The Fun & Games of Virtual Reality
Fitz’s Farms' Year-Round Growth
Meet Chris Falk
Southwest Michigan’s Magazine
Designing Woman The Success of KalamazooKitty
DR. MAE JEMISON
7 P.M. ON MARCH 23 MILLER AUDITORIUM
Dr. Mae Jemison broke more than the sound barrier when she boarded the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She became the first woman of color to travel into space. At the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s 2017 Community Meeting she will recount her inspirational story and speak about the importance of STEM education — especially for girls and people of color. Please join us. The Community Meeting is free and open to the public.
REGISTER 269.381.4416 WWW.KALFOUND.ORG
Editor's Note encore
Here’s to the doers!
This issue we have stories on people who have no qualms about taking great leaps in pursuit of their dreams. Our cover story is on Kitty Copeland, of KalamazooKitty, who not only owns two successful home décor consignment stores in the area, but also stages and decorates homes, teaches classes and organizes a couple outdoor marketplaces each year to help spotlight a variety of vendors. We also have a story on Jeb and Crystal Gast, of Fido Motors, who have turned an old brick building in the Edison neighborhood into not only a manufacturing hub for their custom scooters, a home for a fledgling nonprofit, several artists, an electrician and a music instrument company, but it now also boasts a coffee shop. You also get to meet those trendsetters Bill Brieger and Ryan Edgar, who opened Nova, the area’s first virtual-reality arcade and one of only a handful in the United States. And then there are Julie and Dan Fitzstephens, who are growing greens and tomatoes year-round at their hydroponic farm, Fitz’s Farms, in Mattawan. These are just a handful of the many people in this area with the grit, imagination and drive to do things their way and succeed. They are also carrying on a tradition that is as old as Kalamazoo — building businesses from ideas. Small business consultant John Schmitt once told me, “Kalamazoo is a city of makers.” Given the city’s history with Gibson Guitars, the former Upjohn Co., Stryker Corp., and its craft brew scene — just to name a few — he wasn’t exaggerating. So, this month we are excited to introduce you and raise our glasses to some of the area’s newest makers, doers and creators. May they inspire us all!
Marie Lee Editor
encore publications, inc.
ken campbell, alicia chiaravalli, brian k. powers
marie lee, lisa mackinder, kara norman, emily townsend
Copy Editor/Poetry Editor margaret deritter
Advertising Sales tiffany andrus krieg lee celeste statler
Office Coordinator hope smith
Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2017, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to:
www.encorekalamazoo.com 117 W. Cedar St. Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax: (269) 383-9767 Email: Publisher@encorekalamazoo.com The staff at Encore welcomes written comment from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, visit encorekalamazoo.com. Encore subscription rates: one year $36, two years $70. Current single issue and newsstand $4, $10 by mail. Back issues $6, $12 by mail. Advertising rates on request. Closing date for space is 28 days prior to publication date. Final date for print-ready copy is 21 days prior to publication date. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by those interviewed and published here do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Encore Magazine or the official policies, owners or employees of Encore Publications.
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This month, Lisa Mackinder introduces us to several enterprising folks. First, there’s Dan and Julie Fitzstephens, owners of Fitz’s Farms in Mattawan. Lisa says she immediately cued in on the love they put into growing their hydroponic vegetables. “Cultivating each plant truly means something to them,” Lisa says. “And the unbelievably healthy produce is all the evidence you need to see that.” Lisa also ventured into the creative world of Kitty Copeland, owner of KalamazooKitty. “You just want to keep asking Kitty questions,” Lisa says. “Whether about her consignment stores, design and home-staging business, decorating for the Kalamazoo Parade of Homes, or the KalamazooKitty Marketplace. One thing you take away from all of those facets is this: Kitty has creativity in spades.”
Kara Norman lives in Kalamazoo and writes about local artists for Encore. This month she interviewed Nashon Holloway about her new album, The Palace and the Hut, and was impressed by the young songwriter’s poise. Holloway’s family is full of talented musicians, and Kara says Nashon is “so down to earth and always ready to laugh. “ You can see more of Kara’s work at karanorman.com.
Emily Townsend Emily gets to have all the fun! From experiencing pour-over coffee at Fido Café to donning VR goggles to tell readers about the new virtual reality arcade in Kalamazoo, she's had a month of adventures. When she’s not tackling stories for Encore, Emily is a writer, musician, podcast producer and host of “Grrrlville” on WIDR-FM. For more of Emily's work, visit soundcloud.com/emily-townsend.
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2 1 1 s o u t h ro s e st r e e t k a l a m a z o o , m i 4 9 0 0 7 g r e e n l e a f t ru st. c o m 2 69. 3 8 8 .9 8 0 0 8 0 0 . 4 1 6 . 4 5 5 5 6 | Encore MARCH 2017
FEATURE Designing Woman
Kitty Copeland can’t help but create success at KalamazooKitty
DEPARTMENTS 4 From the Editor
8 First Things What's happening in SW Michigan
12 Up Front
Chemex, Anyone? — Watch scooters being built while enjoying a pour-over at Fido Café
Year-Round Growth — Fitz’s Farms harvests tomatoes all year thanks to hydroponics It’s Virtually Here — Nova Virtual Reality brings cutting-edge gaming to town
46 Back Story
Meet Chris Falk — The Fretboard Fest is just one of his contributions to Kalamazoo’s music scene
32 Nashon Halloway
Whether in a palace or pub, this singer/songwriter is at home on any stage
37 Events of Note 43 Poetry On the cover: Entrepreneur Kitty Copeland in her KalamazooKitty store on West Main St. Photo by Brian Powers
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First Things encore
First Things Something Inspiring
Mae Jemison to speak on breaking barriers Mae Jemison broke more than the sound barrier in 1992 when she climbed aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour — she became the first woman of color to travel into space. On March 23, she will share her inspirational story in a presentation, “Exploring the Frontiers of Science and Human Potential,” at 7 p.m. at Miller Auditorium. Jemison will discuss the importance of science, education and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and technology. Her talk is the keynote speech for the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s annual community meeting, which is free and open to the public. Her talk is also a part of Western Michigan University’s Center for the Humanities speaker series “Science and the Human Endeavor.” For more information or to register to attend the event, visit kalfound.org.
Wilco comes to State Theatre Whether
you have been a Wilco fan since the ’90s or just came to the party, March 14 is the date for you. The Chicago-based alternative band, in its most recent incarnation with lead man Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer Tweedy, will perform at the State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets start at $53. Visit kazoostate.com for more information or to purchase tickets.
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encore First Things
Something Stringed Fretboard Festival returns
Stringed instruments, their makers and players are featured in the annual Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival March 3–4 at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St. Performances by 15 artists will pepper stages in the museum and in Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Anna Whitten Hall next door, with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys kicking off the tunes from 6-8:30 p.m. March 3. In addition to music, this free event allows the public to meet instrument designers and learn about their trade, as well as attend workshops on specific stringed instruments, including banjos, ukuleles, guitars and violins. For more information, visit kvcc.edu/fretboard. Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys
Basketball legend visits Kalamazoo Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made plenty of statements with his basketball playing, but it is what he has to say in his bestselling book, Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White that brings him to Kalamazoo March 14. Abdul-Jabbar will discuss American culture from 7–9 p.m. at Miller Auditorium, dissecting what issues most affect Americans today. His visit is the crowning event in the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Reading Together program, which encourages members of the community to read the same book and participate in discussions and events on the book’s topics. Abdul-Jabbar’s presentation is free to attend and no tickets are required, but those who plan to attend are asked to RSVP via the event’s website, kpl.gov/reading-together/2017. If you plan to attend in a group larger than 10, call (269) 553-7895 to make arrangements. For more information, including a full list of Reading Together events, visit the website. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 9
First Things encore
Modern dancers headed here The Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Fest, or RAD
Fest, a three-day celebration of modern dance, will bring dancers from across the country to downtown Kalamazoo March 10‑12. More than 200 dancers are expected to come for the event’s workshops, networking and competition, but Kalamazooans win, too, since they can attend five performances by some of the country’s best dance troupes. Performances will be given at 7 and 9 p.m. March 10–11 and 3 p.m. March 12 at Wellspring Theatre, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 204. For more information or tickets, visit midwestradfest.org.
