performers and bands who will play throughout the two-day weekend. The eclectic array of jazz performances includes genres from big band to straight-ahead, contemporary to Latin-Cuban and more.

“We have music for everyone,” Sundstrom said. “The great thing about jazz is there are so many types. Our goal is to spread the love of jazz in all it forms.”

In addition to kicking off the festival as always with the acclaimed Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra and Edye Evans Hyde performing vocals, several acts make return appearances at GRandJazzFest: Tumbao Bravo, organissimo, Nate Harasim and Bryan Lubeck. A student jazz band also will perform.

Tumbao Bravo (photo supplied)

GRandJazzFest announced this year’s lineup on April 26 as part of International Jazz Day celebrations taking place worldwide honoring the great American art form. The Steve Hilger Jazz Quartet — which has performed at past GRandJazzFests — played April 26 at H.O.M.E. Learn more about International Jazz Day at

The two-day GRandJazzFest festival will again be free thanks to presenting sponsor DTE Energy Foundation, the City of Grand Rapids, Gilmore Collection, GR and Jazz, IntentPR, Corporate Live, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Amway Hotel Corporation, Experience Grand Rapids, Icon Sign, Matt Huizenga Videography, Meijer, MoxieMen, Steelcase, Configura, Fancy Faces, Grand Rapids Community College, Hilger Hammond, Kitchen 67, Levens Strand & Glover, Rick and Mary Stevens, Rockford Construction, Swift Printing, WGVU, and other sponsoring organizations and individuals. Sponsors are still needed. Go here for more info.

Call for entries! Festival 2017 Regional Arts Competition


By Fred Bivins


Attention artists! It’s that time of year again, so get ready to enter your best work on May 4th or 5th


The Festival Regional Arts Competition and Exhibition has a new home for festival 2017 — going back to the old federal building, now the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building of Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD). KCAD has agreed to host the Exhibition and also is sponsoring the Juror Awards again this year. (A festival stage will be on Pearl between the KCAD buildings so the college will be fully included in the footprint of festival 2017.)


The dates for the Exhibition will be June 1, 2017, through July 15, 2017. The opening Reception will be on Wednesday, May 31, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.


While this year’s Exhibition will be in the Fed Galleries @ KCAD, the timeline has dictated that entries are accepted at a different location — the former Water Department Office Building at 1101 Monroe North (just south of Leonard) to take in, and jury art entries. Those selected will be transferred to the Fed Galleries by Festival. Non-selected works will be picked up at 1101 Monroe North.


Drop-off dates and times at 1101 Monroe North:

Thursday, May 4, noon to 6:00 pm

Friday, May 5, 3:00 to 7:00 pm

Saturday, May 6, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm


Pick-up of non-selected works at 1101 Monroe North:

Friday, May 12, 3:00 to 7:00 pm

Saturday, May 13, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm


There are three jurors: Diane Zeeuw will be the juror for Painting and drawing. Tim Priest will be the juror for Photography. Lindsay Isenhart will be the Juror for 3-Dimensional and Multi Media works. Here is the link to their bios.


Following the close of the Regional Exhibition at KCAD, selected Award-winning pieces will be moved to the Grand Rapids Art Museum for display in the East Gallery from July 18 through August 27.


The online registration application and all of the entry information including sizes, entry fees, rules, and juror bios are available here.


For all information and to register go here.

San Francisco to Grand Rapids: St. Cecilia hosts SFJAZZ Collective 

SF Jazz Collective photographed in San Francisco in 2015. (Supplied St. Cecilia/Jay Blakesberg

By St. Cecilia Music Center


St. Cecilia Music Center will bring eight of the best jazz musicians from around the world to the Royce Auditorium stage on May 4. The SFJazz Collective is an all-star ensemble, that changes each season and is comprised of the finest performers/composers at work in jazz today.


SFJAZZ artists appearing at St. Cecilia include Miguel Zenon, alto saxophone; David Sanchez, tenor saxophone; Sean Jones, trumpet; Robin Eubank, trombone; Warren Wolf, vibraphone; Edward Simon, piano; Matt Penman, bass, and Obed Calvaire, drums.


The eight will perform the Collective’s arrangements of the music of Miles Davis as well as their own fresh compositions.



“If you are a jazz lover, this is the performance not to miss,” Cathy Holbrook, St. Cecilia executive director. “An eight-piece band made up of eight of the most talented jazz performers on the jazz scene today will culminate in an exciting night for everyone who is in the audience.”


The SFJAZZ Collective’s mission each year is to perform fresh arrangements of works by a modern master and newly commissioned pieces by each Collective member. More than any other figure, Miles Davis changed the sound of jazz — not once, but consistently over his career — from the birth of bebop in the 1940s to the integration of rock that gave rise to the fusion movement in the 1970’s.


In addition to its outstanding line-up with a leaderless format, the SFJAZZ Collective has also been praised for the innovative approach to repertoire. Through the pioneering approach of simultaneously honoring jazz’s recent history while championing the music’s up-to-the-minute directions, the Collective embodies SFJAZZ’s commitment to jazz as a living, ever-relevant art form.


As soloists, composers, and bandleaders, the SFJAZZ Collective represents what’s happening now in jazz. They also demonstrate that jazz has truly become an international language. Hailing from Ohio, Baltimore, Miami, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and New Zealand, the Collective’s multi-cultural lineup mirrors the explosion of jazz talent around the globe.


However, the jazz community only reached its current state by maintaining its traditions while simultaneously embracing innovation. This, too, is the essence of the SFJAZZ Collective. These exceptional artists come together in the name of jazz as a constantly evolving, quintessentially modern music.


A pre-concert wine and hors d’oeuvres reception for $15 per person is also optional when purchasing tickets for this event.  There will be a a post-concert “Meet-the-artists” reception with all ticket-holders will be held giving the audience the opportunity to meet members of SFJazz and to obtain signed CDs of their music including their newest release.


For more information visit


For semi-serious beer-fueled runners, a new pub run/crawl series

Runners and beer lovers rejoice! The Beer Flight Running Series is coming to West Michigan.


By K.D. Norris


If you haven’t already made your weekend running and beer drinking/crawling plans, HopCat’s Trivium Racing Team has a great idea for you — combine your two loves into one event.


Following up on last year’s successful HopCat Full Circle 5K, the people at Trivium have teamed with other West Michigan breweries to set up the first Beer Flight Running Series.


The series starts this weekend — Sunday, April 30 — with the Growler Gallop Atwater 5K in downtown Grand Rapids. According to supplied material, the 5-kilometer event features a free beer to all runners, a race t-shirt, a unique finisher glass, snacks, a keg for overall winners, growlers and howlers for age group winners, and a live band at the finish.


Next up will be the second running of the HopCat Full Circle 5K, scheduled for Sunday, May 28, also in downtown Grand Rapids. The event feature free beer at the finish, a live band, race t-shirt, unique finisher glass, a beer stop in the middle of the run sponsored by New Holland Brewery, awesome age group awards, and food.


