by Bri Kilroy | photography by Tony Norkus
Grand Rapids fosters an artistically dynamic personality and offers numerous opportunities to engage in music, introducing listeners to an experience far from the capabilities of ear buds. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park (FMG) Tuesday Evening Music Club brings listeners to another level by hosting local and regional musicians for live musical performances among the Gardens’ beautiful surroundings.
This annual concert series takes place every Tuesday from July 4 to August 29 at the Gardens. Each night features two bands playing back-to-back 45-minute sets, exposing listeners to a mix of fresh-on-the-scene talent and returning favorites. Band pairings like the Music Club series’ kick-off performance, Green on Blue and The Red Sea Pedestrians, are concocted with the goal to create a nice flow between transitions.
“Bands don’t necessarily have to be in the same genre in order to complement each other,” FMG’s Guest Services Assistant Manager, Theodore Bufkin, said. “What you want is a cohesive flow to the evening while, at the same time, changing things up to a degree.”
Therefore, Green on Blue’s jazz quartet, who shuffle through styles from be-bob funk to Latin, is followed by a fusion of American roots, rock, gypsy and classical jazz brought to you by The Red Sea Pedestrians. While both bands hone a different music style, their navigation through different genres laced with a jazzy presence make them complement each other and avoid shocking listeners with a stark transition. Find this summer’s full band line-up at meijergardens.com.
“Bands have raved about our amphitheater being the most beautiful place they’ve ever played.” —Theodore Bufkin, FMG Guest Service Assitant Manager
Aside from experiencing new Michigan-based talent, music-lovers get the opportunity to alter their location from an indoor concert venue to the Gardens’ unique outdoor amphitheater, where the backdrop is peppered with FMG’s stunning statues and the performance is elevated by the sun’s colorful decent into the horizon.
“Bands have raved about our amphitheater being the most beautiful place they’ve ever played,” FMG’s Public Relations Manager, John VanderHaagen, said about the performers. “It beats playing in a dark, dingy club.”
The feeling between performers and audience members is mutual; attendees flock to the venue armed with low-rise lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets as they kick back and enjoy the show. The tiered lawn, vibrant with platforms of soft green grass and a handicap accessible section, seats up to 1,900 people and functions on a “seat yourself” basis.
“You could get a front row seat if you come early,” VanderHaagen said. “But it’s an intimate amphitheater, so you’ll get a good seat no matter what.”
FMG is proud of the eclectic and talented performers it has assembled for this year’s concert series and looks forward to sharing them with you. Make the most of the Music Club outdoor concert experience by packing your own low-rise chair to set up on the lawn or a blanket if laying across the grass is more your listening style. Picnic baskets are permitted and encouraged, but if you don’t feel like packing your own you can grab eats from the onsite concession stand along with wine or beer at the bar. Please refrain from bringing glass into the area.
Tuesday Evening Music Club concerts are free with FMG admission and don’t require a pre-purchased ticket to stroll into the concert venue. So, if you hear music while you’re exploring the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden or walking the boardwalk that weaves through the lake area, head over to the amphitheater and have a seat to enjoy a song or a full set of what these musicians are bringing to the music scene. More information and updates can be found at meijergardens.org.
What: Tuesday Evening Music Club
Where: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE
When: Tuesdays, July 4-August 29, 7 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission.