WEST MICHIGAN’S ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE FOR 34 YEARS » DECEMBER 2022 FREE! CRYSTAL BALL YEAR-END BIZ BEAT MAKING JAZZ COOL AGAIN 2023 LAST-MINUTE GIFT GUIDE TOP 5 LOCAL ALBUMS OF 2022 WHAT THE YEAR HAS IN STORE
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DECEMBER 2022 9 FEATURED 22 Crystal Ball 2023 26 Last-Minute Gift Guide NEWS 12 What's Going On 14 Year-End Biz Beat MUSIC 16 Top 5 Local Albums of 2022 COMEDY 18 Seth Lee: The Kingpin of Comedy DINING 20 Black Napkin ARTS 30 ArtRat: A Gallery for the Community 32 Connie Han: Making Jazz Cool Again 34 Arts Calendar WHAT'S INSIDE DECEMBER 2022 | VOLUME 34, ISSUE 12
What a year!
Ever since March 2020, times have certainly been turbulent. We continue to see longtime establishments close their doors due to all the challenges recent times have brought on, while others manage to rework their approach and stay open, if not thrive.
In this annual Crystal Ball issue, we talk to some of these institutions to get their view on how things have gone over the past year, what silver linings have come out of all this, and what (likely) lies ahead in 2023.
While certain industries—like craft beverages—are still facing challenges for a variety of reasons, others are majorly on the rebound, like live music. It seems unlikely 2023 is going to be a “normal” year, but even with the ups and downs, it’s looking bright.
As we close out 2022, this is also a great time to look back on the year. We have our year-end biz beat to help catch you up on the businesses that opened and closed, as well as our top five albums of 2022. We also talk to the hot new spot in town, Black Napkin Takeout! We suggest heading over before the line gets too long.
Of course, the holidays are upon us, so check out all the great holiday events in West Michigan this month, plus a last-minute gift guide for us procrastinators out there. I mean, for YOU procrastinators—I’ve already done all my shopping. Well, I’ve started to think about it anyway. I’ll get there. Don’t worry about it.
Moving into 2023, as all the incredible businesses in town (and the people behind them) work hard to make this a great place to live despite the current challenges, remember to have patience, be kind, and enjoy the ride.
’Til next time,
JOSH VEAL Managing Editor
JAN COMING UP
50 Things to Do in 2023: We look at all the great events planned for 2023, alongside evergreen ativities and destinaations with year-round fun.
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10 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com
/// LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
THE CRYSTAL BALL FEATURE CAN BE FOUND ON PAGE 22
ON THE COVER
DECEMBER 2022 11
by beer critics, food connoisseurs and art fans. revuewm.com
STAY UP TO DATE ON ALL THINGS WEST MICHIGAN! Trusted
WHAT’S GOING ON, DEC
expertly crafted beer and enjoying some next-level eats! The lineup includes prints, metal art, jewelry, artisan soaps, home décor and much more.
VERY MERRY MARKET DAY
Grand Rapids Downtown Market Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
The Downtown Market is always great for gifts, but this annual artisan market is the best time for the holiday spirit. They’ve decked the halls of the entire second floor with art, handmade goods and products, clothing, accessories, treats, and more! Once you’ve completed your shopping, head downstairs and grab a bite to eat from the merchants and restaurants.
AMAZE & AMUSE: A MODERN DAY MAGIC SHOW CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
25TH ANNUAL UPTOWN SHOP HOP
Uptown Dec. 1, 3 p.m.
Join for a big one: The 25th annual Uptown Shop Hop, as the district comes alive with extra special holiday experiences, entertainment, and merriment. FREE trolley rides are back, and will transport you through Uptown as you holiday shop, eat, drink, and make memories!
EASTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Harmony Brewing Co. Dec. 1, 5 p.m.
While you’re in town, swing on over to Harmony Brewing for the tree lighting (at 7 p.m.), the opportunity to hang something on the tree, a beer tent, hot chocolate, and other treats.
GR CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING
Downtown Grand Rapids Dec. 2, 5-7 p.m.
This annual event features a jampacked schedule of dynamic attractions to officially kick off the holiday season in Grand Rapids. This year includes free s’mores, free hot chocolate, live entertainment, and a variety of cultural booths, plus family activities.
32ND ANNUAL HOLIDAY ARTISTS MARKET
UICA Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
UICA’s Holiday Artists Market is back after a two-year pandemic hiatus! Shop for beautifully crafted gifts and goods from dozens of regional artists, including jewelry, home goods, fine art, holiday cards, accessories, toys, and more. Enjoy live music and local food and beverage vendors while you shop.
HOLIDAY MAKERS MARKET
Guardian Brewing Co. Dec. 3, 12-6 p.m.
Wood, ceramics, jewelry, fabric, plants, and so much more! Grab a beer and join from 12-6PM at Guardian Brewing Co. Find your newest treasures, shop for great holiday gifts, and support local artists.
Broad Leaf Brewery & Spirits Dec. 4, 12-7 p.m.
The holidays are fast approaching and that means gift shopping is about to kick into high gear. Don’t miss Broad Leaf’s Holiday Bazaar this year, where you can do your gift shopping while drinking
Wealthy Theatre Dec. 10, 4:30 & 7 p.m.
The Amaze & Amuse Christmas Spectacular is a modern-day magic show that features mind-blowing magic, comedy and lots of audience participation with a special holiday twist. This family-friendly show will feature comedy magician Trino with special guest ventriloquist and magician Brynn Cummings.
MERCHANTS AND MAKERS
VERY MERRY MARKET
Trillium Events, Spring Lake Dec. 11, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
It’s time once again for the annual Very Merry Market! This year has 55 amazing makers with items for everyone on your holiday list, with art, stationery, plushies, pet clothes, playdough kits, bath works, home goods, food, drinks, clothes, and so much more. Music with Plain Jane Glory and food by the fantastic Trillium Events.
THE WHOVILLE 5K
Riverside Park Dec. 11, 12-3 p.m.
The Whoville 5K is the silliest, zaniest, Grinchiest fun run in Michigan! Join for a festive afternoon running through Whoville, complete with all the mischievous characters you grew up loving. There will be Things, there will be a Cat (probably wearing a Hat,) and there will be the meanest, greenest one of them all. Come dressed in your best holiday Whoville outfit to join the fun, and enjoy cookies, hot cocoa, costume prizes and photos with Santa.
12 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com
'22 /// NEWS
Very Merry Market. COURTESY PHOTO
The Whoville 5K. COURTESY PHOTO
LIONS & RABBITS’
END OF THE YEAR BASH
Lions & Rabbits Center for the Arts Dec. 13, 5-10 p.m.
Celebrate local art’s growth in 2022 with one last bash. Mingle with artists, creatives and art enthusiasts, enjoying live DJs, beverages, food from Street Chef Shaw, and plenty of activities. The event begins with an open invitation to all from 6-8 p.m. with a suggested minimum donation of $50. Can’t come until later? Join for the afterhours portion from 8-11 p.m., when they turn the volume up.
GET SAD: EMO X-MAS & ONE LAST TIME
The Pyramid Scheme Dec. 16, 8 p.m.
It’s time for the final Get Sad, an emo dance party with music ranging from My Chemical Romance to Fall Out Boy, American Football, Paramore and everything else you rocked out to in your youth. It’s like a dance party. But with more angst. And sadder. And a holiday twist!
MADE MARKET: HOLIDAY 22 Leona Road
1351 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids Dec. 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
A market made by makers, for makers. This market is proud to feature local vendors who produce unique, handmade items—from jewelry to accessories, art, food, clothes, candles, bath products and so much more.
