Arts & More

Arts and culture for Southwest Michigan. You can hear the show at 7:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays during a break in NPR's Morning Edition, with repeats at 4:29 p.m. and 5:44 p.m. during All Things Considered.

Courtesy Small Brown Bike

The band Small Brown Bike, from Marshall, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a January 29th concert at Bell's Eccentric Cafe. The band has certainly had staying power, but it's also had a winding road, too. The band had plenty of success in punk-rock circles, but after breaking up and reuniting, it hasn't been easy.

Organic Gypsy owner Bridgett Blough taste-tests an enchilada sauce
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

Last week, the Kalamazoo food truck Organic Gypsy won first place in a national competition in Las Vegas. The Spudnation Throwdown challenged food truck cooks to make their best potato recipe for a five thousand dollar prize. Organic Gypsy’s healthy potato soup triumphed over the deep fried and bacon filled dishes of its competitors.  To the Kalamazoo company, the victory for healthy eating is much sweeter than the prize money.

Rae'sheana Robertson reading a new poem at Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative's monthly poetry night.
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

There’s a reason why we celebrate Black History Month every February. Decades after the Civil Rights Movement, the political leaders, inventors, and artists in U.S. history books are still overwhelmingly white. But a new program by Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative in Kalamazoo aims to help students learn about diverse authors and orators. 

Back in August, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts brought in "Common Ground," a joint exhibit from art museums in Kalamazoo, Muskegon and Flint featuring centuries of African-American art. On February 4th -- almost six months later -- the KIA is putting on a new event, called “Common Threads," where activists, musicians and poets will gather together to perform a kind of “call and response” to the “Common Ground” exhibit and explore how its themes still resonate today. 

Courtesy Jake Simmons Facebook Page

Jake Simmons, of the Kalamazoo band Jake Simmons & the Little Ghosts, describes his band's sound pretty simply: straight up rock-and-roll. And Simmons looks the part. Simmons looks the part – when he came into the WMUK studios, he was dressed in a torn-up leather jacket, with diesel oil still splattered on his hands.  It’s a look shaped by a childhood growing up in South Haven, and a blue-collar job working in his dad’s scrapyard.