Page 1

West Michigan’s Entertainment Guide for 28 Years  December 2016

Free! / Music / Film / Art / Dining / Beer

Wood creations from Tim Ruff

Holiday treats Hand-crafted gifts Where to donate Holiday events

Th e H o li Edit day ion Wher e to sh lo

call op best p y for all th e resen t s ( a food, too) nd

The Outer Vibe Ultraviolet Hippopotamus Alonzo Bodden Comstock Park brewery tour

NOVEMBER 5 - DECEMBER 17 Free Entry. Limited Seating. First Come. First Served. Concessions Open. Snacks Available for Purchase.

downtowngr.org | uica.org

English subtitles for people with hearing impairments

2 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016




DEC. 28

DEC. 23


DEC. 27


DEC. 29

DEC. 30



DEC. 31

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REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |


6 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |


8 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

What’s Inside

December 2016 | Volume 28, Issue 12


What’s Going on this Month


Local: Outer Vibe


Local: Ultraviolet Hippopotamus


Top Shows of 2016


Top Local Releases of 2016




Comedy: Alonzo Bodden


Local Film Events & Screenings

SPECIAL SECTION: The Holiday Edition

Holiday Treats


Local Gift Guide


Holiday Treats


Local Maker Profiles


Where to Donate


Santa Stories


Restaurant Guide


Dining Trend: Old Is New


Brewery Tour: Comstock Park


An exploration of West Michigan’s cultural arts scene and the people who drive it (See the center of this issue, after page 24)



Local Gift ideas


Letter from the Editor


et’s be real: 2016 has shaped up to be a year most music fans (and people who believe in progressive politics) will want to forget. The list of musical talents who died this year is staggeringly long: David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Keith Emerson (of Emerson Lake and Palmer), Sharon Jones, Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg (of A Tribe Called Quest), Maurice White (of Earth Wind & Fire), Stanley Dural Jr. (of Buckwheat Zydeco), Attrell “Prince Be” Cordes (of P.M. Dawn), Nick Menza (of Megadeth), and numerous others. We also mustn’t forget that this was the first year we spent without Lemmy Kilmister, the hard-charging, larger-than-life Motörhead bassist, who passed away last December from kicking too much ass. But hey, we did get that 77-minute new Metallica album to show for this year. (#sarcasm) Still, 2016 has featured its share of good musical memories, as Eric Mitts writes in his round-up of the year’s best local releases (page 19) and as Nicole LaRae from The Pyramid Scheme and dizzybird records recounts in a story about the year’s top shows (page 18). I’d add to her list Ghost’s Oct. 4 stop at the Kalamazoo State Theatre during the band’s Popestar tour as one my greatest concerts from the year. The myth and majesty behind the Swedish occult rockers’

show seemed tailor-made for the historic, ornate theater, which for the evening transformed into a church fit for Our Dark Lord himself. With Papa Emeritus dressed in full black mass regalia, Ghost’s accessible hard rock and over-the-top aesthetics provided the perfect entry to fall and the Halloween season. With that, it should come as no surprise that my level of enthusiasm for “The Holidays” is terminally lacking. In fact, I embrace my bah humbug ways in true curmudgeonly fashion. Who needs “Jingle Bell Rock” when you could “Toxic Waltz” your way through the mosh pit. At least good beers come out this time of year — as well as tasty food, as evidenced by Missy Black’s cornucopia of candy and confection on page 30. If I can’t find enjoyment in caroling and retail excess, at least a big bourbon barrel-aged stout will dull my senses and a pile of macarons will satisfy my sweet tooth. I’d call that a win.


W est M i ch i g a n ’ s E n terta i n me n t Gu i de

Editorial Publisher Brian Edwards / brian@revuewm.com Associate Publisher Rich Tupica / rich@revueholding.com Editor Joe Boomgaard / joe@revuewm.com Managing Editor Josh Veal / josh@revuewm.com Copy Editor Claire Boomgaard Design Creative Director Kim Kibby / kim@revuewm.com Revue Arts Design Rachel Harper Contributing Writers Missy Black Kelly Brown Justine Burdette Dana Casadei Nicole LaRae Marla R. Miller Eric Mitts

Samara Napolitan Troy Reimink Nicole Rico Jane Simons Josh Spanninga Elma Talundzic Kayla Tucker

Contributing Photographers Katy Batdorff Sales / 616.608.6170 / sales@revuewm.com Kelli Belanger / kelli@revuewm.com Digital Editor Kim Kibby / kim@revuewm.com

Find us online! Joe Boomgaard, Editor Website: revuewm.com Twitter: twitter.com/revuewm Facebook: facebook.com/revuewm Instagram: instagram.com/revuewm Revue is published monthly by Revue Holding Company. 65 Monroe Center, Ste. 5, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 Office: 616.608.6170 / Fax: 616.608.6182

Upcoming issues January: Health & Fitness

February: Revue’s Guide to Vice & Love

It’s the New Year, and you’ve promised once again that you’d take better care of yourself. Revue explores ways to help you keep those promises and take control of your lifestyle with a look at fitness, staying in shape and healthy living.

The people of West Michigan have many passions. For February, Revue delves into West Michigan’s loves and guilty pleasures. Don’t worry — there will be just enough lust to balance out the love.

To AdvertisE: Call (616) 608-6170 or email sales@revuewm.com. Space reservation is the 15th of the month before publication.

10 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

©2016, Revue Holding Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part granted only by written permission of the publisher in accordance with our legal statement, fools.

On the cover: A creation made from reclaimed wood by Tim Ruff (Photo by Lisa Kae Ruff). See story on page 32.



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11/16/16 REVUEWM.COM | December 20164:33| PM 11

/// best bets

what’s Going on this month

|  Compiled by Nicole Rico and Revue staff

Multiple dates Alamo Drafthouse Holiday Films

Find that one-of-a-kind gift and enjoy special discounts during this festive holiday shopping event. Food and hot beverages, live entertainment and free shuttles will be available.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: Dec. 2 and 5, 7:30 p.m. Elf: Dec. 3, 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. & Dec. 8, 7:15 p.m. Love Actually: Dec. 6, 7 p.m. Die Hard: Dec. 12, 7 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse, 180 Portage St., Kalamazoo drafthouse.com/kalamazoo, (269) 532-7990


The Alamo Drafthouse is stacked with holiday-themed movies this month. Featured flicks include: one romantic comedy, two family comedies and one surprisingly festive action flick. What do they have in common above all else? Every one is a timeless classic.

Steelcase Town Hall, 901 44th St. SE, Grand Rapids Dec. 2, 5-9 p.m. Dec. 3, 10-5 p.m. Free! uica.org, (616) 454-7000

Movies NOT in the Park: Gremlins & Nightmare Before Christmas

UICA, 2 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids Gremlins: Dec. 3, 8 p.m. The Nightmare Before Christmas: Dec. 17, 8 p.m. Free! uica.org, (616) 454-7000

Two holiday favorites are making an appearance at UICA this month: 1984’s Gremlins and the Tim Burton favorite, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Both movies are one night only and admission is free. Seating is first-come, first-served, so get there early.

Downtown Market Classes Holly Jolly Cookie Bash: Multiple dates Winter Wonderland: Dec. 7, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Free! Grand Rapids Downtown Market 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids downtownmarketgr.com, (616) 805-5308

The Grand Rapids Downtown Market has several events for adults and children alike this month. The first is Holly Jolly Cookie Bash, a four-hour class that teaches you how to bake assorted cookies for the holidays. Next is Winter Wonderland, which includes food and beverage demos, a Holiday Artisan Market and an appearance by Santa Claus.

thursday 12/1 Uptown Holiday Shop Hop Throughout Uptown Grand Rapids 4-10 p.m. Free! uptowngr.com

12 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

28th Annual UICA Holiday Artists’ Market

If you’re struggling to find a matchless gift for a loved one, you might want to check out UICA’s Annual Holiday Artists’ Market. The event has everything from hand-crafted jewelry and home goods to fine art and toys. There will also be live music and local food and beverages on hand.

monday 12/5 Taking the Long Road Cocktail Competition

Long Road Distillery, 537 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 5, 5:30–8 p.m. longroaddistillers.com In partnership with the Grand Rapids chapter of the United States Cocktail Guild, Long Road Distillers is hosting this first-ever competition, which is meant to bring awareness to the guild and inspire people who are passionate about being a professional bartender. The competition provides a forum for bartenders in Grand Rapids to show off their skills in the art of creating craft cocktails using Long Road’s spirits.

Repeal Day Party

642 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids Tickets: $10 in advance via eventbrite.com, $12 at the door (if available), 21+ only Celebrate the repeal of the 18th Amendment that ended Prohibition with hosts Long Road Distillers, Local First, Sidecar Studios and the The Grand Rapids Bartending Guild - USBG. Look for live music from Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish and The Bootstrap Boys. Libations include beer, cider and cocktails (cash bar), and the Two Scotts Barbecue food truck will be on-site. Check the partner websites for more details closer to the event.

saturday 12/17 Super Happy Funtime Burlesque: X-Mas Special The Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 17, 9 p.m. $10 general admission, $25 VIP, 18 and up pyramidschemebar.com, (616) 272-3758

Bringing a signature mix of old-school burlesque and John Waters-style camp as always, the Grand Rapids-based Super Happy Funtime Burlesque performs its fun, festive and kitschy X-Mas Special at The Pyramid Scheme this month.

Ugly Sweater Party

Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo Dec. 17, 9 p.m., $5 bellsbeer.com, (269) 382-2332

Marcus King Band at Tip Top Deluxe 12/17 The Marcus King Band stops by Tip Top in support of a new self-titled album, a mixture of blues, rock, country and soul. Although this is only King’s second LP, he is being called “a formidable talent” by NPR.

SantaCon Kalamazoo Dec. 17 santacon.info

If you love Christmas, drinking booze and playing dress up, now’s your chance to roll them all into one full day of festivities. At SantaCon, people dress up as Santa Claus or other holiday-related things to “spread joy and fun.” Attendees parade through the streets and stop at bars while singing naughty Christmas carols and exchanging gifts with strangers.

Bell’s Eccentric Café hosts its Ugly Sweater Party Dec. 17. Wear your ugliest sweater and you’ll have a chance to win gift cards and other prizes. The event also features appearances by Earl Jordan, Matt Dorbin and Evan Luoma.

Marcus King Band

Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill 760 Butterworth St. SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 17, 9 p.m., $10, 21 and up, (616) 272-3910

SantaCon Kalamazoo 12/17

saturday 12/31

Miracle on 34th Street: A Musical Adaptation

Van Singel Fine Arts Center 8500 Burlingame Ave. SW, Byron Center Dec. 17, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. $45.50 for adults, $25.50 for children vsfac.com, (616) 878-6800

This holiday classic centers on Kris Kringle, a man who claims to be Santa Claus and is thus on trial for his own insanity. The nationally-touring play adapts the eponymous 1947 film into a musical, with songs like Just Imagine and I Believe in Miracles. It’s a festive play for families, friends and everyone in between.

Joshua Davis

Howmet Playhouse, 304 S. Mears Ave., Whitehall Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m., $25 howmetplayhouse.org, (231) 894-4048 Joshua Davis has been rising the ranks of the American roots scene for the last 15 years. Hailing from Traverse City, the guitarist, singer and songwriter was a finalist on NBC’s The Voice in 2015, which expanded his reach. Davis is also the frontman of the Lansing-based roots ensemble, Steppin’ In It. If you’re a big enough fan, pick up the VIP meet-and-greet tickets for an extra $40 and you’ll get some Q&A time and a photo op.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is performing its rock opera, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, at Van Andel in celebration of its 20th anniversary. The production features songs like “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” “Good King Joy,” “Promises To Keep,” and “This Christmas Day.”

Acoustic NYE w/ Lee DeWyze

tickets aren’t quite as cheap as popping a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly at home, the event price includes appetizers, salad, dinner, dessert, a bottle of quality champagne and the uber-intimate acoustic show with DeWyze. Plus, there’s only 80 tickets available — enough people to throw a memorable party without being packed in like sardines. n

If you’re looking for New Year’s Eve plans on the lakeshore, this is for you. Seven Steps Up has crafted a truly unique night with singer-songwriter (and 2010 winner of American Idol) Lee DeWyze. While you may notice that

For more events, see the Revue Arts section in the center of this issue.

Seven Steps Up, 116 S. Jackson St., Spring Lake Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m., $150 sevenstepsup.com, (616) 678-3618

SchulerBooks&Music SchulerBooks&Music


Share the Schuler DECEMBER Share the Schuler with a Schuler Books gift card.

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with a Schuler Books gift card.

Snoop Dogg at Van Andel Arena 12/20

tuesday 12/20 Snoop Dogg: Puff Puff Pass Tour West Coast rap legend (and BFF of Martha Stewart) Snoop Dogg stops by Van Andel on his Puff Puff Pass Tour, Dec. 20. The show features performances from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Warren G, DJ Quik, and of course, Tha Dogg Pound.

thursday 12/22 Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve Van Andel Arena, 130 W. Fulton St, Grand Rapids Dec. 22, 3 p.m. & 8 p.m. $47.50-$77.50 vanandelarena.com, (616) 742-6600

Available now, in-store or online AvailableSchulerbooks.com now, in-store or online Visit www.SchulerBooks.com for a complete list of events. All events are subject to change.

2660 28th Street SE • (616) 942-2561

Use Schuler Books gift cards in Use Schuler Books gift cards in our store, café, or on our website.

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |

Scene Sounds | Sights | Dining | Schedule

Van Andel Arena, 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids Dec. 20, 7 p.m., $29.50-$75 vanandelarena.com, (616) 742-6600




great food Thur, Dec 8

$22.50 adv / $27 day of

Karl Denson’'s Tiny Universe


Doors 8pm — Show 9pm

Fri, Dec 9

Flynt Flossy & Turquoise Jeep All American Funk Parade, Saxsquach, Devil Elvis

The Bad Plus

Thur, Dec 15


Doors 7


— Show 8


$18 adv / $20 day of pm

— Show 9

$20 adv / $24 day of Doors 8pm — Show 9pm

The Werks

$12 adv / $15 day of Doors 8pm — Show 9pm

Sat, Dec 31

Schedule | Dining | Sights | Sounds | Scene

New year's eve party

Special Surprise Guests

Doors 8pm — Show 9pm

Fri, Jan 6

$5 adv / $8 day of

Delilah DeWylde

Doors 8pm — Show 9pm

$18 adv / $20 day of


Lushlife, Analog Ancestry Doors 8pm — Show 9pm

Sat, Jan 21

$20 adv / $24 day of

Sara Watkins

14 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

12/15 Deep Greens & Blues

Sunday Brunch 11am-4pm


12/16 & 12/17 Lazy Blue Tunas Christmas Shows


T U E - W E D 1 1 AM- 1 0 PM T H U R - F R I 1 1 AM- 1 1 PM S A T 5 PM- 1 1 PM & S U N 1 1 AM- 4 PM

12/22 Kathy Lamar presents "Jazzy Christmas" 12/24 No Music (Closed Christmas Eve)

dec 2+3, 9pm

Cliff Erickson dec 9, 9pm

cross roads blues band dec 16, 7:30pm

Desmond Jones

Tue, Jan 10

12/10 Natchez Trace


Jon McLaughlin Thur, Dec 29

12/3 Mid-Life Crisis 12/8 Serita's Black Rose

136 East Fulton, Grand rapids | 616.235.7669 | onetrick.BIZ

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Doors 8

Thur, Dec 22


$30 adv / $35 day of


12/1 TBD


Free Admission

Eccentric Day

Tue, Dec 13

live music

december shows

Doors 8pm — Show 9pm

Brian Keith Wallen dec 17, 9pm

Retro Pop Shuffle dec 23, 9pm

steve hilger band dec 29, 9pm

Dan Willenberg Trio dec 31, 9pm

Skeletones New Years Eve Party downtown kalamazoo

(269) 384-6756 125 S. Kalamazoo Mall millenniumrestaurants.com

/// Local Music

The Outer Vibe

Surfin’ 616 The Outer Vibe Returns to Grand Rapids |  by Kelly Brown

The band’s democratic writing system means everyone has input into the writing process. “Over the past year, we’ve written 40 songs, probably more,” Zee said. “So we’re picking the cream of the crop. Throughout the EP, there will be an identifiable sound. … We’re trying to pull in what The Outer Vibe does and define ‘surf disco.’” As for living in Nashville, it’s a pretty different experience from the band’s hometown. “It’s interesting, compared to Grand Rapids,” Zee said. “People (in Nashville) are making music and they’re going home to their wife and kids. It’s their job. Their job is to be there 9 to 5. It’s a one-of-a-kind thing.” Though Nashville is known for its historic country music, it hasn’t swayed the sound of The Outer Vibe, whose music is too difficult to wrap up in a few words. But if you had to ask, they’d call it a slice of paradise or a musical vacation.

The Outer Vibe w/ Kick The Robot

The Pyramid Scheme 68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Dec. 22, 7 p.m.; $10 advance, $15 day of show pyramidschemebar.com, (616) 272-3758

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |

Scene | Sounds | Sights | Dining | Schedule


wo words: surf disco. To fully understand what that means, just listen to The Outer Vibe discuss their music and lifestyle for a few minutes. You’ll soon be riding the band’s sunshine-pop wave with a smile across your face. Before The Outer Vibe was a nationally recognized eclectic pop-rock band, its five members met locally on the Grand Rapids Community College campus. Since then, they’ve released numerous EPs, along with a full-length album in 2015 titled Full Circle. For that album, the band worked with producer Brad Dollar (Grateful Dead, The National) and mastering engineer Joe LaPorta (Imagine Dragons, Foo Fighters, Vampire Weekend).

The Outer Vibe has been on the Full Circle tour since January, traveling the U.S. in a vehicle lovingly named Vanakin Skywalker. The band’s guiding force is to become full-time musicians, and with years of experience under the belt, they’re well on their way. “We’ve had so much time on the road, about six-and-a-half months, and there’s been a lot of life experience that has helped us grow,” said bassist Andrew Dornoff. “(Living in a van), you really get to know each other.” The long months of touring paid off. While stopping through Nashville, the group teamed up to tour rental houses, discuss contracts and ultimately land a deal with publisher Catch This Music for a new EP — which will be on sale at the show. “Now that we’re working on someone else’s clock, we’re spending a lot of time rehearsing and perfecting our arrangements,” said singer Sean Zee.