JINGLE BELL BRUNCH
New Holland - The Knickerbocker Dec. 18, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
The original recurring show MI Drag Brunch is here with a holiday twist,
Jingle Bell Brunch. Come on through for a fun, dance and song filled twohour performance, a specialized menu, beverages and more.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION
Wealthy Theatre Dec. 20, 8 p.m.
Time for yet another Tuesday movie at Wealthy Theatre, and this time it’s the eternal holiday classic, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” The Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration - but things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids.
MI Drag Brunch. COURTESY PHOTO
DECEMBER 2022 13
Get Sad. PHOTO BY LUKE BOWERS
YEAR-END BIZ BEAT 2022
A round-up of the biggest openings, closings, and other changes for local businesses over the past year.
Monsoon Vietnamese Cuisine says that they are combining Vietnamese classics with midwestern hospitality! While they are serving up charcoalcooked traditions out of 55 Monroe Center, the sleek interior design combines with the fresh local ingredients to deliver a unique dining experience to Grand Rapids.
Where a car wash once stood at 755 Michigan St., a lively taco restaurant now brings Latin American and Hispanic food traditions to Grand Rapids. Taco Borracho features an indoor-outdoor bar and seating, where taco connoisseurs can pick from the culture-rich menu and wash it all down with a margarita tower to share.
Noodlepig is finally open next door to SpeakEZ, at 601 Bond Ave. NW, Grand Rapids. People are already raving about this ramen eatery, with unique noodles made in-house, quality ingredients, traditional flavors and fun fusion twists.
The owners of Max’s South Seas Hideaway opened a new spot in Kalamazoo, JungleBird . Sitting on the main street at 155 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, this tropical restaurant is less tiki than Max’s, and is instead largely inspired by South America, Cuba and Miami.
The B.O.B. is back! That big ol’ building at 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids has returned, without many changes. Dr. Grins, HOME, Bob’s Brewery, Bobarino’s, the beer garden, it’s all there except for the Eve nightclub, now used primarily as an event venue.
Farewell to Danzon Cubano, and welcome to Cantina Los Amigos in its stead, at 1 Carlton Ave. SE, Grand Rapids. Head here for authentic handmade Mexican food. Try their popular queso fundido, grilled elote, wet burritos, and molcajetes.
Brooklyn Bodega arrived downtown Grand Rapids at 10 Jefferson Ave., in the space that once held Cult Pizza. They offer “a taste of Brooklyn” with
features like egg and cheese bagels, deli sandwiches and build-your-own salads, the perfect lunch spot for anyone near downtown.
Social Misfits opened on the ground floor of the new Residence Inn by Marriott, at 43 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids. This eatery welcomes all — the weirder, the better. The menu focuses on the kinds of waffles you’ve never had before, like the Yasuke, with ramen, soft-cooked egg, scallion, furikake and gojuchang aioli. They also have sweet options, “normal” food, and top-notch coffee/cocktail drinks.
The people behind Principle brought a new concept to Kalamazoo: ROCA at 247 S. Kalamazoo Mall. “Based on the foundational elements of locally sourced ingredients, classic scratch cooking, a unique dining environment and exemplary service, ROCA presents an exciting and unforgettable fusion of flavors inspired by Latin American culture and cuisine.”
K-ROK Korean BBQ & Karaoke is now open in every way, offering a full menu, self-cooked Korean BBQ, and private karaoke rooms. The restaurant from the owners of Emonae opened at 169 Louis Campau Promenade in downtown Grand Rapids, across from Z’s. Call ahead to reserve a private room and eat, drink and sing the night away.
Brick and Brine opened doors in Kalamazoo’s Radisson Plaza Hotel at 100 W. Michigan Ave. This large restaurant with multiple spaces offers “savory New American fare, indulgent desserts, and masterfully crafted cocktails.” Steak, seafood, housemade pasta and more create an extensive menu at this gourmet eatery.
In other Radisson news, Curry Kitchen GR moved away from 28th Street, now located in a clean and modern space (with alcohol!) in Radisson Hotel Grand Rapids Riverfront. Order their delicious Indian food for delivery or stop in to the new space at 270 Ann St. NW, immediately off the highway exit.
The owners of beloved GR home/gift shop Rebel have a new venture: Sticky Fingers . Now open at 1503 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, the shop brings together the colorful, yet old-timey feel of a classic soda shop with modern candy, toys, stickers and other treats. It’s the kind of store people of all ages can find something to love.
Periwinkle Fog opened doors in Grand Rapids at 125 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 160, Grand Rapids. This womenowned gift and gallery boutique offers globally inspired and locally discovered goods such as art, fashion, accessories, children’s toys and books, home décor, local artisan jewelry, pottery, and more.
Real Seafood Company made its home at 141 Lyon St. NW. Immediately inside the door, you’ll see a massive mural by a Saginaw artist, and a few steps further brings you to fresh seafood sourced from the Great Lakes, New England and the Gulf of Mexico, express-delivered to the restaurant.
As a complement to the local Long Road Distillery, Less Traveled is showcasing all the Long Road spirits, bitters, vermouth and everything else in a carefully crafted and extensive cocktail menu. Keeping it local, the food menu is sourced from a variety of Michigan growers and suppliers, and has a little something for everyone, The intimate space at 959 Cherry St. has indoor-outdoor room for about 80 people.
Le Macaron will crush any cravings for French desserts. The newest location of this national patisserie whips up gelato, cakes, pastries and, of course, the titular macarons out of their kitchen downtown Grand Rapids at 132 Monroe Center St.
A new boutique has hit 40 Monroe Center St., providing inclusive sizing in women’s and men’s clothing, gifts, jewelry and home goods from various local vendors. The rotating inventory at Courage and Soar ensures that you’ll never step into the same store twice. They also host various workshops, such as learning how to
14 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com /// NEWS
Cantina Los Amigos, Social Misfits. COURTESY PHOTOS
make the cloud-shaped light fixtures that fill the ceiling of the store, providing everything but the bulb!
Inspired by one guy’s love of homebrewing, Brewery Outré provides unique and creative house-brewed beers to the Kalamazoo community in a cozy taproom at 567 E. Ransom St. Head here for beer-wine hybrids and tasty saisons.
As part of the new wave of restaurants hitting downtown Rockford, Kawa Sushi brings a sleek interior with high-quality ingredients to 8 E. Bridge St. The soft opening in late spring was met with warm welcome and rave reviews, boding good things for Kawa’s future in Rockford.
There aren’t many fast-food fixes in Grand Rapids for gluten-free eaters — or rather, there weren’t. Now, Papa Chops whips up a completely gluten-free menu out of their drivethrough and counter service space at 2222 28th St., from burgers to pizzas and beyond.
Brand new to Grand Rapids in August, Küsterer Brauhaus is inspired by traditional European beer halls, focusing on long community tables and talks with strangers. Serving strictly traditional German-style beers out of their location at 642 Bridge St., the brewery pays tribute in name to the first German brewer to put down roots in Grand Rapids in 1844.
After the success of vintage and antique store Elevated, the owner decided to open a location devoted to gently used vintage luxury clothing and accessories. 955 by Elevated GR houses local vendors and quality vintage items out of their renovated space at 955 Godfrey Ave.
National franchise of chooseyour-own-adventure tacos has set up at 37 Ottowa Ave., their third Michigan location. Practice your best standardized-test bubbling as you choose your protein, shell, add-ons, salsas and more at Barrio, while sipping on craft margaritas and cocktails.
Crafted Copper creates innovative new cocktails and puts unique spins on classic ones out of their indooroutdoor space at 4520 Stadium Dr. in Kalamazoo. Their resident mixologist creates funky flavor combinations while the kitchen whips up delectable shareables and desserts.
