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.


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