Lisa Kacos, on keys and trumpet, jokingly said that “everyone asks if we are from California. Maybe we’ve been confused all along.” Zee explained that part of the contrast comes from the longstanding culture of Nashville. “Nashville has a sound that is deeply rooted in its history,” he said. “The talent pool is so high, and then we come in. They all sound alike and we are just so different. But we were always different. Interestingly enough, maybe we seemed less different to our fans in Grand Rapids than here.” That acceptance makes for a welcome homecoming, and in some ways, the band’s upcoming performance at The Pyramid Scheme is a momentous one. “It’s our first public show at The Pyramid Scheme,” Zee said. “We played a private show there before but this will be the first public show. … It should be a full house.” The Outer Vibe also will be joined by Atlanta-based pop trio Kick the Robot. “We met them at SXSW in March,” Kacos said. “We caught a few of their showcases and thought they were a great three-piece band and that our fans would like them. We played together in Asheville, N.C. in September and we thought it’d be cool to bring a band that has never played in Michigan before with us to The Pyramid Scheme.” And true to The Outer Vibe’s unusual musical style, the band is working with Bang Candy Co. to create a unique brand of marshmallow — a collaboration that follows in the footsteps of Jack White and Third Man Records. Needless to say, pairing the sunshine-pop of your favorite local band with the sweet taste of a craftsman marshmallow is a truly unique experience. And working with Bang Candy has been a great fit. “Owner (Sarah) is like us in an artistic sense,” Kacos said. “We are an original band making music that is different than most, and we are very hands-on with our craft. She is the same with her candy. We hit it off with her. She’s great, very open-minded and excited about sharing her passion.” n


/// Local Music

Year of the Hippo GR jam band Ultraviolet Hippopotamus amps up New Year in Kzoo |  by Eric Mitts

Schedule | Dining | Sights | Sounds | Scene


he New Year always presents a time f or r e f l ec t ion a n d r e bi rt h . Old habits can change, new goals can be made, and the future can rise up on the horizon wider and brighter than ever before. Such is the case for longtime Grand Rapids jam band Ultraviolet Hippopotamus. From its beginning in spring 2004 in Big Rapids, the fivepiece has made a name for itself with a tight mix of funky jams, explosive improvisations, unconventional covers and other “onstage musical alchemy.” The band’s grown from little-known local kids with a “silly” name to road dogs playing more than 250 shows a year all over the country, including gigs at major music festivals like North Coast in Chicago, South By Southwest in Austin and Summer Camp in Chillicothe, Ill. The bandmates have also just grown up. Realizing that piling into a van and venturing into the unknown takes its toll, the band took a break during most of 2015. The members scaled back their touring to just a small handful of shows and took time to take care of their personal lives. Ultraviolet Hippopotamus Photo: Phierce Photo “We just took a break and settled things down and got things in order, and now that we are back, we want to make “It’s a really hard decision, and you’ve got to really think it out, “It’s such an honor,” Phillion said of the gig. and sometimes the timing isn’t always the best, but you’ve got more mature, intelligent decisions,” UV Hippo drummer Joe The band last played the historic venue on Halloween to say something. You’ve got to let your girlfriends know how Phillion told Revue. 2014, and has a history of playing high-energy New Year’s Eve Following that break, this past year has been a reintro- you’re feeling. When he mentioned it to us, it was right before sets going back to its early days playing at the old Founders we left for spring tour, so it was a little interesting trying to feel duction of sorts for UV Hippo. The band has emphasized Brewing location at the Brass Works Building in Grand Rapids. up a tour, like, ‘Is this the last tour that we’re producing quality shows instead of sheer “I can’t believe we actually got the gig,” Phillion said of the ever going to do? Is this it?’ quantity, with a short tour this past spring that New Year’s Eve show. “It’s a big deal for us. It’s a big pair of “It was really tough for Russ and tough for included two-night stands in Florida, Denver, Ultraviolet shoes to fill. But we stacked the bill right, did some promoting, us,” he added. “Andy was super wet behind the and Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo. and got some tricks up our sleeves for the show. We’re ecstatic, ears and a little scared. It’s not easy to just step “We were just letting everyone know that Hippopotamus into a prog-rock jam band and feel at ease. … absolutely ecstatic.” we were back and we were still touring and wsg. Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers, The Mainstays After the New Year, UV Hippo plans to begin work on But I have to give it to him, though, he’s doing still doing our thing,” Phillion said. “We were Kalamazoo State Theatre a long-delayed concept album about the digital world and a stand-up job.” supposed to put out an album, and then in 404 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo A lifelong friend of the band, Kirby — music’s place in it. The album will be the band’s first release the middle of the summer, Russ (Olmsted, the Dec. 31, 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show since the 2013 LP Translate. The group tentatively plans to who also plays with Phillion in The Turnips band’s longtime guitarist) decided he wanted $22.50 advance, $25 day of show go into the studio in February, with hopes of a mid- to late— quickly connected both on and offstage with to leave the band, which was totally fine. We’re kazoostate.com, (269) 345-6500 summer release. the group, which currently includes bassist/ on good terms. He’s a great friend and always “We’re going to be hunkering down Michigan-style, makvocalist Brian Samuels, percussionist Casey will be.” Butts, and keyboardist/vocalist Dave Sanders. ing some new music and making a new record,” Phillion said. UV Hippo bid farewell to Olmsted and Over the fall, they mainly stuck to the Midwest, rekin- “Every rock star or band wants to become big; they want to officially welcomed new guitarist/vocalist Andy Kirby into become Phish or Grateful Dead or U2. You never stop striving dling the fires the band had started in cities like Indianapolis, the band during a stellar, two-set show at The Intersection to want to become something, and I think that’s one of our Columbus and Chicago. this past July. goals for next year.” n It will all culminate with a triumphant celebration at the “When Russ decided to leave the band, it was like deciding to break up with six girlfriends,” Phillion said of the transition. Kalamazoo State Theatre on New Year’s Eve.

16 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

Music on. World off. WE HOST GRAMMY® WINNERS. LEGENDS. EMERGING ARTISTS. SINGERSONGWRITERS. FULL BANDS. ROCK. ROOTSAMERICANA. FOLK. BLUEGRASS. Artists and fans say we’re one of the best live music venues in the country. We have a full bar available with craft & domestic beers, fine wines & premium spirits.

Box office 616.930.4755 or visit PinDropConcerts.com





Enter The Haggis





12/8 Jim Lauderdale $25 12/11 Ruth & Max Bloomquist $30 HOLIDAY SHOW FUNDRAISER FOR COURTYARD CONCERTS!




12/28 Seth Glier 12/31 Lee DeWyze

$25 $150



Scan for info and while you’re at it, sign up for our email newsletter!

Alice Peacock

Lee DeWyze


Seven Steps Up

Live Music & Event Venue 116 S. Jackson Street Spring Lake, MI 49456 www.sevenstepsup.com

Live Music & Event Venue

/// Music At The B.O.B. Grand Rapids, MI 616.356.2000 www.thebob.com

2016 |  by Nicole LaRae

CHAD DAerNIE1-L3S Decemb

ALONZO BO December



Hundreds of bands come through Grand Rapids every year, but some stand out, providing an unforgettable experience. Here are five of those shows for Nicole LaRae, venue and booking manager for The Pyramid Scheme, founder of dizzybird records and volunteer programmer at 88.1 WYCE. David Bowie Tribute Show (Feb. 5) at The Pyramid Scheme

E PETEberLE 15-17

Schedule | Dining | Sights | Sounds | Scene


Five Shows to Remember

On Jan. 10, 2016, we lost an icon: The Thin White Duke, The Picasso of Pop, The Master of Reinvention, Ziggy Stardust … our hero, David Bowie. As the world mourned, celebrations of his life and art began popping up all over the place. After posting on social media, asking who wanted to help put together a celebration here in GR, my friend Benjamin Hunter gave me a call and we put a plan in action to put together a Bowie Tribute show. Five bands (formed specifically for the night) performed Bowie songs throughout the night while Bowie-expert Luke Schmidt hosted a series of trivia rounds. Attendees and performers dressed as their favorite version of Bowie and a costume contest ensued. The event sold out


December 22-23

David Bowie Tribute Show at The Pyramid Scheme Photo: Katy Batdorff before the doors opened and raised more than $3,000 for Girls Rock Grand Rapids, a week long camp that empowers girls and women through music.

Dave Chappelle

(Feb. 29) at DeVos Performance Hall

Just three days before the show, it was announced that comedian Dave Chappelle would perform in Grand Rapids. After keeping a low profile for several years, Chappelle came back to stand-up comedy. Not every show had gone smoothly, however, as videos and stories began circulating about Chappelle’s shows being sloppy and him being unstable. Thankfully, the Grand Rapids appearance did not disappoint. Chappelle was sharp and was having a lot of fun on stage. Chicago actor/comedian Hannibal Buress opened the show and then booked himself a last-minute gig at The Pyramid Scheme the following night, selling out the room in a matter of hours … in a snowstorm.

Elton John

(March 23) at Van Andel

MIKE E. WINFIELD December 29-


18 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

Graham Parsons of The Go Rounds at Lamplight

Photo: Nicole LaRae

Legend and superstar Elton John returned to the arena in March for a sold-out show. The man has been performing for hundreds of years and his sets aren’t getting any shorter: the show was 2.5 hours long and I’m not sure he ever took a breath. Every song was played with incredible precision as most of the band has been with him for decades. At 69 years old, Elton John will probably

live and tour for another 69 — don’t miss him if you get the chance to witness the magic.

Black Lips

(July 14) at The Pyramid Scheme

Another sold-out show, this one was the party of the year. The Atlanta-based “garage punk hooligans” are known for their rowdy shows, yet soulful and intelligent songwriting. There wasn’t a body in the room that wasn’t moving (see: thrashing) around and screaming every word to every song. With eight albums under the belt, they haven’t released anything since 2014, so we patiently wait for the next.

Lamplight Music Fest V

(Nov. 4, 5, 6) in Eastown

3 days. 39 acts. 3 living rooms. 1 attic. This is the most unique music-oriented festival in our city. It requires an intense amount of planning and love. Organizers of the festival explain, “having concerts in living rooms ultimately breaks down the barrier of separation between artist and audience member and promotes opportunities for a meaningful and sustainable exchange.” As a volunteer this year, I felt an immense sense of community and collaboration with everyone participating in this annual event. From the sound engineers to the homeowners to the artists, it just works. I’m already waiting with anticipation for Lamplight VI. n

/// local music

Top Five Best Local Releases of 2016

From politically-charged hip-hop and punk to otherworldly musical explorations, the best in local music had it all in 2016. |  by Eric Mitts



Lady Ace Boogie x JRob, The Great Ones

ladyaceboogie.com There was no song released by any local artist this year more powerful and poignant than “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” the lead-off track to this limited release by area rappers Lady Ace Boogie and JRob. Addressing the police shootings plaguing the country and the prevalence of racism across all aspects of society, the single quickly proved that the duo could easily live up to their boastful name. The playfulness of other tracks like “On Another Planet” displayed not only the diversity of the duo’s style, but the depth of talent in Grand Rapids’ hip-hop scene. Shout out to local label Hot Capicola Records for taking risks and helping make something this truly great actually happen.


17 S. 2ND ST. GRAND HAVEN, MI 616.414.7822

Heaters, Baptistina

heaters.bandcamp.com Forget cooling off: Grand Rapids’ psychedelic rockers Heaters scorched through 2016 with the release of a second LP this summer. Coming less than a year after the band’s debut on GR’s own buzzworthy label dizzybird records, this sophomore set expanded minds and opened third eyes to new sonic possibilities and the growing range of likeminded psych bands right here in West Michigan. With a record this heady in tow, sky’s the limit for this trippy trio heading into 2017.

W W W. G R A N D A R M O RY B R E W I N G . C O M

Nashon Holloway Band, The Palace and The Hut

nashonholloway.com Kalamazoo native Nashon Holloway is a singular talent. A gifted singersongwriter with a five-octave range, she can pull music lovers from every generation together with her tenderly crafted blend of jazz, soul, folk and more. Her debut LP has a sound so soft, yet sophisticated, that it rewards careful and casual listeners alike in uniquely unexpected ways. Just be ready to feel your heart move as much as your feet.

Watching For Foxes, Undone Bird

Scene | Sounds | Sights | Dining | Schedule

watchingforfoxes.bandcamp.com Sad, flannel-clad indie-rock, accompanied by cello, banjo and piano has never sounded so bewitching and beguiling. This six-piece folk-rock ensemble out of Grand Rapids has crafted a cinematic showcase of emotion packed with as many memorable hooks as it has moving, existential passages. The collision of roots music’s rich tradition and modern rock’s unquenchable angst allows the band to move stealthily in whichever direction it chooses. Be on the lookout for where this group is heading next.

The Lippies, self-titled

thelippies.bandcamp.com Some bands burn too bright and too fast to last long. The Lippies burst onto the Grand Rapids punk scene like a roller derby queen obliterating demolition derby cars. On fire. The band’s fierce, feminist ideologies flung frontwoman Tonia Broucek and company into the limelight upon the release of an ultra-catchy pop-punk debut back in March. A few whirlwind tours and a few months later, the band was done, but Tonia has gone solo as Tonia Bug, and this record still stands as one of West Michigan’s best in a year where far too many good things felt far too fleeting. n

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |


20 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

by Eric Mitts


Comedy vs. Racism

Alonzo Bodden tackles modern day issues at Dr. Grins


service announcements he made for “Stroke’s No Joke.” “It was a funny commercial that ran during a lot of sporting events for some reason,” Bodden said of the powerful PSA spot. “So a lot of people were like, ‘Oh you’re the stroke guy!’ Which isn’t the necessarily the best thing to be saying while you’re in line at Starbucks. ‘Aren’t you the stroke guy?’ And I’m like, ‘Hey, hey, keep it clean.’” On a more personal level, Bodden has more recently done benefits and other events for the Kidney Foundation and other organizations after donating a kidney to his older brother in 2013. “As a comic, I love being able to lighten a heavy situation,” he said. “If I can go to a bunch of kidney donors and recipients and doctors and be able to make them laugh about the whole procedure, that’s the gift of comedy right there.” n



REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |

Scene | Sounds | Sights Dining | Schedule

Speaking with Revue shortly before the f there’s one thing longpresidential election last month, Bodden, 53, ti m e stan d- up com e dian discussed his strong concerns about a Donald Alonzo Bodden knows, it’s the healing Trump presidency. power of humor. From donating a kidney “(With a) Donald Trump win, there’ll be a to his brother to confronting institutionmass exodus to Canada,” he said. “I was there alized racism onstage, Bodden is a big last week and told them there’ll be more black believer in laughter as medicine for those who people heading to Canada than there was on are hurting in mind, body or soul. the Underground Railroad.” Many will remember him best from his Bodden frequently confronts the issue of two seasons on NBC’s reality competition racism in his shows, while refusing to believe series Last Comic Standing, where he won the those who claim that Barack Obama is at fault grand prize during season three back in 2004. for America’s race relations. “I call it my introduction to America,” “People are in denial,” he said about the Bodden said of his time on the show. “At that issue of race in America, sarcastically adding, time, I had been touring around, just doing “I love the people who are like, ‘Well there was gigs and headlining clubs and working when I no racism before Barack Obama.’ You’re right, can. That was a huge amount of exposure, and there wasn’t. There weren’t any it definitely changed my career.” problems with the police. He The show not only grew brought it all on.” Bodden’s popularity, it also Alonzo Bodden Bodden then clarified that changed his approach to comDr. Grins Comedy Club “(his presidency) allowed racedy. Forced to come up with 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids ists to come out of the closet, new material every week, he Dec. 8-10, times vary, $10-$20 and reveal the racist issues that shifted from a more personal thebob.com/drgrinscomedy, we’ve all been dealing with. It’s storytelling style to more topi(616) 356-2000 unfortunate dealing with the cal humor. issues with the police, and “I loved talking about the with Black Lives Matter. news and social commentary I always say black lives matter to and what’s going on,” Bodden said. “Sort of me, because I have one.” the George Carlin style of comedy. I always say Before venturing into there’s basically three styles of comedy: there’s comedy, Bodden worked as Cosby, Pryor and Carlin. That was the way I an airplane mechanic for always looked at it. And I fell into the Carlin years. He maintains a lifeend of the loop where I was doing topical and long passion for all things social commentary.” mechanical, especially Bodden’s first stand-up special for motorcycles and cars, and Showtime, 2011’s Who’s Paying Attention?, has shared that love by also tackled many of the issues of the day hosting such shows as and helped Bodden launch a podcast of the Speed TV’s 101 Cars You same name, where he currently continues to Must Drive, the Science rail about current events. Earlier this year, he Channel’s How To Build… followed it up with the release of his second Everything, and webisodes Showtime special, Historically Incorrect. of Jay Leno’s Garage. “My favorite thing about being a comedian Outside of Last Comic is we call bullshit when we see it,” Bodden said. Standing, however, the “We get to call Donald Trump a racist. We get television appearance to talk about the racist coverage on FOX News. he’s most recognized We get to talk about bad cops or bad political for is the run of public leaders. That’s our job: to point it out.”



indie film

by Josh Spanninga

WMEAC and UICA Explore New Era with Screening of Environmental Documentary Anthropocene

Schedule | Dining | Sights Sounds | Scene


ne of the best things a bou t mov i e s is their ability to take you out of the real world for a short while and give you a chance to relax. On the other hand, cinema also gives us the opportunity to delve head first into our global community’s most pressing issues in the form of investigative, informative documentaries. The Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) is a huge proponent of the latter, and has been teaming up with the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) for more than five years to bring eye-opening documentaries to its theater as part of the WMEAC Film Series. Each year, WMEAC’s film series volunteer team (a group of self-described “documentary nerds”) meet to discuss and select a handful of environmentally-focused documentaries to screen from October to February at the UICA. Joshua Leffingwell, communications director for WMEAC, says the event is the perfect starting point for audiences interested “What we need to be able to do is in learning more about environmental issues. take these huge ideas and localize them,” “Part of what we find is that a lot of Leffingwell said. people are interested in environmentalism, On Dec. 7, the WMEAC film series will but don’t really know what to do,” Leffingwell be presenting its latest selection, Anthropocene. said. “This is maybe the lowest barrier to The documentary explores the notion that entry, to get involved with the organization. humans may have created a new geological epIt’s mostly just going to a film, och in which we have impacted and then afterward we have some the environment so much that speakers talk about some of the we’ve created an entirely new Anthropocene Urban Institute for ways that this film is connected geological layer to the earth. Contemporary Arts to our community.” While the documentary is mas2 W. Fulton St., Grand In the past, the WMEAC sive in scope, WMEAC was Rapids Film Series has shown awardeager to take on the challenge of Dec. 7, 6 p.m. winning documentaries on all relating it to the West Michigan $5 suggested donation kinds of topics, from the frackcommunity. uica.org/movies ing documentary Gasland II to “This is like macro in the Vanishing of the Bees, a film about biggest sense, so to try and bring declining honeybee populations around the it local, we have professors coming in who will world. In addition to the films themselves, be talking about if we are in this new era where WMEAC brings in speakers such as local there will be scarcity of resources,” Leffingwell professors and activists to discuss how these said. “Whether that is not being able to farm issues affect the West Michigan community food like we have been in the past, or other on a daily basis. parts of the country or world are going to need

22 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

Mix Up Your Holiday Viewing Pleasure

A Anthropocene to screen at UICA Dec. 7. our fresh water — what impact is that going to have on West Michigan?” It’s easy to get discouraged while having these conversations, so the discussion will focus on things audience members can do to make a positive environmental impact, whether that’s writing about these issues to local legislators, volunteering with a local environmental organization, or doing something as simple as picking up trash along the lakeshore. “You have the ability to make these small changes, and so when you see these dire, huge macro-level stories about how the world is being impacted by climate change, you do have ways to take action even if it seems so big and so beyond you,” Leffingwell said. “There are things you can do inside your community.” If you’re interested in learning more about WMEAC and the WMEAC film series, visit wmeac.org/wmeacfilmseries. n

h, it’s that special time of year again when it’s virtually impossible to go anywhere without being bombarded by bright Christmas lights, songs about jingling bells, and of course, the ever-present Christmas movie. For those of you craving a bit of variety in your Christmas mix, don’t worry. We at Revue suggest checking out a couple of the more unconventional holiday offerings our local theaters have to offer. On Dec. 1, Celebration! Cinema will be screening a special Rifftrax Holiday doublefeature, complete with commentary from former members of the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 crew. The show starts out with a screening of the zany Christmas cult classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, a delightfully cheesy sci-fi flick that finds the amiable red-suited favorite, well, conquering the Martians. Afterward comes a screening of RiffTrax Live: Christmas Shortstravaganza, complete with a guest appearance from the one and only Weird Al Yankovic. If that doesn’t float your boat (or sleigh), we suggest stopping by the UICA on Dec. 3 for a free screening of the wacky, sinister classic Gremlins. After all, reindeer and elves aren’t the only magical creatures to be born out of the Christmas mythos.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Gift cards available at the box office and celebrationcinema.com Scene | Sounds | Sights Dining | Schedule REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |


6740 CASCADE ROAD 6 1 6 . 9 4 2 . 9 8 8 6 www.cascade-optical.com PHOTO: ROB CONENS FRAME: IC BERLIN MIRRORED MOUNTAIN MODEL: KEVIN P. RIGG

24 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016



Music education programs are bracing for growth as their funding returns, but educators and advocates must still work to ensure every student is able to take part in that success. SEE PAGE 5A. STORY BY JOSH VEAL. PHOTO OF COOK ARTS CENTER PROGRAMMING BY KATY BATDORFF.