Tacon Madre is serving up fresh, madeto-order tacos through their drive through window at 3501 S. Division Ave, along with refreshing agua frescas, chips and dips. Indoor counter service allows patrons to enjoy the bright, contemporary atmosphere complete with nods to Mexican pop culture.
Michigan’s first and only gluten-free brewery is dedicated to producing completely safe brews. Brewery Nyx opened their taproom at 506 Oakland Ave. in July, allowing patrons to enjoy all the tastes of their many craft beers in the safety of an uncontaminated environment.
A new casual taco restaurant in Holland is serving up craft margaritas, specialty cocktails, tacos and brunch out of their brand new space at 2155 Ottawa Beach Rd., using local food and homemade tortillas. Playa Tacos is the latest venture for the family-owned River and Odi Hospitality Group, who also run Matchbox Diner & Drinks, Mermaid Bar & Grill and others.
A reprise of the first beloved location, a new Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop and Bakery has moved into 850 Forest Hill Ave., serving all the favorites from the Grand Rapids location, and adding their first full bakery. Completely house-made breads will stack the sandwiches, dip in the soups, and crunch up the salads!
5 Lakes Brew Pub moved from a quite remote location in Dorr to a new hotspot in Tanger Outlets, now located at 350 84th St. SW, Byron Center. Unfortunately, the bowling alley attached to 5 Lakes was forced to close by the pandemic, which was a big part of the decision to move. 5 Lakes also switched to a brew pub, allowing them to have outside beers on tap.
Stan’s Tacos opened a third location at 67 Ottawa Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, taking the place of Wheelhouse, which shuttered when the pandemic hit. This small local chain began as Stan Diego in Standale, before changing names to be more versatile. The new location is serving creative tacos, margaritas and snacks exclusively as a take-out spot until staffing improves.
Another new taco joint is Tacos El Cuñado, which just opened another location at 3140 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids. So far, we know that everywhere with that name has delicious, authentic tacos on the cheap, and we’re here for more of that.
Café de Miro is an excellent Kurdishstyle Mediterranean restaurant in Breton Village, and has now expanded to the Downtown Market at 435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids. The eatery offers gyros, salads, falafel, baba ghanoush, and much more flavorful food. For those missing the likes of Marie Catrib’s, this is your new lunch spot.
Need some java? How about a massage to go with it? Head to Lotus Brew Coffee at Communitea Wellness near the Creston neighborhood at 781 College Ave. NE, Grand Rapids. This wellness center features three highly trained massage therapists and a reiki practitioner, along with a full café out front, featuring coffee, tea up, a dry bar, banned books and more from Lotus Brew. Feel free to stop in for just a drink — no massage needed!
The Darling Style is a new boutique open downtown Grand Rapids at 307 S. Division Avenue. This shop has been gathering followers with its unique, curated, feminine, classy style for years now, so a storefront only made sense. Head on in for just about every dress you could ever hope for.
DECEMBER 2022 15
Royals 701 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids Brick Road Pizza 1017 Wealth St. SE, Grand Rapids
Rossa 16 Monroe Center St., Grand Rapids Ramona’s Table 17 Squires St., Rockford Eastown Antiques 1515 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids Adobe In & Out Leonard location
GR 106 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids Wikiwiki Poke Shop 1146 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids ELK Brewing 700 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids Osgood Brewing 4051 Chicago Dr. SW, Grandville Harmony Hall 401 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
JungleBird, NoodlePig. COURTESY PHOTOS
It’s only fitting that the first full year “past” the pandemic found Ionia native, turned international bluegrass superstar Billy Strings returning to West Michigan for a triumphant sold-out show at Kalamazoo’s Wings Event Center this fall. Fresh off opening for Metallica at Lollapalooza among other high profile festival slots, and even collaborating with Post Malone, Strings shared the love with the community that gave him his start as a teen, proving that even in the most unexpected musical landscapes anything can happen.
Perhaps following in his footsteps, GR standout Patty PerShayla (and her band the Mayhaps) officially relocated to Nashville this year, after she spent part of the year touring with Traverse City’s The Accidentals, and gigging all over with the Rush cover band YYNOT. Far from the only artist in our area to make that trek in recent years – Jason Singer of Kalamazoo indie rock band Michigander also moved there this year – PerShayla, and others, may help continue to pave a pathway between West Michigan and Music City.
With the pandemic hopefully behind us, 2022 saw an absolute abundance of amazing releases right here, with the return of Grand Rapids rapper Ajax Stacks (on From The North ), Wuzee and Dusty Fingerz’ 100 Summers , and Last Gasp Collective’s Our Daily Bread , showcasing the ever growing versatility of hip-hop here in West Michigan, while mainstay rock favorites Desmond Jones ( Rays of Light and Stardust ) and Nathan Walton & the Remedy ( Daybreak ) issued flat-out classic albums that stand up alongside their iconic influences.
Needless to say, selecting a shortlist of our favorites became quite a challenge, so forgive us if this list omits anyone also deserving as the range and raw talent of performers seems to have only gotten stronger as we’ve entered something of a local music renaissance since re-emerging from the era of COVID-19.
LOCAL ALBUMS OF 2022
| by Eric Mitts
16 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com /// MUSIC
LOKELLA – AS WE UNRAVEL
Long overdue, in some ways, the first full-length album from veteran Grand Rapids alt-rock/metal band Lokella delivers on all levels. The climatic successor after three EPs released by the band since starting in 2016, As We Unravel disentangles Lokella from all past expectations. Opening with the scathing “Your Music Sucks,” a spoken-word send-up of troll-dom, the album shows no fear, embracing disparate styles, without sacrificing a shred of the band’s riff-driven intensity. Clocking in at exactly one hour, Lokella lays it all bare on songs like “Bleed For You” and “The Drain,” bruised but not broken, and boldly pushing themselves, and boundaries, further than ever before.
M.I.C.BOOK & SAMIL – FORTUNE COOKIES FOR BREAKFAST
Hungry in every sense of the word, this collaboration between two of the hardest hustling members of the Grand Rapids hip-hop scene pairs backpack raps with chill, jazz-inflected beats. Lyrically dense with guest spots from Wuzee, Wills Piff, Rello, and Words of the Voice, the 13-track record floats with a near effortless perfection; tackling tough, personal subjects alongside video game references on tracks like “Red Dead Redemption.” Samil’s next level sampling and signature production – also showcased on his incredible instrumental solo release A Summer Night – gives the whole thing such a laidback vibe it’s easy to go back for seconds.
PARLOR VOICE – PV
Pristine production meets gorgeous guitar-work on this fantastic full-length from Grand Rapids’ Parlor Voice. Originally something of the brainchild of lead vocalist/ multi-instrumentalist/producer Johnson Cochran, the band has continued to fill out their take on alt/psych rock in the three years since their last release. Packed with instantly catchy guitar hooks, from opener “Recite The Rain,” to lead single “Full Speed to Redemption,” to the driving “People Don’t Go, People Don’t Stay,” the album simultaneously soothes those searching for endless ‘90s indie nostalgia, while giving those eager for something new a fresh yet familiar voice to discover.
PHABIES – FIRE SEED
Folk music goes to outer space in the hands, and mind, of Phabies frontwoman Laura Hobson. Coffee shop acoustic guitar gets lifted to new heights with electric leads and synth touches, courtesy of her band, as Hobson’s strong songwriting holds the whole thing together with heartland soul. Her voice, both lyrical and literal, is the shining star in Phabies’ sky of sounds, celestial yet terrestrial, rising from the earth and the core of her being so beautifully on the album’s dense title track centerpiece, and the songs surrounding it. A phenomenal listen for anyone with a burning deep inside.