Then, on Sunday, June 18, is the New Holland Pub on 8th 8K in downtown Holland. This event will feature free beer for finishers, live music, race t-shirt, unique finisher glass, age group awards, and snacks. Runners/crawlers can choose to run either a 5k or an 8k course.


The final run/crawl in the series, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 6, is the Race to the Bar Crawl — and this one truly can be a pub crawl. Runners will begin at a designated brewery and run to four other locations. Runners must get a stamp at all four before returning to the finish line.


According to supplied information” “You can take this serious and focus on the running; you can race and enjoy beverages, or you can choose to just have a fun bar crawl and take your time getting from place to place.”


Entrants who do all four events in the series will not only receive your finisher glass from each of the races, but also earn a beer flight paddle to hold all of the glasses.


For more information visit .


Every day is Record Store Day at local record shop hosting new vinyl, live bands

Corner Record Shop, in a stylized image created by Christian J. VanAntwerpen, is a magical place for music lovers. (Supplied)


By K.D. Norris


The people behind the counter at the Corner Record Shop, located in Grandville just over the City of Wyoming border and long known as one of Western Michigan best places to browse for used vinyl and CDs, believe every day is Record Store Day.


But that doesn’t stop them from having a big ol’ party on the annual celebration of independent record stores — this year it being Saturday, April 22 — with an annual rush day of new vinyl releases, a bunch of bands in the back room, and a party-like atmosphere for customers familiar and newbie.


A bit of advice for the newbies, however, don’t say something like “vinyl is coming back” unless you want to look like a dork.


The inside of the Corner Record Shop will be the place for new vinyl and live music Saturday. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

“Record Store Day has probably gotten bigger each year, just the number of releases and the people who are aware of it, as far as the public and customers,” said Bruce Parrott, who often works behind the counter for store owner Steve Williamson. “Vinyl has always been the biggest part of this business. People say all the time ‘vinyl is coming back, vinyl is coming back’. It has never left for us.”


So while there will be new vinyl releases to be checked out at the Corner Record Shop, they will also offer up live music.


“A lot of major labels are releasing stuff on Record Store Day, specifically, and the list gets bigger each year as more record labels participating in the day and offering things up,” Parrott said. “But we will have live bands in the back room too.”


Starting at noon — doors open at 11 a.m. for those wanting first crack at new releases — there will be live music until nearly 7 p.m., with local bands and musicians on stage including, in scheduled order, The Other Brothers, Dangerville, Jake Stevens Band, Tired Blood, Oliver Draper, Nate, Devin and The Dead Frets. (For video of some of the bands set to play, visit the store’s Facebook page.)


Vinyl records, new and rare, are the main market at the Corner Record Shop. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

Whether is is Record Store Day, or any day, the Corner Record Shop is a microcosm of the not-so-new resurgence of vinyl, and part of is the fountain of knowledge of the staff on the subject.


“New vinyl is better, in most cases,” Parrott said. “The majority of releases come out on what is called 180 gram vinyl, which is a thicker, heavier, sturdier vinyl. Better made than they were — there are some ’70s RCA records, when they were going Dynaflex, you could bend in half almost. The quality of stuff coming out is really good.”


Great vinyl is coming out no matter what the genre of music, and trying to pigeonhole the genre of the store’s customers is a fool’s game.


“Just when you do that, then something, somebody changes your mind,” Parrott said. “We have a lot of shoppers of every genre. Obviously, classical listeners are getting a little older, so there is probably less of them then there are in the other genres. There is a lot of jazz people who look for new vinyl; definitely classic rock, the stuff that is getting reissued — everywhere from Prince to Led Zeppelin. We sell a lot of new vinyl of every genre.”


And, while most used vinyl (and CDs) are not all that expensive, depending on taste, rarity and how big a box set, there are exceptions.


“Just two months ago, they re-released all the George Harrison albums, every single one, those also came in a boxed set, which was $450. We sold one — one,” Parrott said. “We also have had (rare) albums that we have had priced at $400, that we put behind the wall (for protection) and sold them.”


Record Store Day started in 2008 as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1,400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally, according to its website. In 2008, a small list of titles was released on Record Store Day but that list has grown to include artists and labels both large and small. In 2015, 60 percent of the Record Store Day Official Release List came from independent labels and distributors.


Corner Record Shop is located at 3562 Chicago Dr SW, Grandville. For more information on events at Corner Record Shop, list them on Facebook @crs.grandville or call 616-531-6578.


Sandra McCracken’s folk-gospel sounds coming to Calvin’s Chapel

Sandra McCracken will bring her songs of hope and faith to Calvin College’s Chapel. (Supplied)

WKTV Contributor


Sandra McCracken — singer, songwriter and modern-day hymn writer — will bring her songs of hope and faith to Calvin College’s Chapel for a concert Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m.


General admission tickets are $5 and tickets are available.



McCracken’s soulful, folk-gospel sound is in full evidence on her latest recording, 2016’s “God’s Highway” — the lyrics to the title song includes the lines: “I see the shore, from troubled seas. this tiny ship that carries me, it is not yet, but it will be. so heaven come …”


The new album, according to her website, “blurs the lines of what church music sounds like, captivating and inviting audiences to sing along.” Many of her songs, such as “We Will Feast In The House Of Zion” and “Thy Mercy My God”, have settled into regular rotation in Christian worship services internationally. She is also a founding member of Indelible Grace Music and Rain For Roots (children’s music) and has been a guest writer for Art House America, She Reads Truth, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today and RELEVANT Magazine.


For a video of McCracken, watch/listen here:


Other Calvin College concerts coming up include: Explosions in the Sky w/special guest, Covenant Fire Arts Center, April 27, 8 p.m., $38 reserved; Overcoats, w/Yoke Lore, Covenant Fire Arts Center, May 3, 8 p.m., free; and RY X, w/Jens Kuross, Covenant Fire Arts Center, May 10, 8 p.m., $15 general admission


For more information visit


Tull to Shins: Meijer Gardens summer concert series run gamut of genres, prices

Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson, shown, will be one of Meijer Gardens summer concert series. (Supplied/Nick Harrison)

By K.D. Norris


The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series, announced this morning, certainly offers something for every musical taste — from the classic rock favorite Jethro Tull (by Ian Anderson) to the college crowd favorite The Shins. It also offers ticket prices ranging from a Huey Lewis high of $95 to a surprising St. Paul low of $35.


Starting June 4 with the teaming of Billy Ocean and Starship in a 1970s and ’80 concert concept called “Replay America”, the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens will bring 30 shows to the park’s terraced lawn, 1,900-seat amphitheater.


The Meijer Gardens members pre-sale period will be April 29 through May 12 this season, with general public sale starting May 13. The annual caffeine-driven members rush, or should we say wait in line, starts at 7 a.m. on April 29 at the park.


Huey Lewis and the News will be the most expensive concert ticket the summer. (Supplied)

The most expensive shows this season will be familiar favorites Huey Lewis & The News on Sunday, July 16, at $95 for the public (member pre-sale prices are $5 cheaper); followed by the return of Sheryl Crow there days earlier, on July 12, at $94; and Elvis Costello & The Imposters a day after Huey Lewis, on Monday, July 17, at $90.