NEXT CHAPTER Frauenthal Center charts new course



MAJOR BRASS Battle Creek band draws global talent



REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2016 | OH FUDGE The story behind ‘A Christmas Story’


DECEMBER 27-30 AT DEVOS PERFORMANCE HALL Tickets make the perfect holiday gift!


Grand Rapids engagement is welcomed by Amway Hotel Corporation; Aon; Barnes & Thornburg, LLP; Herman Miller; and Universal Forest Products.


Mona Shores Singing Christmas Tree


It’s a sight to behold — a glowing, human, singing Christmas tree that rises nearly 70 feet in the air. If you’re looking for a unique Christmas concert to kick off the holidays, Mona Shores Singing Christmas Tree is the ticket, and those go quick for this beloved community event. In fact, tickets for this year's tree already seem to be sold out, so be sure to grab them early in 2017. The tree is the tallest of its kind in the world, holding 240 of the 275 singers in the Mona Shores High School Choir. The rest sing near the base of the tree, joined by the 50-member orchestra. Many enjoy watching them take position to form the tree, singing a cappella in a candlelight processional in the historic Frauenthal Theater. The coveted spot at the top is known as “The Tree Angel” and is always a high school senior selected by the director. Celebrating its 32nd year, the effort takes more than 200 volunteers and more than 850 pieces of unistrut steel, manually assembled to form the superstructure. The tree features more than 25,000 colored lights and 5,000 linear feet of special greenery imported from Germany. — REPORTED BY MARLA R. MILLER


MONA SHORES SINGING CHRISTMAS TREE Frauenthal Theater Muskegon Dec. 1-3, $15, $10 under balcony monashoressingingchristmastree.com, (800) 585-3737

Cirque de Noël The combination of live music and the wonder of a Cirque performance is not to be missed! Family and friends of all ages will be delighted by the sights and sounds of the annual Cirque de Noël performance at DeVos Hall. Conductor John Varineau leads the Grand Rapids Pops musicians with holiday favorites such as Carol of the Bells, selections from The Nutcracker, and Skater’s Waltz, all while Cirque de la Symphonie artists share the stage. Performances by aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, and jugglers will amaze with gravity defying feats of power and elegance. Whether a well-established tradition in your family or a brand new one, Cirque de Noël brings together all the best holiday pleasures in this intimate sensory experience. Surely a Best Bet for relatives who arrive in town early, friends you want to impress, or just some “me time” in the hustle and bustle of the season.

Charles Dickens’ 'A Christmas Carol' The must-see event of the holiday season in Kalamazoo is this production from New Vic Theatre. The play opened on Nov. 18 and has performances through Dec. 28. The cast of this Christmas classic appeared in the city’s annual Holiday Parade on Nov. 12 in full costume to give spectators an idea of what they’ll be seeing on stage. Ted Kistler, founder of the New Vic, has been presenting his adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” for more than 35 years. The production has become a holiday tradition for many, and has a reputation for being highly difficult to get into (like a local Hamilton), despite more than 25 performances. While it is true that much of the production annually sells out well ahead of opening night, keep your eyes peeled — seats often become available as people who reserved them an entire year ahead of time have to cancel for various reasons.



CIRQUE DE NOËL Grand Rapids Symphony DeVos Performance Hall Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23 at 8:00 p.m. $32+, grsymphony.org, (616) 454-9451



CHARLES DICKENS’ “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” New Vic Theatre 134 E. Vine St., Kalamazoo Through Dec. 28 thenewvictheatre.org, (269) 381-3328



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As an appreciation for the arts in West Michigan has grown, groups like the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony have seen increased enrollment and financial aid. (Above) Conductor John Varineau leads the GRYS at the 2015 Festival of the Arts. PHOTO COURTESY OF TERRY JOHNSTON

HITTING THE HIGH NOTES With programs growing, music educators work to remove deep-seated barriers BY JOSH VEAL

When budget cuts hit schools, the axe falls first on anything that’s not considered a “core subject.” For many school administrators, music education falls into the category of a luxury, rather than a necessity. In fact, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) put math, reading, science and social studies above all else. The arts simply weren’t considered essential to being “career ready.” But music educators disagree with that sentiment. “If kids aren’t involved in arts and music specifically, they’re missing that creative part of their education. What’s that going to mean to them in 10 or 20 years when they’re in that market?” said Cory Micheel-Mays, executive director of the Michigan Music Education Association (MMEA). “When they enter the workforce, they’re not going to be that creative, out-of-the-box team player.” Years of research back Micheel-Mays’ claims. Studies published in the likes of The Journal of Neuroscience and Scientific American, among others, show that music education is linked to significant improvements in math, science and reading scores. It alters the nervous system with changes that last into adulthood, including the ability to process all auditory information — not just music. For adults, learning an instrument even has been shown to stave off Alzheimer’s disease and depression. That research is part of why the new Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the NCLB, has made explicitly clear the importance of music education. Still, the bipartisan ESSA was only enacted by Congress in Dec. 2015, so its true impact has yet to be seen.

In the meantime, music educators will continue to make the case for the value of the art form. Beyond producing results in other academic areas, learning and playing instruments has an inherent impact both emotionally and socially. Steffanie Rosalez, program director for Grand Rapids’ Cook Arts Center, said that music allows for an outlet that can’t be found in science or math. “In this time, where everyone’s feeling a range of emotions, it’s times like these that remind me how important the arts are,” she said. “It’s important that kids have access to forms of self-expression and creativity that can allow them to be angry or to move around a lot. … Holding a guitar or hitting a drum, they’re physically engaging with a creative process that can be whatever they want it to be.” Rosalez is also the program director for Girls Rock! Grand Rapids, an annual week-long camp where girls from around the city are split into bands who then write, perform and record a song. The songs can be about whatever the participants want, from a grandma’s ghost to turning into a cat. Rosalez said this freedom both allows the girls to express themselves individually and brings them all closer together — that’s what music education does. “We’re encouraging young women and girls to be leaders and be creative, to support each other and spread positivity,” she said. “It’s using music as agency to build community.”


To an extent, however, access to that music education varies from place to place, community to community. For instance, Michigan is the only state in the contiguous United States that does not require school districts to provide arts instruction in elementary, middle school

or high school. Advocating for requirements like these is a large part of the MMEA’s work — a bill focused on elementary school has been proposed and now sits awaiting action in the state’s House Education Committee. In 2012 — the same year Michigan cut funding by more than $300 per pupil under Gov. Rick Snyder — approximately 9 percent of the state’s elementary schools didn’t offer a single music course, according to an Arts Education survey led by Michigan Youth Arts. For high schools, that number jumped to 23 percent. Those numbers may have changed by 2016, but accurate data are hard to come by on both the state and national level, according to Catherina Hurlburt, communications manager for the National Association for Music Education. Still, arts instruction requirements would help keep that percentage as close to zero as possible. Micheel-Mays of the MMEA said that music education — where it does exist — is already of an incredible caliber in the state, and that he would put our highschool performing ensembles up against any other state. He also noted that schools like Michigan State University and the University of Michigan are considered “some of the best in the country” for music. However, the fact remains there are students missing out on that success, which he views as “horrible.” If those students could participate, the state’s musical reputation would only improve. “Somehow, we’ve got this amazing crop of talent without any of the necessary requirements in place,” he said. “If we’ve got it that good right now, imagine how amazing Michigan could be if we get the other piece in place.” However, even when hard times hit, many schools recognize the value of music and find a way to make do, whether it be through outside help or creative See MUSIC EDUCATION page 6A




invest back into music where they had cut or halted expansion previously. Before the downturn, more and more area school districts were adding orchestras, including Kenowa Hills, Hudsonville, Grandville and Zeeland. That trend slowed significantly after 2010, with Rockford Public Schools in 2013 being the most recent district to add an orchestra. However, Scott said that more districts have once again started to express interest in adding an orchestra.


Area orchestras like the Grand Rapids Symphony have made music education a priority, working with schools to expose students to the arts. Throughout the year, students are bussed in to see the symphony perform while GRS players also head into schools to give students a hands-on experience (pictured above). PHOTO COURTESY OF TERRY JOHNSTON

MUSIC EDUCATION from page 5A problem-solving. Partially due to statewide budget cuts under Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Grand Rapids Public Schools briefly switched in 2010 to a “hub” system in which all music electives were moved to City High, and students from all of the district’s high schools participated collectively. In 2012, the district was able to de-centralize and hired Maggie Malone as director of fine arts to help rebuild the program. Malone said that through all of this, the community and the district “stood behind the value and the quality that music instruction brings to students.” Since

“When I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, you were kind of the nerd if you were in the music program. I would say that culture and society has changed.” - DAN SCOTT, DIRECTOR OF ORCHESTRAS, JENISON HIGH SCHOOL

then, enrollment in programs has only increased and the GRPS Coit Creative Arts Academy has transitioned into an International Baccalaureate school, where art and music are considered core content. While every school in the nation could always use more funding, Malone has high hopes for the future. Part of Malone’s optimism stems from what she perceives as a culture shift toward the representation of musical talent in a positive light, especially through talent-based TV shows like The Voice and The X Factor. “I think, as a society, we’re coming back to valuing music,” she said. Enrollment has continuously grown for Jenison High School’s music programs as well, and Director of


Orchestras Dan Scott also attributes that partially to an increased respect for music in society. “The stigma toward participating in music is virtually gone, at least in the environments that I see,” Scott said. “When I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, you were kind of the nerd if you were in the music program. I would say that culture and society has changed — we’re either embracing the nerds or kids’ differences are just a little more valued and appreciated.”


While 2010 and 2012’s funding cuts have impacted every district in one way or another, many schools held strong. For Kalamazoo Public Schools, the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship has made all the difference, according to Dan Stout, the band director at Kalamazoo Central High School. Depending on how long students have been in the district, the program pays for anywhere from 65 percent to 100 percent of their college tuition at any Michigan public university or community college. Stout said this means the community works hard to keep kids as involved as possible, and music is a big part of that. At many schools, the largest impact from prior cuts was the loss of parapro workers, who essentially acted like secretaries and took on much of the “administrivia,” according to Jenison’s Scott. “In general, directors did as much as possible to protect their kids from the cuts, so you didn’t see too much loss of programming,” Scott said. “But teachers were taking it on the chin, for lack of a better term, to get their programs through that rough period.” To this day, the biggest concern for Scott is staffing, or lack thereof, which leads to teacher burnout. He said there are multiple music classrooms in West Michigan that have only one teacher for more than 50 students, and even a few situations where the single-teacher classrooms are close to 100 students. “Parents, administrators and legislators need to consider whether that is appropriate,” he said. On top of class size issues, music instructors — especially those working with marching bands — often spend a great deal of time on field trips and after-school instruction as well. If education funding gets restored to prior levels, Scott said it will be interesting to see if schools re-

Regardless of whether schools can provide the kinds of music programs they desire, arts organizations across the region work to both supplement those school programs and bridge divides. St. Cecilia Music Center of Grand Rapids has its highest enrollment ever across many programs, including three youth orchestras and two developing jazz programs. Martha Cudlipp Bundra, education director, and Rebecca Steimke, education assistant, said that music programs are broadening in genre — moving beyond just symphonies and into an expansive spectrum of musical performance. These programs are expanding in age as well, with most major institutions now offering at least one program for adults. The Holland Youth Symphony also is growing, although Holland Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Kay Walvoord said enrollment oscillates by semester because of high school marching band in the fall. Still, the HSO keeps busy year-round with programs for all ages, Walvoord said, including a New Horizons class for adults and concerts geared toward young children and families. “Our approach is from the very youngest to the very oldest,” she said. For most arts organizations, however, the largest portion of their educational outreach is in tandem with schools. At the Grand Rapids Symphony, more than 75,000 attendees come in from all over West Michigan to experience symphonic music at a young age. With this many participants, symphonies are often faced with the tough financial choice of either keeping tickets affordable or assisting with bussing costs, said Claire Van Brandeghen, the director of education at GRS. The GRS has opted for cheap tickets — the fifthgrade concerts are entirely free, while the Lollipop Concerts are only $5 per student. Van Bradeghen said transportation is the number one barrier to participation, especially for a symphony that serves 14 counties across West Michigan. For example, participating schools come from as far away as the city of McBain, more than 100 miles away. Additionally, transportation is an issue that spans beyond West Michigan. In the 2012 Arts Education survey from Michigan Youth Arts, 45 percent of schools cited transportation as a significant barrier to arts-related field trips. To overcome that barrier, the Brass Band of Battle Creek seeks grants and donations to cover the cost of transportation for its concerts. Transporting one elementary school costs about $500, according to Executive Director Jennifer Rupp, but the impact is invaluable. “We’re all about impact right now and how we seek out and get kids to seek out arts opportunities in their community,” Rupp said. “We reach so many kids every year and the hope is that they will become appreciators of the arts.” On the other hand, Van Bradeghen said that requiring schools to contribute funds for transportation greatly assists with their commitment to showing up. See MUSIC EDUCATION page 9A



Prague Philharmonia with Sarah Chang


Photo: Joan Marcus


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MUSIC EDUCATION from page 6A “I have colleagues with other orchestras who have transportation stipends, and then they start to see commitment drop off because the schools don’t have any skin in the game,” she said. “When they’ve had to commit the funds and resources, we start to see 100-percent attendance.”


On an individual level, tuition is the largest barrier to participation in music classes and youth symphonies. However, organizations like St. Cecilia are fundraising constantly, enabling them to assist those in need. Bundra said donations allow St. Cecilia to provide financial aid to students whose families can’t afford it. When the GRPS Harrison Park Elementary school lost its orchestra program, St. Cecilia was able to offer some full scholarships to students. Similarly, the Grand Rapids Symphony — in addition to tuition assistance for the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, Classical Orchestra and Youth Chorus — offers the Mosaic Scholarship. Through this program, about 20 African-American and Latino students currently receive one-on-one lessons with professional musicians from the symphony. The GRS also recently launched Symphony Scorecard, which provides free tickets to families receiving financial assistance from the state.

“Rather than telling people what to believe, sharing your own stories and listening to other people is the best thing you can do right now.” - STEFFANIE ROSALEZ, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, COOK ARTS CENTER

“We thought last year we’d be doing well if we had 400 tickets used. We were a little bit surprised to have more than 2,100 tickets used,” Van Brandeghen said. “We’re looking at how we remove barriers so that more segments of our community can participate.” The Cook Arts Center, which is part of the Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities nonprofit, removes those barriers with free after-school and summer arts programs for those living in the Grandville Avenue (a.k.a. Roosevelt Park) neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The after-school music classes range from piano to guitar, violin, drumming and more. The Summer Arts and Learning Program is similar, but closer to a day camp, offering the whole spectrum of classes to students ages 5 to 12. Each year, the program also has a theme fit around social and emotional learning, with 2016 focused on “the future of selves.” Rosalez said that the Cook Arts Center listens to residents, then creates programming around their requests. Of all the center’s programs, Rosalez considers the aforementioned Girls Rock! Grand Rapids to be the most effective right now. In four years, the camp has doubled in size, growing in 2016 to 40 girls, split into eight bands. More than 50 volunteers assisted this year as well. “This has been way more successful than we anticipated, mostly because the whole program has been

Dan Scott acts as both director of orchestras at Jenison High School and director of the Youth Philharmonic at St. Cecilia Music Center (above). He believes that schools need to invest in reducing class sizes if they want to avoid teacher burnout. PHOTO COURTESY OF ST. CECILIA'S MUSIC CENTER

centered around them making whatever they want,” Rosalez said. “Some of them take it outside of the camp week and keep playing with their bands.” Another program doing similar work is the Boys & Girls Club of Grand Rapids, with three locations in Southwest Area Neighbors, South East Community and Garfield Park offering drum, guitar and other music lessons for youths ages 6 to 18. Additionally, Walk The Beat in Grand Haven arranges lessons and donates instruments and money for children and young adults. In order to do so, the nonprofit organizes benefit shows with local bands across West Michigan. The main event takes the form of a benefit festival in Grand Haven, featuring 70 music acts across 36 venues, but Walk The Beat is expanding to other cities like Albion as well. These organizations bridge the systemic gaps and divides of the region in more ways than one — it’s not just about the music, but the programs themselves. Rosalez said the Girls Rock! GR album release party this year illustrated just that. A wide variety of families came together, as the program hosts girls from all over the city, not just the Grandville Avenue neighborhood. The event, which took place just days after the 2016 presidential election, allowed for disparate families to hear each others’ stories, both through music and conversation. “When people heard these narratives, they were like, ‘Wow! I didn’t realize people were living out these things,’” Rosalez said. “Rather than telling people what to believe, sharing your own stories and listening to other people is the best thing you can do right now.”


With a new presidential administration taking office in January, music education faces uncertainty in the times ahead. The problems educators face now are nothing new, but it’s impossible to say what’s next, according to Kevin Tutt, associate dean of curriculum, pedagogy and academic opportunities for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University. Tutt, who also serves as a professor of music, cited the fact that President-elect Trump “has floated the idea that he will eliminate the Department of Education” as a driver of that uncertainty. “There would be pretty large ramifications of that,” Tutt said. “There are a lot of programs that are administered by the DOE.” Since anything could happen, it’s the current state of not knowing that makes everyone nervous, Tutt said.