Travel through the “World’s Paintbox” Known for her books on colors and jewels, journalist Victoria Finlay will talk about her adventures discovering the secret histories of paint and dyes when she speaks March 30 in Kalamazoo. Finlay is the author of several books, including Colour: Travels through the Paintbox (2002), Jewels: A Secret History (2004) and The Brilliant History of Color in Art (2014). Her lecture, “How to Travel Through the World's Paintbox,” begins at 7 p.m. in Room 1910 of Sangren Hall, on Western Michigan University’s campus. The event, presented by the WMU Gwen Frostic School of Art, is free.
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encore First Things
Happily ever after with Cinderella Yeah, yeah, we all know the story of Cinderella, or do we? The performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Miller Auditorium March 24‑26 offer a spruced-up version of this classic musical fairy tale, with a gorgeous new set, remastered songs and a few surprises. Show times are 8 p.m. March 24, 2 and 8 p.m. March 25 and 1 p.m. March 26. Tickets are $47‑$72. For more information or tickets, visit millerauditorium.com.
One community bank leaves a lasting impact. For over 50 years, Impact Label Corporation has never lost sight of its community impact. “We chose a banking partner who’s just as invested in the success of our community,” said Susan, President of the custom label manufacturer. “First National Bank of Michigan gives us the personal touch of dealing with an independent, local bank. They’ve stuck around, taking care of whatever we need, whenever we need it. Their name isn’t going to change in six months.”
Nancy Turtle, Vice President, FNBM, with Susan Fogleson, President, Impact Label Corporation.
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up front encore
Café with coffee is the newest addition at Fido Motors by
ack Chrisman knows a lot about coffee. “I am going to get started on a Chemex,” says Chrisman, the barista and café manager at Fido Café, as he picks up an hourglass-shaped vessel, inserts a coffee filter, and starts to pour water into it. Then the lesson begins. “There’s many different pour-overs on the market," he says. "Each one has a different design so each has a different experience. "This is a cone style, so it allows for a really even extraction and allows for a very balanced interpretation; not a ton of body. Believe it or not, it’s an old design, originally patented in the U.S. in the 1940s. It’s not exactly the new hipster thing people think it is.” Fido Café, which offers coffee, sandwiches and Sarkozy Bakery pastries among other items on its menu, opened Oct. 19 and is the 12 | Encore MARCH 2017
encore up front
newest addition to the Fido Motors building at 1415 Fulford St. The old foundry building, which its owners Krystal and Jeb Gast have dubbed Jericho Town, houses not only Fido Motors, which makes scooters, but the nonprofit Rootead's dance studio, Kaltone musical instrument company, The Kalamazoo Piano Co. and Yes Electric. In addition, the building has studio spaces occupied by a painter, a fiber artist, two ceramicists, a welder and a moped club. The café and coffee, however, were always part of the plan, say the Gasts. The Gasts purchased the building in 2010 for $90,000
with the help of their business partner, Kent Bakke, CEO of the espresso machine company La Marzocco. Bakke met the Gasts in Seattle, where they then lived and where Jeb worked at a scooter shop. When the Gasts decided to start Fido Motors in Kalamazoo, Bakke offered to be a partner, says Krystal Gast. The partnership came with a $13,500 La Marzocco Gb5 Espresso Machine, which now sits on the café bar. “The machine has just been here for the (Fido Motors) workshop employees’ personal use for so long, which is a little silly," says Krystal Gast. "We finally built a café around it.”
Clockwise from below: Fido Café owners Jeb and Krystal Gast with barista Mack Chrisman; a prototype of a Fido Motors’ scooter being manufactured in a shop adjacent to the café; Chrisman at work brewing a cup; Chrisman exhibits his “two-cup pour” technique.
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up front encore
The café took more than six months to put together and features an Italian-influenced space, filled with natural light, clean design and bay windows that overlook the Fido Motors’ workshop so patrons can watch scooter makers at work.
Chrisman was in on the café’s design and concept and says he wanted the café to be comfortable, conversational and educational. The oldest of seven kids, Chrisman grew up in Lawton loving to educate others. “At the grocery store as a kid, I would sneak off
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and spend time in the outdoor section at the fishing lures," says the 25-year-old Chrisman. "I would wait for other customers to come and I would recommend this or that lure for certain fishing. It’s kind of weird, but I have always liked helping people in that way.” Chrisman learned his coffee-making craft in Nashville, Tennessee, and was greatly influenced by his time working at Roast Inc., a café and restaurant (now closed) with a mission to “educate food professionals and consumers on single-cup brew methods, and how quality coffee stands out from commodity coffee.”
Check out Fido Café Where: 1415 Fulford St., corner of Fulford and Stockbridge streets Hours: 6:30 a.m. –2 p.m. Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday
Chrisman explains that when Roast Inc. customers would order their drinks they had the option to make the drinks themselves with the assistance of a skilled barista. While Chrisman will continue to make drinks for Fido Café customers for the foreseeable future, he loves the idea of the café being an educational, hands-on experience. “So many people have the frustrating experience of drinking great coffee at a shop and then go home and use the same grounds and it’s awful," he says, "so this is a platform to teach people. In the four minutes we are waiting for this to brew, I can teach you how to make better coffee at home. It’s special to help folks achieve what they may not have made time to achieve on their own.” Along with enjoying chances to teach customers about coffee, Chrisman also looks forward to engaging the community — he's planning to host a latte art competition among Kalamazoo baristas this spring.
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Tomatoes in January?
Fitz's Farms grows year-round yumminess Lisa Mackinder
hen you enter the hydroponic greenhouses at Fitz’s Farms in Mattawan on a cloudy fall day, you feel a bit like Dorothy opening the door to the Land of Oz. You are greeted by a sea of vivid green lettuces and 10-foot-tall tomato vines with bright red tomatoes hanging down. What you don’t see among these abundant crops is soil; hydroponic farming involves growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water with plants’ roots often supported by perlite — a volcanic rock — or gravel. Owners Dan and Julie Fitzstephens proudly smile as they look upon their immense
16 | Encore MARCH 2017
indoor gardens and for good reason — this accomplishment is hard work. “To grow inside a greenhouse is totally different than growing outside,” Dan Fitzstephens says. “I mean, it’s a totally different beast. You don’t have nutrients wrapped up in the soil.” He knows a thing or two about farming. He grew up working on his grandparents’ farm and then owned and operated nearly 700 acres of his own in the Schoolcraft area, raising corn, soybeans and green beans. He did this while employed full time as a plumber at Pfizer Inc. But soon two jobs
Above: Julie Fitzstephens wheels s bushel of justharvested hydroponic tomatoes. Opposite page: Fitz's Farms produces lettuces year-round, including this spring mix.
became too much, and he sold the acreage and purchased 15 acres in Mattawan. “I took a year or two off (from farming) just going to work, which drove me crazy,” he says. Years earlier he had built a greenhouse, so, after buying the Mattawan property, he hauled the disassembled greenhouse out of storage, raised it back up and entered the world of hydroponic farming. He attended classes on hydroponics at CropKing, a
'The deep end' “They kind of tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Hey, we’re eliminating your job,’” Fitzstephens says. “I’d been there 30 years.” But he and his wife transformed a negative into a positive by adding another greenhouse to their property. Then, Julie Fitzstephens, who worked as an administrator at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, proposed another idea. “She said, ‘Hey, what do you think if I quit my job?’ Dan Fitzstephens says. “I was like, 'Uh …'” But, as she puts it, “they jumped off the deep end,” and she hasn’t looked back. Even
on the days when she is hot and sweaty from working in 100-degree heat and thinks she can’t take another minute, an appreciative customer will arrive for fresh produce and it makes her smile. “It just feels good,” she says. “It’s like, ‘OK, that’s why we do it.’” The couple’s two hydroponic greenhouses are located on a five-acre portion of their land. One greenhouse, at 4,800 square feet, houses greens such as Bibb lettuce and arugula as well as several herbs. The greens grow in PVC channels in which water flows through via gravity. The farm has the capacity to harvest an astounding 475 pounds of greens per week. Julie says that it would take one acre, or 43,560 square feet of soil, to grow the same amount. They harvest the
lettuce roots and all, and it will keep in a cooler for up to three weeks, she says. “If someone buys it, it’s usually been picked that day or the day before,” she says. “It’s incredibly fresh.” The second greenhouse is where they grow tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers. The tomatoes are grown in Bato buckets — about 400 of them — which are designed for growing vine crops and tall plants and hold soil-free mediums like perlite. The UV-resistant plastic buckets are formed with a small reservoir to prevent plants from drowning or starving. The tomato plants’ vines can grow to 30 to 40 feet when fully mature, and each plant produces tomatoes for approximately one year. The client list of Fitz’s Farms includes area restaurants such as Webster’s Prime, Full
34-year-old Ohio company specializing in controlled-environment agriculture and hydroponics. He planned to do hydroponic farming as a side job, but then his employment situation changed unexpectedly in 2015.