The least expensive shows will be emerging “gospel-tinged, retro-soul garage band” sound of St. Paul & The Broken Bones on June 9, at $35, followed by the combination of under-the-radar East Coast jam ban “moe.” and the newgrass sounds of Railroad Earth, on Aug. 21, at $43.


Falling into the “always a great show/always worth the money” category is the annual (usually) perfect summer night with Lyle Lovett and his Large Band, on Aug. 2, coming in at $68 to the  public.


For the avant-garde (modern alt-jazz?) music crowd, the teaming of Andrew Bird with special guest Esperanza Spalding, on July 24, will be worth the $45 and worth the time to get out of one’s music comfort zone.


James Mercer’s project The Shins may well be the concert with the most buzz. (Supplied)

But the must see concert for the cool crowd, and anybody who appreciates inventive, modern alt-pop music, is the The Shins, July 27, at the very reasonable small venue price of $57. The Shins, fronted by James Mercer, will be on the summer festival circuit this year including Lollapalooza 2017 in Chicago.


Some of the other highlights of the concert series will be the sweet sounds of Four Voices: Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Indigo Girls, on June 12; e Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot!, Boz Scaggs, Barenaked Ladies and Bruce Hornsby — the killer Bs — each having a night on the stage; and Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home tour return with “Love and Comedy”.


The summer unofficially comes to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40.


For complete information on the concert series, and the various ticket purchase/price options, visit


Kishi Bashi’s multi-layered music in concert at Calvin College


Kishi Bashi will be in concert at Calvin College Wednesday night. (Supplied)

WKTV Contributor


Kishi Bashi — singer, songwriter, beatboxing violin player; to just scratch the music surface — will bring his unique sound to Calvin College’s Covenant Fine Arts Center for a concert Wednesday, April 12, at 8 p.m.


General admission tickets are $18 and tickets are available.



Kishi Bashi is the pseudonym of singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter Kaoru Ishibashi, who was born in 1975 in Seattle, grew up in Norfolk, Virginia where both of his parents were professors at Old Dominion University, and studied film scoring at Berklee College of Music were he perfected his violin work, all according to his website.


He has recorded and toured internationally as a violinist with diverse artists such as Regina Spektor, Sondre Lerche, and most recently, the Athens, Georgia-based indie rock band, of Montreal. He remains based in Athens. He is a founding member of the New York electronic rock outfit, Jupiter One. In 2011, he started to record and perform as a solo artist, and soon debuted his full-length solo album “151a”.


As Kishi Bashi, he has played major festivals such as SXSW and Austin City Limits and gone on an extensive US tour with supporting acts such as The Last Bison. In 2016, released his latest recording, “Sonderlust”.


For a video of Bashi, watch/listen here:


Other Calvin College concerts coming up include: An Evening with Sandra McCracken, Calvin College Chapel, April 20 at 7 p.m. $5 general admission; Explosions in the Sky w/special guest, Covenant Fire Arts Center, April 27, 8 p.m., $38 reserved; Overcoats, w/Yoke Lore, Covenant Fire Arts Center, May 3, 8 p.m., free; and RY X, w/Jens Kuross, Covenant Fire Arts Center, May 10, 8 p.m., $15 general admission


For more information visit


Review: Outlaw alt-country woman? Margo Price defies expectations

Margo Price and band were at St. Cecilia Music Center on April 6. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris 


60-second Review


Margo Price and band, April 6, at St. Cecilia Music Center, Grand Rapids, Mi. 


Diving blind into the deep end of Margo Price’s music, as myself and many in the audience did Thursday night at the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Acoustic Café concert, there were expectations, uncertainty and, ultimately, satisfaction — an experience not unlike first dates.


The expectations? That comes from pre-concert research revealing Price has not only played with Jack White (White Stripes) — and is the only country act on his Third Man Records label — but just last month was a prominent presence at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion alt/outlaw country concert in Austin during SXSW (South by Southwest). … Is there two more diverse musical mentors that White and Nelson?


The uncertainty? At St. Cecilia, Price comes onto the stage wearing a pretty pink little dress perfect for the stage of the Grand Ole Opry but with her exposed shoulders showing off a big ole tattoo. Then she kicks off the night with three songs off her newest recording, 2016’s “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”: the beautifully modern sound of “Hands of Time”, the classic country sound of “About to Find Out” and the definitely oldie sound of “Tennessee Song”.


The satisfaction? Just watching Price and her five-piece band breeze through an 18-song, 90-minute set with a setlist equally leaning on her 2016 debut solo recording — a rough-edged if not intentionally alt-country collection of often introspective, intimate songs — and covers of the who’s who of classic and outlaw country.


The songs off the new recording were clearly the focus of her music, including my favorite, “Since You Put Me Down” — “I killed the angel on my shoulder with a bottle of the Bulleit, So I wouldn’t have to hear him bitch and moan, moan, moan” … Dylanesque lyrics and my favorite bourbon; what’s not to like?


But she also paid tribute and high compliment to classics such as Loretta Lynn’s “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven”, Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” and even Waylon Jennings’ honky tonk anthem “Ain’t Living long Like This”.


Price, clearly, is not backing down from her past or her future.


May I have more, please?


Price, coming up to her 34th birthday on April 15, is one of those classic country music tweeners, immersed and comfortable in the past but bringing a fresh sound to the genre — sort of a female version of Jason Isbell, whom I also really like. And, if there is any justice in the world, Price will be following Isbell into the world of bigger audiences and sales.


She was also greatly aided at St. Cecilia by the solid sounds of her band; especially deserving note were  Luke Schneider’s work on pedal steel and dobro and Micah Hulscher’s keyboard sounds — especially perfect was the honky-tonk piano sounds on several numbers.


The only complaint I have with Price’s concert was that I did not have a beer in my hand. There is something about a great country music concert that just begs for a hot summer day, a impending farmer’s tan line, and a cold one in one’s hand. But considering it was snowing earlier in the day in Grand Rapids, I was glad for what I did have on hand.


St. Cecilia’s Royce Auditorium was not full, but as evidenced by a show of hands asked for by music center director Cathy Holbrook, there was a large contingent of fans who had never been in the theater. Already known as an outstanding chamber music venue and a fine jazz stage, the Acoustic Café may have the makings of a up-and-coming country music destination.


Price certainly liked it: she pointed out at one point at the concert that her current small venue tour has seen a lot of big drinking establishments and it was nice to play to a little more focused audience.


Of course, I reiterate, the next time I see her I want it to be 80 degrees and a beer in my hand, maybe with Isbell.


Marc Cohn walking in from Memphis to St. Cecilia Acoustic Café stage

Singer/songwriter Mark Cohn will be bringing stories about his songs and songs about his stories to the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Acoustic Café. (Supplied)

WKTV Contributor


Singer/songwriter Mark Cohn has survived success, sabbatical and a shooting, and has the stories to tell — and he will be bringing stories about his songs and songs about his stories to the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Acoustic Café series later this month.