That anxiety, including with policies at the state level, can also cause educators to burn out quicker, according to Scott of Jenison. “We’re expecting an attack on our pensions during (the Michigan Legislature’s) lame duck session coming up, so if we’re stressed about that, it makes it hard to approach your job with the same energy every day,” he said. With that kind of looming uncertainty, sources found it difficult to advise any one course of action for the future. There’s always the obvious answers: Give to an organization you believe in, whether it be a school, youth symphony, arts center or advocacy group. You also can volunteer, especially with the smaller nonprofits that rely on the help. Or simply support the arts with your patronage. However, some of the problems with music education run deeper than funding. There’s a disparity present, a divide between communities founded in complex issues that can’t be solved by solutions as simple as introducing “diversity.” It’s not easy to solve — it’s not even easy to talk about, especially in today’s sociopolitical environment, but communities like Greater Grand Rapids have to acknowledge it, Rosalez said. “This is a result of systems we’ve created and these systems impact very specific groups of people,” she said. “We have to start looking inside of ourselves to see how we might be contributing to it. It might be the way we’re talking about (marginalized) communities. It might be the way we don’t talk about it at all.” Just telling the same tired story of an “inner city” school struggling through the lens of middle-class whiteness doesn’t accomplish much — instead, we need to build new narratives, Rosalez said. People need to force themselves to reflect on oppressive systems and marginalized people’s fears, beliefs and daily experiences that may be uncomfortable or difficult to understand, then talk about them in a new way from a new perspective, she added. Rosalez believes the rhetoric people use to frame these stories is “hugely important.” This work, as challenging as it may be, is worth more to Rosalez than any number of donations. “People want to say, ‘Oh, well if I just donate $20 then I’m doing my part,’” she said. “But really, everyone’s part is self-reflection and thinking about your assumptions and challenging those. ... That’s a lot harder than donating $20, and that’s what people need to do. I would rather everyone do that than give us money.” Rosalez paused, then added, “But believe me, I need their money, too.” ■ Jane Simons also contributed to this story.




Muskegon Museum of Art’s winter exhibits explore expressions of faith BY MARLA R. MILLER

Their faces, rich with expressions of struggle, joy and faithful devotion, tell the story of an enduring human spirit without saying a word.

(Top) Photo from The Preacher and His Congregation by James Perry Walker. (Above) St. Jerome in Penitence by Joos van Cleve. COURTESY PHOTOS

The black-and-white images in The Preacher and His Congregation: Photographs by James Perry Walker, capture a sense of people, place and community, despite the poverty and racial inequality still prevalent in the late 1970s in rural northern Mississippi. They will be on display through March 5 at Muskegon Museum of Art as part of two faith-based exhibitions this winter. On loan from Flint Institute of Arts, the photographic essay documents the life of a circuit preacher, Rev. Louis Cole, and his congregation’s shared religious and community experience. It’s also a story of two men who formed a unique friendship. Ordained by age 19, Cole truly felt called to the ministry. Cole led services at four churches while also traveling to preach as a guest or substitute, making home visits and attending baptisms, weddings, revivals, funerals, deacon meetings and the like. The job paid very little, so he also farmed his land. Walker, a white man, grew up in Marshall County, Miss. in the 1950s and ’60s. He met Cole while working as a Head Start teacher at one of his churches, and despite leaving the area never forgot Cole’s impact. “He was really captured by his passion, his storytelling, and the love of his congregation,” said Art Martin, senior curator and director of collections and exhibitions. “He worked dawn to dusk. He ate breakfast by lantern light and dinner by lantern light.” A writer and photographer, Walker returned in 1975 to travel with Cole as his health started to deteriorate. The photographs span a period of six years, ending with Cole’s death in 1981. They have a timeless and historic quality, said


Muskegon Museum of Art, muskegonartmuseum.org, (231) 720-2570

The Preacher and His Congregation: Photographs by James Perry Walker Through March 5

Expressions of Faith: Religious Works from the Permanent Collection with Rare Manuscripts from the Van Kampen Collection Dec. 8 thru Feb. 12, Opening reception 5:30-8 p.m., Dec. 8.

How to Return: Contemporary Chinese Photography Dec. 8-Feb. 12


Catherine Mott, curator of education. She encourages students to look at how the images tell a story. Walker was invited into intimate moments like funerals, baptisms and picnics. He also snapped portraits of children, women and men celebrating life’s simple pleasures, sitting in church and dressed up to praise the Lord. Mixed in are images of the small rural churches, the countryside, dilapidated houses, and hard manual labor. “Those give you a sense of the place,” Martin said. “There was a great deal of poverty in this region, but there was an incredible sense of community and love of community and love of each other.”


The MMA’s major winter exhibition, Expressions of Faith: Religious Works from the Permanent Collection with Rare Manuscripts from the Van Kampen Collection, showcases some of the best religious artwork in the museum’s permanent collection, along with rare manuscripts, bibles and other artifacts on loan. This includes prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt, paintings by Joos van Cleve and Lucas Cranach the Elder, carvings, sculptures and metalwork, Portuguese and Mexican retablos, and early manuscripts from Christian, Judaic, and Islamic texts. The goal of the show is not only to highlight religious themes and symbolism depicted in art, but also to explore the impact of artists on expanding religious faith and how that changed the face of the world once printing began, Martin said. “This really is opening the treasure trove of our permanent collection,” Martin said. “It was about sharing our own collection and recognizing the religious inspiration behind so much of it, and then wanting to bring in the community through the show.” To help illustrate the early recording and transmission of holy texts, the Van Kampen Foundation Scriptorium has loaned rare manuscripts and hand-copied and printed bibles. It is one of the largest private collections in the world, comprising rare manuscripts and artifacts dating back to the 6th century. The exhibition features 150 works in various mediums and presents artistry and imagery from multiple faiths. It also includes Japanese and African traditions, mythology, early Greek and Roman art, and Nordic and Celtic folklore. One section focuses on architecture, including photography of the architecturally significant St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Muskegon, and a Torah from Temple B’nai Israel of Muskegon. Loans from the Holland Museum, Center Gallery at Calvin College, and private and institutional lenders explore the ongoing importance of visual art in the expression and study of religious faith. “For people that haven’t been here before, my hope is it is the opportunity to get a closer look and a better understanding of images people may take for granted and to understand the history of faith a little more and the interconnectedness of everything,” Martin said. ■


Signature Gallery annually supports local artists BY JANE SIMONS

Holiday parades and preBlack Friday sales signal the start of the holiday shopping season. But for people who seek locally made works of art, the opening of Signature Gallery in Kalamazoo is their sign. Each December, a group of more than 20 artists transform an empty storefront into a vibrant art gallery featuring work in glass, metal, clay, leather, fiber, handmade paper, mixed media, paint photography, pastel and jewelry. This year, the gallery is located at 4602 W. Main St., the same location as last year. Judith Jansen, one of this year’s 22 participating artists, said the 9,000-square-foot site offers plenty of space to display the artwork. Additionally, the members of the 29-artist cooperative have talked about staying open all year, she said. “We have visited that topic a few times, but since we are all full-time artists, we would not have anybody available to work at the gallery,” Jansen said. “On the other hand, if we worked at the gallery, we wouldn’t have time to make our art.” Signature Gallery is a juried cooperative of professional artists and craftsmen, founded in 1981 with a mission to make art an integral part of Southwest Michigan and to maintain a positive relationship between artists and the community. Because it’s a juried group, anyone interested in joining Signature Gallery can only get into the group

by applying, sending photos to be reviewed, and then doing an in-person display and explanation of the art. David Smallcombe, a local jewelry artist, has been exhibiting and selling his pieces at Signature Gallery since its inception. He said about 20 percent of his annual sales come from time at the gallery, with the remainder coming from art fairs and internet sales. He is one of a handful of artists at Signature Gallery who is able to make a living through artistry. “The gallery is very important because it’s a local venue and, unlike an art fair, it gives people 30 days to come in and look and come in and look again, so it’s not a quick decision they have to make,” Smallcombe said. Dawn Edwards, owner of Felt So Right, said Signature Gallery is her largest sales venue. She makes hats and sculptural vessels using primarily felt, and was invited to jury with Signature in 2011. Edwards’ felt enterprise has taken her to Ireland, Chile, Australia and Canada, in addition to numerous parts of the United States. “A lot of the artists do shows throughout the year. I combine teaching, making and selling,” Edwards said. “I’m one of the smaller artists in terms of sales because I can’t make things as quickly. One hat will take me a couple of days from start to finish.” Because of a loyal customer base and the opportunity to buy unique, locally made items, Jansen said the Signature Gallery artists sell pretty well. “Most of us continue making art during the entire month that the gallery is open. We continue to bring in new pieces every day,” she said. The gallery officially opened for business on Nov. 26. Regular hours will be 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday  through Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sundays,  until the gallery closes for the year on Dec. 27. ■

Signature Gallery in Kalamazoo opens annually, offering more than 20 artists the chance to sell their wares to the public just in time for the gift-giving season. The art spans a variety of media and size. COURTESY PHOTOS

You don’t have to be Jewish to Love Jewish Theatre

Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids

At GRCC Spectrum Theater 160 Fountain, Grand Rapids

Tickets: 616-234-3946 or on-line at: jtgr.org

ductions with atrical pro ality the re universal in appeal. ting qu ta presen h themes tha Jewis



DECEMBER 27-30, 2016

MARCH 14-16, 2017


FEBRUARY 21-26, 2017

MAY 2-7, 2017

JUNE 6-11, 2017



Muskegon’s Frauenthal Center hires managing director, rebrands


A native of New York, Ricki Levine made her way to West Michigan via Los Angeles first. She fell in love with the area after friends in California moved to Saugatuck and invited her to visit. “I came to visit on one sunny weekend in February,” she said, adding that Lake Michigan was part of the draw. “I always said I needed to live by the ocean. I said, ‘That will do,’ although it was frozen over.” Most recently, Levine made her way to Muskegon to serve as Frauenthal Center’s managing director after working at arts organizations in Saugatuck and Grand Rapids. Her duties include everything from staffing to policies and procedures to the entertainment schedule. “I’m in charge of the entire center — what we’re doing, how we rent it out, and bringing in specific programming,” she said. The center has also rebranded itself, shortening the name from Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts; unveiling a new logo, mission and vision statement; and launching a new website. Levine’s hiring in early August accompanied a reorganization of the internal management structure. The Community Foundation for Muskegon County is the umbrella organization that owns and helps support the center, and staff used to report to the vice president of finance. The goal is for Frauenthal Center to have a separate identity and operate in a more autonomous way, Levine said. Like many, Levine had never been to Muskegon before interviewing for the job. Once she saw the spring per-

formance of Muskegon Civic Theatre’s “Into the Woods,” she realized what a historic gem is hidden on the corner of Western Avenue and Third Street. “I got the opportunity to see the space in use and I was smitten,” she said. “I’m really excited. It is such a historic treasure for this part of Michigan. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously.” Levine grew up in Westchester County, N.Y. and studied acting at George Washington University, then returned to Manhattan to try acting before moving into sales and marketing. “It’s very eclectic, my career,” she said. “I understand what’s going on behind the scenes and artistically. I also understand the business side of things.” From there, she lived in Los Angeles for 11 years and worked for some of the big studios, such as Disney and Paramount, in marketing and home entertainment. Levine then realized she was ready for a change after that visit to Saugatuck in the winter of 2004. “I called him (my husband) and he thought I was out of my mind,” she said. “We didn’t know West Michigan at all. I didn’t know the beauty and uniqueness of this side of the state.” Besides the scenic dunes and Lake Michigan, it was important that the area had a vibrant performing arts and cultural arts scene, Levine said. In June 2005, Levine packed her car and drove cross-country to join Saugatuck’s Mason Street Warehouse as managing director. She then worked six years as the development director at St. Cecilia Music Center and said she wasn’t actively looking to change jobs. “It was just a huge opportunity,” she said. “There are a lot of untapped resources.” Frauenthal Center has anchor groups like Muskegon Civic Theatre and West Michigan Symphony and co-presents concerts, family entertainment and community events. Larger traveling productions pay to rent the theater and are responsible for their own promotion.

The Frauenthal Theatre in Muskegon. COURTESY PHOTO

Levine hopes to increase both attendance and facility use, while also building on the variety of offerings for the community. One goal is to form an artistic committee of community members and people in the arts to offer

“We have weddings; we have meetings; we have rentable office space,” she said. “We just want to fill it as much as possible.” The adjoining Hilt Building houses the 169-seat Beardsley Theater, art gal-

“I called him (my husband) and he thought I was out of my mind. We didn’t know West Michigan at all. I didn’t know the beauty and uniqueness of this side of the state.” — RICKI LEVINE, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE FRAUENTHAL CENTER

input on the types of shows and programming they want to see. Another challenge is marketing and spreading the word out in the community. While many people have heard of the Frauenthal Theater, an ornate 1,700-seat theater that opened as the Michigan Theater in 1930, the Frauenthal Center includes a variety of venue and facility rentals for public and private events.

lery space, dressing rooms, reception areas, meeting rooms, and rehearsal spaces. Levine has hired a gallery manager to help plan, coordinate and install exhibits. The gallery is open and free to visit during business hours and performances. Levine hopes people will stop in before or after they visit Muskegon Museum of Art or attend a special event downtown. “We want to make the gallery a destination,” Levine said. ■


West Michigan Symphony’s Pops “Classical Christmas,” Dec. 16 “The Nutcracker” with West Michigan Youth Ballet, Dec. 18 Free Family Movie Day, Dec. 27 New Year’s Eve R&B Fest, Dec. 31 Calvin College January Lecture Series, Jan. 4-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-24 Alley Door Club, Jan. 13 & 27 WMS’s Masterworks “Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,” Jan. 13 Muskegon Civic Theatre Blackbox “The Drawer Boy,” Jan. 20-22 & 26-28







Poetry of Content Shines Spotlight on the Un-Abstract BY JUSTINE BURDETTE

A typical preview of an art exhibition might start out with a Cliffs Notes version of Art History 101 to set the scene.

Man on a Journey by Joel Sheesley is part of Poetry of Content: Five Contemporary Representational Artists. COURTESY PHOTO

But Jerome Witkin’s Poetry of Content: Five Contemporary Representational Artists, a traveling exhibition at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts through Feb. 19, 2017, isn’t a typical show. Like Witkin’s figurative style, it’s a break from dominant art tastes. After a life of art education starting at age 14, Witkin received a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and left for Europe. Witkin later returned to the U.S., received a Guggenheim Fellowship, began exhibiting at galleries in New York, and joined the faculty of several universities before landing in 1971 as professor of painting in the School of Art at Syracuse University. Witkin credits his single mother for encouraging his interest in the wellbeing of others and for taking him to the theater, where he was able to experience a variety of emotions through the careful creation of scenes with words and gestures on a stage. Witkin brings both of these elements – wellbeing of others and emotion – to his canvas. Once at Syracuse, Witkin says his style really solidified. “It suddenly hit me to go back to my roots which are about people, and what people do with each other and to each other,” he said. “Even though figurative art was not the place to be, I didn’t care. I cared (that) I could really feel for my subject matter, and the


abstract marks and color that did or did not appear became somehow trite and unimportant to me.” So when Syracuse University Art Galleries offered Witkin the chance to co-curate a show based on living American artists he thought were significant, he readily agreed. It is no surprise, given Witkin’s strong feelings about art’s purpose, that Poetry of Content showcases other artists working in contemporary representational drawing, painting and printmaking. “(My) work raises the issues of how to make content in work and I think there is so much so-called art that is lacking in any content,” Witkin said. “I like the feeling of my work to inject into the viewer, like a kind of drug, like they get the feeling of it right away.” Of the five artists Witkin chose for Poetry of Content, he says they are “hitting some poetics, which are very discussable and bridgeable, that are reachable to other people. I think those people should be seen.” Witkin knows each of the artists personally. He showed at the same gallery with Robert Birmelin in the ’80s. Witkin taught briefly at Cornell University, at which time Gillian Pederson-Krag also taught there. During his first year at Syracuse, Witkin met Joel Sheesley. He knew of Tim Lowly before meeting him in person at Lowly’s home and studio in Chicago. Witkin fondly calls Bill Murphy a poet. There are no flings of paint (a la Jackson Pollock) or bright blocks of shapes (a la Ellsworth Kelly) here — no novellas explaining the artists’ intent to give a viewer clues about how to view something. No, these five artists have experienced life, and the viewer is invited into that experience, to pause, reflect and gain understanding.

Representational art: Forms and compositions that are clearly recognizable for what they purport to be, such as a house, an animal, a person, etc. Usually encompasses the very academic or traditional focuses on line, drawing and color. Non-representational art: Any image that is not directly associated with any recognizable object and must therefore be interpreted entirely by the viewer. A more subjective approach to art — the veneration of form over substance.



Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo Through Feb. 19, 2017 $5 adults, $2 students, free for ages 12 & under and KIA members kiarts.org, (269) 349-7775

The art is immediately recognizable and accessible — a woman here, a table setting there. But the care of compositions, the use of perspectives, and the arresting looks are what draws one in. The KIA Interim Curator of Exhibitions Karla Niehus perhaps sums it up best. “Approaching these paintings really is like approaching a poem,” she said. “There are recognizable elements, but there’s something ambiguous about each scene. This blending of the familiar with the enigmatic results in imagery that is initially accessible, but also open to personal interpretation by the viewer.” Each of the artists were allowed to give relatively short statements about their work, what drives them, and what representational art means to them. Birmelin’s statement said that he

can’t explain his work relative to current trends and instead borrows Giacometti’s line, “The object of art is not to reproduce reality but to create a reality of the same or greater intensity.” That’s fitting for a man whose four-panel acrylic work The Overpass so drew this writer in with its intense perspective. (I truly thought for a moment that I was standing so precipitously close to the railing in the painting that my fear of heights and vertigo kicked in, forcing me to take a step back.) Toward the end of the exhibition hangs Witkin’s statement as the co-curator. It’s where he claims these artists offer depth in a time where many instead choose shallowness and brand awareness for their creations, how “all five strive for some level of mystery and poignancy in our lives, travels, and losses.” ■




Thursday December 8 7pm

Friday December 9 7pm

Beardsley Theater

Saturday December 10 11am & 1pm

General Admission $10

Call the MCT office at 231.722.3852 for tickets or more information www.muskegoncivictheatre.org




Burly Mermaid Productions team (left). Ella Swift (right), founder of Burly Mermaid Productions. COURTESY PHOTOS

BEHIND THE CAMERA: Ella Swift Founder of Burly Mermaid Productions

was fun to learn a whole other branch of storytelling within their culture. You don’t have to fall into those Hollywood tropes because there is so much more there in your own backyard.


What was your first project in film once you moved back to West Michigan?

A Michigan native, Ella Swift earned a masters in Irish literature with a specialty in dramatic literature, studying how folklore was used in early Irish theater.

I crashed a West Michigan Film and Video Alliance luncheon … and I was like, ‘How can I help?’ (They) were doing a film competition and called me. I showed up and co-wrote the script and (the film) ended up in the top ten. I was involved in the West Michigan Film and Video Alliance quite a bit at that time and started hearing about things and offered to help. People always love free work.