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City Café, Chinn Chinn, Rustica and Latitude 42 Brewing Co. The farm business also sells produce to Bronson Methodist Hospital and privately run grocery stores and at local farmers’ markets, including the Texas Township Farmers’ Market. Last fall the Fitzstephenses received disbelieving looks from farmers’ market customers who saw their bright red tomatoes for sale out of season, causing Julie to erect a sign at their booth that said, “Grown in Mattawan, REALLY.” That distinction is important to the couple, because, Dan says, there are “big differences” between a tomato shipped in from places like California versus a locally grown hydroponic tomato.
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Julie and Dan Fitzstephens , center photo, stand in one of two greenhouses where they grow hydroponic produce, such as the tomatoes at left and the Bibb lettuce pictured below.
“First of all, it’s been able to vine-ripen on the plant,” he says. “Second of all, it hasn’t been gassed.” Tomatoes trucked from other places are usually picked green, he says, and then exposed to ethylene gas to ripen so that they are red when they arrive on grocery store
shelves. The Fitzstephenses use only nonGMO seeds, Dan says, and although their produce is not certified organic, they use only sprays that the FDA has deemed organic. Dan Fitzstephens says hydroponic farming, which has been utilized since the 1600s, has other advantages. Not raising the vegetables in soil eliminates trouble with weeds, bugs and disease. Hydroponic vegetables also produce throughout the year rather than in one short growing season, and hydroponic lettuce uses 90 percent less water than what it would take to grow that same crop of lettuce outside, Dan Fitzstephens says. All of this is not to say the Fitzstephenses eschew dirt. They also farm soil-grown vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes and green beans on several acres of their property. Growing hydroponic vegetables takes a great deal of time, labor and attention, Dan says, especially in regard to nutrient upkeep and pH control, and it isn’t as “forgiving” as
growing crops in soil. But the Fitzstephenses don’t work the farm alone. They have approximately 60 helpers who work seven days a week, from sunup to sundown, without complaint — or pay: bumblebees. “We have a hive, and they’re the ones that pollinate (the plants),” Julie explains. “They save us a ton of time. Mother Nature is kind of cool.” The beehives reside inside the tomato greenhouse, and when the Fitzstephenses raise the greenhouse’s sides to close it off in warmer weather, any wandering bees find their way home before dusk — or patiently wait outside if the greenhouse has already been closed up for the night. “Somebody I knew was here and we were just talking and I go, ‘Hang on. I’ve got to let one of my employees back inside,” Dan Fitzstephens says, chuckling. “I opened the door, and the bee actually flew back inside, which made them kind of laugh.”
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Welcome to the â€˜Wild Westâ€™
Virtual reality arcade brings cutting-edge gaming to town by
20 | Encore MARCH 2017
"You want to see fish? You want to
shoot at things? Or you want to make art?” Bill Brieger peppers me with questions as he pulls virtual reality goggles over my head and places two controllers in my hands. I choose art, and Brieger gives me a tutorial on Tilt Brush by Google, which offers a 3-D palette that lets you build, paint and draw in the air. As I start sculpting, I let out a slew of superlatives: “It’s astounding. It’s amazing. It’s so real.” I make a flaming smile in the sky and walk through licking flames. I feel a little awkward, as if I’m painting with my left foot, but after a few minutes the coordination clicks in.
Brieger smirks. Since his business, Nova Virtual Reality, opened in the Vine neighborhood in December, Brieger has seen this reaction often. Nova, at 806 S. Westnedge Ave., is one of only a couple dozen virtual arcades to open across the nation, riding the coattails of the success of virtual reality arcades, theme parks and hubs in China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. The trend is now exploding in the United States. New arcades announce their openings every other week on Reddit forums for VR enthusiasts. “VR has had several waves where it tried to get off the launch pad, and I’ve lived
Below: Bill Brieger, left, and partner Ryan Edgar have opened Nova, the area’s first virtual reality arcade. Opposite page: Edgar plays a game, which can be seen on the screen behind him.
through all of those. And now to see it finally launching is really satisfying,” says Brieger. “The consequence is that there are all these great VR ideas stocked up and ready to go and people have developed different ways to make money at it, too. At the same time, it’s still the Wild West. Everyone is still trying things out, especially the room-scale stuff.” Still in its infancy, the virtual reality industry has yet to be claimed by any particular demographic, not exclusively belonging to gamers or families or entertainment companies. Brieger says he and Nova co-owner Ryan Edgar embrace this market ambiguity and welcome a diverse crowd. “On the weekends we see a lot of families,” he says. “It’s always entertaining to see dads and moms getting into it, enjoying games with their kids. “We (also) get the after-bar crowd, who are a little tipsy and want to play wilder games. We get a lot of dates. They come in, hang out, laugh a lot. I know with video games there’s a stereotype of a solo gamer dude, but we get lots of parties of all girls, too.”
VR in the Vine Nova has four rooms for VR experiences: three curtained-off “social rooms” with couches and screens, so groups can socialize and observe one another playing, and a VIP room that can accommodate up to 20 people for parties. “People watch on the screen for a half hour, wondering what everyone is freaking out about,” Brieger says, “and then they put on the goggles and are like, ‘Whoa! That’s amazing. Now I see how much more depth it has.’” Nova is located in the Vine neighborhood business corridor, which Brieger describes as having a “neo-shopping-mall vibe.” “We have a record shop, a coffee shop, bagel place, thrift store, barbershop and now w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 21
an arcade,” he says. “It’s driven by the success of the anchor business, Fourth Coast (Café). Certainly, we’re in this location for a variety of reasons, but being close to the 20-somethings that have a little bit of entertainment income is a huge perk.” Katherine Carter, a 30-year-old professional who lives in the Vine neighborhood, wasn’t a gamer growing up, but since visiting Nova with a group of friends in January, she has already returned several times. “It was fun in a group because you could see what the other person was doing on the screen and cheer them on,” she says. “I would go in a group again, but I had a ton of fun doing it by myself. I had some rage to work through, so I played games that were quite aerobic. It was more fun than the gym.” There are 80 available VR experiences at Nova, where players can immerse themselves in everything from exploring Iceland or destroying a city as a giant to saving kittens and fighting zombies. Players can also star in a Beyoncé music video, instigate bar fights or face their fears of heights and spiders. “I played a game called Accounting. This game was so weird,” says Carter. “I’m not sure how to describe it except that in the game you virtually put on several VR headsets — so meta-VR within VR — to transport to other places in the game. You start in an accounting office, transport to the woods, then transport to inside the body of a
Have Some Virtual Fun What: Nova Virtual Reality Where: 806 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo Hours: 1p.m.-2 a.m. Monday–Friday; 10 a.m.–4 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.–2 a.m. Sunday More Info: 488-7335; novavr.net creature. Then you blow him up, transport to a courtroom, and then you transport to Hell.”