The Grammy Award winning Cohn — he of 1991’s Grammy winning ballad “Walking in Memphis” — will offer music from his 2016 release “Careful What you Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities” as part of a tour focused on a 25-year retrospective of his career.


Cohn and his songs, new and old, will close this season of the St. Cecilia Music Center Acoustic Café series Thursday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available.

“We will be in the presence of one of the best singer/songwriters of our time on April 13 during Marc Cohn’s concert,” said Cathy Holbrook, St. Cecilia’s executive director. “His newer work is magnificent and his earliest songs are treasured classics.”


Cohn was nominated twice for his hit song, “Walking in Memphis”,  at the 1991 Grammy’s, for Best Pop Male Vocalist and Song of the Year. He ultimately won the Grammy award for Best New Artist. His debut album, with the hit song, was later certified Gold in 1992 and certified Platinum in 1996.


Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Patty Griffin all made guest appearances on Cohn’s early records for Atlantic, as his reputation as an artist and performer continued to grow. In 1998 Cohn took a decade-long sabbatical from recording, ending in 2007 with a new album called “Join The Parade” — inspired by the horrific events following Hurricane Katrina and his own near fatal shooting just weeks before, “Parade” is his most moving and critically acclaimed record to date. He followed that up with the album “Listening Booth: 1970” in 2010.


In March 2016, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his debut album, Cohn released “Careful What you Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities” and the bonus album, “Evolution of a Record”, featuring never-before-heard songs and demos dating back to years before his debut album and the Grammy Award that followed.


For a video of his recent musical work, visit here.


There will be a post-concert “Meet-the-artist” reception open to all ticket-holders with the opportunity to meet Cohn and obtain signed CDs of his releases.


For more information visit


‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter’ coming to St. Cecilia’s Acoustic Café stage

Ready to spark: Margo Price will will bring music from her breakthrough solo release to St. Cecilia Music Center on April 6. (Supplied/Angelina Castillo for Third Man Records)

By. K.D. Norris


Rarely has there been a more perfect title than Margo Price’s 2016 debut solo recording — “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” — she hails from the town of Buffalo Prairie, Ill., after all.


And rarely has a country/Americana singer emerged with a more perfect pedigree: she left college to move to Nashville, cites Emmylou Harris as a major influence and has a voice compared to Loretta Lynn, and has recently shared the stage with the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Jack White.


She also was named “Emerging Artist of the Year” by the Americana Music Association and performed “Hands of Time” from her latest release for the Grammy Award audience early this year.


Oh, and did I mention there’s a story is that she sold her car to help pay for the recording of “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn.?


Price will be bringing here stories and songs from “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” to the St. Cecilia Music Center Acoustic Café series Thursday, April 6, for a 7:30 p.m. concert. Tickets are available.



“We are so lucky to have Margo Price performing here in Grand Rapids at this stage in her career,” said Cathy Holbrook, St. Cecilia’s executive director. “She’s a rising star who is moving very fast in the music spotlight. This concert will be one that the audience will say, ‘I saw Margo Price when she was new and rising on the scene’.”


Price’s music has been variously labeled as not only country and Americana but also honky tonk and outlaw. Her earlier bands include The Pricetags and Buffalo Clover. But with her newest recording, she brings her musical world back to its rural roots.


The 10-track record, according to supplied information, influenced by Price’s years of trying to “make it” in Nashville, the childhood memories of her family losing their farm in Illinois and the pain of trying to cope with the death of her first child. After recording the album, Price shopped the project around in Nashville but found no takers until connecting with White’s Third Man Records — where she’s the label’s lone country artist.


In the last year, Price appeared on Saturday Night Live, both Charlie Rose’s and Seth Meyers’ television shows, took home the Emerging Artist of the Year award at AmericanaFest, and performed with White on an episode of “A Prairie Home Companion”.


For a video of her work, visit here.


There will be a post-concert “Meet-the-artist” reception open to all ticket-holders with the opportunity to meet Price and obtain signed CDs of her releases.


St. Cecilia’s Acoustic Café series will conclude its 2016-17 season on Thursday, April 13, with Grammy Award winning Marc Cohn — he of 1991’s Grammy winning ballad “Walking in Memphis” and so much more. With his newest 2016 release “Careful What you Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities”, his concert will feature a 25-year retrospective of his most well known music mixed with new releases. Tickets for this concert are $35 and $40.


For more information visit


6th Annual GRandJazzFest announces 2017 dates


By Molly Klimas


GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation returns to Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., this Aug. 19 and 20, for the sixth annual festival. The popular family-friendly festival is West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival.


At the 2017 festival in August, 11 diverse jazz artists and bands will perform, including a student jazz band and two major headline acts. Free face painting by Fancy Faces will be available for kids and, if lines aren’t too long, for “kids at heart.”


The two-day festival will again be free thanks to Presenting Sponsor DTE Energy Foundation, the City of Grand Rapids and other sponsoring organizations, individuals and volunteers.


“There’s something special about jazz that brings people together like no other art form. It’s because jazz is so diverse – it has so many styles, from Big Band to Latin to Contemporary, and I’m just naming a few,” GRandJazzFest Founder Audrey Sundstrom said. “GRandJazzFest is what community is all about.”


GRandJazzFest typically draws thousands to the heart of downtown Grand Rapids for the two-day, outdoor event always held the third weekend in August.


Holding the festival in the center city is by design, to enable festival-goers to take in all that downtown has to offer: restaurants, clubs, museums, microbreweries and shops. The festival typically occurs during Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids. The festival’s location provides easy access to those who ride the bus, walk or bike, and is also close to parking.


The 2017 festival lineup will be announced on April 26 at the House of Entertainment and Music (H.O.M.E.) at The B.O.B.



Kentwood 50 talent show gives out ‘Golden Tickets’ to finalists

After an event at the City of Kentwood’s City Hall, the Kentwood 50’s Kentwood’s Got Talent contest now has 11 finalists for the August finals. (WKTV)

WKTV Staff
The field competing in the City of Kentwood’s Kentwood’s Got Talent event, a part of the city’s Kentwood 50 anniversary celebration, got a little smaller Wednesday as 11 finalists were given “Golden Tickets” and an invitation to the August finals.


WKTV was there filming the event, held in City Council chambers at City of Kentwood City Hall, and you can see the video here.


About 30 auditions — ranging from singing to dancing to comedy — were held prior to the deadline of Friday, March 3. The finals will be Aug. 11 at 7 p.m., at a community event outside at city hall.


For more information on Kentwood 50 celebrations, visit


Keller Williams ‘Raw’, but in ‘Sync’ with gig at Intersection 

Keller Williams will be in solo concert this week at the Intersection Lounge in Grand Rapids. (Supplied/C. Taylor Crothers)

WKTV Staff


Buckle up for a wild ride this week as multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams brings his almost indescribable sound — and music from his latest release, “Sync” — to the Intersection Lounge in Grand Rapids.


Williams will be in solo concert Friday, March 17, at 8 p.m. in an all ages show. Tickets are available.