While living and working in the Pacific Northwest, Swift had her “Aha!” moment: The best way to get storytelling out to the most people is through film. She moved back to her home state and began immersing herself in the film ecosystem here, founding Burly Mermaid Productions. While Burly Mermaid carries the honor of being the first female-only production company in West Michigan, Swift said she doesn’t hire only women and is “totally open to anyone with talent and drive.” Her many credits include cheerleading coordinator for Touchback, assistant to Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel for The End of The Tour, and more recently, unit production manager and co-producer for The Alchemist Cookbook (shot entirely in Allegan) and assistant to the director for LBJ.

Reports have noted women and minorities face marginalization in leadership roles behind the camera. Have you ever experienced that?

How did you move from literature to film? I had a really wonderful depth of training in dramatic literature from a very old-school perspective at Trinity College. They also had a mandatory Irish film course as part of my master’s program. That planted the seed originally for me of what could be done with film. … It


Yes. I would say I have experienced a questioning of our perspective. It is handled with a rigor that is drawn with a heavier hand than it is for most white, male filmmakers.

Is this experience different than in the other industries you have worked? I have never experienced the level of discrimination that I have in film industry. On most projects I have worked on so far, I’ve had at least one experience of being treated as less than. Often you fall in love with a particular project and then this thing (discrimination) happens and it taints it a little bit, and that’s a bummer. But you know, women do what we do. We bootstrap ourselves and get things done and move on.

What do you think is going to change this situation in the film industry? I can only speak for myself personally, and what I have seen work so far. It can take a while, so you have to be

patient with it, but get the work experience for yourself so that you can express your story and start creating your own story. I think that the more different kinds of stories there are, the more we can stop regurgitating old stories. Look for new stories, because they are out there. The more we give people access to that, the more hope I have for the world.

What projects are you working on now? Burly Mermaid Productions is currently producing a web series called Portrait of a Fem. Its short episodes are documentaries, 9 to 15 minutes long. Each season is going to be about a different woman, an individual who identifies as female. We are going to explore all the different kinds of women and the non-traditional female roles that exist in the world.

What brought this project on? It comes out of these experiences that I’ve had personally and from stories from other women in media — there is this very binary palate that men have been working from for a very long time. Many of them have an intent to tell a more nuanced story about women and female characters but just don’t have access to things that run counter to things that they think are real. So you get these really two-dimensional female characters over and over again. I don’t take this personally any more, I just see it as: male writers don’t know what they don’t know.

Is what you’re doing a response to that? My job is to start to offer them a broader palate with which to work from. The whole goal with Portrait of a Fem is to broaden the conversation and the palate with which people are understanding who women are and how we operate, how we think, how we live, how we make our choices. ■


PREVIEW One great way to spend a cold, snowy day is inside an art gallery, discussing and analyzing one of the many shows on display. This month, there are plenty to pick from as some shows run to the end of the month and others are just getting started. BY DANA CASADEI BROAD ART MUSEUM 547 E. Circle Dr., East Lansing broadmuseum.msu.edu, (517) 884-4800 FIRE WITHIN: A NEW GENERATION OF CHINESE WOMEN ARTISTS Through Feb. 12, 2017 Girl power is on high display in Fire Within: A New Generation of Chinese Woman Artists, which focuses a critical lens on the artistic production of a group of emerging women artists from China. Their pieces, done in traditional mediums, take a look at a variety of themes, including the status of women in China, and cultural and gender identity. 2116: FORECAST FOR THE NEXT CENTURY Through April 2, 2017 The Broad Museum is partnering with the Lewis Glucksman Gallery at the University College Cork, Ireland for this exhibit. Sixteen Irish artists have pieces on display, each looking at The Emerald Isle’s changing society and imagined future. The show marks the centennial of the Easter Rising, one of Ireland’s most important political events, and showcases a variety of mediums. THE WEARING OF THE GREEN Through April 2, 2017 For many people in the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day means wearing green, drinking (probably a little too much) and claiming to be Irish, no matter how distant the connection. The pieces in The Wearing of the Green show that our attitudes toward the Irish weren’t always as friendly as they are today. Paired with 2116: Forecast for the Next Century, this exhibit serves as a reminder that stereotyping others is still a problem around the world. RITE AND REASON Through Dec. 30 Featuring works that reference rituals of all kinds — religious, ceremonial and personal — Rite and Reason shows how these customs have transformed over time, continuously adding new layers of meaning. The pieces show how the influences

of these rituals extend far past the ceremony they were originally held in, and into our daily lives. KATE TERRY: SUSPENDED SPACE Dec. 16-April 2, 2017 This site-specific installation has Kate Terry taking over the space with ordinary thread and pins, transforming the room and manipulating the viewer’s perception of space. Terry’s installations draw on the basic principles of symmography, a string art craft popularized in the 1970s, and the calculated geometry of Minimalism (which is design at its most basic).

FREDERIK MEIJER GARDENS & SCULPTURE PARK 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids meijergardens.org, (888) 957-1580 ALMOST HOME: GRAND RAPIDS IN FOCUS Through Dec. 31 Almost Home invites Grand Rapids artists — both locals and transplants — to reflect on their experiences with the city. Works are shown in a variety of mediums as vast as the artists themselves. CHRISTMAS AND HOLIDAY TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD Through Jan. 8, 2017 The exhibit honors holiday traditions from around the globe with more than 400 international trees and displays. There also will be strolling carolers, rooftop reindeer and a whole lot of lights (nearly 400,000). The companion Railway Garden exhibition incorporates miniature buildings made from natural materials, model trolleys and trains, and garden design.

GRAND RAPIDS ART MUSEUM 101 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids artmuseumgr.org, (616) 831-1000 IRIS VAN HERPEN: TRANSFORMING FASHION Through Jan. 15, 2017 Transforming Fashion features 45 haute

couture (aka high fashion) outfits from the Dutch designer Iris van Herpen. The pieces selected are from her 2008-2015 collections, her most recent line and her solo exhibition at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands. Her designs often feature unusual materials, like umbrella ribs, and she was one of the first designers to produce 3-D printed fashion. Even if you don’t care about runway shows, you have to admit that’s pretty cool.

LUMINESCENCE: FROM SALVAGE TO SEASCAPE, SCULPTURE BY SAYAKA GANZ Through March 19, 2017 Sayaka Ganz has created an underwater installation, transforming the gallery into a sea (yes, pun totally intended) of fish, jellies and coral. Ganz looks at our relationship with the environment using repurposed items, such as plastic utensils and household items, as the material for her sculptures.

MUSKEGON MUSEUM OF ART 296 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon muskegonartmuseum.org, (231) 720-2570

LAFONTSEE GALLERIES 833 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids lafontsee.us, (616) 451-9820

DAVID DEMING: SCULPTURE Through Dec. 11 Twenty works from the artist’s four major series of abstract sculpture — Rockers, Tri Pods, Flora Bellas and Centurions — are all on display. Deming has been creating variations on these four series for more than four decades, and his sculptures are presented in bronze, steel and stainless steel. His outdoor sculpture, Rocker, is visible outside the museum’s Clay Street entrance and acts as a pro-bono introduction to the large-scale public works he’s well known for. THE PREACHER AND HIS CONGREGATION: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAMES PERRY WALKER Through March 5, 2017 See story on page 10A. EXPRESSIONS OF FAITH: RELIGIOUS WORKS Dec. 8-Feb. 12, 2017 See story on page 10A.

SELECTED WORKS Through Dec. 31 View a collection of works fresh from the studio — in a variety of mediums — for the gallery’s Fall Group Show. The gallery also will be featuring smaller works of art throughout the holidays for gift-giving.

LOWELLARTS! 223 W. Main St., Lowell lowellartsmi.org, (616) 897-8545 LOWELLARTS HOLIDAY MARKET Through Dec. 24 The first show at the new location on Main Street is the annual LowellArts Holiday Market, featuring the work of more than 50 local artists. The artwork and other handmade items made by Michigan artists are for sale in case you have some holiday shopping to do.

KALAMAZOO INSTITUTE OF ARTS 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo kiarts.org, (269) 349-7775

SAUGATUCK CENTER FOR THE ARTS 400 Culver St., Saugatuck sc4a.org, (269) 857-2399

SCALED UP: SCULPTURE BY MARCIA WOOD Through Dec. 31 Scaled Up showcases the work of one of Kalamazoo’s most accomplished sculptors, Marcia Wood. Reflecting on 50 years of art, the exhibit will have more than 50 sculptures, maquettes, paintings and images of large-scale public commissions created by the artist.

TRIBUTES OF AUTHENTIC HEROISM: INVESTIGATION OF GRACE, VISION, CLARITY & PURPOSE Through Jan. 14, 2017 Artist and art educator Donna F. St. John explores the idea of what defines a hero, and investigates the duality of authentic versus simulated honor and heroism. Nine men and women from around the world who have all been called heroes will be highlighted in the exhibit.

WADADA LEO SMITH: ANKHRASMATION, THE LANGUAGE SCORES, 1967-2015 Through March 5, 2017 A musical score will be rewritten, remixed and showcased as visual art in Wadada Leo Smith: Ankhrasmation, The Language Scores, 1967-2015, making this one of the most unique exhibits on this list. Smith, a pioneer in the fields of contemporary jazz and creative music, is a trumpeter, composer, educator and visual artist. POETRY OF CONTENT: FIVE CONTEMPORARY REPRESENTATIONAL ARTISTS Through Feb. 19, 2017 See story on page 16A.

URBAN INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS 2 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids uica.org, (616) 454-7000 COMING HOME Through Jan. 8, 2017 Featuring the work of eight artists, Coming Home celebrates Michigan as a place for inspiration and creative development, departures and reunions. Artists are from Michigan, currently based in Michigan or have spent a considerable amount of time in Michigan during the course of their careers.




Cécile McLorin Salvant On Past, Present, Future BY SAMARA NAPOLITAN

If jazz is about creating tension between tradition and innovation, singer Cécile McLorin Salvant is an undeniable voice leading the genre today. Ever since she stunned judges and took first place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010, the 27-year-old has established a legacy through an extraordinary command of jazz mythology augmented with her own eclectic tastes and surprising interpretations. Revue talked with Salvant about where her art is headed next and the inspiration and motivations that are driving her.

You won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album last February. With that award under your belt, how are you looking to challenge yourself as an artist in the near future? I’m working on a partly live album right now with my trio: Aaron Diehl on piano, Lawrence Leathers on drums and Paul Sikivie on bass. We already recorded it and now we’re adding the final touches. I’m also excited to be working in different configurations coming up next year — as a duo with a pianist, and across Europe with a band of all female jazz musicians that includes Terri Lyne Carrington, Renée Rosnes, Nat Collins, Melissa Aldana, Linda Oh and Ingrid Jensen. I’m also writing more and exploring other aspects of art that I’m interested in, and how I can incorporate that into what I do musically with jazz.

You’re known for your malleable onstage persona. Any characters you’ve been experimenting with recently? I’ve been thinking about all the different ways I could pursue that. I’ve never taken an acting class, so even participating in acting in a way that’s separate than music would be interesting. It could also mean auditioning, or bringing more theatrical elements into a show. It would be interesting to see how far outside myself and my experience I can go as a performer.

You do a lot of research to find some of your material. Have you always had a curiosity to uncover things that have been forgotten with time?

Cécile McLorin Salvant. COURTESY PHOTOS


I think I’ve always had a fascination with things that are precious and not well known. To me, it’s fun to spend a day listening to albums and finding connections between them. It’s such a won-

derful feeling when you discover that one song that only one person has ever recorded, and it’s a great song. It just excites me and I want to share what I’m discovering in my performances.

You got your start in classical and baroque voice when you studied in France. What was difficult or easy about making the switch to jazz? What was hard was the improvisation. I never wanted to get off the song on the page, so that was something I really had to work at. It was also a question of getting the vocabulary. Jazz isn’t just about being free — it’s about being free with the right tools. On the easy side, I think classical singing helped me with diction and understanding the characters and their arc within the greater context of the work. I always put myself into my performances, since I tend to choose songs that I connect with at a deep level, but it was helpful to have that background.

Your last album seemed more personal. Are you continuing along that route or looking to explore different stories through your writing? The compositions I’m working on now are less personal in a way. I mean, it’s always personal when you write, but now it’s less about my own little world. My last album was really like a diary, where the songs that I wrote were about specific events and people. Now all of the things I’m writing are personal in the sense that I’m writing them, but are more universal thoughts about life, people and how they interact.

Jazz can seem intimidating for some. What advice do you have for people who want to get into the genre? I think the first thing to realize is that jazz is such a huge genre with so many different sounds and dimensions. It’s important to not be stuck on one thing if you don’t like it, or you think it’s too difficult or too corny. But I think it’s one of the more enriching types of music because of the dialogue that you have with other musicians. Once you experience that interaction with others, it’s a huge motivation to keep going. ■


Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. St. Cecilia Music Center 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids $38, $42, scmc-online.org (616) 459-2224


Getting A Handel on the “Messiah” Every season, choristers congregate between poinsettias and evergreens to lend their voices to the holiday spectacle. Among the winter-themed carols and sacred songs on concert programs, a venerable Yuletide musical tradition almost always claims a spot in the lineup: George Frederick Handel’s Messiah. It’s been 275 years since Handel composed Messiah, yet audiences consistently gather to listen to the English-language oratorio. It’s one of the few Baroque era works that has never had to be rediscovered because it has never left the repertoire. What explains its enduring mass appeal? In West Michigan, Messiah is just as beloved as ever. “I think a big factor is the idea of tradition — that somehow the holidays would seem incomplete without taking in certain staple forms of entertain-

son. But Messiah wasn’t always tied to Christmas. The piece premiered in Dublin close to Easter, and only the first part of three concerns the prophecy of Christ’s birth. The iconic “Hallelujah” chorus that is heard around the holidays is actually sourced from the end of part two, which covers Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. “It really makes the most sense to perform Messiah at Easter. That way, the thrust of the work would coincide with the church calendar,” Ivory said. “But Christmas has become the most

“It’s sublime to hear professional musicians perform. But amateur musicians have a deeprooted response to this music, so you don’t need professional musicians for it to be great.” — DR. MARK WEBB, LEADER OF THE CHAMBER CHOIR OF GRAND RAPIDS

logical time for Messiah — it gives plenty of time to rehearse beginning in September, and our school calendars naturally crescendo to Christmas followed by a break. It’s the perfect time to take in a large performance and a great way to end the calendar year.” Webb said exposure and abundance of musical scores often add to the popularity of works like Messiah. However, it is also fairly accessible to the average community chorus. “It’s sublime to hear professional musicians perform,” Webb said. “But amateur musicians have a deep-rooted response to this music, so you don’t need professional musicians for it to be great.” Ivory agreed, explaining that, “Messiah

O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen — A gorgeous yet understated choral piece set to one of the oldest Christmas-related texts. Symphony No. 1, Winter Daydreams by Tchaikovsky — For those burned out on The Nutcracker, Duke Ellington’s big band take on the Nutcracker Suite will also do. The Shepherd’s Carol by Bob Chilcott — A peaceful choral work for when the relentless jingles and retail madness get you down. Tesla - Lightning in His Hand by Constantine Koukias — A well-received contemporary opera about the Electric Jesus. You can thank Tesla’s invention of the modern power distribution grid for your holiday light displays, by the way. Selections from Wintersongs by Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble — From Eastern Orthodox choral works to Hebrew folk songs and solstice incantations, you’re bound to find a new Yuletide favorite in this collection. ■

Music Center P R E S E N T S



ment. But that is only one part of the story,” said Sean Ivory, conductor of the Calvin Oratorio Society, a choir that has packed the house with Messiah for more than 80 years. Dr. Mark Webb leads the Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids, who holds an annual Messiah sing-along, complete with a popular raffle contest to conduct the choir. “(Experiencing Messiah) is like walking into a cathedral or any structure that’s been around for centuries which still exists for the purpose for which it was originally built,” Webb said. “You become part of a timeline that is connected to so many others.” On the surface, the subject matter seems true to the reason for the sea-

perform in unique spaces,” he said. So Handel’s Messiah is here to stay, but if you’re looking to start a new musical tradition, try adding these compositions to your holiday playlist:

St. Cecilia


Reporter’s Notebook

can be performed all alone on a single concert with all of the pageantry … and is comparatively simpler to pull off” than many other potential Christmas pieces. Logistics and accessibility aside, expert opinion (and robust audience turnout) maintains that Messiah is a masterwork of lasting value. Handel’s use of “text painting” — the musical technique of writing music that reflects the literal meaning of a song — adds to its magnetic power. “The oratorio demonstrates a successful wedding of text and music,” said Ellen Pool, director of choral activities at Grand Valley State University. “Handel creates memorable tunes that enhance the words and clearly communicate the meaning and spirit of the text for each movement.” Perhaps it’s the music’s vivid imagery and emotional depth that keeps musicians from going on autopilot. “It’s like a favorite book or poem you keep re-reading to find something new and unexpected,” said Webb. Are the repeated performances a result of limited resources? Webb said that if he had all the time and money in the world, he would bring Messiah everywhere in the community and invite people to be a part of it. “I’d want to give unlimited access for the audience to experience it, make it available by offering transportation, and


2016 Grammy Award Winner for Best Jazz Vocal Album Dubbed the Ella Fitzgerald of her generation, Cécile has taken the jazz scene by storm. A one-of-a-kind night—not to be missed!

scmc-online.org 616.459.2224




Brass Band of Battle Creek. COURTESY PHOTO

GLOBAL TALENT Brass Band of Battle Creek attracts musicians from around the world BY JANE SIMONS

Brothers and fellow podiatrists Bill and Jim Gray receive rock star treatment when they attend performances in other countries. However, they still remain largely unknown in the United States for their work to establish a world-class brass band named for their native Battle Creek. On Dec. 2, the Brass Band of Battle Creek (BBBC) will perform at Byron Center High School to raise money for the school’s music program. The next day, the band travels to Battle Creek to perform its annual holiday concert at W.K. Kellogg Auditorium. The concerts will feature 31 of the world’s premier brass musicians from all over the world. They teach at such prestigious institutions as the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School of Music, and also perform at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Broadway theaters. Still, Bill Gray said the vast majority of Americans think the BBBC is a community band featuring local talent, due to the name. And to be fair, the precursor to BBBC was exactly that. Early on, the Grays were president and vice president of the Marshall Community Band. They always had a difficult time finding musicians who played reed instruments, such as the clarinet.