A growing industry The virtual reality industry, which had been largely unprofitable since its beginnings in the mid-1990s, has seen explosive growth recently due to the availability of cheaper, more comfortable equipment, according to tech blog Polygon. Along with the headset and controllers, Nova rooms are equipped with a camera that tracks your movement — a VR technology that is only 8 months old. Home users can buy an HTC VIVE system similar to the models at Nova for $800. However, Brieger says, with the industry evolving rapidly, he and Edgar intend to update their hardware three times a year or more.
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At Nova, clients can pay $18‑$20 per hour for a room, likely the cheapest VR arcade in the U.S., comparisons on Reddit show. “We didn’t want to charge a lot because we didn’t want to be an Epcot experience, where you come once for an amazing thing and pay a ton of money for it, but then you don’t necessarily ever return,” says Brieger. “We’re hoping, with our cheap prices, that people will keep coming back, what with the games always changing and so much to explore. We have some weekly customers, and some who come more often.”
Passionate about VR
Edgar brings technical skills to the team, building computers for the immersive software, whereas Brieger brings smallbusiness experience as the former coowner of Rocket Star Café. Both owners are passionate about VR. “We did a lot of hours of playing and discussing for two months before we even decided to open Nova,” says Brieger. “We even had business meetings in VR, where I was at my house and he was at his house and we were playing pingpong and discussing business ideas with headsets on. In the online world, other people would come up to us and ask what we were talking about, and we would tell them about our business idea and they would give us feedback.” Nova’s virtual reality system is also a mobile entity that can be set up at birthday or graduation parties, and the company conducts free demonstrations at the Kalamazoo Public Library. Brieger is also hoping to work with local retirement communities to bring VR equipment to older, less mobile people. He envisions Nova using VR for all sorts of good, including physical therapy, treatment for phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder, and assistance for individuals on the autism spectrum. “There are endless possibilities,” says Carter. “I could see this trend taking off. I can imagine telling future generations that I remember when the first VR game room opened up near my house.”
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Creativity drives Kitty Copeland's success in home dĂŠcor market 24 | Encore MARCH 2017
Robert M. Weir
earing stylish, yet comfortable-looking cowboy boots and a sparkling, eye-catching belt buckle, Kitty Copeland reveals her eye for aesthetics even before she leads the way through her bustling consignment shop, KalamazooKitty, at 6883 W. Main St. The shop, which is located west of Ninth Street and sells furniture, home décor and accessories, is one of two KalamazooKitty stores that Copeland operates in the Kalamazoo area. She opened her first store, on Portage Street, in June 2011 for a specific reason: to find the comfortable, cozy pieces she sought for her interior decorating business, KalamazooKitty Design. “(Kalamazoo) has some furniture stores and some high-end stores and we have some thrift stores, but most of my client list is that middle-of-the-road person,” Copeland says. “I tend to decorate and appeal to a large spectrum of people, whether they are wealthy or living on a tight budget. Many of my clients are on tight budgets, which is a challenge that I thrive on. I am a bargain hunter and love the thrill of finding a great piece for a great price.” Copeland is also a professional home stager and decorator who often trekked to Detroit and Grand Rapids in search of the right items. She says she realized that if she had this much trouble finding what she wanted, other people probably did, too. “I just thought one day, ‘Oh, my gosh, I have to open a consignment store for the person that just wants goodquality stuff and not to pay a fortune,’” she says. “But they don’t want junk either. I needed to find that middle ground — and it took right off.”
Business boom When Copeland opened the front doors of her first consignment store in 2011, a 10,000-square-foot shop at 4217 Portage St., a block north of Kilgore Avenue, she had nothing to sell. “Nothing!” she emphasizes, smiling. Kitty Copeland works on a piece she will soon sell in her shop, KalamazooKitty. She also teaches classes in furniture painting techniques.
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The only things inside were the front desk, which she built herself, and temporary, movable walls erected a few feet behind the desk to disguise the glaringly enormous empty space. She says her three children had a blast riding bikes, skateboarding and roller blading behind those walls — but their fun didn’t last long. Every week Copeland pushed the walls farther and farther back into the store to create room for the items pouring in. Lacking advertising dollars, Copeland passed out postcards to anyone she could find. People showed up after hearing about her store from others, she says. She also says she believes a Kalamazoo Gazette story about her store generated awareness. By September of the same year, the space was overflowing from front-to-back, top-to-bottom and side-to-side with consignment items such as furniture, accessories, antiques and home accents. In November, she threw a holiday party with furniture giveaways, food and live music from Kalamazoo-based country singer Shelagh Brown. “The store was packed,” Copeland says. “The decorations were everywhere. The line was out the door. It was fabulous.” Business at KalamazooKitty was so brisk that items generally didn’t linger longer than a few days, but new pieces were always arriving to take their place. It didn’t take long before Copeland reached an inevitable conclusion: She needed a second location. “We got to a point after a couple of years where we were just busting,” she says. “I mean there was no room for anything. The stuff was just piling in, and I thought, ‘I have got to get another location.’” In May 2014, Copeland opened the second KalamazooKitty location, in an 8,000-square-foot building on West Main, and “the line was around the building on opening day,” Copeland says.
An artistic eye Copeland credits her stores’ success to her keying in on a market clamoring for something different than the modular furniture found in chain stores. She says that such mass-produced products have led to a loss of craftsmanship in furniture such as dovetail drawers and products handmade from solid wood. “We try really hard to take in good-quality pieces that aren’t going to fall apart,” she says. “I find that’s really what people are looking for.”
26 | Encore MARCH 2017
For consignment pieces, Copeland accepts only clean, odor-free items. The Portage Street store alone has 3,000 consignors and tends to house 6,000 to 8,000 items at a time. Ninety percent of the business is consignment, but Copeland also sells some handmade items such as scarves, jewelry and furniture. She and her staff take all of these items and place them into well-coordinated, appealing displays. “We just gather up what we feel looks nice together and how someone can picture it in their house,” she says.
Keeping it fresh The way her business displays pieces so that people can envision them in their homes is one of the reasons Copeland thinks that people have really latched onto her stores — that and the constantly changing merchandise. Last year Copeland incorporated “pop-up shops” within both of her stores, 12-foot-by-12-foot spaces where individual vendors sell their items, such as vintage filing cabinets, handcrafted tables, hand-painted nightstands and other pieces of unique décor. Not only do these popup spaces keep things novel and new in her stores, she says, but they also help individuals open “their own shop” without
incurring the cost or time involved in owning a building. Copeland rotates these vendors out every one to two months to keep things fresh and to give vendors a chance to catch their breath and produce more items. “It’s basically a full-time job to keep their booths fully stocked and looking great,” she says. “They have to be here every day. If they’re not here every day, it gets very empty, very quickly.” Copeland keeps a database of potential vendors that she reviews when choosing her pop-up booths. One rule that she follows is this: Never have two similar shops at the same time. “I find someone that’s unique,” she says. “It’s kind of the process I use for choosing pop-ups.” At the West Main store, Copeland has a classroom where she teaches painting and homestaging classes. The store now holds up to three onehour paint classes each month. Each class costs $10. She co-instructs the home-staging classes with her husband, Phil Copeland, an independent real estate professional with Jaqua Realtors. The home-staging classes are free. “It’s a service we feel we can provide and share our knowledge,” she says.
The Kitty of KalamazooKitty
Inside KalamazooKitty’s West Main Street location, customers can find furniture, vintage wares, and home décor items of all types.
Copeland started her work life in elementary education, teaching in Detroit and then Portage — experience that she has put to good use in those painting and homestaging classes. Her career change toward interior decorating happened while she was on maternity leave for her now-16-year-old son. She became glued to television programs featuring interior decorating experts like Christopher Lowell. “I got totally hooked on it,” Copeland says, “and I just started decorating anything I could get my hands on. And friends started saying, ‘Will you come to my house?’ — and then (friends’) neighbors asked.” Copeland says she has decorated bachelor pads, lake houses and everything in between. She has staged $80,000 homes up to those for sale in the upper hundreds of thousands. Now she stages homes exclusively for her husband, whose clients receive free staging to help sell their homes.