Williams’ latest release, “Sync”, released in January, is actually the first studio album from an ensemble going by the name of KWahtro, which features Williams on vocals and guitar, as well as bassist Danton Boller, guitarist and longtime Williams’ collaborator Gibb Droll and drummer Rodney Holmes.


Williams has said KWahtro performs “acoustic dance music,” according to supplied material.


But his solo shows often find him jumping between instruments and a looping machine, which he uses to build dense, intricate walls of sound.


However, also in January, Williams also released “Raw”, a 10-song collection of solo acoustic material with straightforward performances not enhanced by the looping Williams has become known for during his solo performances. “Raw” showcases the artist and his instrument, according to supplied material.


So, be prepared for that wild ride.


Tickets are $18 advance and $20 at the door (if available), For more information visit .


WKTV to broadcast Golden Gloves boxing action starting this week

Michigan Golden Gloves Boxing action will again be covered by the WKTV sports coverage crew. (Supplied)

WKTV Contributor


WKTV is again in the ring, bringing viewers the excitement of local boxing with our coverage of the Golden Gloves Boxing Championships.


Viewers can catch all the action on Live Wire Comcast Channel 24 with a tape delayed airing of each evening’s bouts the following day.


The West Michigan Championships will be held at The DeltaPlex Arena and Conference Center, 2500 Turner Ave., Grand Rapids.


The schedule for WKTV’s West Michigan Championships will have the Saturday, March 18, bouts airing Sunday, March 19, at noon; and the Wednesday, April 5, bouts airing Thursday, April 6, at 8:30 p.m.


The schedule for WKTV’s state championships will have the Saturday, April 8, bouts airing Sunday, April 9, at noon; the Friday, April 21, bouts airing Saturday, April 22, at noon; and the Saturday, April 22, bouts airing Sunday, April 23, at 6 p.m.


The DeltaPlex will host more Golden Gloves boxing events that WKTV will cover. For complete schedule see . For information about The DeltaPlex, visit


Kentwood 50: Railtown’s golden ale a natural fit for celebration

Railtown Brewing’s Gim Lee, at the brewery’s tap room, will be serving up some spacial Kentwood 50 golden ale this year. (K.D. Norris/WKTV)

By K.D. Norris


Following the City of Kentwood’s special City Commission meeting Monday, held as the kickoff event of the year-long Kentwood 50 celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary, the reception was held at Railtown Brewing Company and the beer of choice was — naturally — a golden ale brewed with a touch of mango.


Two reasons for the beer being the natural choice of the celebration: a 50-year anniversary is considered a “golden” anniversary, and the brew was the pick of some staff at the city’s Park and Recreation Department, which has, shall we say, a relationship with the 2-year-old Railtown.


The addition of the mango flavor? Well, the parks people also liked it so that was good enough for the brewery.


“A lot of the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department are actually mug clubbers here, they have a mug on the wall over there, they are just regulars,” said Gim Lee, who along with his partner Justin Buiter opened the brewery in late 2014. “They are friends and they asked if we would like to do something special (for the anniversary celebration) and we said ‘absolutely.’


“A group of them came, we sat down and collaborated on what they were celebrating and what kind of beer would work with that. They threw a whole bunch of different styles on the table, what they might want to try. They, as a team, actually landed on the golden ale — this is their golden 50th — and the mango being a golden fruit, that would be a perfect pairing. They wanted something unique and mango is a flavor not used too frequently.”


Railtown is located at 3555 68th St., in Dutton but just across the border with Kentwood. Since it opened it has grown to be a 3,500-square-foot space at the east end of the Village Mall plaza. The brewery’s tap room has 10 taps and usually 10 different brews available, and it has started to distribute kegs to other restaurants.


While the special Kentwood 50 brew was tapped at Monday’s invite-only opening ceremony reception, Lee said it would be available to the public — just maybe not until they brew up some more.


“We will have it on and off throughout the year, so people should be able to come in here and get it through the rest of the week — assuming we do not blow it out that first night,” he said. “We’ll see.”


If you fill the special Kentwood 50 growler at Railtown Brewing a donation will be made to the city’s Park and recreation department. (Supplied)

Also debuting on the night of the reception were growlers with a special logo, which are part of the brewery’s continuing support of the Kentwood 50 event. The brewery will be donating a portion of its growler sales as the celebration continues.


“We are raising some money for the parks and recreation department by doing this,” Lee said. “When you buy a growler, we will be donating a couple bucks back to parks and recreation every time you fill that growler, regardless of what beer it is. It doesn’t have to be the golden ale. This will be an on-going promotion.”


As far as the process of developing the new brew, Lee admitted it was pretty much like Railtown decides on any beer it brews — they like to drink it, so they know other people will like to like to drink it. Although, he said, this time they had to satisfy more tastebuds than just the staff’s.


“We have brewed golden ales, we have done a lot of that. That part is easy,” he said. “We took a different golden ale, we racked it off to what is called a firkin, a 10-gallon cask, it is an old-fashioned way of serving beer. In the firkin you can dose whatever you want in it, that is part of the fun of using a firkin — you can add a little fruit, extra hops, a little coffee, whatever you want. It is a really good way to experiment with different flavors. … based on that, that flavor profile, we can scale it up to a bigger scale” for brewing.


“The (Kentwood 50) beer has been done for quite a while, and that was intentional,” he said. “I wanted to make sure if they did not like it at all, I would have time to brew something else if I had to. Its been done for a month. They came in and tried it, and I tried it, and my brewers tried it. We all thought it was pretty nice.”

For more information on Railtown Brewing Company, call the taproom at 616-881-2364 or visit (leads to a Facebook page).


GR Symphony, conductor Lehninger to take tour of historic Mussgorsky’s ‘Pictures’

Grand Rapids Symphony, conducted by Marcelo Lehninger, will present “Pictures at an Exhibition” next week. (Supplied/Stu Rosner)


By K.D. Norris


Marcelo Lehninger, in his first full year as Grand Rapids Symphony’s Musical Director, has a long history with Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” — ranging from hearing it in its original piano solo form as a youth, to it being on his debut program at the famous Tanglewood Festival, to his now conducting it on both sides of the Atlantic in the span of a month.


But as he prepares to bring Maurice Ravel’s orchestrated version of the work to Grand Rapids’ DeVos Performance Hall on Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, he admits to having only a cursory knowledge of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s progressive-rock, synthesizer-driven version.


And who is to blame him? He was raised in Brazil, surrounded by classical and Latin music — his father is German violinist Erich Lehninger and mother Brazilian pianist Sonia Goulart — and he was born in 1979, eight years after EL&P’s vinyl version debuted.


“I first heard the piece on its original piano solo version, and I felt in love with it,” Lehninger said in a email interview this week. “I’ve conducted many times — in fact I just conducted it in Europe (Slovenia) where I am right now. It was also on my debut program in Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony.”


The cover of Emerson, Lake and Palmers vinyl recording to “Pictures at an Exhibition”.

And, despite his only passing familiarity with the rock variation, he is all for even old rockers giving Ravel’s version a listen.


