Blue Bridge Music Festival to be held during ArtPrize

GVL / Emily Frye
Oil and water artwork on Sunday September 24, 2017.

GVL / Emily Frye Oil and water artwork on Sunday September 24, 2017.

Nick Kondyles

In the midst of ArtPrize, there will be live performances from West Michigan musicians on the pedestrian Blue Bridge in Grand Rapids Friday, Sept. 29, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 30, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. These performances will be part of the second annual Blue Bridge Music Festival.

“Artists have the opportunity to play a set during the festival, and each has a song entered into the ArtPrize competition, eligible for awards in the ‘time-based’ category, as well as the additional award for ‘Song of the Year,’” said Jaenell Woods, ArtPrize communications manager. ​

The Blue Bridge as a “venue” of sorts, open to the public as a walkway, will allow pedestrians to come into more direct contact with local music groups. 

Food and refreshments will be provided by HopCat, the show’s sponsor that partnered with WYCE for the event.

“WYCE booked the artists; HopCat will present the $1,000 prize for ‘Song of the Year,’ chosen by popular vote, and will also be selling the trademark ‘crack fries’ on tables provided on the bridge,” said Troy Reimink, webmaster for HopCat.

Local performers are given the opportunity to share their setlists and enter into a competition with other bands. Like other categories in ArtPrize, the selection will rely on the independent participation of voters to determine the winning artist. 

“It’s important to have music be a part of ArtPrize in any way,” said Quinn Mathews, station manager at WYCE. “Music was always a part of the fall arts celebration. With music woven into the visual arts, we want to connect the venue to the performing arts by showcasing live music.”

WYCE brought eight music groups to the festival, three of which will perform Friday and five of which will perform Saturday, including The Michiganders and The Bootstrap Boys.

Another local group, Watching for Foxes, in preparation for the release of their full-length album, will announce their tour and play an hour-long setlist at 7 p.m. Saturday. The audience will get a chance to break and interact with musicians as performances alternate. 

“The community needs to be involved in more creative gatherings like this,” said Joey Frendo, lead vocalist in Watching for Foxes. “It’s the cultivation of just another form of art. ArtPrize wants to encompass as much talent as they can and are doing it through the festival.”

Attendees will get the chance to be part of the Grand Rapids music scene that’s been building rapidly in the past five years. 

“It’s a completely free event in a great spot between Fulton and Pearl streets by the Gerald R. Ford Museum that is kind of ArtPrize central,” said Mathews. “People can get a feel for music in the local and regional scene and also stumble upon incredible West Michigan musicians. You are hearing the art when musicians perform.”

The Bridge Festival and its centralized location will generate an opportunity for Michigan-based musicians to expand their audiences by playing for those who may not have discovered them otherwise. 

“The lineup is a good mix of rock, folk, hip-hop, indie, country and blues,” Reimink said. “It’s a really solid cross-section of the music talent in West Michigan.”