Best of the Best: Bands

Brena wins the readers’ survey, with Azz-Izz taking second place
Photo by M. Buck studio

If you’re looking to vote in our 2024 Best of Grand Rapids campaign, click here.

It just so happens that Brena, the best Band in Grand Rapids, according to our readers’ survey, features a keyboardist and lead singer, Craig Avery, from my neck of the woods. In fact, we both graduated from Mason County Central High School, though decades apart. I didn’t know this when I reached out to tell him his band is the winner of our 2023 survey, but it was fun finding that out.

LE: What year were you formed?
CA: We formed in 2007.
LE: How often do you perform together?
CA: We play an average of 150 events a year.
LE: Do you tour outside of West Michigan?
CA: We occasionally travel to northern Michigan and the Detroit area, but we mostly perform around west Michigan. We rarely travel past the state line. When we first started, we toured all along the Gulf Coast and throughout the eastern states, but we would rather stay closer to home now that we are all in our mid to late thirties.
LE: When and where was the last concert you played?
We last played at Eastern Ave Hall on November 13th. We hosted a fan appreciation party and teamed up with Friends and Families of Cystic Fibrosis as our charity beneficiary. Through silent auction donations and our generous friends and families, we were able to raise $5,351 that will go directly to local families in need.
LE: What did you do during the pandemic?
During the pandemic, we hosted some virtual performances as a band and individually, but it just wasn’t the same as playing in front of a live audience. When the weather got nicer, we were able to book lake parties and outdoor events that allowed for social distancing. Those gigs got us by, but we are so happy to be back to normal.
LE: How can we find you on the internet/Spotify?
We have some original material from our early days as a band on Spotify. Find out more at
LE: Where can our readers see you perform in Grand Rapids?
All of our upcoming shows can be found on our website We frequently perform all over west Michigan!

Brena’s next three shows are at Log Cabin, Friday, Jan. 13; The BOB, Jan. 21; Twisted Bull, Jan. 27, 2023.

2nd Place: Azz-Izz


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