SHANKOOL – BUBBLE WORLD
Simply put, there’s no one else quite like Kalamazoo’s Shankool in the local music scene. Encapsulating the unease of our current era in enigmatic synthpop that shifts with a TikTok attention span from dance to indie with equal skill, this solo project from Noah Shankool truly eschews genres. Existing entirely in his own world, while pulling from cultures far and wide, he assails our increasingly sensationalized, hyperbolized, and polarized society on the mind-blowing “What Happens Next Will Shock You” and elsewhere. Here’s hoping his creative use of technology will help save us all from our impending post-millennial cyber soul death. ■
DECEMBER 2022 17 saltoftheearthfennville.com
Advance Tix & Menus: | 114 E Main St. Fennville | 269.561.7258 12/18/22 Schrock Bros w/ Madcat 01/08/23 Luke Winslow-King 02/05/23 Darcy Wilkin & Drew Nelson 03/19/23 Grace Theisen Band 04/02/23 Seth Bernard & Jordan Hamilton 04/23/23 Charlie Millard Band
Sunday Shows return!
FROM LAST TO FIRST:
THE NEW KINGPIN OF COMEDY
| by Eric Mitts
Humble even in victory, local comedian Seth Lee had to preface his win at this year’s “Kingpin of Comedy” competition by saying that it came as a complete surprise; and while he feels great, he felt bad knowing that there were many others in the competition who work harder than him.
“There’s, 10 or so locals that are lightyears ahead of the rest of us,” Lee said. “And winning Kingpin puts my name next to some of theirs, and that has been humbling.”
The creation of legendary longtime local comedian Brian B. (aka Brian Borbot), the annual “Kingpin of Comedy” has showcased some of the best standups in our area year after year. This year’s competition ran weekly from July to October, at the Spectrum Entertainment Complex (5656 Clyde Park Ave. SW) in Wyoming.
“This was my third time doing the Kingpin competition,” Lee said. “Last year, I went out in the first round and swore off comedy. But when I received an email to be in this year’s competition I told myself to try again and just do better.”
Having always loved making people laugh, Lee first started doing open mic comedy about 15 years ago, having grown up admiring the likes of Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and George Carlin.
“I was a hyper kid and found the stage and performing was a good outlet,” Lee said. “Years later, after some encouragement, I signed up for my first open mic which subsequently was at Sunday Night Funnies at the
Radisson Hotel on Ann Street, hosted by Brian B., and I bombed bad. But I kept coming around and getting up on stage when I could. I really liked spending time with the other comedians and watching them work on their craft.”
Although Lee was around when the Kingpin of Comedy competition started, he said he was nowhere near where he needed to be to compete with other locals back then. Although he did go on to host an open mic at Rocky’s Bar about five years ago, and had previously competed in both Kingpin of Comedy, and the Funniest Person in Grand Rapids competition at Dr. Grin’s, he explained that his commitment to the local scene has been pretty minimal in recent years, typically only doing two or three open mics a month at best.
Over the months of this year’s competition he said he put more into his comedy than he has in years.
“Winning Kingpin was a real honor,” Lee said. “It was a great feeling going from last, last year, to first this year. I worked hard these past few months doing more open mics than I’ve ever done before, really taking some time to write new stuff and try to develop it in front of an audience. I’m thrilled to have the title of Kingpin. I’m very proud to have my name next to some of the other fantastic comedians who have also won the competition.”
In addition to taking home the title of Kingpin of Comedy, Lee won $500 cash, and a prize package from Craig’s Cruisers, Midtown (formerly The Listening Room), Spectrum Entertainment Complex, and LaughFest. He’s also slated to take
part in Sunday Night Funnies’ annual LaughFest event next March.
“All of the prizes from winning the competition were awesome,” Lee said.
“With the prize money, I immediately went to the casino, won a little more, and bought a new phone. The LaughFest show is a real treat for me. I have never been a part of LaughFest, and I feel honored. I’m nervous, but also very excited.”
For those yet to see Lee perform, he takes on everything from the personal to the political.
“My jokes are mostly meant to be topical, clever, and inclusive, meaning I’ll poke fun at everyone,” Lee said.
“Because we’re all different, which means there’s something uniquely funny about everyone. Things that make me laugh are cats, political humor and people who are able to laugh at themselves.”
And as for the Grand Rapids comedy scene, he reiterated that he feels like he hasn’t been a big part of it recently, but still holds the community with the highest respect.
“The Grand Rapids comedy scene is a lot of things: it’s underrated, rough, exhausting, and rarely financially rewarding,” Lee said. “However in the past two years it, to me, it has really started to be something special. There’s some real talent in this town and a very solid group of welcoming, motivated and helpful people that want others to succeed. Open mics have opened up all over town, and some venues are starting to see pretty regular crowds, which for us has been fantastic.” ■
18 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com /// COMEDY
Seth Lee. COURTESY PHOTOS
Local comedian Seth Lee takes title, leading to LaughFest appearance next year
DECEMBER 2022 19
Full of Flavor and Funky Infusions
| by Zachary Avery
After nearly five years of operating their frozen popsicle business, Any Colour You Want, co-founders Korin Hollinshead and Jason Richardson have made the move to Fulton with the recently opened takeout joint, Black Napkin. Housing a wide selection of beloved icy treats, as well as a new menu of hot American fare, this near-Eastown establishment is quickly becoming a go-to for local burger and fry enthusiasts.
“Since day one, we’ve had people who come every single day,” Hollinshead said. “It’s wild that we have regulars and we’re only three weeks in.”
At Black Napkin, Hollinshead and Richardson offer a range of funky food infusions found within their smash burger, fried chicken sando and french fry recipes—and customers are already raving over the flavor. Whether you’re in the mood for an olive burger-inspired “Fussy Hussy” or some surprisingly addictive “Custy Dust Fries,” there is room for revelation for even the pickiest of eaters, with praise coming especially for their experimental fry seasoning.
“The kimchi and parmesan fries are kind of the wild card,” Hollinshead said. “They’re not that far out, it’s like a little spice. It’s not that crazy. I mean, it sounds crazy, but it’s delicious.” Other unique but subtle seasonings currently include red wine vinegar, and roasted serrano chili & chili cheese.
As it stands, this strip of Fulton Street has been in need of some fresh cuisine. After the same storefront corner had closed its doors indefinitely under the name “Rinaldi’s Pizza and Sub Shop,” the lot stood empty for just over a year. Around that same time, an active popsicle business was finding great success at venues such as farmers markets and music festivals, but their rapid growth demanded rapid expansion. What had started as 100 percent word-of-mouth was now turning into a West MI staple, and Hollinshead knew they needed to grow.
“We’ve got to go all-in on what we’re building or call it quits,” Hollinshead said. “So, that’s when we started looking for a storefront.”
And so, Black Napkin was born. Open four days a week with a small but dedicated crew, Richardson brings his many years of experience from Green Well and other popular in-town offerings to cater a menu fit for everyone; the likes of which none have seen before.
“(Richardson) is super smart, in that he likes to have a nice template that’s structured and easy, and then he can play with flavors within that,” Hollinshead said. “He’s a wizard. He’s a wizard at flavors, he really is.”
Hollinshead’s original soda recipes are not something to be missed either. Coming in such forms as “Elderberry Cream Soda,” “Pistachio Orange Blossom” and “Ruby Red Fresca” (with many more to come), the Black Napkin team hopes that customer enthusiasm for strange, new flavors will not be restricted to just popsicles.
“I have a billion syrups that I want to do, that I’ve been working on,” Hollinshead said. “The plan is to see how they’re received and potentially, down the road, have canned grab-n-go available.”