“I heard about the ELP version, but never got familiar with it,” he said. “In any case, we will rock with ‘Pictures’ next week in Grand Rapids!”


Ravel’s version, with its virtuoso violin work required, is the most “colorful” of all the versions, Lehninger believes, despite the fact that he studied both violin and piano early in his career.


“I definitely have an affinity for both violin and piano, not only because I studied these instruments, but because I grew up listening to them,” he said. “However, one instrument was never enough for me. I loved playing the violin and piano, but I needed more colors, more sounds; therefore I exchanged the 88 keys of the piano for 88 musicians in the orchestra.


“I believe that many composers that orchestrated the piece felt exactly how I felt playing just one instrument. This is a piece with so many sounds and colors possibilities, somehow the piano alone doesn’t achieve that. Therefore many composers orchestrated the piece. Although Ravel’s orchestration is criticized for not ‘sounding Russian enough’, it is my favorite orchestration of the piece. Ravel was a master of orchestration and with ‘Pictures’ he explores all the sound palette of the orchestra. I have to confess that I like Ravel’s version much better than the original piano solo version.”


In addition to “Pictures at an Exhibition”, also on the symphony’s upcoming program are Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major with guest soloist Stefan Jackiw, as well as Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and “John Corigliano’s Promenade Overture from 1981.


Violinist Stefan Jackiw. (Supplied)

Jackiw’s career has included performing at the grand opening of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall alongside pianist Emanuel Ax, soprano Renée Fleming and conductor James Levine. He may be best known to younger audiences for his performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Australia’s Sydney Opera house, seen live on YouTube by more than 30 million people worldwide.


For more information on Grand Rapids Symphony concerts visit


The butterflies spring out at Meijer Gardens starting March 1

Butterflies of all colors and patterns will be flying around Meijer Gardens’ tropical conservatory starting March 1. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s tropical conservatory, starting Wednesday, March 1, will be home to the first of more than 7,000 tropical butterflies that will be hatched and start flying around the heads of both children and adults alike.


Can’t you just see the Facebook photo?


Butterflies are Blooming runs through April 30. The annual show attracted more than 170,000 visitors last year.


With butterflies from Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, Butterflies Are Blooming is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation, according to Meijer Gardens.


The Atlas moth (not really a butterfly, but big and beautiful) will be making an appearance. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/William Hebert)

Approximately 60 colorful species will be flying freely in the five-story, 15,000 square-foot Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory, wherein the 85-degrees and 70-percent humidity environment mimics tropical regions that the butterflies call home.


“Our exhibition this year celebrates shape and pattern,” Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture, said in supplied material. “The butterflies and the natural environment of the conservatory are wonderful examples of how these patterns reveal themselves all around us. This exhibition provides a superb opportunity for our guests to view caterpillars, wings, flowers and foliage with a renewed appreciation for the world around us.”


Species of butterflies expected to arrive include the blue Common Morpho, whose iridescence impresses in flight; brushfoot varieties such as the Clearwing, Lacewing and Zebra Mosaic; the “Longwings” such as the Small Blue Grecian, Doris, Postman and Tiger butterflies; and the “Gliders” such as the Emperor, Ruby-spotted and Tropical Swallowtails.


Special related events include “Who Am I?” A Butterfly Ballet”, with two shows on both March 4 and March 18, a program performed by the Grand Rapids Ballet Junior Company; as well as Tuesday Night Lights, running each week throughout the exhibit’s run, where visitors bring their flashlights to find the butterflies at rest throughout the conservatory.


For more information visit


Meijer Gardens gives a taste of summer with early concert announcements

St. Paul & The Broken Bones will be on the Meijer Gardens concert schedule this summer. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/David McClister)

By K.D. Norris


The catchline for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series goes something like “It’s how you know its summer.” So it seems appropriate that after an almost summer-like run of weather over the weekend the Gardens gave us a tease of summer with the announcement of three of the acts coming to the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens 2017 concert series.


On Monday, Meijer Gardens announced that up-and-coming Southern soul powerhouse St. Paul & The Broken Bones will be in town on June 9; the sweet sounds of Four Voices: Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Indigo Girls will hit the stage on June 12; and the classic rock (and so much more) music of Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson will make a rare small-venue visit on Aug. 18.


Members of Meijer Gardens members pre-sale period will be April 29 through May 12 this season, with general public sale Starting May 13.


The Four Voices concert, led by the grand-dame of folk music Baez, will undoubtedly be a night of lovely songs and lovely voices in harmony, and just hearing Tull founder and frontman Anderson dancing around with flute in hand will be worth the price of admission on a hot August night.


But the scheduling of St. Paul & the Broken Bones will likely be one of those “I heard them first at the gardens” kind of events.


Led by vocalist Paul Janeway, the Bones gained notice with their single “Call Me” off their debut recording “Half the City” from 2013, but after opening for the Rolling Stones on a few dates in 2015 and the playing the Glastonbury Festival last year, they are really getting a buzz going with their second album, “Sea of Noise”, from last year.


For lack of a better label, the band is often called a  “gospel-tinged, retro-soul garage” band and hailing from Birmingham, Ala., and the sextet certainly has its southern soul credentials in order — including not being afraid to do an Otis Reading cover to two.


The new album also marks a little more depth of music and depth of songwriting for the band and Janeway.


“Sea of Noise,” Janeway says on the band’s website in describing the album, “is not quite a full-blown concept record. It is focused in terms of subject matter — finding redemption and salvation and hope. (The single) ‘Crumbling Light Posts’ comes from an old Winston Churchill quote, in which he said England was a crumbling lighthouse in a sea of darkness. I always thought that was a really interesting concept — that we’re falling anyway. In this day and age, it is the noise that has defined so many things. We’re going to fall to it eventually, but for now we feel like our heads are above water.”


It is likely that the audience at Meijer Gardens will be glad they dove into the deep southern water with the Bones this summer.


For more information on the concert series, visit

‘Ecce Homo’: Calvin art gallery explores the faces of Jesus

“Ecce Homo” (1969) by Salvador Dali, Lithograph. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


There may be no human faces in art more explored than those of Jesus of Nazareth and the Virgin Mary, and with Jesus there is a certain “historic” image of the man. But in the hands of artists such as Salvador Dali and Otto Dix, the accepted image is altered.


The current show at Calvin College’s Center Art Gallery, located in the Covenant Fine Arts Center, offers both the historic and altered images of the man in “Ecce Homo: Behold the Man”, currently running through March 4.


“Ecce Homo”, along with the companion exhibit “Most Highly Favored: The Life of the Virgin Mary”, are both drawn from the collection of Sandra Bowden, who with husband, Robert Bowden, have established the Sandra Bowden Art Scholarship at Calvin to “encourage Christian artists to prepare to become leaders in the field of art,” accord to the college.


“I feel like a caretaker, so to speak, of each piece in our collection, preserving it for the future,” Sandra Bowden said in supplied material. “The Bowden Collections focuses on religious art for several reasons: first, it is the subject I am most passionately interested in; second, it is a wonderful time to be collecting work with biblical themes because the art market in general is not particularly interested in art with religious content.


