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Despite the high temperatures last week Monday, a large crowd gathered at the John Ball Zoo for the weekly Jazz at the Zoo concert hosted by the West Michigan Jazz Society (WMJS). WMJS 2012 musician of the year Mark Kahny and his band performed with The Boogie Woogie Babies, a female trio who took the audience on “a musical journey” through the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
People from several generations filled the lawn on chairs and blankets under the shade, and some even brought along their pets to listen to the harmonies of the Babies as they sang songs such as “In the Mood” and “Jeepers Creepers.”
“We love being with our family,” says young concert attendee Daelyn Brink who gathered to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday.
“The music really brings people together,” notes fellow attendee, Nate Brink.
The free event presented at the bandshell between the ballroom and zoo entrance to John Ball Park “utilizes something that’s been here forever,” states audience member Chuck Weaton.
People hauled picnic baskets and coolers filled with food and drinks to the show. There were also vendors set up around the concert area selling a variety of food for the individuals who were looking for a snack.
Polar Chill set up to the left of the stage, provided people with a choice of several flavors of shaved ice and snow cones.
Coney Girl positioned their cart behind the crowd and supplied coney dogs, Polish and Italian sausage and fresh lemonade.
At 7:30 p.m. the band took a break and the WMJS asked the crowd to “do their part to keep live jazz alive.” Members of the society walked around with buckets as people offered donations, which not only go to help their scholarship fund but also to pay musicians, says society member Jan Basham. “We primarily run as a volunteer organization,” she states.
Upcoming concerts include The Mid Town Horns & Rhythm with Mary Rademacher on July 16 and Edye Evans Hyde with the Terry Lower Quartet on July 23. The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra will be closing the Jazz at the Zoo season with a performance in mid August.