With such an expansive, original menu, it’s no surprise that Black Napkin has managed to turn some heads. But before you even set foot in the establishment, the storefront’s colorful murals and friendly-looking mascot welcome you in. This mascot, a logo that appears on many of the restaurant’s available merchandise, resembles that of an octopus, but one with an appetite for all things fried.
“Aaron McCall did all of this. We were like, ‘We want some sort of creature with multiple arms and a popsicle and a burger and a soda incorporated somehow,’ and that was his first go, and he nailed it,” Hollinshead said.
For many months, it was this very same cephalopod that greeted the average passerby who then may have wondered what was next for the corner storefront. The mysterious “Black Napkin” was enough to keep anyone interested, granting Hollinshead and Richardson’s new business with an unanticipated level of hype.
“We haven’t really put anything into marketing, we’ve just naturally gained whatever followers we had,” Hollinshead said. “I think that’s been the driving force of how busy we’ve been. It’s a lot of people who live in the neighborhood, a lot of people from social media, and then there have been a couple of news articles.”
A word comes to mind when thinking of Black Napkin: organic. With farm-fresh supplies and a naturally building fanbase, it seems this eatery has all the ingredients necessary to whip up a new neighborhood favorite. And what do Hollinshead and Richardson think of their sudden success?
“It’s really cool to see people branch out because they trust us, and then get minds blown,” Hollinhead said. “Which is I think the most fun for Jason and I, to have people try something new.” ■
20 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com /// DINING
BLACK NAPKIN 966 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids blacknapkingr.com
Founders Pop Collaboration, Big Malcolm, Le College Dropout.
DECEMBER 2022 21
Our crystal ball is clearing up for 2023, and things are looking bright.
Sure, there are still plenty of challenges to face, from rising costs across every industry to continued staffing issues, but the people we talked to all around West Michigan are looking forward to moving into the new year and getting a fresh start.
If 2022 was the year of catching up and learning lessons, 2023 is the year of moving forward and applying that knowledge. Here’s what just a few industry leaders had to say after looking into their own crystal balls.
22 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com MAIN FEATURE
WHAT’S BEEN THE SILVER LINING OF THE CHALLENGES OVER THE PAST COUPLE YEARS?
The challenges gave us an opportunity to be creative and work together as a team to routinely curate something new through each pivot, and out of that came State on the Street, which has become a part of our DNA. State on the Street is when we close the street in front of the theater to vehicles and turn it into an outdoor performance space.
We saw strength in numbers through joined forces of independent venues nationally through National Independent Venue Association and the local level with the Michigan Independent Venue and Promoter Association. This created open dialogue, comradery, and some really great friendships.
We learned how important the theatre is to the community, not just at the local level, but
nationally as well, as Kalamazoo State Theatre was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places and received a Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. This place matters to people and is a thread in the fabric of their lives. When you say you work at Kalamazoo State Theatre, people’s faces light up and they immediately share their memories, their favorite shows, and what they’re looking forward to.
WHAT IS THE THEATER LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
Now that we’ve installed air conditioning in our venue, we’re looking forward to year-round live entertainment! We look forward to attracting top-tier talent to our area and showcasing those who are already here as we continue our mission to preserve our historic venue by providing diverse programming that is relevant to the community.
Casey Kornoelje, Owner
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR SILVER LINING OF RECENT TIMES?
Believe it or not, the cannabis business is full of silver linings. We’ve experienced a bit of an uphill battle since our inception—being the only locally owned entity in Grand Rapids and lacking any big financial backing definitely put us at a disadvantage in this highly competitive market. But I also believe we’ve been able to use these challenges to our benefit. Our story is what sets us apart from our competitors. Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned to really lean into who we are as a business and a brand, and hopefully our reputation will help carry us through the uncertainties of this changing cannabis market.
WHAT ARE YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR SILVER LINING OF THE PAST COUPLE YEARS?
It’s been quite a ride opening a venue in late 2019, just the grind of opening up a place and booking the artists and marketing and getting the word out, only to of course have the shutdown of 2020 and then again in 2021. I’d say the silver lining in a weird way was the need to start our outdoor “Listening Lawn” series in our piazza at Studio Park due to the fact that the indoor venue was shut down during the pandemic. What started as an attempt to just operate outdoors turned in to a really great music series, in 2022 we hosted acts such as Steve Earle, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hiss Golden Messenger, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and so many more.
This year for Midtown has just been getting back in the game. Being a new venue, we have to start back where we left off, so this year has been the rest of that “first year open” in a way. We are still learning about what types of programming work, what people enjoy buying tickets to attend,
what they may eat or drink while here, it’s all just learning and adjusting.
It’s all top-notch local, regional, national, and international talent we have here, but some shows that sell 500 plus in some markets could sell 25 here, while some that don’t do well in other markets sell out here without even needing to market them. It’s quite a game, folks.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
Again, just dialing in our brand new music venue here at Studio Park and really concentrating on a successful year producing live entertainment. I’m super proud of this venue, it turned out exactly like we wanted—it’s an intimate and comfortable space with absolutely pristine acoustics and audio. There’s a story with every one of the shows. We’re really looking forward to another full year of operations for our community here in West Michigan and downtown Grand Rapids, come join us!
I think 2023 is going to be a pivotal year for cannabis in Grand Rapids. When Pharmhouse opened in March of 2020, the world was in the midst of a pandemic. We were the second provisioning center in the city, and we experienced the financial benefit of people being stuck at home, riding out the uncertainty with the help of their favorite strains and gummies. Since then, we’ve seen a massive shift in cannabis related business. Prices and availability of product have been volatile, to say the least. In 2023, I’m looking forward to seeing the cannabis market in Michigan continue to stabilize. And on a personal level, I’m excited to see where this year takes us as a business. We have some big plans in store for Pharmhouse Wellness.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR INDUSTRY AT LARGE?
The cannabis market in West Michigan has been a rollercoaster ride. It takes time to work out the kinks in any new endeavor, especially one as novel and massive as legal weed. Over the past two years we’ve seen a massive shift in pricing of product as the market has increased supply from licensed growers. But as time goes by, we’ve learned from our mistakes as a business and I believe the governing bodies have learned from theirs as well. While a bit painful in the short term, what we’re seeing is a shift towards a more stable and sustainable system of legal cannabis that will help benefit patients, consumers, and communities. And personally, I’m excited to be a part of it.
WHAT WAS THE GREATEST THING THE INTERSECTION LEARNED IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO?
I think we’re trying to get back to our roots a bit more. After the re-opening in summer of 2021, it became clear that we were going to have less shows, as many of the established touring acts went and played major markets first and were not necessarily targeting Grand Rapids for shows. We started taking some more chances on emerging artists and it’s been great to see those shows do so
well. In terms of silver linings, I’m super grateful our core staff has stayed intact.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN
Looking forward to a more “normal” touring season for the first 6 months of 2023. It feels like were getting more shows, bigger shows and it’s super exciting! However, we want to keep expanding our Next From Nashville series with emerging country artists, as well as our BASSMINT series in the Mint.
DECEMBER 2022 23
Kalamazoo State Theatre | Stephanie Hinman, Executive Director
Midtown (previously Listening Room) | Quinn Mathews, Director of Music and Programming
The Intersection | Scott Hammontree, Partner and Talent Buyer
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR SILVER LINING OF THE PAST COUPLE YEARS?
One silver lining of the challenges, including us closing Royals after a brief re-open, is that it’s allowed us to take a step back and view operations in a different light. It’s really easy to get caught up in the emotion running our businesses; we’re in the hospitality profession and for the most part, we’ll bend over backwards to make things hospitable for our guests… even if that means throwing good money at bad.
Broadway Grand Rapids Meghan Distel, President
WHAT WAS THE GREATEST THING BROADWAY GR LEARNED IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO?