“I also feel that religious art needs exposure within the Christian community, and it is my intent to make these pieces available whenever possible for that purpose. I see my collector’s role as a calling — something that is critically important to do at this particular time.”


There are more than 20 works in the exhibit “Ecce Homo” — which is is Latin for “behold the man,” a declaration which refers to the presentation of Christ by the Roman ruler, Pontius Pilate, before the Jewish mob as described in the Bible in John 19. Among the artists included are Jacques Callot, George Rouault, Max Beckman, Bruce Herman, and Tyrus Clutter.


But it is the works of Dix and Dali that offer a non-traditional images worthy of fresh artistic consideration.


“Christus” (1957) by Otto Dix, lithograph. (Supplied)

“Christus”, by Dix (1891-1969), is a 1957 work shown in lithograph. According to supplied information by the gallery, Dix was “a German Expressionist artist who was defamed as ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis, created many works with biblical content, especially later in his life. This head of Christ titled, shows Christ with a crown of thorns and blood dripping down his face helping us consider Jesus’ suffering.”


“Ecce Homo”, by Dali (1904-1989) is a 1969 work shown in lithograph by the Spanish artistic giant. According to supplied information, the work is “one from a suite of 105 lithographs on heavy rag paper that illustrate the Bible. Guiseppe Albartto commissioned this suite in hopes of leading Dali to God and the Catholic Church. His Ecce Homo illustration is rich in content and shows the artist’s range of creativity and spontaneity. Dali employed the use of “bulletism,” a Dalinian invention where an arquebus (a type of antique gun) was loaded with ink-filled capsules and then fired at blank sheets of paper. The resulting patterns and designs were then incorporated into the illustration. We are left to imagine parts of the face of Jesus where the splatters merely suggest a crown of thorns and agonizing wounds.”


For more information visit


Second day of annual Winter Beer Festival sold out

WKTV Staff


If you are thinking about attending the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival, held each year at the Grand Rapids area’s Fifth Third Ballpark, you might want to stop thinking about it and do it.


According to the event’s website, the second day of the two-day event scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25, is sold out. But tickets to the Friday night event, running from 5-9 p.m., are still available.


Tickets are only available online and, according to supplied information, once online tickets are sold out, no additional tickets will be released.


The 2017 Winter Beer Festival, the 10th anniversary of the festival, will feature more than 100 Michigan breweries and approximately 1,000 different craft beers. There will also be music from local bands and a selection of food available for purchase. Friday night’s music will be The Concussions’ surf-instrumental-rock-n-roll sound, as well Big Dudee Roo self-described “oft-psychedelic, Neil Young-styled folk rock” sounds.


Fifth Third Ballpark is located at 4500 West River Road NR in Comstock Park. For more information visit .


Experience Grand Rapids has announced it will partner with the GR Hopper to offer a $10 shuttle service to and from the festival from participating hotels. (Email or call 616-606-0467.)


Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens: Where art, social activism meld

Ai Weiwei self portrait surrounded by supporters and police. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


When asked about the artist Ai Weiwei, Ping Liang — board chair of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, international businesswoman, and a Chinese-American with a deep understanding of modern Chinese culture — readily defers artistic questions to the Garden’s chief curator.


But both she and Joseph Antenucci Becherer, who serves as Meijer Gardens vice president in addition to his curatorial duties, understand that to appreciate Weiwei one must go deeper than simply his art. One must understand his history and his culture, especially his social activism both inside his rigidly controlled home county and around the world.


Ping Liang, board chair of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and chief curator Joseph Antenucci Becherer, in the main gallery of the exhibit “Ai Weiwei at Meijer gardens: Natural State”. (WKTV)


“I came to know Ai Weiwei’s reputation through the 2008 Olympic stadium, called the Bird’s Nest. At that time, his name wasn’t taken in a very good light because of the Chinese media, which is very controlled,” Liang said, as she and Becherer sat together with WKTV recently and dove deep into the exhibition Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens: Natural State, which is running though Aug. 20.


Detail “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” in Legos image. (Supplied)

“We only knew him, according to the Chinese media, as a person who purposely broke a very valuable antique jar. We also heard he used vulgar language, kind of insults, purposely. So, I didn’t really know too much about him. Of course, when Joe, here, talked (to us) about Ai Weiwei, as an artist, I was like ‘Wow!’”


And as she dug a little deeper, what Liang found was much more than simply an artist as portrayed by the Chinese media.


“He has this very famous family, particularly his father, Ai Ching, a very famous poet in China, and how his family suffered during the Cultural Revolution, even though his father was a very prominent and early Communist Party member,” she said. “And when we look at some of (Weiwei’s) artwork, the insults, and some of the themes, I started to understand. He is actually a social activist. That was very rare in China.”


‘Everything is politics’


Becherer, too, advocates for an understanding of the artist’s politics as well as his art — it is no coincidence that one of Ai Weiwei’s most well known sayings is “Everything is art. Everything is politics.” Blending his art and his politics is, in fact, the “natural state” of Weiwei’s world.


Joseph Becherer, Meijer Gardens vice president and chief curator. (WKTV)

“I think it always makes it more meaningful to know something about an artist’s biography when you are looking at their painting or their sculpture or whatever their work happens to be, because we all carry some part of us with us into whatever it is we do for a profession,” Becherer said. “With someone like Weiwei, it is probably more of an extreme, because for him art and life are inseparable.”


Becherer, in an essay accompanying the exhibit, states that Ai Weiwei’s art was influenced by, among others factors, his father’s life and clashes with the government, the artist’s growing up isolated from modern industrial China and being influenced by “traditions and artisan efforts of rural China,” followed by his emersion into Beijing’s late 1970s youthful avantgarde and his spending much of the 1980s in New York City before retiring to Beijing in 1993 when his father fell ill.


Maybe most importantly, however, Ai Weiwei’s art is influenced by increased use of social media and increased social activism — including his criticism of the Chinese government in the aftermath of the 2008’s Sichuan earthquake.


“In the following years,” Becherer’s essay states, “Ai Weiwei came under surveillance and was beaten, hospitalized and denied the right to travel. In 2011, he was arrested and mysteriously detained for 81 days, to the shock of the international cultural community.”


It was not long after that Ai Weiwei become a worldwide cause célèbre — and Becherer and Meijer Gardens began their interest and relationship with the artist as part of the the Garden’s pursuit of acquiring the massive sculpture “Iron Tree”.


Ai Weiwei’s “Iron Tree” has been on display for two years, but now an extensive exhibition of the artist’s works is on view. (Supplied)

“We started visiting Weiwei more than three and a half years ago, it was initially about acquiring ‘Iron Tree’,” Becherer said during the recent interview about his first meeting with the artist, who was practically under house arrest at the time. “Our process has always been that we try to engage directly with the artist. We want to understand, obviously, how the artist is living, how things come together, how things came to be. So, we began out of that, the very beginning, a sincere desire to know more about him. … It started out in one way, but it evolved and this exhibition was the result.”