“We would pay people to play,” Bill Gray said. Over a 12-year period, the brothers built up the Marshall band into a 60-musician group that included some of the best in Southwest Michigan. Through a series of serendipitous encounters that followed, the Grays were introduced to preeminent brass musicians who played instruments such as the euphonium and tuba. While trying to plan a tribute to Great Britain with the local band, Jim Gray spoke with the conductor of the Ohio State University Marching Band who talked him into putting on a brass band seminar in 1989 at Kellogg Community College. This also got Jim Gray to begin thinking about converting the Marshall band into a brass band. “We argued back and forth,” Bill Gray said. “I said, ‘We’re pretty busy physicians and where the hell will we find the time to do this?’ I was the one who said it was stupid.” But after the Grays sought support from and were turned down by 52 foundations, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation came through with funding to support the seminar. Among the musicians was the principal trumpet player in the U.S. Navy Band. A concert publicized on local radio stations followed the seminar and about 900 people showed up. This is when the brothers figured they were onto something. The Grays invited Steven Mead, a world-renowned euphonium player from Britain, to play at another concert and Mead began inviting other musicians to join him for future concerts. Within two years of meeting Mead, the BBBC became a band of the “who’s who” of brass players from all over the world, said Jennifer Rupp, executive director of the BBBC. “Over the years, the Brass Band has become known not only for the caliber of musicians, but also for the caliber of music and the conductors we bring

in,” Rupp said. “They are all in one place making this amazing music together.” The BBBC puts on two shows each year in Battle Creek – one around the holidays and one in the spring. The musicians are sent the selected music two weeks before every concert. They rehearse as a group inside the Kellogg Auditorium two days before each concert, for six hours per day. “It can be a very challenging dynamic to take the best of the best and put them in one place,” Rupp said. “But they are there for the experience of knowing collectively what they can do together and what they produce for the audience.” Rupp also admits that adapting programs and “being cognizant of what the audience wants” can be a challenge for every arts organization. This is what prompted the BBBC to perform a selection of music by the rock band Chicago during last year’s spring sold-out concert. The musicians were all wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with a white Chicago logo underneath their concert apparel. They left the stage to remove the traditional concert apparel, reappearing in the T-shirts to cheers and applause from the audience. Rupp said brass bands don’t usually play contemporary musical arrangements. “Our musicians like to play music that can challenge them a little bit,” she said. “It’s fun for the musicians to come and play for an audience that feeds off of their energy.” This is especially true when they perform in Battle Creek in front of audience members, some of whom have been attending their concerts for 25 years. “At the very beginning of all of this, we had a cult following,” Rupp said. “For the first 10 years, we had waiting lists for the performances. As the novelty has worn off, we have had to look at new ways to bring in new audiences. “This band is the best-kept secret in the Midwest.” ■


PREVIEW It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially at local orchestras. Performances vary from Russian pianists to adorable youth choirs, but most of them have one thing in common: celebrating the holidays. If you’re a fan of Handel’s Messiah, one of the most classic holiday pieces ever written, there are a lot of opportunities for you to hear it this month. BY DANA CASADEI THE GILMORE 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 101, Kalamazoo thegilmore.org, (269) 342-1166

all choirs, including the Prelude Chorus (grades 1-3), while the 7 p.m. performance features just the Junior (grades 4-6) and Youth (grades 7-12) choruses. Maybe your heart will grow three times its size. Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular. COURTESY PHOTO



Dec. 4, 4 p.m., $25

Dec. 22-23, times vary, $32+

Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov has had a very exciting couple of years. In 2012, he became the Prize Laureate of the Honens Prize for Piano (which, if you didn’t know, is a huge deal). In 2014, The Telegraph gave his recital a five-star review, and this past June he released his debut studio recording to rave reviews. His program at The Gilmore will show off his musical skills and include pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy.

Another Grand Rapids Symphony holiday tradition, Cirque de Noël, is coming back to the stage this year. The show combines performances by aerialists, acrobats, contortionists and jugglers, among others, with seasonal music played by the Grand Rapids Symphony.

GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY 300 Ottawa Ave. NW Ste. 100, Grand Rapids grsymphony.org, (616) 454-9451


The symphony will continue its annual Pops holiday tradition this month with a concert featuring the Symphony Chorus and Youth Chorus, a visit from the big guy in a red suit, a sing-along, and classic holiday favorites like “Sleigh Ride,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus. If this doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, we’re not sure what will.

GRS YOUTH CHORUSES HOLIDAY CONCERT Dec. 11, 4:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.

No matter how much of a Grinch you are, you have to admit that few things are more adorable than watching kids sing — especially ones as genuinely talented as these are. On Dec. 11, you can see just that with one of two youth chorus performances. The 4:30 p.m. performance features

HOLLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 96 W. 15th St., Holland hollandsymphony.org, (616) 796-6780

HOLIDAY CONCERT Dec. 10, 3:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., $20

The Holland Symphony Orchestra joins the Holland Chorale for this annual Holiday Concert. The performance features seasonal classics, traditional carols and holiday pops. Added bonus for the early birds: the Chorale Dickens Singers is performing prior to the concert.

KALAMAZOO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 100, Kalamazoo kalamazoosymphony.com, (269) 349-7759


Angel Blue is adding Kalamazoo to her constantly expanding list of places she’s performed. The operatic soprano joins conductor Raymond Harvey, the Kalamazoo Youth Choir, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, and yes, Santa Claus

for this annual holiday performance. The show’s program will be announced from the stage, so the rest is a surprise.


The Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular is bringing an act of high-flying acrobats, aerialists and more to Kalamazoo. The music is all being performed by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.



In the 1980s, one of the very first groups that UMS President Ken Fischer presented was the British sextet, who are returning to celebrate Fischer’s final year before retiring. The acapella group, whose members have changed since that first performance in the '80s, will perform a holiday show with works by Lassus, Tchaikovsky, Holst, Rutter, and Irving Berlin, as well as many traditional favorites.

Dec. 18, 3 p.m., $5

There are a lot of annual holiday shows on this list, but The Night Before Christmas is a world premiere for the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. This original production features original music by Daniel Capelletti, a dramatic adaptation of the timeless tale by Adam Pasen, and staging by Ben Zylman. Pre-concert activities include the Instrument Petting Zoo and a chance to meet the show’s conductor, Daniel Brier.

UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY 881 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor ums.org, (734) 764-2538


WEST MICHIGAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 360 W. Western Ave. #200, Muskegon westmichigansymphony.org, (231) 726-3231

CLASSICAL CHRISTMAS: WMS POPS Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., $23+

The symphony and Conductor Scott Speck welcome special guest vocalists Martha Guth and Sara Murphy to the stage for their holiday show. The evening includes classic holiday pieces, such as excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival” and “The Flower Duet” from Léo Delibes’ opera Lakme.

Dec. 3-4, times vary, $12+

A holiday tradition dating back to the UMS’s first concerts during the 18791880 season continues this month. Handel’s Messiah is being performed by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and the Grammy Award-winning UMS Choral Union. Choral Union Music Director Scott Hanoian conducts.

ST. CECILIA MUSIC CENTER 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids scmc-online.org, (616) 459-2224

CÉCILE MCLORIN SALVANT Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m., $38+

See story on page 20A.




Send off the holidays with Broadway’s 'A Christmas Story' BY MARLA R. MILLER

A musical rendition of “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” is just one part of a nostalgic holiday treat coming to Grand Rapids in a big way.

Chris Carsten as Jean Shepherd and Myles Moore as Ralphie in 'A Christmas Story'. COURTESY PHOTO

The nationally touring Broadway show A Christmas Story: The Musical is stopping in Grand Rapids for the first time as part of Broadway Grand Rapids’ season. After numerous regional productions, the musical staging of the 1983 cult classic film debuted in 2012 on Broadway, featuring choreography and musical numbers that bring the timeless and hilarious story to life. Set in 1940s Indiana, the tale follows a bespectacled boy named Ralphie with a big imagination and one wish for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB Gun.

Patricia Barker, Artistic Director

Dec 9-11 & 16-18, 2016

DeVos Performance Hall Set and Production Design by Chris Van Allsburg & Eugene Lee Choreography by Val Caniparoli Live music by Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra

Presented by



The Nutcracker



AT $ 2 0



Thursday, December 1, 2016 7:00 pm Main Library

Christian Dell'Edera as Flick in 'A Christmas Story'. COURTESY PHOTO

The musical includes more than 20 songs based on the movie’s classic scenes and incorporates plenty of props and characters, such as the kooky leg lamp Ralphie’s father covets, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a cranky department store Santa, grade school bullies, and a triple dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole. “The musical takes the movie and all of your favorite parts of the movie and takes it up a notch,” said Brooke Martino, an ensemble cast member and dance captain. “It’s such a lovely story. The music is amazing. Pasek and Paul, the writing team, are really creative and really talented.” Initially hesitant to see the musical version, Martino went to see it on Broadway to support a friend in the cast. It didn’t disappoint. “I’ve never laughed harder,” she said. “It will be a pleasant surprise, how much you’ll love it. I was hesitant to go because I really loved the movie, but I couldn’t be happier to be working on it for three years.” The show’s Broadway run  garnered  three 2013 Tony Award  nomi-


DeVos Performance Hall 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 27-30, $37-$72 broadwaygrandrapids. com, (800) 745-3000

nations, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Joseph Robinette) and Best Original Score (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), along with six Drama Desk nominations and two Outer Critics Circle nominations. The touring version has the same script, score and choreography, and is great for families and adults, Martino said. “There’s great music and wonderful storytelling,” she said. “The father-son relationship is on a much more heightened level. Now it’s part of my holidays. It’s great for all ages — you can’t go wrong with it.” Martino helps with the choreography and rehearsals, critiques the show from the audience, and fills in if a female cast member needs to be relieved. The cast and crew have traveled to the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast since the national tour started in 2014. This season, the show will stop in eight cities between mid-November and the week after Christmas, finishing in Grand Rapids. Although the show runs Dec. 2730, it’s still a nice way to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends during the week after Christmas, when relatives are still visiting and the kids are out of school. “People should see it because there is no better way for families to make lasting memories than by celebrating the season doing activities together,” said Meghan Distel, director of marketing and public relations for Broadway Grand Rapids. “A Christmas Story: The Musical is a perennial family favorite and seeing it brought to life on stage is a fun and magical experience!” ■


Thursday, January 19, 2017 7:00 pm Main Library


Thursday, February 23, 2017 7:00 pm Main Library

THESE CONCERTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC 111 LIBRARY STREET NE 616.988.5400 WWW.GRPL.ORG This program is funded by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation. Consider a gift today: www.grplfoundation.org REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2016 |




Disney's Beauty and the Beast at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. COURTESY PHOTO

December’s list of theater productions is short and sweet, just like a few of the show’s characters. There’s three musicals and one classic holiday story that you probably know by heart to check out this month. BY DANA CASADEI GRAND RAPIDS CIVIC THEATRE 30 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids grct.org, (616) 222-6650

Franke Center For The Arts A Tribute to John Prine

Laith Al-Saadi The Voice! Finalist!

Friday, December 9 8:00 PM

$23 Advance $25 At Door Students ½ Price Preshow/Beer & Wine Bar 7:00 PM Featuring Todd & Abbey UKes

Affinity Series

Irish Pub Night

Celtic Mayhem Friday, January 6 7:30 PM $14 Advance $16 At Door

Students ½ Price Beer/Wine Bar Opens at 7:00 PM

Friday, December 30 8:00 PM $28 Advance $30 At Door Students ½ Price Lobby Bar opens at 7:00 PM Featuring Tom Duffield

Americana Roots Festival

Franke Center for the arts

Americana Roots

Don Julin’s

Mr. Natural Project & True FalseYos

Don Julin’s Mr. Natural Project

True Falsettos

Special Guest: The Wilson Brothers &The Springtails

Saturday Jan. 14 7:00 PM

$23 Advance $25 At The Door

Special Guest: The Wilson Brothers &The Springtails Students ½ Price

Preshow/Beer & Wine Bar opens at 7:00 PM Featuring: Elden Kelly and Carolyn Koebel

Saturday Jan. 14 7:00 PM $23 Advance $25 At Door Students ½ Price

Preshow/Beer & Wine Bar opens at 7:00 PM Featuring: Elden Kelly and Carolyn Koebel

214 East Mansion Street * Marshall, MI * 269-781-0001 Frankecenterforthearts.org


DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Through Dec. 18, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., $18-$37 If you somehow don’t already know this tale as old as time: The story follows Belle the bookworm and her effort to tame the Beast (a cursed prince) with the power of love. It’s classic Disney, with talking non-humans, heavily choreographed musical numbers and a touch of magic.

FARMERS ALLEY THEATRE 221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo farmersalleytheatre.com (269) 343-2727

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Dec. 2-18, times vary, $32+ This jukebox musical (definition: a musical that uses previously released popular songs as its score) dramatizes one of the most well-known recording sessions ever. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis came together on Dec. 4, 1956 at Sun Record studio in Memphis, Tenn. This jam session had people everywhere talking about it the next day and for decades after. A local newspaper, the Memphis Press-Scimitar, published an article about it titled “Million Dollar Quartet.” The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical has hits like Cash’s “I Walk The Line” and Presley’s “Hound Dog,” to name a few.

KALAMAZOO’S CIVIC THEATRE 329 S. Park St., Kalamazoo kazoocivic.com, (269) 343-1313

A CHRISTMAS STORY - THE MUSICAL Through Dec. 11, times vary, $25 Based on the 1983 cult classic, A Christmas Story takes viewers back to 1940s Indiana, where Ralphie tries to convince everyone he should get a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. The score ranges from ballads to full-ensemble numbers like “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.” Someone will probably triple-dog dare you to do something after watching this. We advise against it.

BROADWAY GRAND RAPIDS 122 Lyon St. NW, Grand Rapids broadwaygrandrapids.com (616) 235-6285

A CHRISTMAS STORY - THE MUSICAL Dec. 27-30, $35-75 Fans of this 1983 cult classic can rejoice that both Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids have productions this year. Broadway Grand Rapids’ production will take place on the DeVos Performance Hall stage, bringing songs like “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” to life in a big way. The Red Ryder BB Gun, the leg lamp, the bunny pajamas — it’s all there.

THE NEW VIC THEATRE 134 E. Vine St., Kalamazoo thenewvictheatre.org (269) 381-3328

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, THE NEW VIC THEATRE Through Dec. 28, times vary, $25 As it has for more than 35 years, The New Vic Theatre will be showing the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol this month, with 22 performances over 19 days. The show, which has become a yearly tradition for many, was adapted by one of the theater’s co-founders, Ted Kistler. Follow Ebenezer Scrooge as he transforms from a really cranky, greedy old man into a much kinder, more generous old man, all thanks to a bunch of ghosts.


Do you hope to target artists from any certain area?

kathy bechtel Gallery Manager, Frauenthal Center

I would like to mainly showcase the work of lakeshore artists, in time. At this point, there are artists on the schedule from the general West Michigan area. We will have a regular appearance from the Boys and Girls Club of America, and will also highlight a local artist to celebrate Black History Month. Some of the artists on the schedule for next year are Jon McDonald, Jim Johnson, Larry Blovits, Randy Nyhof and Evie Carrier, Christie Dreese, Mary Reusch and Margaret Kriegbaum.


What are some of the highlights for the gallery in 2017?

As the new gallery manager at the Frauenthal Center in Muskegon, Kathy Bechtel hopes to increase daily traffic to the historic theater and for special events. A Kendall College of Art and Design graduate and artist who hails from Grand Rapids, Bechtel also serves as the gallery manager for the Terryberry Gallery at St. Cecilia Music Center and at ICCF on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids. She’s also the art director of the Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell. At the Frauenthal Center and the adjoining Hilt Building’s Reception Gallery, she hopes to showcase new local and regional artists on a monthly basis. Bechtel spoke with Revue about her plans for the gallery in 2017.

Many people are unaware there is a gallery on the second floor of the Hilt Building. What are your hopes and plans for the space? My hope for the Reception Gallery at the Frauenthal Center is to bring in exciting artists who work in a variety of mediums and styles. Art is a language. Artists communicate their thoughts and concerns and dreams in their work. My goal is to bring in a variety of these artists who will educate with their work.

Most of next year’s schedule is already full with sculpture artists, watercolor artists, photographers, oil painters and acrylic painters. It is in our plans to create, occasionally, an afternoon with a particular artist, where there is a question and answer time, mainly a time for people to learn and share time with the artist.

The gallery’s proximity to the Muskegon Museum of Art would seem to play into your favor. The Reception Gallery at the Frauenthal Center (is) a few steps from the Muskegon Museum of Art. Why not take in the Reception Gallery after your trip to the museum?

children with autism, and has counseling available at many levels, and offers regular music lessons. ICCF, on the other hand, provides affordable, beautiful housing to all people, teaching practical skills to the people who take advantage of their services. The galleries there are to educate, serve, and some of the work is also for sale.

How do you decide what art and artists to exhibit in each gallery? Art is for all people. It is important to me, when choosing artists to show their work, that they bring something important to the venue that I place them in.

Can you give an example of that? Jon McDonald, for instance, brings an important message, as was highlighted in his exhibit that is currently hanging in the Guardian Gallery, in his “Human Series.” This is a collection of beautiful portraits of people — different people — who are all “Human.” The name tag next to the painting might have on it “Asian = Human,” or another might have on it “Older African American Man = Human,” or “Gay Woman = Human.” It is a timely series, and brings all the arguments that are currently going on an understanding of what defines human. Art teaches, and this exhibit teaches us what is important.

Kathy Bechtel, Gallery Manager of Frauenthal Center. COURTESY PHOTO

At the end of the day, what does the connection to art and your exhibits mean to you? I always try to bring artists that work in different mediums and different styles. Art has been one of the important thrusts of my life. I feel fortunate every single time another artist goes up in one of the galleries. ■

What’s your philosophy to managing the several galleries you work for? There are many things to consider when managing the galleries. Each gallery that I manage has a different reason for existing. The Reception Gallery at the Frauenthal Center and Terryberry Gallery at St. Cecilia are galleries to highlight outstanding artists’ work in the community, to educate the viewer to different art forms, and most of the work is for sale. The other two galleries that I manage — the Guardian Gallery at the Franciscan Life Process Center in the downtown Grand Rapids campus at St. Adalbert’s and ICCF of Grand Rapids — are in businesses that serve the community. The Franciscan Life Process Center has music therapy for


Artist Dennis O’Mara, whose artwork runs the gamut from large etched doors to oil paintings and pastels, will have his “People, Places, Outdoor Spaces” displayed from Dec. 5-Jan. 28 at the Frauenthal Center’s Reception Gallery. 425 W. Western Ave., Suite 200, Muskegon Free frauenthal.org, (231) 722-9750



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Series Sponsor:

Tickets start at


$32 616.454.9451 x 4 GRPops.org 28A | REVUEWM.COM | DECEMBER 2016

The Holiday Edition


et’s be honest, December has some less-than-desirable gifts for us all — inflatable Santas in your

neighbor’s yard, heating bills, long lines at the mall — but there are also some undeniably unique seasonal treats. The holidays mean candy and confections, gifts galore and artist markets all over. This month’s issue of Revue covers all of the above and more, with an inside look at the life of a Santa-to-hire to boot.