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Robert M. Weir Copeland is currently decorating a custom home in a new development on Indian Lake for the 2017 Parade of Homes, which takes place in June. “It’s a big, time-consuming undertaking, but it’s going to be a lot of fun,” she says. “It’s what I crave. It’s my fix.”
Born entrepreneur Entrepreneurism isn’t new to Copeland — she grew up in a retail store. Literally. Her fondest childhood memories include creating mazes with large cardboard boxes in her father’s store, Stone’s Unfinished Furniture Store in the suburbs of Detroit. Her father, Jerry Stone, purchased the business — which originally sold hardware and was called Gambles — from his father and transformed it into a successful furniture shop. Her mother, Marcie Stone, owned a beauty salon and helped boost the furniture business with her decorating skills. Copeland’s maternal grandfather also owned
Above: The room in the West Main store where Copeland paints and teaches classes. Left: items for sale at the store.
a business selling machinery for the plastics industry, and Copeland’s sisters all now own businesses. Even in his retirement, Jerry Stone occasionally makes furniture to sell at KalamazooKitty. Copeland’s own children show signs that they share this seemingly genetic entrepreneurial drive. Her 14-year-old already sketches floor plans for home designs. Her 8-year-old daughter constantly decorates and rearranges her room and has a cash register, receipt books and price tags — which are all over Copeland’s house.
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“If I was out sick, she could come in (to one of the stores) and run it,” Copeland says of her youngest.
Making a marketplace In 2016, Copeland took her trendspotting skills outdoors. Her vendors and customers had told her about a new trend of “marketplaces,” where individual business owners set up booths to sell their antiques, consignments and handcrafted items. People are “hungry for what is up and coming,” Copeland says, and nothing like that existed in the Kalamazoo area. Copeland put on two KalamazooKitty Marketplace events last year — in May and October — at the Kalamazoo Speedway. With more than 100 booths and a dozen food trucks, the events drew thousands of people, she says. Vendors with all types of wares sell items at KalamazooKitty.
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“Some people (vendors) sold out completely, with nothing to pack up but a tent,” Copeland says. Vendors came from as far away as Indiana, Illinois, Detroit and the Upper Peninsula. Because space was limited and Copeland wanted a wide variety of quality items, she had a jury pick vendors for both events. “They are people in the community that really know, that are really up to date on what’s up and coming and what people would like to see,” says Copeland. "I like to collect a variety of people and then we just sit down and look through pictures that have been submitted. I always feel bad turning someone down, but we only have so much space.” Copeland feels that this year’s Marketplace events will be even bigger hits. There will be three “Mini Markets” with outside booths and food trucks at the KalamazooKitty on West Main. The first one will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 29, with free admission. “I have heard so many people say they missed it and can’t wait for the next one,” she says.
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From Palaces to Pubs
Nashon Holloway is at home on any stage by
32 | Encore MARCH 2017
espite growing up “in an environment where people were always singing,” singer and songwriter Nashon Holloway didn’t think she had the chops to get into the School of Music at Western Michigan University, so she majored in creative writing and philosophy there instead. But friends pushed her to perform, and as a freshman she won the campus talent competition called “Western Idol.” Through the competition, she heard about WMU’s Gold Company, an internationally recognized vocal jazz ensemble made up of undergraduate and graduate students. The next year she tried out for the ensemble and got in. Now, after playing in venues as diverse as dive bars in Kalamazoo and palaces in Dubai, 27-year-old Holloway has released her first CD, The Palace & The Hut, a full-length album of original music penned by her and her boyfriend, Bryan Blowers, a fellow WMU grad and a guitarist in her Nashon Holloway Band. The album ranges from love songs to a song called “Say Goodbye,” which Holloway says is “a simple song about breaking up with fear,” a subject she knows well. “I was pretty terrified of my potential or lack thereof in college,” she says, noting that she didn’t even check postings of who got into Gold Company because she was so sure her audition was weak. (“My teacher later confirmed it was pretty bad,” she says, laughing.)
In the genes
Holloway, who graduated from Mattawan High School, credits Gold Company with showing her how to perform professionally, but her family is no stranger to the music industry. Her mother, Dorothea, a retired Kalamazoo Central High School history teacher, once turned down a record deal with Columbia Records (she was Dorothea Sudduth at the time). Nashon’s oldest brother, Jerome, is a recording artist in L.A. Her other brother, Jared, works in music production, and her older sister, Adrienne, is a banker who sings as a hobby. Kalamazoo native Nashon Holloway got her start singing as a student at Western Michigan University. Above, the cover of the band’s new CD, The Palace & the Hut.
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“My family is out of control as far as talent is concerned,” says Holloway. She says the story of her mother turning down a recording contract isn’t a big deal in her family. “We are such multi-faceted people that it’s hard to have something like that be bigger than our personalities,” she says. Then she laughs. “I like the story because it’s cute that she was like Kalamazoo’s ‘songstress.’ As far as a legacy is concerned, I do something similar to what she did when she was my age. We bought Stevie Wonder’s album Songs in the Key of Life 40 years apart, but we listen to it and sing the same parts.” After graduating from WMU in 2012, Holloway played music locally for a year. Then she visited her sister, Adrienne, who was living in Dubai and performing as a hobby. Holloway stayed for nine months, playing at RitzCarltons and Waldorf Astorias. She played on a beach during engagement ceremonies, at Mitsubishi and F1 Nascar events, and even at Taste of Dubai with her sister, all while writing her album in her bedroom during the day. The Palace & The Hut takes its title from the Kahlil Gibran parable of the same name, about two very different experiences of wealth and satisfaction.
The Nashon Holloway Band from left: Neal Conway, bass; Mike Porter, drums; Nashon Halloway, vocals and guitar; Keith Hall, drums; Bryan Blowers, guitar; and Rufus Ferguson, piano.
See Nashon Holloway perform • 3:30 p.m. March 4, Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 North Rose St. • 9 p.m. April 22, Union Cabaret & Grille, 125 S. Kalamazoo Mall
• 7-9 p.m., June 13, Fennville Summer Concert Series, Memorial Park, downtown Fennville
Take a listen Check out her music at nashonholloway.com
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Gibran’s parable, which opens with rich people at a party who sleep fitfully after drunken revelry, follows one of the servants home from the party. “This guy gets home after the sun’s down, and it’s a very warm home. It’s full of love,” Holloway says. “He gets up before the sun comes up, and he goes out to till the land. The wine that got those rich people drunk and was the source of their merriment: It was his sweat.” Holloway says in Dubai she “literally was playing in palaces.” When she returned to Kalamazoo, she played venues where no one was listening to her at all. “You go from a place where people are like, ‘Oh, you’re an American!’ and they are laying gold necklaces around your neck while you’re playing. And then at home the drunk guy gets on stage and is spitting in your face: ‘Play "Freebird!' Or something.” Sometimes, she says, she has those experiences back-to-back. The drunk guy might be yelling through her set one night, but then, say, it’s a Sunday morning and she’s playing at Old Dog Tavern with a child dancing right on the floor in front of her. “Children don’t dance if it’s not good,” she says. “They cover their ears if it’s bad.” When Holloway returned to Kalamazoo, she worked as a barista at Water Street Coffee Joint and continued playing music, including a show with Blowers at the Lansing JazzFest last August. After writing most of the songs on her album by herself, Holloway then brought them to Blowers, who helped her clean up loose ends. She considers Blowers the musical director of the album and herself
Playing in palaces
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Don’t miss this amazing vocal group right here in Kala
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36 | Encore MARCH 2017
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the creative director, and she values the improvisations of all the musicians in her band. She says her band’s keyboardist, Rufus Ferguson “excels at doing things on accident. I love musicians like that, because they’re using intuition to feel their way through a song.”