Learning to adapt to changing circumstances was critical for Broadway Grand Rapids over the past 12 months, as we welcomed audiences back after a 22-month hiatus during the pandemic. The unexpected will continue to happen but learning to communicate promptly and be transparent has been critical in maintaining trust with our customers. There is a new appreciation for attending live performing arts, gratitude for the ability to gather again, and a realization of just how much the arts add to quality of life in Grand Rapids.
WHAT ARE YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
Broadway Grand Rapids will launch into the 35th Anniversary season in the fall of 2023 with renewed dedication for bringing world-class Broadway entertainment to Grand Rapids, as well as a new commitment to improve equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility to the Broadway in West Michigan. A new accessibility program called Broadway Arts Access was introduced in September that will help to break down the barriers that exist for many to attend a Broadway show. Broadway GR seeks to create an environment where everyone can experience the magic of Broadway and feel a sense of belonging.
The pandemic allowed us to make the excuse, “Let’s just give this business a chance to operate under normal conditions,” but the truth is, there no such thing as normal conditions. Just when you think everything is going well, a cooler goes down or you have a plumbing back up on a Friday night. It’s just the nature of our business.
But we’ve been able to take a step back and say “what would be so bad if we just let this close?” Sure, there’s a little bruise to the pride in something not working, but the relief on the other end is so much greater. No more stressing about making payroll, the potential strain it could have on other operations,
constantly tweaking things until you find the right formula, etc.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR INDUSTRY WILL FARE IN 2023?
With the numbers of people returning to restaurants in pre-pandemic levels, but the costs of operations significantly more, places that were struggling before the pandemic will be in a far worse position. I think many will ask themselves, “is this really what we should be doing?” In our case, and in this particular restaurant (Royals), it wasn’t.
In 2023, we’re most excited about maximizing the potential of our existing restaurants, The Winchester, Donkey, and Hancock. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that’s people lives and schedules are not slowing down. We made a big investment in Donkey in 2022 with a kitchen expansion and a dedicated takeout window. The takeout portion of the business has increased quarter after quarter. We’re looking at ways to make this more convenient for our guests, our operations, and allowing our brand to be relevant for people that can’t make it into our stores.
| Michele Ary, Brand Manager
WHAT’S BEEN THE SILVER LINING OF THE PAST COUPLE YEARS?
At BarFly, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to take a look at what we are doing, why we are doing it and how we can make it better. For example, at HopCat, we were able to take a step back and strategize our beer buying practices. No, we don’t have 100+ taps at any of our locations anymore, but with a limited amount of taps, we are now more sustainable, and we are confident that we are bringing our guests beer the way the brewer intended.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
In 2023, BarFly is focused on getting back to our roots.
We were founded on the practices of sustainability and putting your community first while bringing you the best damn beer we can find. Next year ,we plan to reinvest in our sustainability & charitable practices.
HOW IS THE INDUSTRY CHANGING?
The hospitality industry has never been a perfect industry. With inflation, supply chain, and staffing retention struggles, it’s important to remind ourselves of the reason why we do what we do. In one interaction, you have the opportunity to make an impression, make someone’s day, and to be a part of their story. Don’t miss out on these chances.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO?
We’ve learned a lot in the past year, but I think our greatest lesson has been in adaptability. We’ve narrowed our menu, focusing on our most popular items and best sellers, and diversified our business model, meeting customers on their terms. In Grand Rapids, we offer catering, carryout, delivery, and third-party delivery in addition to dine-in. In our Detroit Metro locations, we’ve added a new food truck, a ghost kitchen location, and additional concessions agreements. This allows us to be flexible in an incredibly dynamic industry; as one line of business softens (for example, our food truck is dormant in the winter) we’re able to shift to another.
24 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com
All In Hospitality (Donkey, Hancock, The Winchester) | Paul Lee, Co-Owner
Slows Bar BQ | Terry Perrone, Owner
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
We’re looking forward to the continued return to normalcy in 2023 – people are increasingly more comfortable getting together again. We’ve seen our catering numbers rebound throughout 2022, and we’re looking forward to that trend continuing for our upcoming events.
HOW IS YOUR INDUSTRY AT LARGE CHANGING?
The last few years brought unprecedented challenges, but they also sparked innovation. The restaurant industry is more adaptable and nimble than ever, with a heavy emphasis on technology and customer convenience. Things like online ordering, QR codes, and ordering kiosks are all here to stay!
San Chez | Cindy Schneider, Co-Owner
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO?
We have learned as much in the past two years as the total 28 years prior to Covid. Covid was like riding a roller coaster—the only ones that get hurt are the ones who jump off. We hung on with every possible restraint. The silver lining is knowing that our team enjoys their jobs and their lives here and at home. We strive for creativity in our art of both food and beverage. It’s nourishing for sure.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
We hope 2023 holds great entertainment opportunities for GR. It brings people to this amazing city. Historically, everytime the gas prices go high, our restaurants lose sales. So I guess I would say lower gas prices (even though I drive an electric car, lol). I hope Michigan’s economy stays strong. We have so many new opportunities as an amazing state to live and work in. I think Michigan’s on the right track for growth.
HOW IS YOUR INDUSTRY AT LARGE DOING IN THE PRESENT MOMENT?
As a member of restaurant associations, I follow closely what their surveys convey and track. They show good signs of recovery, but it might take 2-3 years to accomplish this. I hope the lost Restaurant Revitalization Fund money can be distributed to the many restaurants that missed out on it due to political disagreement. In Michigan, we were either closed or restricted for 463 days during Covid. That’s hard to fathom for most people, but our industry was hard hit during the cold months. So many restaurants closed, but we will bounce back as an industry. Humans love to eat and socialize without cooking or cleaning up. And many people can’t cook— that’s the secret to restaurant success. Don’t tell.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR SILVER LINING OF RECENT TIMES?
We got to learn and seek out different methods to keep us moving forward, ones that we wouldn’t have under different circumstances. With opening our doors October 2020 and closing them again within 30 days, we had to be extremely dynamic and shift our entire model to take out and retail. We found quickly that with an increased effort and focus, we were able to strive and survive until things opened again. This taught us valuable lessons early on and helped us look outside the box to persevere.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
We are fortunate enough to be looking
at a very bright year in 2023! We recently completed a kitchen expansion and are in the process of adding an event space (opening in early 2023) next to the cocktail bar. We also have several core product barrels coming of age, which will make for some fun and experimental releases.
HOW’S THE INDUSTRY AT LARGE DOING?
The craft spirits industry is seeing tremendous change. The Michigan Craft Distillers Association has been hard at work the last few years to help get a number of laws passed, which will give small craft distillers more opportunities to get product awareness and put our products on shelves.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR SILVER LINING?
In the wake of all the challenges New Holland has faced over these past couple years, a silver lining has been the release of our Origin Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Released in June 2022, the award-winning Origin is a great addition to our Dragon’s Milk brand. Origin has really taken off and we are thrilled to see the excitement for it.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2023?
Next year is going to be a big year for us with the opening of our Battle Creek brewpub. This long-awaited brewpub will be located in the heart of downtown Battle Creek and will bring nearly 75 jobs to the area. I can’t wait to show off our new space and create savored moments with the Battle Creek community.
HOW HAVE THE PAST COUPLE YEARS TREATED SHORT’S?