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |


/// Holidays

Holiday Gift Guide No amount of fancy wrapping paper can disguise a bad gift. That’s why we’ve searched around for local treasures that won’t be regifted. From glitter tea to leather messenger bags and cat T-shirts, you just have to slap a bow on that box and focus the rest of your energy on making some “adult” seasonal drinks. B y M i s s y B l a c k


BAD GIRL Bad Girls Throughout History book, $19.95 Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids

Swear embroidery hoop, $22-$26 instagram.com/ sewniftythrifty Par Avion Midnight Glitter Tea, $17 Blacklamb, Grand Rapids

Bed Stu, Prato men’s shoe, $245 For the Love of Shoes, Saugatuck

ART ENTHUSIAST Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion Exhibition Catalog, $35 GRAM Museum Store, Grand Rapids

Original framed artwork, $275 CopperCorners on Instagram & Facebook out of Caledonia


Enamel pin, $10.95 Rebel Reclaimed, Grand Rapids Wood coaster, trivet and serving/ cutting boards, $6, $25, $45, $69 pgwoodgoods.com

26 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

FOODIE Happy Girl granola, $4-4.50 per small bag; $9 per large bag Michigan Pantry in Grand Rapids and Holland

Meyer Lemon and Basil oils + 18 Year and Oregano balsamics, $54 Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars, Holland


The Making of Zombie Wars: A Novel, $16 Bookbug, Kalamazoo Book Lover’s Coffee Mugs, $12.50 Books & Mortar, Grand Rapids





/// Holidays

Holiday Gift Guide ANIMAL LOVER

Dog trinket dish, $14 Bailey & James Boutique, Rockford


Cat T-shirt, $18.95 troVe, Portage

Dark chocolate ChocStars bars, $6 Holland Peanut Store, Holland David Bowie Who Can I Be Now CD box set, $199.99 Vertigo Music, Grand Rapids



Flask, $26.50 Amy Zane Store & Studio, Kalamazoo

Schedule | Dining | sights | Sounds Scene

Handcrafted Beauty rose water toner, $12, Painted Farmgirl, Hudsonville

Cellar Door Tobacco+Oakmoss soap, $7, The Made in Michigan Store, Grand Rapids

FASHIONISTA Jodie top, $46 Tap House Bo, Lowell

28 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

Rug, $55 Sticks & Stones, Kalamazoo

Leather messenger bag, $180 tenden.us

BEER AFICIONADO Stainless steel bottle opener, $10 The Spirit of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo and mibottleopener. com

Growler bag, $75 Brothers Leather Supply Co., Grand Rapids

Holiday Rewards! Ask your server or bartender to purchase gift cards. Cards may not be used on day of purchase. Excludes online purchases. 19% gratuity will be added to food and wine tab. Cannot be used with other discounts. Promotion runs from 11/25 until 12/24!

There is a place for everyone this holiday season at CityFlatsHotel!

Scene Sounds | Sights | Dining | Schedule

83 Monroe Center St NW / Downtown GR / 616.608.1720 61 E 7th Street / Downtown Holland / 616.796.2100

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |


/// Holidays

Treat Yo’self Whether it be in your stocking, as a hostess gift or placed seductively on a table, candies and confections are king for the holidays. Take a look at what’s out there to purchase for family and friends (or to hoard just for you).

Schedule | Dining | sights | Sounds Scene

by Missy Black



You can bet a shop called Pink Lemonade Boutique is going to have some fancy candy. The Sugarfina gourmet adult candy line is here and it exudes luxury. For only $7.95, you can indulge in gummy ice cream cones or chocolate confetti drops. It’s not a party without champagne, and you can pick up both champagne gummy bears and champagne gummy bubbles with white sprinkles on top. There’s even a But First Cocktails candy bento box, housing three different selections of various alcohol-themed treats for $26.95. Co-owner Jill Zagar is “big on packaging and I love how they display.” Verging on edible décor, it’s almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

Nuts with a candy treatment? Lush Gourmet Foods has your salty sweet crunchy fix that’s hard to share. Try the Coconut Lavender almond mix — a unique combination arriving with the toasted coconut and almond but leaving you with a light, lavender floral note (and a hint of sea salt) at the end. The peanut, almond and artisan mixes “all have their own sweetness quality to them,” said Bisera Urdarevik, creative director of product development. This Kalamazoo-based brand is a hit in the communal candy dish or as a great contrast to charcuterie and cheese boards.

703 Bagley Ave. SE, Grand Rapids (616) 551-0186, pinklemonadegr.com

30 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

6611 Lovers Lane, Portage (269) 779-9918, lushgourmetfoods.com


CHOCOLATE FESTIVITIES From brightly colored licorice pastels to chewy fruit slices and gold coins, Sweetland Candies offers plenty of candy that’s fun, but this three-store local chain also offers housemade truffles and sea salt caramels. There’s a truffle with crushed candy cane sprinkles for the holidays, and the yearlong selections are sure to please as well: mint, rum, Swiss mocha, double chocolate — the list goes on. On top of all that, Sweetland also offers myriad chocolate turtles, seafoam and a variety of housemade candy canes. There’s class for the adults and fun for the kids, all at a family-friendly price. 5170 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids 2160 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids 9 N. Main St. NE, Rockford (800) 842-3444, sweetlandcandies.com

Mokaya has the kind of chocolate Jay Gatsby would serve at his legendary parties. Like looking in a jewelry box, the decadent chocolate truffle selections take on the shape of gems in robin’s egg blue, pale green and a deep crimson with a yellow splatter print. Quirky designs such as pyramids, hedgehogs and turtles continue to fascinate. It’s a visual feast, with sophisticated flavorings such as Lavender Honey, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt Caramel and Sundried Tomato Jelly with Lemon Thyme Balsamic White Chocolate. This is high-quality chocolate sourced from France, Belgium and Switzerland, all fair-trade using real flavorings. For $18.50, you can present a holiday box to the fete that includes pumpkin caramel, fig jelly with a roasted chestnut truffle (surprisingly sweet and savory), eggnog, gingerbread, peppermint crunch and cocoa-marshmallow chocolate truffles. For the same price, you can sample a flight of six different chocolate truffles featuring beer from breweries such as Brewery Vivant, Harmony Brewing Co., Grand Rapids Brewing Co., Founders Brewing Co. and Elk Brewing. “It’s perfect for a small bite,” said General Manager Max Golczynski. “It’s fun to break apart and share the experience.” And because every party has wine, you can experiment with pairings. “ T hese chocolates a re r ich,” Golczynski said. “You don’t need much.” If you’re looking for something larger, consider the shop’s caramel apple or pumpkin bourbon tart selections as well. Writer Testimonial: With one visit I was questioning my career choices and wondering how Chocolate Shop Girl would look on a business card. 638 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids (616) 551-1925, mokayagr.com Photo:Leigh Ann Cobb


951 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids (616) 706-0183, lebonmacaron.com

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |

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Expect to be invited to every party with your Le Bon Macaron goodies in festive flavors such as eggnog, gingerbread, candy cane and champagne. The macaron is the quintessential party dessert. With beautiful colors and embellishments, they can take their rightful place as the centerpiece of any spread. “Bring a platter or cake pedestal so they’re higher and you can stack them for presentation,” said owner Kelly Toland. Have fun with seasonal colors by bringing red raspberry, green pistachio and speckled silver and gold champagne macarons to your next soiree. Vibrant hues, metallic brushstrokes or crushed candy canes on top give the macarons a hint of extravagance every party deserves. Boxes are sold in impressive presentations and in multiples of five. The shop also offers the popular sold-out-in-a-flash cream puffs. When it comes to those little circles of joy, you can’t go wrong with salted caramel — or so we hear.


/// Holidays

Makers Gonna Make Say hello to three local makers and fall in love with their collective creative genius. It’s enough to make you swear off big box stores forever, opting for people who craft things from the heart.

by Missy Black

32 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

Tim Ruff Ruff has a good thing going with his wood creations. From huge barn stars to piano-part animals, this man is building a strong following for his scrap wood musings. Do you consider yourself a maker? Ruff: I basically create and design cool looking fences (for a living) and from one of the tear-out jobs, I took a wood panel and started making things. I used to sketch a lot as a kid (comic book characters) and I found creativity laying outside in my yard. I can make things people enjoy. Creator is a good word, a passionate artist of some sort. There’s so much garbage and recycled materials left all over the place and we can make something out of it. What is the inspiration for your wood stars? Ruff: The inspiration came from my wife. She liked the quilts on barns and came up with the idea for a star made out of wood. My son cut some of the pieces and it became a family thing. I emulate that barn quilt design into a star — there’s small ones and big ones for inside the house or outside. Let’s talk about your animal creations from old piano parts. Ruff: I bought a broken-down piano from an auction. After I sanded pieces, it came out looking like a monkey and I thought it could be a gift. I sketch on my chalkboard in my house and critique it, then bring the piece in and put it up against the wall to see if I’m getting close. I cut pieces with my saw and from there I color, texture, and sand different things.

What is the last thing you worked on? Ruff: I’m making a series of new framed art from recycled fence, random metal rusty parts and found objects for display at The Old Goat. They’re moviethemed art pieces, from Star Wars to “Goatbusters.” Finish this sentence: I make things because… Ruff: I make things because I live. I live in a world (with) politics and religion and all that noise and I’d rather wake up and have coffee and go out to my garage and make something that is coming from me — an outpouring of love. You also decided to create a mini holiday called Plaidvent. It’s a whole month of pure plaid and joy. Can you talk about that? Ruff: Plaidvent is kind of my alter ego. I use it as a platform to be goofy and excited about things or raise awareness and have a good laugh. How did the idea start and what’s been the biggest reward? Ruff: For me, it’s about my teenage son. I relate better with him during that season. It could be because of seasonal depression or because I’m there and I can do something fun with him. I ask him to take pictures while I’m doing a stupid pose — relating to a teenage son can be tough. … People can laugh, have fun and rewind from the regular, normal life. Keep up with Ruff by following him on his two Instagram accounts: truff and plaidvent or plaidvent.com.

Tim Ruff

Pretty Little Things Dory Kipker offers a wide range of jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets, e a r r i ngs a nd v i nt age repurposed creations. Where does your inspiration come from? Kipker: My stuff is so all over the board. I draw inspiration from materials like repurposed and vintage stuff and beads and metals. I like to use brass and more earthy materiDory Kipker als. I surround myself with these things and I let them speak to me. I also draw inspiration from nature and being outside. What is your process? How do you make your jewelry? Kipker: Lots of hammering, cutting and sanding metal — especially when I make my cuff bracelets. I hand-hammer words and any impressions on metal. Everything I touch has multiple layers of processes. My jewelry is eclectic and the process is eclectic. I let the process take me where it needs to take me. I throw in beads and found objects and there’s wirework involved. Did I see suede wrap chokers on your Instagram?

Kipker: Yes, I throw some trendy things in every once in awhile. What are you currently working on? Kipker: For the holidays I like to do a lot of brass pieces — people are looking for something more special. I’m also doing larger statement pieces with rhinestones. What was the last thing you made? Kipker: Just yesterday, I was making a hand-stamped necklace and it said “explore” on it, and I added trinkets to jazz it up. Finish this sentence: I make things because… Kipker: I love when people see something I’ve made and get so much joy and love from it. I love making connections through what I’ve made. It’s the coolest thing ever. Catch Kipker at the Downtown Market’s Winter Wonderland Dec. 7 or at Karla’s Place in Holland, Rebel Reclaimed in Grand Rapids and The Found Cottage in Hudsonville. On Instagram, she’s prettylittlethingsdmk.

Whimsy and Wild Owner and artist Julie Wylie creates a line of modern paper goods and lifestyle products with a focus on handlettering and illustration. Let’s talk inspiration. Wylie: I am personally inspired by simple, moder n desig n a nd neutral colors. My entire line is black and white and gold. I love nature a lot, being outside and looking at nature.

sheet after sheet. I like to surround myself with things that inspire me, like crystals on my desk. What was the last thing you worked on? Wylie: I just released a couple new notepads.

Julie Wylie

What is the process for making your products? Wylie: It starts with an idea. I don’t even mess around with pencil. I jump right in using my markers. I use plain printer paper — it’s cheaper and easier — and I dive right in lettering a design. From there I scan it and clean it up in Photoshop.

You’ll want to get in front of Wylie’s work at the UICA Holiday Artists’ Market on Dec. 2 and 3, online at whimsyandwild.com, or at 6.25 Paper Studio and Rebel Reclaimed in Grand Rapids. n

Tell us about your home studio. Wylie: I like to listen to music. There’s a ton of paper everywhere. I go through

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |

Scene Sounds | Sights | Dining | Schedule

What makes up the bulk of your work? Wylie: Cards are the biggest, then mostly paper goods like notepads and prints.

Who do you think your work resonates with? Wylie: A nyone who is really into the resurgence of the snail mail movement and people who appreciate paper as more than paper but as an experience — a way for them to slow down or write a thank you note or just say hello. I want to connect in more ways than social media. It’s for anyone who appreciates that step back.


/// Holidays

Where to Donate b y Elm a T a lu n d z i c

‘Tis the season to take some time and help make someone else’s day better. Get involved, in a big or small way, by donating food, supplies, toys, money or time to one (or more) of the local and national charities here in West Michigan. Here’s just a short list of the many places where you can lend a hand this holiday season — or any time of the year. Toys for Tots

Various locations grand-rapids-mi.toysfortots.org, (616) 570-1207 What to Give: Money, toys Make a child’s Christmas a little bit brighter with new, unwrapped toys. Founded by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1947, Toys for Tots’ mission has been to deliver a message of hope to less fortunate children through a kindly donated gift during the holiday season. Hop online to find the nearest donation bins near you.

Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank

Schedule | Dining | sights | Sounds Scene

864 West River Center Dr., Comstock Park feedwm.org, (616) 784-3250 What to Give: Food, money, time Food insecurity — having unreliable access to healthy food — affects one in eight people in West Michigan. Feeding America ensures that safe food is accessible to those in need and provides great meals to an estimated 492,100 people every year. Every dollar (that’s right, $1) donated to the organization provides four meals to the hungry, and a donation of only $21 will feed a family of four for up to a week.

God’s Kitchen Food and Pantry Programs

303 Division Ave., Grand Rapids ccwestmi.org, (616) 454-4110; 1095 Third St., Muskegon (231) 726-5341 What to Give: Time, clothes

34 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

A hot meal is served daily at God’s Kitchen. More than 175,000 meals were provided last year to hungry visitors throughout West Michigan. Although volunteer spots are filling up quickly during the holiday season, Catholic Charities West Michigan encourages volunteers to help throughout the year. You also can donate to the baby and toddler pantries at the Grand Rapids and Muskegon locations, which offer a selection of new and gently used items for infants and children up to five years old.

Volunteers of America: Adopt A Family

adoptafamilymichigan.org, (248) 353-4862 What to Give: Money, gifts Adopt A Family gives you the opportunity to make the holidays better for someone else by sponsoring a family, senior or veteran. Sponsors provide gifts of new toys, clothes and a holiday meal. Adopt A Family welcomes simple cash donations as well. Those donations benefit families, seniors and veterans who were not directly “adopted.”

Family Promise of Grand Rapids

516 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids familypromisegr.org, (616) 475-5220 What to Give: Money, time, supplies

Family Promise of Grand Rapids is doing everything it can to end family homelessness by working with families who are either homeless or at risk. The organization guides families through the process of finding new housing or support to stay in their current housing. In

Food pantry at God’s Kitchen addition to monetary donations and volunteers, check out Family Promise’s online Wish List for an idea of items that are always needed.

Community Action House

345 W. 14th St., Holland communityactionhouse.org, (616) 392-2368 What to Give: Food, money, time Community Action House seeks “(to) provide area families and individuals with food, clothing, shelter and the opportunity to build necessary skills to achieve a stable and prosperous life.” This organization offers a full range of assistance to struggling families, including: food and personal care items, education and foreclosure prevention. Community Action House has a variety of ways to get involved, from volunteering opportunities to employer matching gift programs.

Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth

235 Straight Ave. NW, Grand Rapids bgcgrandrapids.org, (616) 451-4297 What to Give: Money, time

The Boys and Girls Club gives young people the opportunity to reach their full potential as responsible citizens through education and enriching community experiences. The clubs offer numerous and diverse activities to meet the interests of all young people. As the cold weather approaches, the club is looking for donations of gloves, scarves, hats/earmuffs and socks. Volunteer your time and join in on the Club experience by committing two or more hours at the same time each week, or go online and click “Donate Now.”

Access of West Michigan’s Holiday Giving Network

1700 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids accessofwestmichigan.org, (616) 774-2175 What to Give: Money, food, time Help Kent County families who are in need of holiday food through Access of West Michigan’s Holiday Giving Network. You can provide holiday dinner food items to your matched family, give grocery store gift cards/money, or hold your own food drive. n

New Season. New Vision.


Scene Sounds | Sights | Dining | Schedule

See the Fall colors the way you should,





820 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids | 616.920.0335 | CKOGR.COM

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |


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Fresh Food • Good Attitudes • The Right Moods North Side of Downtown Grand Rapids

Santas spread holiday cheer — and make bank

Come Get a Tune-Up!

Book Your Holiday Parties Now www.garagebargr.com | 616-454-0321  | 819 Ottawa NW

by Jane Simons

14- 21 2017

(269) 492.3500 TapHousePortage.com 3251 w. Centre ave. PORTAGE

36 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016


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(269) 492.0100 CCTapHouse.com 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall downtown KALAMAZOO



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Schedule | Dining | sights | Sounds Scene








KALAMAZOO — For the past 15 years, a brother/sister duo has been helping children and adults in the Kalamazoo area get into the holiday spirit. Carl Sanders and his sister, Sharon Fulkerson, are Santa and Mrs. Claus from the day of the city’s annual Holiday Parade — which happened on Nov. 12 this year — until Christmas Eve. When not appearing in parades or at the annual Tree Lighting in Bronson Park, they greet children and listen to their Christmas wishes at Santa’s Village in the Epic Center in downtown Kalamazoo. Sanders, a semi-retired I.T. professional, said many wishes are simple, but some leave him speechless. He said Legos remain popular choices for boys, while Barbie still tops the wish lists for girls. “I had one guy last year, who when I asked him what he wanted, looked me in the eye and said, ‘What do you got?’” Sanders said. “I have kids that ask for entire WalMarts, and I tell them that if I do that for you, I wouldn’t have anything for anyone else.” Aside from getting to spread holiday cheer, serving as a Santa does not have to be a purely altruistic endeavor. While it may sound like holiday heresy to mention “Santa” and “salary” in the same breath, the bottom line is that Santas can earn a high hourly wage for bringing joy to little kids and big kids alike.

According to the website Payscale.com, a beginning Santa can earn an hourly wage of $100. However, the really big paydays come on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That’s when these Kris Kringles can earn wages from $175 to $300 for every hour of work. Being a Santa Claus is certainly one of the more unique professions out there, with job requirements ranging from a sizeable tummy, a real beard (fake ones are out) and a convincing “ho-ho-ho.” If a Santa works 40 days during the holiday season, he can ring in the New Year with $8,000 to $10,000 in total wages. Of course, there are some expenses, namely the red suit, boots and belt which can put Santa out $500 to $1,000. However, earning $10,000 in a little more than month is good money, especially for retirees and for a role with minimal training. That’s not to say there aren’t educational opportunities available for aspiring Clauses. In fact, the world’s longest continuously operating Santa training program, the Charles W. Howard Santa School, was founded in Midland, Mich. in 1937. Tuition for a threeday session at Santa School is $450 for new students, and there’s a demand. In 2014, the school had 140 students and turned away 40. But not all Santas have been to Claus College — neither Sanders nor Fulkerson, who also works as a professional clown, had any formal training for their roles. “(Mrs. Claus) is softer and gentler than Santa,” Fulkerson said. “Sometimes kids are frightened because of Santa’s size. I’ll get right down on the floor with them.” n

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Ganders offers private and semi private dinner space for groups of 8-25 people.


