GRAM on the Green returns, showcases diversity of arts and music in GR community


Courtesy / GRAM Communications

Mary Dupuis, Staff Writer

In partnership with WYCE 88.1 FM, the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) has resurrected their annual free summer concert series, “GRAM on the Green” for the twelfth year.  

On these evenings from 4-9 p.m. admission to the museum is free and guests are welcome to spend their night on GRAM’s outdoor terrace enjoying the live music, food trucks, art-making activities, and a cash bar.

The first show of the series took place on July 29 and featured Djangophonique playing a Parisian style of jazz from the 1920s and 30s with Via & The Playboys who dabbled in more vintage sounds and themes. 

Two more shows will follow, one on Aug. 5 showcasing JROB and Bedrock with Hollywood Makeout for an indie rock and hip-hop style performance and another on Aug. 12 with Laura Rain & The Caesars, known for their blues tunes and soul music.

Music Director of WYCE, Shane German, said that in selecting this years’ artists to perform, his goal was to carry WYCE’s theme from their radio station to the stage. 

“Our tagline is, ‘A world of music,’” German said. “We play everything from jazz to hip hop to blues to indie rock, and I wanted to continue the theme [of the concert series] with the format of our station.” 

German said he not only wanted to showcase a broad selection of music from local and regional artists, but also to reflect the diversity and style of the Grand Rapids community that enjoys them. 

“I wanted a nice, eclectic, diverse mix of genres and to serve the Grand Rapids community and the music lovers in our community,” German said.”We love all types of music, so I tried to pick music suitable for all types of tastes and styles and tried to pick artists for all the great music that they do.”

Courtesy / GRAM Communications

Communications Manager at GRAM, Elizabeth Payne, said this series is a fundamental part of their efforts to continue to bring art to the community.

“GRAM on the Green with WYCE 88.1 FM is part of the Museum’s commitment to providing free and accessible experiences for our community year-round,” Payne said. “GRAM celebrates art in its many forms, and this series is the perfect way to experience art and music in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.”

Laura Rain of Laura Rain and the Caesars said she has always wanted to perform at GRAM, and loves involving the community with the arts in this way. 

“I’m really excited to be in Grand Rapids, I love it,” Rain said. “I wish we were there more often. I think the city does a really good job of bringing culture and music to the people.”

Erin Lenau of Hollywood Makeout said that the sense of community fostered by events such as this is extremely important as they were virtual, or nonexistent, for so long. 

“I really think it’s important to bring the artistry and music to the people so we all remember what a live show feels like after this long stint of not performing and not connecting with people,” Lenau said. “We need it, and the music lovers need that instant gratification of seeing the performers live. It’s a whole ecosystem in the arts culture where the patrons are equally as important as the artists themselves.”

Lenau, a Grand Rapids native, said this event is especially important to her as it’s something so special taking place right in her backyard. 

“It gives an energy and life to our city and, it feels good, like, ‘Wow I can’t believe we have this in our town,’” Lenau said. “It’s so fun, entertaining, relaxing, and unique. It’s something to feel proud of.”

JROB said the union of arts and music in events like this is an inspiration to all who witness it. 

“It’s important for the community, for one, because the art museum we have is great and whoever hasn’t been there has a chance to go in and look at the art. Then, they can also hear the art through music in the community,” JROB said. “So, I think it’s great when you connect those two together so you get other people and kids to get creative now from seeing these artistic things.”

Andrew Brown of Djangophonique agreed, and could not stress the importance of community involvement in these events enough. 

“We need art and music because it’s the thing that makes life worth living,” Brown said. “When communities get together and find ways of presenting more art and music in public spaces, that’s one of the most important things that we could be doing.”