This wasn’t a great year in terms of growth (for the whole craft industry). We stopped distributing two brands: Arcadia Brewing & Beaches Hard Seltzer. But considering where the industry is at, we had a good year. However, we had a GREAT year with Local’s Light, which is now Michigan’s best-selling craft lager! This is super amazing for us. We also launched our very first non-alcoholic product, a collaboration with Grammy-award winning musician and Michigan-native Billy Strings called Thirst Mutilator. We’ll be continuing to expand distribution on store shelves and through e-commerce retailers like Amazon.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO
We are so pumped for 2023! We have many cool projects in the works, from product releases—Power of Love is coming in January—to collaborations, to a new website, which is the final phase of the brand updates we’ve been working on all year. We’ll be announcing a new pre-order concept for some of the most coveted Short’s beers late this year (Black Cherry Porter, anyone?) and will be celebrating Huma all the Short’s-est Month (February) with a Huma variety pack with Hazy Huma and Humongous Huma and give folks a chance to win their own home bar. Mostly, we are really looking forward to getting back out in the market in 2023 and raising a glass or two of Local’s Light with our friends and fans. ■
DECEMBER 2022 25
Wonderland Distilling | Allen Serio, Owner
New Holland Brewing Co. | Matt Hoeksema, President
Short’s Brewing Co. | Scott Newman-Bale, CEO
GIFT GUIDE LAS T- MINUTE
LETTER WRITING SETS
| by Revue Staff
Uh oh! It’s December, and you still haven’t bought any gifts. That’s okay, we get it—November was busy, Thanksgiving didn’t help, and Black Friday isn’t worth the trouble. The good news is, you’re not alone. The bad news is, you better get to it while the getting’s good!
If you want to make sure your gift actually arrives in time for the holidays, while helping support the community around you and picking up unique gifts you can’t find anywhere else, we suggest shopping local. Here are just a few of our ideas for you last-minute shoppers out there.
DOCTORS ORDERS COCKTAIL KIT
Periwinkle Fog | 125 Ottawa Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
It’s time to bring back the art of letter writing, and these specialty sets can help you do just that. There’s a variety of options, which all come with high quality writing paper, assorted stickers and labels, and matching envelopes.
Periwinkle Fog also has writing quills made with real feathers!
ATLANTIC SEA SALT SPRAY
Fox Naturals | 619 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
Fox Naturals makes natural, botanical-forward, yet thoroughly tested skincare products, from face creams to lotions, serums, perfume, bar soap and more. If you want to get a gift anyone could use, consider the Sea Salt Spray, a simple product perfect for giving any hair textured, beachy waves.
FIREFLY MOSAICS JEWELRY
Earthly Delights at Amy Zane 132 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo
This gift shop in Kalamazoo is filled with jewelry, apparel, home décor, art, and just about every other gift you could want. For the eclectic in your life, check out the brilliant, kaleidoscopic jewelry of Firefly Mosaics, with earrings and necklaces that will always turn heads.
The Bridge | 18 W. 8th St., Holland
This shop in Holland is focused on fair trade gifts and home goods, including metal works like this one from artisans in India (they also carry a handheld telescope from the same artisans). This sundial compass is the perfect little trinket for the travel lover in your life—or even friends who just like neat little trinkets!
SO MANY BOOKS MUG
Schuler Books | 1660 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids
During the holiday season, Schuler has so many gifts, it’s hard to know where to start. Socks, bookmarks, candles, journals, pencil sets, pins, patches, stickers, plushies, puzzle toys— the list goes on! Here’s just one option: An official Schuler campfire mug for cozy days, made from sturdy ceramic.
THE MOTH GAME OF STORYTELLING
Rebel | 1555 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
Rebel is sort of the king of gift shops, thanks to their bold personality and massive selection in a cozy space. For the loved one who has trouble opening up, or has moved away, or is new to their job, this conversation “game” from The Moth is absolutely perfect—and stylish, to boot.
Eastern Kille Distillery
700 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
634 Wealthy St., Grand Rapids
Eastern Kille makes award-winning spirits and has a staff full of avid mixologists. Let them do the work for you in crafting a delicious cocktail with one of their kits. The Doctors Orders kit comes with your choice of gin, and “doctor’s sauce,” with honey-sage syrup, ginger syrup, lemon and lapsang. Six easy cocktails, coming right up!
LOCAL GIFT CARDS
Of course, the easiest way to please when you’ve truly run out of time is to buy a gift card. It may seem impersonal, but knowing someone’s favorite restaurant or shop means a lot! Restaurants, breweries, specialty shops, escape rooms—they all have gift cards. Consider somewhere like HopCat, a crowdpleaser with locations all over! ■
revuewm.com /// SHOPPING
DECEMBER 2022 27
28 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com
DECEMBER 2022 29
ARTRAT: A GALLERY FOR THE COMMUNITY
During this year’s recent ArtPrize festivities, visitors to the city may have noticed one additional venue added to their regular walking route: ArtRat Gallery.
Located on South Division in the heart of Grand Rapids’ Heartside neighborhood, this brick-and-mortar storefront was inspired by co-founders Nancy Tobin and Matthew Rothenberg, the former being the gallery’s widely celebrated resident artist and a returning native to the West Michigan area.
“It was a little bit of a coming-out party for us, to actually be an ArtPrize venue,” Rothenberg said. “A couple of our artists even won.”
Included in the gallery’s awarded artists was Tobin herself, receiving a placement in the City Top Ten for her piece, High Water. A technicolor diptych with branching, tendrillike paper outlines, this particular work
| by Zachary Avery
exemplifies Tobin’s (and ArtRat’s) overall style: Pattern, layering and color. Tobin’s iconic look and painting expertise has only grown throughout her long career, but an anticipated return for herself and husband Rothenberg to her hometown, Grand Rapids, was sure to bring up new ideas.
“I was looking for a studio space just to paint, and we had heard about Dwelling Place, so I contacted them,” Tobin said. “(They) had this space available, and I just fell in love with it at first sight. Then, the wheels started turning.”
It wasn’t long before ArtRat began to put roots down, first with its storefront opening last year, and then with its involvement with ArtPrize 2022. The gallery’s rotating collection was also frequently updated, following themes such as “Woods Walk” or “Jewel Box,” allowing
30 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com/arts REVUEWM.COM/ARTS
46 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids artrat.us
Tobin to feature her comprehensive multimedia collection.
“There would be no way that we could have a beautiful gallery like this and a big storefront downtown in San Francisco where we lived,” Rothenberg said. “This is our first brick-and-mortar business.”
ArtRat is just one of many stores that have recently set up shop in the historic Heartside neighborhood. Sharing sidewalks with Premier skate shop and a stone’s throw from GRNoir Wine & Jazz, it would seem that this artsy momand-pop has struck gold. Afterall, their home on South Division is only a block or so from some of downtown Grand Rapids’ most popular new eateries and storefronts, like Social Misfits or Oh, Hello Co. Paper & Gifts.
And yet, Tobin and Rothenberg are concerned that, for certain downtown regulars, walking the extra block to reveal some of the neighborhood’s many hidden gems might seem daunting or untested. Even with its burgeoning thrift scene, the shopping district is lacking in foot traffic.
“Trying to position ourselves in the community seems really important,” Rothenberg said. “There’s a lot of great things in this neighborhood, and we want to tell the story of the neighborhood.”
So, the gallery has initiated several community programs to activate the district’s commercial appeal, from a weekly shop-spotlight community blog to hosting free open-mic nights (with complimentary house band and backline) for local musicians right in their gallery space. To Rothenberg and Tobin, this experiment has shown that ArtRat
may be perfect for any kind of artistic performance, musical or otherwise.
“We’re thinking that serious, possibly working, musicians can play here for fun and to meet other people,” Rothenberg said. “We’re also really putting out a call to cross some genres and bring in some different groups of people to mix it up together.”
Attendees might also enjoy ArtRat’s upcoming “Americana Sundays” line-up, where regional folk and rock musicians, such as The Schrock Brothers and Drew Nelson, will perform in this beautiful, intimate setting. For select performances, free appetizers are even offered to concert-goers at ArtRat’s cross-street neighbor, Rockwell Republic.