28th Street SE at Patterson Ave. doubletreegrandrapids.com/ganders

MICHIGAN GROWN MICHIGAN MADE MICHIGAN BREWED Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |


38 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

Restaurant listings arranged by region

Grand Rapids Bistro Bella Vita 44 Grandville Ave. SW. 616-222-4600 ITALIAN. One of Grand Rapids’ best dining experiences, featuring Mediterraneaninspired country cuisine, a swanky yet comfortable downtown atmopshere and personable service. BBV’s culinary team creates authentic, housemade recipes made with locally grown produce, fresh seafood and rotisserie roasted meats. Specialty gluten-free menu, and can prepare custom dishes for lactose intolerant, vegetarian, and vegan diets. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Mediterranean Country Cuisine and Martinis. CitySen Lounge 83 Monroe Center St. NW. 616-608-1720 AMERICAN. CitySen Lounge, located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, is a bar with a big-city feel, offering exciting options for lunch, dinner and breakfast on the weekends. The focus is on fresh ingredients and a full bar with local brews, wine and creative cocktails. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner (Breakfast on weekends). OPEN: Open 7 days GO THERE FOR: Daily happy hour Divani 15 Ionia Ave. SW. 616-774-WINE. ECLECTIC. Divani offers a sophisticated environment, with chefs using Michigan-made ingredients in their creations, such as Dancing Goat Creamery, Otto’s Chicken, S&S Lamb, Ingraberg Farms, Mrs. Dog’s and Madcap. For the thirsty, the bar serves more than 300 types of liquor, 300 wines and 50 beers to complement each handcrafted meal. » SERVING: Dinner after 4 p.m. OPEN ON: Everyday but Sunday. GO THERE FOR: Wine and Local Cuisine.

Graydon’s Crossing 1223 Plainfield NE. 616-726-8260 TAVERN. An authentic take on the English Pub, with a huge selection of beers on tap and a menu that includes classic English dishes like Fish & Chips, Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Stew, as well as Indian specialties like

Marie Catrib’s 1001 Lake Dr. 616-454-4020 ECLECTIC. The East Hills eatery makes everything from scratch with local ingredients, and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Get there early for lunch, as there is almost always a wait. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Salads, soups and sandwiches. Rockwell-Republic 45 S. Division Ave. 616-551-3563 ECLECTIC. Menu offerings range from sushi to burgers and everything in between. The craft cocktail menu runs the gamut from classics like the Manhattan to more modern concoctions and the beer and wine menus are nicely curated. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Specialty cocktails, broad menu, lively atmosphere. San Chez Bistro 38 West Fulton St. 616-774-8272 SPANISH/ECLECTIC. San Chez is both a café and a Tapas Bistro, now both housed in the same room. This is a social setting where people can remember the one rule of kindergarten: sharing. Featuring small, delicious dishes, San Chez can satiate your desire for variety. It’s also a hidden secret for breakfast in downtown Grand Rapids, offering a great start to any day. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 Days. GO THERE FOR: Tapas, Breakfast, Sandwiches Terra GR 1429 Lake Dr. 616-301-0998 AMERICAN. Terra boasts fresh, healthy ingredients in every dish. The restaurant doesn’t feature one menu, either. It offers a Saturday and Sunday brunch menu, as well as menus for lunch, dinner, dessert, beverages, wine, happy hour and kids. The food is inspired by the seasons and ingredients come straight from one of Michigan’s many farms. » SERVING: Brunch Lunch Dinner. OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Fresh foods with ingredients from regional growers.

Wheelhouse Kitchen & Cocktails 67 Ottawa Ave. SW, Grand Rapids. 616-226-3319 AMERICAN. Nestled into the ground floor of Grand Rapids’ new Arena Place tower, this casual/fine dining bistro is all about refined, locally-sourced versions of classic dishes in a modern, yet intimate, atmosphere. With an 85-seat porch, Wheelhouse wants to provide a true community experience. » SERVING: Lunch, Dinner. OPEN ON: 7 days (Sat.–Sun. dinner only). GO THERE FOR: Tartines, outdoor dining.

The Winchester 648 Wealthy St. SE. 616-451-4969 ECLECTIC. This upscale bar and restaurant feels like it was plucked from Chicago’s Bucktown or Logan Square neighborhoods. A comfortable spot to drink or dine, with an always evolving menu featuring shared plates, salads and inventive sandwiches and specials. When available, some produce items are harvested from their garden across the street. » SERVING: Brunch Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: DIY Bloody Mary Bar Special, Yucca Fries.

Kalamazoo/Battle Creek Central City Taphouse 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. (269) 492-0100 TAPHOUSE. If Central City doesn’t have the kind of beer you want on tap, you’ll probably find it with the 75+ bottles. OH, you say you’re not a beer drinker? Well, Central City offers 20 wine ‘taps’ and a full bar. If you’re not the drinking type, that’s cool too. There are a number of food options to pick from, including a raw menu, a pizza menu and the all-day menu, which features burgers, soups and entrees. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Diverse beverage selection. Fieldstone Grille 3970 W. Centre St., Portage. 269-321-8480 AMERICAN. Lodge-retreat atmosphere overlooking the Moors Golf Club natural wetlands. The “field-to-plate” menu features burgers, pizzas, steaks and some eclectic items like quail. Try the FSG chips, a combination of potato, beet and sweet potato chips. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Blue Burger, Almond Crusted Walleye, FSG Chips.

Lakeshore 8th Street Grille 20 W. 8th St., Holland. 616-392-5888 AMERICAN. This eclectic grille offers a mix of draft and bottled craft beers and a variety of pub classics and new, American beer-inspired dishes. Happy hour includes half-off appetizers and $1 off drafts. » SERVING: Lunch, Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: 28 taps of craft beer.

CityVu Bistro 61 E 7th Street, Holland. 616-796-2114 AMERICAN. A distinctive rooftop dining experience in downtown Holland with fresh gourmet flatbreads and an array of seasonal entrees. The contemporary-yet-casual atmosphere, full bar and unique menus make it the ideal spot for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days GO THERE FOR: flatbreads

Everyday People Cafe 11 Center St., Douglas. 269-857-4240 AMERICAN. REVUE Publisher Brian Edwards calls Everyday People Café his favorite restaurant along the lakeshore. The atmosphere is casual and upbeat, the staff knows its stuff about wine and food, and the seasonal menu is filled with meticulously prepared, eclectic comfort food like Butternut Squash Risotto, Braised Lamb Shank and Ahi Tuna. A great wine list and tremendous desserts. » SERVING: Brunch (Weekends) Lunch Dinner OPEN: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Gorgonzola Pork Chop, Greek Salad with Grandma Gigi’s Dressing (Edwards). Kirby House 2 Washington, Grand Haven. 616-846-3299 AMERICAN. The Grill Room doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is — a chop house and grill. Atmosphere is warm with Tuscan tones, atmospheric lighting, classically cool music and leather booths. The menu focuses on steaks and chops and makes no apologies. The steaks are prime USDA choice, the seafood selection immaculate, and the wine and beverage list is top shelf. Relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Nightlife. Salt of the Earth 114 East Main St., Fennville. 269-561-7258 AMERICAN. Salt of the Earth is a farm-to-table-inspired restaurant, bar, and bakery located in the heart of SW Michigan farm country in Fennville. Focuses on fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients whenever possible. Also serves up live music on weekends. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: House made rustic cuisine.

To submit or to correct information in a dining listing, e-mail editor@revuewm.com.

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |

Scene | Sounds | Sights Dining Schedule

Erb Thai 950 Wealthy St. SE #1A. (616) 356-2573. Additional locations at 4160 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Suite B, and 820 Michigan St. NE. THAI. Food rooted in traditional Thai cuisine, but also made to accommodate health conscious and special diets. Not too strong, not too weak, like harmony and melody. Marketing representative Molly Rizor was a Thai virgin when she went and is now glad Erb Thai was her first experience. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Peanut Curry Noodles.

Tandoori Chicken and Tikka Masala. A great casual atmosphere for drinking and dining. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Beer and authentic pub food.

REVUE’s dining listings are compiled by staff and minions. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of restaurants in the region. For an expanded list, be on the lookout for new and improved dining changes on our website, revuewm.com. The listings are not intended to be reviews of West Michigan restaurants, although we will inject some opinions into the listings based on staff experiences and personal preferences. To submit or to correct information in a dining listing, e-mail editor@ revuewm.com.


by Troy Reimink


Schedule Dining Sights | Sounds | Scene

Forward to the Past

40 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

Th e future of West M ich igan di n i ng is h e re, an d it fe e ls a lot like the past.

Chick pea fries at The Lazy Susan Photo:Katy Batdorff

the menu, or maybe a vegan hash, but that’s stuff that they do at home. When they go out to eat, they want to see something made by a chef.” The vegan offerings include an avocado benedict, sweet potato hash, non-dairy smoothie bowls, a gourmet “Wolverine” waffle and the avocado “Kamau,” containAs the local food scene continues to fill ing vegetables, quinoa and Caribbean spices. with distinctly modern eateries, some local The makeover extends to the regular menu, restaurateurs are making waves by pairing which now emphasizes local, organic meat cutting-edge cuisine with dining experiences and produce. that are emphatically and refreshingly out of But Cherie Inn retains a sensibility far step with “new” Grand Rapids. The Cherie Inn, which opened in 1924, removed from the hip-yet-sterile atmosphere is one of the oldest restaurants in the city, that characterizes many new restaurants. (Kulczyk calls them “glass boxes with cebut it doesn’t act its age. The mainstay of ment floors.”) Cherie Inn’s customers dine in the Cherry Hill Historic District added a menu in October that embraces forward- a cozy, intimate setting, minimally adorned with antique decor. thinking, big-city culinary movements such “When you eat in the Cherie Inn, you’re as veganism, local sourcing, gluten-free fare eating in your aunt’s dining and oil-free cooking. room, or you’re eating at a “Even though we are the cafe in Paris,” Kulczyk said. oldest restaurant in town, A similar aesthetic is the it doesn’t mean we aren’t “We saw an driving force behind The innovative,” said Michael opening. There Lazy Susan, a new, muchKulczyk, who has owned the was no place buzzed-about restaurant Cherie Inn since long before just west of Grand Rapids its neighborhood became to go get that is, quite literally, a tiny the thriving dining district locally-sourced neighborhood mom-and-pop it is now. handmade, diner. The Lazy Susan has a Cherie Inn’s healthy staff of four and a handful of pivot mirrors Kulczyk’s own thoughtful food tables — each decorated by journey. In March of this around here little more than silverware year, he weighed more than without going and napkins atop, yes, a 300 pounds, and decided he Lazy Susan centerpiece. Its needed to get healthy in ordowntown.” cinderblock walls are mostly der to continue running the bare except for small, vintage business effectively. Kulczyk —Bob Waterbury, pieces of wooden shelving changed his diet and has The Lazy Susan that hold teapots, Dutch since dropped more than delftware and other assorted 100 pounds. He consulted knick knacks. with author and vegan cookBut The Lazy Susan has culinary ing instructor Sue Stauffacher and new ambitions that far exceed the norm for a Executive Chef Alex Schulte to create the restaurant of its style. It boasts a vegetarian vegan menu, which the restaurant serves menu as extensive and considered as its alongside its existing roster of traditional omnivorous output. Most of the food comes breakfasts, omelettes and sandwiches. “I felt a responsibility to my customers,” from one of two area farms, and everything is seasonal. Masterful takes on standards he said. like cheeseburgers and fried chicken are a Another factor was the abrupt 2014 launching point for bold dishes like ciderclosure of the nearby Gaia Cafe, which glazed pork loin in cornbread pudding, left a void for meatless dining in the Great Lakes white bass on creamy risotto, neighborhood. and a Polish hunters’ stew with kielbasa, “We were welcomed with open arms by the vegan and vegetarian community,” mushrooms, sauerkraut, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Kulczyk said, noting that he expects sales from the vegan menu to account for 25 percent of business by the end of the holidays. “They appreciate a vegetarian sandwich on Continued on page 42 ➤

Scene | Sounds | Sights Dining Schedule


REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |

Forward to the Past, continued from page 40

Experience Where it all started

– 30+ Beers On Tap – Full-Service Restaurant – Live Music & Special Events – free Tours DOWNTOWN & COMSTOCK BREWERIES

Schedule Dining Sights | Sounds | Scene

– general store & homebrew supplies

Sun - Wed: 11AM - 12AM

42 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

Th - Sat: 11AM - 2AM

355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269.382.2332


There are vegetarian takes on some of the regular menu items, but also meatless standalones like the cavatelli pasta dish and gnudi ricotta dumplings, which were both part of a rotating section of the menu that interprets cuisine from various world cultures — November was Italy, October was Mexico and December will focus on Southeast Asia. The Lazy Susan’s owners are the married team of Shana and Bob Waterbury, who bring a combined 30 years of experience in some of the area’s best-known restaurants. Shana spent years at Bistro Bella Vita, while Bob was most recently executive chef at Grove in Cherry Hill, which under his leadership became one of the state’s most acclaimed dining destinations. “We saw an opening,” Bob said. “There was no place to go get locally-sourced handmade, thoughtful food around here without going downtown.” While Bob does most of the cooking, Shana primarily handles customer service and hospitality, which so far has connected

with the community as much as the cuisine. There already are plenty of regulars, and staff will routinely bring out extras from the kitchen free of charge. “I want to build something for this side of town I think people want and deserve,” Bob said. “The biggest thing right now for us is gaining people’s trust, so they can come in and order something they’ve never heard of, and it will be good. (We’re) just kind of redefining what hospitality is like. It changes everybody’s experience, and that’s how we get to talking and learning about each other.” As with Cherie Inn, the warmth and charm of The Lazy Susan’s throwback setting is an uncommon pairing with upscale-quality food. Kulczyk believes this type of dining experience sets an example others will likely follow. “I think some of the newer restaurants need to catch their breath and take a look back at old-school,” he said. n

wins medal at Great American Beer Festival!

Naughty girl Stout is deeply flavored yet refreshing and cooling. An infusion of real organic mint complements rich chocolate flavors. Our chocolate mint stout delivers everything you love about chocolate mint cookies, without all the crumbs in your sleeping bag. rightbrainbrewery.com

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |

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KĂźsterer Original Weissbier


by Joe Boomgaard, Revue Beer Czar


Destination: Comstock Park


omstock Park has the distinction of being neither a city nor a village nor a township, but the area has recently come to be defined, at least in part, as a destination for fans of craft beverages. That popularity started in 2012, with the launch of Perrin Brewing Co., which made a name for itself with a widespread draft distribution and highly acclaimed beers like No Rules. Activity in the unincorporated community then kicked into high gear this year with the opening of a satellite ELK Brewing Co. brewery and pub and a new standalone location for Bier Distillery Co., which got its start inside Sparta’s Cellar Brewing a few years ago. Additionally, Speciation Artisan Ales expects to open its production-only facility by February. The mixed-fermentation brewery specializing in sour, farmhouse and spontaneous ales will open its doors one day per month to sell its beers via a ticketed release and offer samples. Revue hit the road to see what’s fermenting in Comstock Park, given all the new options coming online. Here’s what we found out.

Schedule Dining Sights | Sounds | Scene


ELK Brewing Co.

400 Dodge NE (616) 214-8172, elkbrewing.com

THE LOWDOWN: ELK outfitted its Comstock Park location with a new 15-barrel brewhouse and relocated its 3-barrel system from Wealthy Street. The new capacity has ELK producing enough beer to refocus on distribution. The brewery also installed a bottling line with plans to distribute Dankalicious (IPA), Blonde Express and Brewtus Coffee Porter in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles. ELK also offers a full kitchen with salads, sandwiches and burgers, including the house special made with ground elk.

herbal liqueur. Bierling, who likes to use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, also focuses on the art of the cocktail, including increasingly popular draft options. The tasting room serves snacks and limited food options. GO THERE FOR: Rye whiskey, a friendly atmosphere and pleasant tasting room — the kind of place to stop to take the edge off on your way home from work.


Mitch Ermatinger at Speciation Artisan Ales’ facility (to open by February)


Speciation Artisan Ales 3720 West River Dr. NE #20 speciationartisanales.com

THE LOWDOWN: If you’ve been to a recent bottle share in West Michigan, you’ve probably seen one of co-owner Mitch Ermatinger’s pilot brews. And if you’ve tasted one of his creations, you’re likely waiting with bated breath for Speciation to open. The brewery is inching closer to its final permits and approvals, and recently launched a membership drive to give customers first access to Speciation’s beers, plus member-exclusive barrel-aged

Bier Distillery Co.

5295 West River Dr. NE #100 (616) 888-9746, bierdistillery.com

THE LOWDOWN: Owner Joel Bierling has honed the craft of distilling over the last three years, specializing in making “stuff I like to drink.” Bier Distillery offers a complete range of grain-to-glass vodka, rum, gin and whiskey, as well as rediscovered spirits like amaro, an

44 | REVUEWM.COM | December 2016

GO THERE FOR: Well, you can’t go there now, but when Speciation opens, basically go there and expand your palate to the wonderfully complex world of sours and other mixed-fermentation beers.


Perrin Brewing Co.

5910 Comstock Park Dr. NW (616) 551-1957, perrinbrewing.com

THE LOWDOWN: By now, Perrin Black and the “Problems” IPA series are as ubiquitous as it comes for Michigan-made craft beer. But as of late, owner Keith Klopcic gave the team a “blank canvas” to start experimenting, so the brewers have doubled-down on making badass barrel-aged specialty brews. Check out The Hypocrite, an imperial blonde ale packed with notes of horchata, coffee, chocolate and maple, and Caesar’s Gimp, an imperial red ale — both of which spent time in merlot barrels.

GO THERE FOR: Generously proportioned food (with quick service at lunchtime) and experimental brews — WTF is PB&J’Ale’y? — in an industrial-inspired location.


bottles. To start, Speciation will open for customers to stop by and pick up bottles just one day a month. There’s just one rule, according to the ever-affable Ermatinger: Assholes will not be tolerated.

John Wiegand with too many beers at ELK Brewing Co.

The Hypocrite at Perrin Brewing Co.

GO THERE FOR: A wide selection of quality beers, killer burgers and wonton nachos. Also, the Ice Jam event on Jan. 28 will feature bands and the launch of Triangulation, a beer brewed in collaboration with Oskar Blues and Cigar City Brewing. n

Scene | Sounds | Sights Dining Schedule


The B.O.B. / 20 Monroe Ave NW / Downtown GR 616.356.2000 / www.thebobsbrewery.com / #BOBsBrewery

REVUEWM.COM | December 2016 |





ALL AREA RUGS through Dec. 31

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Profile for Revue Magazine

Revue Magazine, December 2016, Holiday Edition  

REVUE is West Michigan's most comprehensive free monthly entertainment guide covering music, arts, beer, dining and more. Visit us at revuew...

Revue Magazine, December 2016, Holiday Edition  

REVUE is West Michigan's most comprehensive free monthly entertainment guide covering music, arts, beer, dining and more. Visit us at revuew...


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