| WMU News
KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Concerts in the Park, one of Kalamazoo's long-standing traditions offered Sundays in June, July and August in Bronson Park, delivers a unique offering of music genres—jazz, big band, bluegrass, American roots and blues.
Sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, each concert is free and is appropriate for the entire family. Bringing picnic meals (no grilling allowed), blankets or lawn chairs are encouraged. Each concert begins at 4 p.m., and the rain location is First United Methodist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave. Notice will be posted on kalamazooarts.org and Facebook if the concert is moved indoors due to inclement weather.
As a special treat to concertgoers, Pop City Popcorn will be selling popcorn and water in Bronson Park.
Besides weekly concerts, recipients of the 2015 Community Arts Awards will be celebrated Sunday, July 19 at 4:30 p.m. The Community Arts Awards recognize, validate and celebrate the people, programs and organizations that positively impact the Kalamazoo Community in and through the Arts. In collaboration with the Stulberg International String Competition, the Arts Council is welcoming 2009 Stulberg gold medalist double bassist Nicolas Schwartz.
Other supporters of Concerts in the Park are the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, PNC Bank, First Presbyterian Church and the City of Kalamazoo. Additional support is provided by WMUK 102.1 and Adams Outdoor Advertising.
The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, founded in 1966, is a nonprofit organization with the mission to support, promote and fund artists and arts organizations in the greater Kalamazoo area.
June 21, Kalamazoo Concert Band
The Kalamazoo Concert Band, an adult wind and percussion instrumental ensemble, was founded in 1961. Now in its 54th season, the KCB is one of Michigan's oldest adult metropolitan bands. It has performed for the ASBDA National Convention at Interlochen, the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, the Association of Concert Bands 2011 National Convention in Muskegon and four times at the former Midwestern Music Conference at the University of Michigan. A longtime performer for the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo's Concerts in the Parks, the KCB, under the direction of Assistant Conductor Brian Shetterly, will present a varied program of marches, overtures, Broadway and pop music.
June 28, Don Middlebrook and Pearl Divers
Starting in 1991, Don Middlebrook and Pearl Divers began a musical quest up and down the west coast of Michigan. What began as fun and frolic has turned into 24 years of travel and music. Over those past 24 years, nine CDs have been recorded and over 150 dates played each year. Airplay has become commonplace, like that found at WCSX FM in Detroit, and Internet web play has had international activity. Middlebrook and the band have performed on national radio with Mitch Albom and G. Gordon Liddy, they have toured and recorded with Greg "Fingers" Taylor, Jimmy Buffett's harmonica player.
July 12, Celery Flats Music Festival
Celery Flats Music Festival features eight Kalamazoo area bluegrass and Americana acts in a free concert. The noon to 4:30 p.m. music festival at the Celery Flats Historical Area is a chance to hear some of the best local bands and performers in a concert-friendly park while raising funds for the Friends of the Parks group, formed to support Portage's 18 parks. The event will also feature kids activities including an "instrument petting zoo".
Sponsored by the K'zoo Folklife Organization, Kalamazoo Council of Greater Kalamazoo and Friends of the Parks; the afternoon of music will feature music by The Sentimental Journey Band, Deadwood Bluegrass Band, The Rysengas, The Crescendo Fiddlers, Picasso's Apprentice, Steve Barber, Cosgrove Classical Guitars, Carrie McFerrin and Company, and Double Strung.
Admission is a free-will donation to the Friends of the Parks.
July 19, Community Arts Awards and Nicholas Schwartz, Double Bass
Nicholas Schwartz, originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, has already distinguished himself as one of the best bassists of his generation. He was one of the youngest winners ever of the ISB Solo Competition, also receiving the Commission prize. In 2009, Schwartz received both the Gold Medal and the Bach Prize in the Stulberg International String Competition. It is the only time in its 38-year-history that a double bassist had received either honor. Since then he has won the USA International Music Competition's College Division competition and has appeared as a guest artist at the Texas Double Bass symposium.
Schwartz is a member of Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, widely known as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. He was in the Karajan Akademie of the Berlin Philharmonic and has been a longtime member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Stulberg International String Competition is unique in the field of music competitions because of its longevity, strong reputation, and its focus on young musicians. Founded in 1975, the Stulberg’s mission is to promote excellence in string instrument performance by gifted young artists under the age of 20.
July 26, Toppermost
Toppermost performs and authentic Beatles Concert which is comprised of a concert and an act. It is the most accurate vocal Beatles tribute in the country. The group has been entertaining all ages for 15 years throughout the Midwest.
Aug. 2, Yolonda Lavender
Yolonda Lavender is a multifaceted artist serving as the executive director of the Black Arts and Cultural Center in Kalamazoo and a national recording artist with the independent label Truth Tone Records. Lavender is a singer and songwriter and a native of Kalamazoo. She has performed on stages around the country and takes pride in using her artistry to spread the messages of peace and love and to promote social justice all in an effort to evoke change.
Aug. 9, Keith Hall's Homecookin’ featuring Nashon Holloway
Keith Hall's Homecookin' brings a joyful mix of soul, Gospel, R&B, blues and jazz to Kalamazoo. Drummer Keith Hall has over 20 years of recording and world touring experience and is the host of Jazz Currents on WMUK. As a professor at WMU, he is known primarily as a jazz drummer, but his multifaceted drumming has been revealed with Homecookin' and other projects. Homecookin' features singer and songwriter Nashon Holloway's dynamic and soulful approach, along with guitarist Bryan Blowers, keyboardist Rufus Ferguson and bassist Neal Conway.
Aug. 16, Schlitz Creek
From the mountains of Kalamazoo, the Schlitz Creek Bluegrass Band presents an exciting, high-energy show featuring both traditional and contemporary bluegrass music. Instrumentals, vocal harmonies and down-home-style humor have made Schlitz Creek a favorite in the southwest Michigan area for people of all ages. The band specializes in adapting songs from popular artists like Elton John, Cheap Trick, The Beatles, The Monkees and others into bluegrass tunes that sound like they should be from the Grand Ole Opry. From bluegrass festivals to concerts in the park, back yard parties or honky tonk bars, the group travels in their 1973 Ford motor home tour bus. Learn more at schlitzcreek.com.
Aug. 23, U.S. Navy Band Cruisers
As the U.S. Navy's premier popular music group, the Cruisers feature eight of the Navy's most dynamic performers. The group takes its name from the Navy's versatile, flexible, multi-missioned ship—the cruiser—and the band lives up to their namesake by having the capabilities of playing genres of music ranging from jazz and standards, rhythm and blues, classic rock, adult contemporary and pop as well as original material. This elite group has engaged and excited audiences of all ages throughout the U.S. and abroad with world-class musicianship and high energy, fun filled performances.
For more information, visit kalamazooarts.org or contact Beth McCann, deputy director, at (269) 342-5059.
For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.