Big moves She may be rooted to Kalamazoo, but in July, Holloway moved to Chicago, where Blowers and another bandmate, bassist Kellen Boersma, now reside. (Other members still located in Kalamazoo are drummers Keith Hall and Mike Porter, bassist Neal Conway and keyboardist Ferguson.) Holloway also just took her first 9-to-5 job, at a fitness company that sells heart rate monitors. The move and the job were a big leap, and she admits she’s still getting her feet under her. “I love improvising,” she says. “I think it’s one of the things that makes me, if I may say it, a fairly strong songwriter. I can feel a vibe and go with it, and I can connect, which is why I’m overwhelmed right now. I’m in such a foreign place in Chicago and doing all these foreign things. It’s weird for me to adjust. “All these things are new. It’s like, how to keep the self? It was easier when I was a barista and playing music.” Then she laughs and teases herself. “It’s only been a few months. I need to calm down.” She may be on new ground, but Holloway is no neophyte. In 2010 she sang backup along with other Gold Company singers for Filipino recording artist Charice Pempengco on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Anyone who has the chance to describe Oprah’s fog machine — “That thing was hydrating! Some fog machines make you cough. Oprah’s was like being at the spa,” Holloway says — is probably going to be OK. Besides, growing up the youngest in a family of musicians is practically a breeding ground for ingenuity. “There are a lot of successful people in my family, but no one is going to let you think that you have arrived,” Holloway says. “It doesn’t matter what you do. You could be the president, you’re still gonna hear it from us.”
PERFORMING ARTS THEATER Plays Unparalled Lives: Jen & Lisa — Revives old favorites and brings new characters to life, 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 2 p.m. Sat. & Sun., through March 18, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328. To Kill a Mockingbird — A coming-of-age story about the effects of racism and fear of the unknown, 7:30 p.m. March 3 & 4, Civic Auditorium, 329 S. Park St., 343-1313. Steeple Chased — All Ears Theatre radio theater presentation, 6 p.m. March 4, First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave., 3425059. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher — A sixth-grade boy learns to believe in magic, friendship and love, 7:30 p.m. March 10 & 17, 4 p.m. March 11 & 18, 2 p.m. March 12 & 19, 1 p.m. March 18, Shaw Theatre, WMU, 3876222. Buyer and Cellar — Farmers Alley Theatre's one-man show about an underemployed actor who works in the basement of Barbra Striesand's home, 8 p.m. March 10–11 & 17–18, 2 p.m. March 12 & 19, 7:30 p.m. March 16, Little Theatre, WMU, 343-2727.
The Time Machine — All Ears Theatre radio theater presentation, 6 p.m. March 18, First Baptist Church, 342-5059. The Fox on the Fairway — Ken Ludwig's comedy about activities at a private country club, 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 2 p.m. Sat. & Sun., March 31–April 15, New Vic Theatre, 3813328. Musicals Disney's Beauty & the Beast Jr. — Civic Youth Theater musical about transformation and tolerance, 7:30 p.m. March 24 & 31, 1 & 4 p.m. March 25, 2 p.m. March 26, 9:30 a.m. & noon March 29 & 30, Civic Auditorium, 329 S. Park St., 343-1313. Cinderella — Broadway musical with a contemporary take on the classic tale, 8 p.m. March 24 & 25, 2 p.m. March 25, 1 p.m. March 26, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Lamb of God — Easter celebration, 8 p.m. March 24 & 25, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 337-0440. Comedy Crawlspace Eviction Improv Show: ASTR — Comedy and improv on the theme of astronomy, 8 p.m. March 17 & 18, Jolliffe Theatre, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 599-7390.
Other NxMW Film Festival #EpicScreening — A day-long event showing filmmakers' creativity on a small budget, noon–8 p.m. March 4, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 343-2211. Art for Change 2017 — Art, dance, music and poetry geared toward the current generation's Black Arts Movement, 3 p.m. March 5, Black Arts & Cultural Center, call 349-1035 for details. Super Happy Funtime Burlesque — A live band, comedy show and bawdy theatrical production, 9 p.m. March 10, Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382-2332. MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys — The bluegrass band kicks off the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival, 5:30 p.m. March 3. Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival — Instrument designers, workshops and live performances by area musicians, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. March 4, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., and KVCC’s Anna Whitten Hall. Carter Lezman — Acoustic folk and pop singer/songwriter, 6–9 p.m. March 3, Arcadia Ales, 701 E. Michigan Ave., 276-0458.
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Events ENCORE The Accidentals — Indie, folk, rock and bluegrass band, 9 p.m. March 3, Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 3822332. Global Roots Festival — Hiryu Daiko, Japanese taiko drumming; An Dro, Celtic/ world CD release; Temesgen Hussein, traditional Ethiopian; Rhythm Life Collective with Kevin Jones and the Rootead Dancers, 2 p.m. March 5, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Soul-Filled Sundays at Arcadia Ales — The Northern Fires, Kalamazoo singing duo, 5–7 p.m. March 5; The Brass Rail, brass quintet, 4–6 p.m. March 12; Adam Labeaux, multiinstrumentalist/vocalist, 5–7 p.m. March 19; Andrew Saliba and Meghan Stagl, jazz vocalists, 5–7 p.m. March 26, Arcadia Ales, 276-0458. Live Music at Arcadia Ales — The Sam Pilnick Project, modern acoustic jazz collective, 7–9 p.m. March 8; The Copacetiks, jazz, alternative and classic rock, soul and pop, 9–11 p.m. March 11; Boogie Down, DJ, 9–11:55 p.m. March 24, Arcadia Ales, 276-0458. Fizzle Fried — A Primus tribute, 9 p.m. March 9, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.
Bonehawk — Kalamazoo rock band, 9 p.m. March 11, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Wilco — Chicago-based alternative rock band, 7:30 p.m. March 14, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. Big Sam's Funky Nation — Funk, rock 'n' roll, hip-hop and jazz, 9 p.m. March 16, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. One Night of Queen — Tribute performance by Gary Mullen & The Works, 8 p.m. March 17, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Belfast Gin — St. Patrick's Day Celebration with the seven-piece Celtic ensemble, 9–11:55 p.m. March 17, Arcadia Ales Kalamazoo, 2760458. An Evening with Dawes — American folkrock band, 8 p.m. March 18, State Theatre, 345-6500. Electric Six — Detroit-based rock band, 9 p.m. March 18, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Turkuaz — Pop, R&B, soul and funk, 9 p.m. March 19, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Jeff Austin Band — Bluegrass music, 9 p.m. March 23, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.
Matt Pryor & Dan Andriano — 8:30 p.m. March 24, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Fishbone — Fusion of ska, funk and alternative rock, 9 p.m. March 30, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Hot Sardines — Fontana presents the jazz band, 7:30 p.m. March 31, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-7774. Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More Kalamazoo College Jazz Band Concert — 8 p.m. March 3, Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College, 337-7047. Kalamazoo Philharmonia Concert — 8 p.m. March 4, Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College, 337-7047. Kalamazoo College Singers — 3 p.m. March 5, Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College, 3377070. Young Vocalists Competition: High School Division — 6 p.m. March 8, Connable Recital Hall, Kalamazoo College, 337-7070. Western Invitational Jazz Festival — Opening concert featuring saxophonist George Garzone, 8 p.m. March 10; closing concert featuring the University Jazz
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encore EVENTS Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. March 11, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Young Vocalists Competition: College Division — 10 a.m. March 11, Connable Recital Hall, Kalamazoo College, 337-7070. Disney–Pixar Ratatouille in Concert — View the Academy Award-winning film as the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra performs the musical score, 3 p.m. March 11, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Choral Classics Concert — Kalamazoo Singers perform, 7 p.m. March 11, First United Methodist Church, 212 S. Park St., 373-1769. Sir András Schiff — The Gilmore presents the pianist performing works of Schubert, 8 p.m. March 11, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 359-7311. KSO Woodwind Trio — The trio performs music by Beethoven and Malcolm Arnold, 7 p.m. March 14, First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St., 349-7759. Western Brass Quintet — Bullock Performance Institute concert, 7:30 p.m. March 15, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Southwestern Michigan Vocal Festival — Guest conductor Francisco Núñez, 7 p.m. March 16, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 3872300. Arcadia Woodwind Quintet — Chamber music, 7:30 p.m. March 17, Ladies' Library, 333 S. Park St., 344-0158. University Symphony Orchestra: Pops Concert — 3 p.m. March 19, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300.