“We’re trying to plug the neighborhood in,” Rothenberg said. “A space like this is best activated when it’s part of a community.”
For ArtRat visitors during this holiday shopping season, there’ll be plenty to get involved with, too. From the gallery’s local artist Holiday ArtMart on December 3 and 4, to the city’s incredibly popular “Shop Hop” on December 15, there is certainly a lot to look forward to. And for Tobin and Rothenberg, despite only having moved into ArtRat just a year ago, they look forward to many more years to come: For ArtRat Gallery, and for the continued growth of South Division.
“We’re not the only new thing in this neighborhood, there’s a lot that’s going on,” Rothenberg said. “If you haven’t been to Heartside in a while, it’s totally worth checking out.” ■
DECEMBER 2022 31
(Left to right) Gray Reynolds performing at ArtRat, Matthew Rothenberg and Nancy Tobin, Art by Nancy Tobin, Hai Cuu Experience at ArtRat. COURTESY PHOTOS
CONNIE HAN: MAKING JAZZ COOL AGAIN
| by John Kissane
Connie Han always knew she would be a musician.
“There was no debate about it,” Han told Revue . The child of professional musicians, she showed an early talent for piano. Classical training followed; she was glad for it, but found she was especially drawn toward the idea of creating spontaneous, improved music, which jazz made space for. At 17, she became a professional musician.
Now 26, Han’s coming to Kalamazoo with the Connie Han Trio, having carved out a niche for herself as a jazz pianist both steeped in tradition and determined to brave new territory. She’s been developing her own sound for years, across four albums so far.
“Jazz is a heritage art form, and there’s a lineage that needs to be honored. It’s a language; you need to learn it. Not even thinking about ‘when am I going to sound like me.’ That’s something that comes organically—organically and methodically. I’ve listened to so much that I know now how to create my own language. It’s something that happens naturally, if you just do the work.” She paused. “I know that sounds uncreative, but it’s honestly not.”
would master either needs to have the fundamentals down, while remaining open to improvisation. “Being human is crazy,” she said. “You can be deeply philosophical and also the most savage primal animal. Really, jazz very much is sex.”
Audience members, then, can expect an engaging show. Han’s an engaging, emotive performer. But none of that would matter if it weren’t for the music. “I’m not some bimbo, excuse my language, dressing this way to distract from my lack of talent. I have the talent. I’ve done the hard work.”
On December 11, audiences can expect music from, among others, Stephen Sondheim. Han said of Sondheim that he is one of the more provocative writers in the American songbook. “He’s one of the first musical theater writers to create a story as macabre and morbid and gothic as Sweeney Todd. He’s a
really amazing modern musical theater voice.”
She will play her own compositions as well, including music from Secrets of Inanna, her fourth and most recent album. Based on ancient Mesopotamian myth, the album was inspired by Inanna, a goddess of, among other attributes, love, beauty, fertility, and war: a divine woman of earthiness and bravery who dies only to be reborn as the Morning Star.
In describing Inanna, Han refers to the goddess’ self-assurance, sexuality, audacity. Passionate and determined? That sounds like Han to me. It’s not for nothing that DownBeat magazine referred to her as “The Jazz Warrior-Goddess.” It’s a description that could sound overblown, at least until you hear the music.
But it’s best heard live, as Han has pointed out. ■
359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo Dec. 11, 4 p.m. thegilmore.org
She recognizes that jazz has changed over time. Initially, it was considered provocative and even dangerous music; now, it’s been institutionalized. “That has some good aspects: there’s money and an audience for it. But it’s also led to this cold, homogenized product. Individuality gets snuffed out, which is really ironic.”
Han hasn’t allowed the culture to shave down her own individuality. On album covers, on her Instagram account, and in concert, she dresses boldly, sexily: She wants to be seen.
“I enjoy it, but it’s also a rebellion. Jazz used to be really cool! I add some sexy to it. I flaunt what I’ve got.”
The music has its commonalities with sex; after all, anyone who
32 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com
Han. COURTESY PHOTOS /arts
RISING STAR: CONNIE HAN TRIO
The Gilmore Wellspring Theater
DECEMBER 2022 33
In 2022, arts organizations are ready and raring to go, with incredible lineups of concerts, symphonies, dance performances, art exhibitions, musicals, plays and more. Heading into the new year, we have art from around the world, theater classics, and a smorgasbord of music. Due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, we suggest checking websites or contacting organizations to learn about safety measures in place.
CENTRAL PARK PLAYERS
421 Columbus Ave., Grand Haven centralparkplayers.org
GUYS ON ICE, Dec. 9-17
221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo farmersalleytheatre.com
A SWINGIN’ CHRISTMAS: THE TONY BENNETT MUSICAL, Through Dec. 11
FONTANA CHAMBER ARTS
359 Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 200, Kalamazoo fontanamusic.org
SAINT LAWRENCE STRING QUARTET, Dec. 2
GILMORE THEATRE/WMU THEATRE
1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo wmich.edu/theatre
NEXT STOP, BROADWAY!, Dec. 1-3
GRAND RAPIDS ART MUSEUM
101 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids artmuseumgr.org
THE JIM HENSON EXHIBITION: IMAGINATION UNLIMITED, Through Jan. 14
GRAND RAPIDS BALLET
341 Ellsworth Ave. SW, Grand Rapids grballet.com
THE NUTCRACKER, Dec. 9-18
GRAND RAPIDS CIVIC THEATRE
30 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids grct.org
MARY POPPINS, Through Dec. 18
GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY
300 Ottawa Ave. NW Ste. 100, Grand Rapids grsymphony.org
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HEALTH-WEST HOLIDAY POPS, Dec. 1-4
HOLLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
96 W. 15th St. Ste. 201, Holland hollandsymphony.org
HOLIDAY CONCERT: CELEBRATE THE SEASON, Dec. 10
KALAMAZOO CIVIC THEATRE
329 S. Park St., Kalamazoo kazoocivic.com
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, Dec. 2-18
KALAMAZOO INSTITUTE OF ARTS
314 South Park St., Kalamazoo kiarts.org
CAPTIVE BEAUTIES: DEPICTIONS OF WOMEN IN LATE IMPERIAL CHINA, Through Jan. 15 UNVEILING AMERICAN GENIUS, Through Dec. 31
KALAMAZOO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
359 Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 100, Kalamazoo kalamazoosymphony.com
HOLIDAY POPS, Dec 3-4
MUSKEGON CIVIC THEATRE
425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon muskegoncivictheatre.org
INSPECTING CAROL, Through Dec. 4
MUSEUM OF ART
296 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon muskegonartmuseum.org
JONATHAN THUNDER: MAAMAWI, Through Jan. 8
THE RISE OF PRINT: REMBRANDT & COMPANY, Through March 19
3435 Rupprecht Way, Saugatuck
WINTER ARTIST MARKET, Through Dec. 17
CENTER FOR THE ARTS
400 Culver St., Saugatuck sc4a.org
SCOTTY JACOBS, Through Dec. 31 LETTUCE GROW, Through Dec. 31
URBAN INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
17 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids uica.org
SHIMMERINGS OF THE NOT YET (T)HERE, Through Feb. 11
EXTREMOPHILIA: A G’NATURAL HISTORY, Through Feb. 11 DOUBLE TAKE, Through Feb. 11
WEST MICHIGAN SYMPHONY
360 W. Western Ave. Ste. 200, Muskegon westmichigansymphony.org
CLICKITY CLACK HO HO HO, Dec. 3
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, Dec. 16
34 DECEMBER 2022 / revuewm.com
| by Revue Staff /arts
DECEMBER 2022 35