Live Review: Cameron Blake at HopCat WYCE Blue Bridge Music Festival, ArtPrize 10

Cameron Blake

photo by Amy McClees

Cameron Blake

HopCat WYCE Blue Bridge Music Festival

ArtPrize 10, Grand Rapids, MI

September 29, 2018

by Amy McClees, Contributing Blogger

ArtPrize 2018

photo by Amy McClees

The Blue Bridge Music Festival at ArtPrize 10 in Grand Rapids, MI was a colder, more subdued event. In an outdoor venue like this, it often depends on weather as to the atmosphere and attendance. Walking past the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum on the way to the Blue Bridge, there were throngs of ArtPrizers admiring the Cat/Lion sculpture Dare to Dream Big by Chris Navarro, an ArtPrize 10 entry display.

Cameron Blake

photo by Amy McClees

Cameron Blake played guitar to a respectful welcoming audience. He was accompanied by a flutist, keyboardist, stand-up bass, cello and drums. Cameron’s band includes Martin Spence (keyboard), Jennifer Fortosis (backup vocals and flute), Jill Collier Warne (cello), Ian Thompson (upright bass), Andy Szumowski (drums), and Debra Perry & Majestic Praise (gospel group on Queen Bee).

The mostly acoustic ensemble was trying to assemble in a little bit of wind over a river, which, by most musicians standards is out of the ordinary.

Cameron Blake

photo by Amy McClees

They opened their set with the title song, “Fear Not.” It is a piano/keyboard-based acoustic ballad and involves musicians and instruments that take skill and talent to play. According to his website, he learned to play the violin at age 12 and has since received a master’s degree in 2007 from the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore.

Blue Bridge Music Festival

photo by Amy McClees

He has been a favorite of Local Spins and has been featured at the SpeakEZ Lounge also. “While having a full time job and family including 2 children, he writes most of his songs standing at the sink doing the dishes” according to press for the Fear Not album.

Blue Bridge Music Festival

photo by Amy McClees

I find the opening song of the talented group in front of me very ironic, after having been a repeated victim of thefts and vandalism to vehicles, one of which happened three years ago at an evening venue for ArtPrize in the heart of downtown.

Looking Ahead

Keep an eye on the Events page of Cameron Blake’s website for upcoming gig information, though the calendar is currently empty. You can also follow Cameron via his Facebook page.

Cameron Blake

photo by Amy McClees

 

Live Review: That Beatles Thing: An Artsy Nod to ArtPrize 10, Featuring the Songs of Rubber Soul

That Beatles Thing

photo by Amy McClees

That Beatles Thing

September 22, 2018

by Amy McClees, Contributing Blogger

ArtPrize 2018 is upon us.  After getting my credentials I went to one of the mainstay eateries in downtown Grand Rapids for some live music.
That Beatles Thing, as you can surmise, plays the music of the Beatles with some of the authentic instruments. As a nod to ArtPrize 10, they decided to perform the songs of the album Rubber Soul. Pete Bardolph introduced the evening and let the audience know that there were two versions of the album, an American version and a British version.

They started the night with “Drive My Car.” They quickly followed that up with “I’ve Just Seen A Face.” And they basically played the album as they advertised they would.  The band is: James Murphy, vocals and playing guitar (and driving force of the band); Bill Van Ess, vocals and bass; Pete Bardolph, one of the longtime owners of Rainbow Music, singing and playing lead guitar; and Fritz von Valtier, who rounds out the foursome with drums and vocals.

The ballad written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown),” with the signature opening chords, was stylistically and melodically poetic.  It is arranged/based on English folk songs minus the sitar. The vocals were spot on for “I’m Looking Through You.” James has a solid voice, and Pete volunteered that Ringo was a country music fan in the song “What Goes On,” which was sung by Bill. With the help from TB Player, he brought his authentic Hofner and a second bass so Pete could play the bass and sing on “Think For Yourself.”

If you are a Beatles Fan, you’ll appreciate their live performance. Their upcoming shows include Saturday, October 6th at the Grand Haven Eagles #925 in Grand Haven, MI; Saturday, October 13th at the American Legion Boat and Canoe Club in Grand Rapids, MI; and Friday, October 19th at Woody’s Press Box in Wyoming, MI. For additional shows beyond those, check the band’s website or its Facebook page.

ArtPrize 2016 Memory: The Outer Vibe

ArtPrize 2016

photo by Amy McClees

The Outer Vibe

Eighth Annual ArtPrize Awards Ceremony

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Grand Rapids, MI

October 7, 2016

by Amy McClees, Contributing Blogger

ArtPrize 2016

photo by Amy McClees

The Outer Vibe was my walking music after I left the ArtPrize Awards at the Civic. “Shining like a Diamond,” one of their originals, with alternating guitar chords, evokes a running beat or the backdrop to a galloping western. The music reverberated between the buildings of downtown Grand Rapids’ Rosa Parks Circle. Their style of music is rock, pop in genre. Near the bandshell, painted Hondas for ArtPrize were also parked as an audience while ArtPrizers and dancers enjoyed the show. The five band members are Nick Hosford, Lisa Kacos, Sean Zee, Andrew Dornoff, and Noah Snyder (who replaced Jeff Brems in 2014). They have toured extensively since this performance, moved and have stopped back in the area for tour dates.

ArtPrize 2016

photo by Amy McClees

Looking Ahead

This year’s ArtPrize is scheduled for September 19 through October 7, 2018.

The Outer Vibe’s website lists upcoming shows on both September 14th and October 13th at The Rathskeller in Indianpolis, plus a September 15th date at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids for GR College Week.

[Editor’s Note: Time-permitting, in the run-up to this year’s ArtPrize, Amy hopes to share some of her favorite ArtPrize memories, beginning with this one from two years ago. -GW]