And the exhibition is another example of Ai Weiwei’s continuing evolution.


“He seems to be more and more engaged in universal ideas,” Becherer said. “He seems to be more engaged with global concepts of freedom of speech and human rights. So it (his art), yes, is still related to his biography and, yes, it is related to his nationality and his heritage. But he seems to be more comfortable with the world stage.”


Now on the world stage


In July 2015, Ai Weiwei’s passport was returned and he was able to travel once again. Today, he divides his time between Beijing and Berlin, where he maintains studios.


It was in Berlin, in 2009, that Ai Weiwei created a massive exhibit of 9,000 children’s backpacks on the side of a building, backpacks which represented the number of children who lost their lives in the Sichuan earthquake — with colored backpacks spelling out “For seven years she lived happy on this earth,” a sentence with which a mother commemorated her daughter.


And the artist’s focus on social activism, and his influence both in and outside of China, has not changed according to Liang, who has more than 30 years experience in international business including extensive work in China and throughout Asia as managing director of AlphaMax Advisors LLC as well as serving on the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan. She says Ai Weiwei’s example and causes have greatly impacted her and many of her friends and business associates around the world.


Ping Liang, board chair of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. (WKTV)

“Now I realize he actually inspired the birth of modern social activism in China,” Liang said. “He and his friends were so active when Sichuan earthquake took place, and the aftermath, when thousands of young children were killed. I remember seeing, on global media as well as Chinese media, the devastation, the building collapsed, and the cry of parents whose only children lost their lives in this earthquake. … Now I look back, I understand that he was trying to raise people’s awareness about what really happened. What you really need to know. This should not be kept as a secret. That is why I describe him as an inspiration for the very beginning of social awareness and activism.


“In terms of his impact on the world, it is huge,” she added. “When I travel around the world, everybody talks about Ai Weiwei … People realize he was actually trying to get social justice for the earthquake victims. Actually, because of that a lot of Chinese, overseas Chinese, started donating to the earthquake victims. And a lot of young people started volunteering for non-profit organizations. I thought that was just tremendous. This is the impact he has had.”


Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens: Natural State is more than 30 works including iconic works from the artist’s repertoire and work specific to Meijer Gardens located in galleries, conservatories, public spaces and the auditorium. For more information visit .


Beer Explorers program teams breweries for barrel-aged comparison

Last year’s Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program will team with Founders Brewing Company and Brewery Vivant for a “learn while you taste” class where participants will sample barrel-aged beers on Thursday, Feb. 16.


The program includes discussion the topics of what makes barrel-aged beers unique, including sampling barrel-aged beers along with a non barrel-aged beer to taste the differences, according to supplied material. Representatives from Founders Brewing Company and Brewery Vivant will lead this tasting and answer any questions participants have on beers. Brewery Vivant will give participants an even more unique experience by offering a sour barrel-aged beer to taste.


The class begins at 6 p.m. Admission to each class includes general admission to the museum as well as three beer samples. A cash bar will also be available. Tickets are $8 for museum members and $18 for non-members. Participants must be 21 and older.


Tickets and information available by visiting


February culinary classes at Downtown Market Grand Rapids

It’s February! (And you know what that means.) Downtown Market celebrates Valentine’s Day with a bevy of culinary classes.



Fri, February 10, 6p-8:30p • $65/person


Looking for a fun way to kick off Valentine’s Day weekend? Arrive early to this class and enjoy your first drink at the Downtown Market Ice Lounge. Then make your way to the Teaching Kitchen to meet new people, cook in groups and socialize—all while making seasonal crostini small bites, pomegranate lamb chops, herb cous cous and heart-shaped whoopie pies.



Sun, February 12, 6p-8:30p • $65/person


A Valentine-themed sushi class! Learn how to make three sushi favorites: a sweetheart roll, salmon roll, and spicy tuna roll—each will have you falling in love instantly!



Tue, February 14, 6p-8:30p • $150/couple


If you love drinking wine, then you’ll love cooking with it! This class will explore the new dimensions you can add to your culinary repertoire by incorporating the legendary beverage into your meals. The menu will include classic creamy cheese fondue, white wine tomato mussels, coq au vin with herb rice, and double-chocolate profiteroles.



Thu, February 16, 6p-8:30p • $65/person


Cook away your winter blues! In this class you’ll make it happen as you create a velvety butternut squash soup, deliciously perfect braised short rib ragu on whipped cheese polenta, and a most comforting warm sticky toffee pudding with whipped cream.



Sun, February 19, 5p-7:30p • $60/person


In this Mediterranean cuisine class you’ll take  a journey with a few of Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s famous vegetarian dishes such as sundal, mee goreng, seaweed ginger carrot salad, tahini and halva brownies.



Thu, February 23, 6p-8:30p • $65/person


Take a trip to Thailand with hands-on Thai roll instruction and other tasty traditional dishes. You’ll craft Thai spring rolls, a vegetable gang gai (vegetables in red curry), tom qha gai (coconut curry soup) and an unbelievable lemongrass custard.



Tue, February 28, 6p-8:30p • $50/person


Celebrate Fat Tuesday like you’re in the Crescent City with the Downtown Market Teaching Kitchen. We’ll be demonstrating traditional jambalaya and king cake while sipping on hurricanes and sazeracs. Good food and good cocktails, just like NOLA.




435 Ionia Ave. SW

Grand Rapids, MI, MI 49503




St. Cecilia brings Pokey LaFarge’s Americana sounds to Acoustic Café series 

Pokey LaFarge bring his sound and songs to the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Acoustic Café stage this week. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


What kind of music will Pokey LaFarge bring to the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Acoustic Café stage this week? Well, that’s a straightforward, but kind of complicated story.


Pokey LaFarge

The easy answer is that the St. Louis-based singer songwriter incorporates early jazz, ragtime, country blues and western swing into his music. The complicated answer is that his music has attracted the attention and admiration of both Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor and The White Stripes’ Jack White. Think about that for a minute.


The audience at St. Cecilia will make their own decision — likely a joyfully complicated one — when LaFarge hits the stage Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available.


LaFarge has a will charm the audience with his down-to-earth unique sound all his own,” Cathy Holbrook, St. Cecilia executive director said in supplied material. “He’s a fabulous musician and totally engaging entertainer.”


White added LaFarge to his Third Man label and included him as his opening act on his North American Tour in 2013, according to supplied material. LaFarge performed on “The Prairie Home Companion” radio show in 2013 and 2014.


Two of LaFarge’s albums have been named Best Americana Album by the Independent Music Awards.


For a video of LaFarge, visit here.


A post-concert “Meet-the-artist” reception, with a cash bar, will be to meet LaFarge and obtain signed CDs of his releases.


Next up for the Acoustic Café Series is Grammy nominated Texas-trio Los Lonely Boys will bring their unique acoustic performance to St. Cecilia on March 14. Margo Price will bring her Nashville country/soul sound to to town on April 6. And Grammy Award winning Marc Cohn — of 1991’s Grammy winning ballad “Walking in Memphis” — will perform on April 13.


For more information and tickets, call 616-459-2224 or visit