Lamp Light Music Festival 2017 Brings Jazz, Indie, and Local Fire


Tonight Lamp Light kicks off with a bang, hosting 3 of our favorite artists of the fest right off the bat.

Back for its sixth year, the Lamp Light Music Festival seems to be coming up punching with a packed 3-day lineup on 3 stages. The festival is taking place in Eastown on Benjamin St. (exact venue addresses are on their website) and has partnered with the Witch House to bring a pop-up shop. We here at SkipFiction are also looking forward to  the Story Hour (on Saturday, at 1:15pm at Sage House) which will be hosted by The Moth’s (yeah, THE Moth, like from the radio. We did a double-take too) Patti Wheeler (also, THE Patti Wheeler).

As always, what is impressive about Lamp Light is the community aspect: as a non-profit, it is donation-based and guarantees payout to artists. On top of that, many of the volunteers that help run the event are local musicians themselves, supporting the scene.

This iteration of Lamp Light has a host of other acts to look forward to, though. Some local acts we are looking forward to are local sweethearts Glum, a grungy, poppy band that makes it hard to decide whether to dance or cry. Stef Chura and Shortly are also anticipated acts, Stef Chura being a group that sounds like if Grand Rapids’ Lacroix Winget got indie and picked up an electric guitar (I would say June Earth, Lacroix’s short-lived full band project, but I never had the chance to see them). Shortly (Alexandria Maniak)  should also be a great show, as she was recently signed to Triple Crown Records and has been riding a wave of growing popularity all year. At BLED Fest, a spectators crowded in and completely packed one of the classroom stages to sing along with her soft and somber songs.

Blushing Monk and Hannah Laine are also catching our eye on the lineup, and we’re told Timbre and Michael Nau are sets that are a must-see. Stay tuned for our upcoming coverage and video interviews with host Tim Pierzchala as he chats with bands on Saturday. We reached out to Lamp Light earlier this week to get a look into the fest, this was our discussion:


Skip Fiction: How did you settle on the name “Lamp Light”? What does it represent to you?

Lamp Light: Lamp Light is about using the resources that we have to make something beautiful and doing it in a way that makes sense for us given what we have. Lamp Light is a symbol that represents the light in a home, the warmth and comfort it can provide. It also suggests “not stage lights” with their bright flashy colors and what not. So, having performances under lamp light makes the soft statement of dialed down production and a simpler, more intimate setting to engage with music and its creators.

SF: How do you feel that you have grown or evolved since the beginning of the festival?

LL: We have certainly learned a lot over the years of producing the festival. I’d say that our team continues to become stronger year after year as each year we have a clearer idea of what to expect and account for. But at the same time the essence of the festival is very much the same since the beginning; a spirited DIY festival with community at its core. We’ve just learned to operate in a more organized fashion.

SF: How do you feel about where the festival is now, or the direction it’s headed?

LL: There is always a shuffle of bands, partners and volunteers, but the community seems to know and support the event consistently. It feels, in its sixth year, more stable than each year prior. As far as growth goes, it is limited in how and where it can grow. So, I think it is as big as it will ever be. It was never really designed to grow outside of the neighborhood or even Grand Rapids, but I could see this model being viable in other places. Over the past two years we have partnered with a non-profit called Creative Many. They have helped us gain some structural integrity as an organization and we are headed in the direction of continued non-profit work in the community revolving around music.

SF: What do you see as the future for Lamp Light?

LL: It’s hard to predict the future of the festival. Many changes happen every year, people move and grow elsewhere and in other ways, the city continues to change and our team continues to settle in or shift their work some. I think we will produce the festival for as long as we can, given the support in our community as well as the gray area that we’re operating within. Regardless, we will continue to encourage the music culture in Grand Rapids in other ways throughout the year by being involved in house concerts, home recordings and video projects.

SF: What are some performances/events you each are looking forward to this year, or is there anything in particular you think will stand out?

LL: Michael Nau and his band will be a big hit on Saturday night, not to miss! And they are sandwiched in a power block of music including Timbre (Nashville) and Mutual Benefit (Brooklyn). May Erlewine will also be making a great splash on Saturday at noon, performing as a trio. Another special act is J.E. Sunde from Minneapolis, they are a super unique three-piece band with a powerful lead singer who played in a different band the first year of Lamp Light.

SF: We at SkipFiction are very interested in the workshops you have planned, could you speak on those a bit (location and times)? Have you always had workshops as a part of the festival? What are you hoping people will take away from the Sunday session? What levels of engagement do you expect from attendees?

LL: We have always had workshops at the festival, and last year definitely saw our most organized and special workshops; however, this year there are far less than most due to a number of factors. But we are excited to present our first ever Story Hour and Sunday Session. The Story Hour is hosted by The Moth Radio’s Patti Wheeler and she will be bringing three Detroit storytellers to share with our audiences at Sage House on Saturday at 1:15PM.  The Sunday Session is a conversation about legal issues involved in collaboration and cultural extraction. With that we are really trying to help artists better understand how to work responsibly and equitably in cross-cultural and collaborative environments.  That conversation will be at Sage House on Sunday at 1:30PM.


Schedule, tickets, and addresses here:


Written by John Akers and Schyler Perkins

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