WMU Drum Choir — 5 p.m. March 21, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Faculty Recital: Pianist Lori Sims — 7:30 p.m. March 23, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Gold Company Vocal Jazz Invitational — Guitarist and vocalist Chico Pinheiro, 8 p.m. March 24; Gold Company vocal jazz group, 8 p.m. March 25; Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Organist Cameron Carpenter — Fontana presents the former child prodigy, 7:30 p.m. March 25, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Chamber Ensemble — 7 p.m. March 26, Chenery Auditorium, call 349-7557 for details. University Jazz Lab Band — 7:30 p.m. March 27, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. WMU Voice Faculty Showcase — 7:30 p.m. March 29, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Giorgio Mirto — Guitarist and composer, 7 p.m. March 30, First Congregational Church, 345 W. Michigan Ave., 337-7070. Collegium Musicum — 7:30 p.m. March 30, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. DANCE Talent on Parade — Regional performing arts competition for area youth, March 3–5, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 316-522-4836.
Midwest Starz Dance Competition — March 10–13, Wings Event Center, 3601 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125. Midwest RADFest — Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival, 2 p.m. March 10–11, 10 a.m. March 12, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 342-4354. Ballet Arts Ensemble Spring Concert — 2 & 7 p.m. March 18, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 337-0440. VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775 KIA Exhibits Wadada Leo Smith: Ankhrasmation, The Language Scores, 1967–2015 — The jazz musician and artist exhibits musical scores composed of color, line and shape, through March 5. Out of the Fire: Masterworks of Ceramics — Exhibition featuring works by some of the finest ceramics artists in the U.S., through March 12. Luminescence: From Salvage to Seascape — Sayaka Ganz’s sculptures created from repurposed objects, through March 19. West Michigan Area Show 2017 — Works of artists from 14 Michigan counties, March 4–May 28. Pressed for Time: History of Printmaking — A historical survey of the four major processes of Western printmaking, March 18–July 2.
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Young Artists of Kalamazoo County — Work by artists from kindergarten through eighth grade, March 25–April 15. KIA Events Paint Together — Paint with acrylics to create artwork, 6–8 p.m. March 3. Kirk Newman Art School Garage Sale — Gently used art equipment and supplies, 9 a.m.–noon March 4. Teen Film Festival — Screening of films produced and directed by area teens, noon–2 p.m. March 4, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 337-0440. Sunday Public Tour — Walk through the exhibitions with a docent: Wadada Leo Smith, March 5; Out of the Fire: Masterworks of Ceramics, March 12; Sayaka Ganz, March 19; West Michigan Area Show, March 26; all sessions begin at 2 p.m. ARTbreak — A weekly program about art, artists and exhibitions: Meet the Art School's Resident Artists, talk, March 7; Steve Curl, artist talk, March 14; Local Gem in Plain Sight, talk on the A.M. Todd Rare Book Room at Kalamazoo College, March 21; Caring for Quilts with Elaine Seaman, March 28; all sessions begin at noon, KIA Auditorium. Unreeled: Film at the KIA — Public Media Network staff talk about experiences behind the camera and with the Cinema 2880 video competition, 6:30 p.m. March 9, KIA Auditorium. Richmond Center for Visual Arts Western Michigan University, 387-2436
RCVA 10th Anniversary Exhibition: Curtis Rhodes & Jack Carney — through March 24, Monroe-Brown Gallery.
17 Days: Vols. 8 & 9 — Works of 17 video artists play continuously on 50-inch plasma screens, through May 1, Atrium Gallery. Alchemy: An Artists + Writers Initiative — Art exhibit resulting from a collaboration of dozens of area artists and writers, through May 26, Netzorg and Kerr Gallery. Other Venues Art Hop — Art at locations around Kalamazoo, 5–8 p.m. March 3, 342-5059. Community Art: Lupe Smith — Acrylics and pottery, March 13–April 28, Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, Portage, 329-4544. Victoria Finlay: How to Travel Through the World's Paintbox — Gwen Frostic School of Art presents the author discussing her adventures to discover the secret histories
40 | Encore MARCH 2017
of paint and dyes, 7–9 p.m. March 30, Room Top Shelf Reads — A young professionals' 1910, Sangren Hall, WMU, 387-2436. book group discussion of Jack Spratt Investigates the Big Over Easy, by Jasper LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Fforde, 7 p.m. March 13, Latitude 42 Brewing Kalamazoo Public Library Company, 7842 Portage Road, 585-8711. Writings on the Wall: Dig Deeper — The Art of Astrophotography: Introduction Discuss Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's thoughts on to Amateur Astronomy — Richard Bell of the topics presented in his book, 553-7895; see Kalamazoo Astronomical Society discusses kpl.gov for topics, times, dates and locations. using digital cameras to capture the sky, 1–3 First Saturday @ KPL — Stories, activities p.m. March 18; registration required. and door prizes for the family, 2 p.m. March Open for Discussion: Reading Together — 4, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., 553-7844. Discussion of Writings on the Wall, by Kareem Writings on the Wall: Overview and Abdul-Jabbar, 10:30 a.m.–noon March 21. Discussion — Discussion of this year's Reading PDL Writers Workshop — Sally Stap Together book by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 6 p.m. discusses self-publishing a digital eBook for March 6, Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St.; Kindle, 6–8 p.m. March 21. 6 p.m. March 7, Alma Powell Branch, 1000 W. Must Be 21+: Game, Color, Doodle Night Paterson Ave.; 2 p.m. March 15, Kalamazoo for Grown-Ups — 7–8:30 p.m. March 27. Institute of Arts Library, 314 S. Park St.; 10:30 a.m. March 21, Portage District Library, 300 Other Venues Library Lane; 6:30 p.m. March 22, Washington Cook's Tour: Captain James Cook's Square Branch, 1244 Portage St.; 553-7895. Voyages of Exploration in the Pacific, 1768, 1772 and 1776 — The A.M. Todd Meet the Author: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — Discussing his book Writings on the Wall, Rare Book Room winter term exhibit, 1–3 p.m. 7–9 p.m. March 14, Miller Auditorium, WMU, March 2, 6, 7 & 9, third floor, Upjohn Library Commons, Kalamazoo College, 337-7153. 553-7895. March Book Group — Discussion of Girl Parchment Community Library Waits with Gun, by Amy Stewart, 7 p.m. March 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747 9, Richland Community Library, 8951 Park St., Parchment Book Group — Discussion of 629-9085. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, 7 p.m. March Quiltfest — Showcase of local quilters, March 6. 14–18, Comstock Township Library, 6130 King Second Sundays Live: Whiskey Before Highway, 345-0136. Breakfast — Irish/Celtic music, 2 p.m. March Poets in Print — Readings by Dennis 12. Hinrichsen and Casey Thayer, 7 p.m. March Front Page: Donuts and Discussion — 18, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, Suite 103A, Current events panel discussion with local Park Trades Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., media, educators, politicians and special 373-4938. guests, 10 a.m. March 18. MUSEUMS Yum's the Word: East African Cuisine — Frida Boyd, chef of Jambo African Cuisine, Kalamazoo Valley Museum discusses the history, health benefits and 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990 flavors of East African cuisine, 6:30 p.m. Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival — See March 22. description under Music: Bands & Solo Parchment Community Library Friends' Artists, page 37. Book Sale — 10 a.m.–3 p.m. March 25, with Eclipse 2017 — A simulation of the total early bird sale 9–10 a.m. solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, 3 p.m. Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat. & Sun., through March 17. Portage District Library The Wizards of Pop: Sabuda and Reinhart 300 Library Lane, 329-4544 Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion: — A pop-up book exhibit with 63 framed Unsung Heroes — Discussion of secondary pieces, through April 9. characters who aren't recognized for heroic U2 Laser Show — Laser animation graphics set to the music of U2, 4 p.m. Sundays deeds, 7 p.m. March 6. International Mystery Book Group — through April 9. Discussion of Mr. Churchill's Secretary, by And Still We Rise: Race, Culture & Visual Conversations — Works that draw on the Susan Elia MacNeal, 7 p.m. March 9.
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Events ENCORE tradition of storytelling through quilts, through June 4. Signs in Michigan — April Bryan, curator of the Vicksburg Historical Society, gives a history of the Mulholland Sign Co., 1:30 p.m. March 26. Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671-5089 The Golden Age of Sports Cars, 1949– 1967 — Exhibition featuring sports cars of the 1940s–1960s, through April 30. Under the Hood Weekend — A look under the hood of cars on display, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. March 3, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. March 4 & 5. 2017 Lecture Series — Mackinac Island and Grand Hotel History, March 5; Quick Sand: Speed is Born, March 12; Around Nova Scotia by Locomobile, March 19; Pan-American
Racing of the Early 1950s: The Ray Crawford Story, March 26; all sessions begin at 3 p.m.
Kalamazoo program, 7:30 p.m. March 27, People's Church, 1758 N. 10th St., 375-7210.
MISCELLANEOUS Women's Lifestyle Expo — Noon–6 p.m. March 3, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. March 4, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., 488-9780. Kalamazoo Home & Garden Expo — New building trends and products, noon–8 p.m. March 9 & 10, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. March 11, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. March 12, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 375-4225. St. Patrick's Day Parade — 11 a.m. March 11, downtown Kalamazoo, www.kalamazooirish. org. Kalamazoo Living History Show — Reenactments, craftspeople, dealers and history buffs, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. March 18, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. March 19, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 765-563-6792. Kalamazoo's Ultimate Indoor Garage Sale — 9 a.m.–3 p.m. March 25, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 903-5820. Spring Expo & Craft Show — 9 a.m.–4 p.m. March 25, Kalamazoo County Expo Center South, 903-5820. Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Buy, sell or trade reptiles, amphibians and small mammals, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. March 25, Kalamazoo County Expo Center Room A, 7799851. Healing Mind and Body Expo — Psychics and mediums, stones, crystals, aromatherapy and holistic products, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. March 25, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. March 26, Wings Event Center, 345-1125.
Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574 Maple Sugar Festival — 9 a.m.–5 p.m. March 11 & 12, Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510 Birds and Coffee Walk — A walk to view birds of the season, 9 a.m. March 8. Maple Syrup Open House — Kids' activities, wagon rides and tours of the sugarbush, noon–5 p.m. March 18. Other Venues Birds and More in Ecuador — Ed and Katie Bolt present an Audubon Society of
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The Long Winter of 2014 Winter attacked us like a mugger, battering us with frigid winds, hail, whiteouts that closed roads and shattered the power grid. Snow piled fifteen feet high obliterated mailboxes and froze solid, blocking letters from friends, jailing us in our homes. The cold and storms held us hostage for three months. Even deer hunkered down, unable to walk through high drifts. Then we had a brief thaw followed by rain that turned into a blizzard and axed tree limbs. Now in late March, winter slowly frees us from bondage. Snow begins to melt, but the compressed crystals resemble harpoons. Today, the crocus blooms, displays lavender petals that dare winter to strike again. — Janet Ruth Heller
Heller, a published author and poet who lives in Portage, has taught literature, women's studies and creative writing at Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, the former Nazareth College and several other colleges and universities.
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Letterpress: Why a 600-Year-Old Technology Still Gets So Much Attention
Many businesses feel the pressure to be edgy and modern. So why do designers keep going back to something from the 15th century to make an impression on people today? The reason is texture. We don’t just feel texture. We see it. Letterpress printing involves physically pressing a design plate or arrangement of text into paper. This creates more than just a mere copy. The process creates texture between the ink and the paper that can be felt and seen.
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Letterpress changes business cards, stationery, and other print material into something more. No longer just objects passing information along, each piece becomes an experience, a joy to look at, and a truly unique statement.
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Texture stays in people’s minds. When you want people to do more than just read your business card, your proposal, or your offer, consider the unique value expressed by the texture of your print assets. Something as old-fashioned as letterpress printing could make the difference.
Family & Children Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
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Fence & Garden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 First National Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Food Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Four Roses Café . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Gilmore Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Great Lakes Shipping Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Greenleaf Trust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
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44 | Encore MARCH 2017
encore Back Story Chris Falk (continued from page 46)
my business, Kzoo Music Scene, based on Sarasota Music Scene, which I had created and operated in Sarasota. I heard about the special events coordinator job at the museum and that they were looking for someone to bump up their music and the concerts and festivals. I had 13 years’ experience in that area, so I thought I might be a good choice for the job.
How did you get your start? When I was in college, I did an internship at a performing arts hall and it became a full-time job. Then my boss was indicted for fraud and bid tampering, so the whole department got fired. A friend of mine’s mom had a gallery that needed a director. I got the job based partly on my skills, but mostly because she thought I looked like Elvis. She was born on Elvis’ birthday and was a huge fan of Elvis. It was always really easy to get her a Christmas present — I just got her something with Elvis on it.
How has the Fretboard Festival changed since you’ve taken over? The festival started in 2005, and when I came here six years ago, the festival had seven vendors, four bands and four workshops. I was very adamant about bumping it up a little bit, saying, “If it doesn’t grow, it’s going to die.” Now the festival is in two buildings — the museum and Anna Whitten Hall — and
we have 15 performances, 10 workshops and 40 vendors, and we’ve added a kid’s section. I work hard to keep things exciting and new, and still hold to the festival’s tradition as a celebration of instruments made in and around Kalamazoo and of musicians from the area and around the state.
That’s a lot for one man to do. While nobody else actually helps me plan and put it together, there’s a team that makes it happen. The marketing team at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (which owns the museum) does a lot to get the word out. We have a sound company that takes care of the stages and getting bands on and off stage. And then it’s all hands on deck for museum staff, who are there the night before and the day of the festival. They are are so professional — they do what they are supposed to be doing. It’s seriously really easy for me that day.
What’s the festival’s attendance? Last year it was (estimated at) 3,700 people; the year before, 3,500. This year, though, we are coming up with a better way to calculate the numbers. We have two buildings, and in the past some people might have been counted twice. This year everyone gets a sticker and we’ll be able to tell from the number of stickers given out a more accurate attendance number.
How do you choose the performers for the festival? I am kind of selfish when it comes to that. I think, “What do I want to see at a festival?” and then consider the budget and make a preliminary list of bands. I look for bands that are working their butts off playing at venues and festivals and who have an album out or one to be released. These are bands that are on people’s radar and will attract audiences. We also choose two acts from the PlayIn Contest in January. This year we had 12 bands we considered and chose two: Blarney Castle in the acoustic category and Last Gasp Collective in the electric category.
What has been your biggest challenge? Getting to the next level. I would like to do more festivals outside of the museum in the community of Kalamazoo. The next level would be doing a festival with a bigger budget but that is specific to Kalamazoo — something like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — that includes local and regional acts and a few national acts but that shows off what Kalamazoo is all about. I love living in Kalamazoo — if you want to do something, you can get it done here. And if like-minded people can put their heads together, then a lot more things can be accomplished.
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BACK STORY encore
Special Events Coordinator Kalamazoo Valley Museum Chris Falk once got a job because he looked like
Elvis, but it’s his passion for music that has kept him at the forefront of music promotion in the Kalamazoo area. Falk, a native of New Orleans, is the organizer of this month’s Fretboard Festival, a celebration of stringed instruments and Michigan musicians scheduled for March 3-4. He’s also the muscle behind the museum’s monthly Friday Night Highlights concerts. In addition, he coordinates the Kindleberger Summer Festival of the Performing Arts and runs his own business, Kzoo Music Scene, which he describes as an entity that “creates festivals and opportunities for musicians and acts as an advocate for musicians.”
How did you get where you are today?
I worked for an art gallery in Sarasota, Florida, that closed, and felt like I needed a change and had family up here. After being unemployed for about six months, I started
(continued on page 45)
46 | Encore MARCH 2017
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