Welcome to the Club

Afro Celtic Odyssey's Samuel Nalangrira. Photo by Marissa Hoard.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park will once again welcome talented local and regional artists to its annual Tuesday Evening Music Club concert series. Programming this year ranges from indie to jazz, folk to rock, ballet and more.

“We believe that cultural experiences like the ones available at Meijer Gardens enrich lives and create a positive ripple effect in our communities,” said Ed Krieger, CEO of the title sponsor of the series, Ayers Basement Systems. Other sponsors include Meyer Music, WYCE, Corporate Live.

The concerts take place Tuesday evenings between Memorial Day and Labor Day, starting at 7 p.m. Shows are free to Meijer Gardens members and included with admission for other guests. The amphitheater plaza gates open at 5 p.m. Shows begin at 7 p.m.

The official name of the concert series is “Ayers Basement Systems Tuesday Evening Music Club.” The 2023 lineup is as follows:

May 30: Motherland Cultural Connections + Sarena Rae
Motherland Cultural Connections teaches cultural competency through authentic educational, culinary and musical experiences. They will share music from Kenya, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, playing original folk songs with upbeat, modern, and traditional influences from across the continent. Serena Rae is a recording artist, a vocalist in local cover band Brena, a producer and lead vocalist for the Michigan chapter of the International Musicians League “Blue Water Kings,” and a founder of Music That Raised Us. She will perform original songs inspired by the stylings of Motown and classic R&B. Be prepared to dance and groove!

June 6: Jordan Hamilton + Grace Theisen
Jordan Hamilton, a cellist and poetic lyricist, overlays his live instrumentals with samples and loops to formulate a distinct spin on hip-hop. Grace Theisen, an Americana singer-songwriter from Kalamazoo, Michigan, works to push the bounds of the genre by incorporating blues, pop, and world music into her soulful vocals and songwriting. She is backed by some of West Michigan’s finest players: Carolyn Koebel on drums and percussion, Cori Somers on violin, Adam Main on electric guitar, and Sarah Fuerst on bass and background vocals.

June 13: The Carl Webb Band + Soul Syndicate
The Carl Webb Band is a downhome, eclectic fusion of rock, blues, country, and Americana. Soul Syndicate pays high-energy, pinpoint homage to R&B, soul, and classic rock favorites from various eras.

June 20: The Sweet Adelines + The Robin Connell Trio featuring Mary Rademacher
The Sweet Adelines perform a wide range of music from contemporary pop and show tunes to jazz, patriotic, and gospel—all sung a cappella, in four-part harmony, with ringing chords unique to barbershop-style music. A highly accomplished pianist-singer, Robin Connell leads her trio through original interpretations of songs old and new in a delightful blend of jazz, blues, and pop. Fronting the trio is vocalist Mary Rademacher, renowned for her signature singing and dynamic showmanship.

June 27: Franklin Park
Franklin Park, classmates from 1969, pay homage to the music of their youth—flawlessly covering the likes of The Beatles, The Byrds, The Rascals and more. Expect a fun-filled dance down memory lane.

July 4: River Rogues Jazz Band + In Full Swing
River Rogues Jazz Band, a seven-piece ensemble with over 30 years of experience, specializes in traditional and Dixieland Jazz. In Full Swing is a professional, full-size swing band that plays traditional big band music. Their vast library consists of classic songs in the styles of swing, cha-cha, tango, rumba, and waltz, while always staying true to the likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller.

July 11: CrossBow + The Moxie Strings
CrossBow, a favorite of Celtic festivals throughout the Midwest, interweaves the traditional sounds with a highly infectious modern flourish you have to move to. The Moxie Strings offer listeners the unique opportunity to experience some of the world’s best-known instruments through an electric, innovative lens. They compose the majority of their pieces and arrange melodies from many countries, resulting in a genre-blurring blend of ear-catching, mainstream melodies and foot-stomping, rock-influenced rhythms. Long a Meijer Gardens favorite, The Moxie Strings is making the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater a stop on their farewell tour.

July 18: 6 Pak
6 Pak, originally formed in 1967, is a legendary all-girl band performing the grooviest hits from that era.

July 25: Valentiger + Cole Hansen and the Heartbeats
Valentiger offers a captivating mix of indie rock, alt-country, geek rock and jangle pop.
Cole Hansen and the Heartbeats, brought up on a blend of gospel, classic country, blues, and obscure rock, has woven these early inspirations into her own original amalgam of Americana and new folk. Cole Hansen’s unique voice is powerful and commanding one minute, sweet and pure the next. Her originals are whimsical yet honest, with relatable themes and catchy, timeless melodies.

August 1: Lighting Matches + Hatchwing Rider
Lighting Matches is known for their driving guitar lines, perfectly blended vocal harmonies and thoughtful lyrics. Lighting Matches remains true to traditional roots, while pushing genre boundaries. Hatchwing Rider, lifelong traveling musicians, plays heavy-hearted folk-rock paired with a restless psychedelic Americana.

August 8: Steve Hilger and the River City Rollers
Steve Hilger and the River City Rollers have excited their audiences with high-energy electric Chicago and Texas blues for over 15 years. They will be accompanied by special guest vocalist Deborah Richmond.

August 15: Afro-Celtic Odyssey featuring Whorld, Samuel Nalangira, Carolyn Koebel, and friends
Afro-Celtic Odyssey, a fusion of African and Celtic music and dance, features the innovative Celtic/world music of Whorled, the soaring African creations of Samuel Nalangira, and a combined Afro-Celt set together with the rollicking Irish dance troupe Scoil Rince. Local favorites Carolyn Koebel and Nathan Durham lay down the rhythm section for both groups.

Ralston Bowles. Photo by Ben Weatherston

August 22: Ralston & Friends
Ralston & Friends is an evening of local music icon Ralston Bowles sharing the stage with friends and collaborators, from the community and beyond. Award-winning folk and Americana artist Ralston Bowles whose influence is global. The singer-songwriter’s  acclaimed body of work includes Carwreck Conversations and Rally at the Texas Hotel. Bowles, who is based in Grand Rapids, has toured and shared the stage with everyone from Bob Dylan to Arlo Guthrie. His musical compositions have been covered by other well known artists. In fact, a recent double-album, “Michigan Music,” compiled as a tribute to Bowles, features 33 Michigan bands and solo artists.

August 29: The Grand Rapids Ballet
The Grand Rapids Ballet returns for an exhilarating evening of dance from Michigan’s only professional ballet company. Elemental Brubeck, choreographed by Lar Lubovitch and set to the music of Dave Brubeck, will be paired with Who Cares?, choreographed by George Balanchine and accompanied by the familiar tunes of George Gershwin.

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