The Rapidian

Captivating audiences, three perspectives on performance

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Three West Michigan music groups, three unique ways to engage the audience during First Fridays: The Market on August 5, 2016
Moods at Speak EZ Lounge

Moods at Speak EZ Lounge /Tim Motley

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First Fridays: The Market on August, 5th features 3 engaging performances

The Mural Stage, located in the 106 Division parking lot, will feature 3 local music groups, live art and hula hooping, and emcee, Sarah Jean Anderson. First Fridays: The Market is free and open to the public.


Take3: 6pm-7pm

Unity Drum and Dance: 7pm-8pm

Brad Fritchers Moods: 8pm-9pm


Kevin Jones at Ottawa Hills Neighborhood Association

Kevin Jones at Ottawa Hills Neighborhood Association /Myrna Jacobs Photography

Take3 @ Triumph Music Academy

Take3 @ Triumph Music Academy /James Hughes

One way performers make memorable musical experiences for their audience is by the persistent engagement they display on stage. Kevin Jones of Unity Drum & Dance strives to keep audience members feeling included during performances. His ability to captivate from start to finish comes from his genuine attitude regarding the audience's role in a performance.

“It's all about the audience. We get people involved in learning about the culture and history of African music and dance, while actively participate in it. [During First Friday’s: The Market] The audience will experience a sort of performance and workshop in one,” Jones sais.

Due to Jones's humbling personality, his robust career and accolades may come as a surprise to people who first meet him. He has been playing for 47 years and has perfected a high level of performance skill while working with icons in the music and entertainment industry such as Whitney Houston, The Isley Brothers, Angela Winbush, Archie Shepp and a host of others. Jones formed Unity Drum & Dance after his recent move to Grand Rapids in February because of his passion for African culture. Jones explained, “I want to unify those who love the African drum and dance culture and live in West Michigan. African art traditions have always been about community. I love working with all people and enjoy utilizing different perspectives. Unity is about taking the knowledge and skills from a variety of African and Neo African Diasporas to create a total experience.”

Unity Drum & Dance will transport listeners to the African diaspora by playing rhythms and dances from various African cultures such as West Africa, Congo and the Caribbean. They will perform live on the Mural Stage during the August First Friday. Jones will be accompanied by African Diaspora Dancer, Heather Mitchell and percussionist, Josh Dunigan (known for engaging performances with Afro Zuma and Cabildo) amongst other musicians.

The next First Fridays performance, Brad Fritcher’s Moods, uses a different approach of engagement by taking its audience on a musical exploration. These musical pioneers respond to the space, atmosphere and energy to produce a sound that is organic and entirely improvised. “Creation is a huge part of making music. I love the chance to express a new idea and delight in its inception,” said Fritcher. Moods has evolved as an ensemble for the last three years, and was awarded the ArtPrize Jazz category in 2013. The group features musicians from diverse backgrounds and encompasses various genres. The collective plays in harmony with one another, moment by moment and dialogue involves the audience. Fritcher explained, “The audience has a powerful vibration that can allow the musicians a chance to propel forward with us in the moment.”

Both the musicians and listeners experience a composition that has never before existed and the audience plays a key role in the performance. “The audience becomes an integral part of the creation process by feeling and thinking along with us as we spontaneously compose together. We become inspired from the audience's emotions and create a dialogue that they can interact with over and over again.” This spontaneous conversation becomes exciting and inspiring for listeners as well visual artists.

“I lose myself in the moment while listening to music, the environment and the people around me. I consume that energy and transfer it to paper,” said Zeno Schindler, an artist who creates live, in the moment, spray paint works. Schindler describes his work as “portals” because they take you to a different place. Schindler will be thriving off the live music during August 5th First Friday: The Market. These groups of talented artists and musicians will be joined by blues/rock power trio Take3, a group of young but experienced musicians that formed at local progressive music school, Triumph Music Academy.

The entertainment will be in collaboration with First Fridays: The Market, hosted by Avenue for the Arts. The live music and art interaction will take place on The Mural Stage, located in the parking lot of 106 Division from 6pm to 9pm. First Friday’s in August hosts a bustling outdoor arts Market between Weston and Cherry on South Division. Attendees of all ages can walk, shop and gaze at a myriad of locally handcrafted goods. All are invited and encouraged to participate in what we hope to be a special night for everyone.

The Avenue for the Arts is a neighborhood title for the South Division commercial corridor. We are residential, commercial and nonprofit groups working together in a creative community. We are residents in Heartside, and active participants in shaping change in our neighborhood. In 2005, we choose the Avenue for the Arts as a title to represent our commercial corridor and the projects and events that we create. Because the Avenue is powered by volunteers guest writers create our Rapidian content. Special thanks to Ian Thompson, (Avenue member, Music instructor, Freelance bassist and lover of sounds) for his coverage of "The Market on First Fridays."

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