Arts & More

Near the northern tip of Lake Michigan, about 30 miles off the coast of Charlevoix, sits Beaver Island -- a little piece of Ireland surrounded by water. Irish immigrants settled here centuries ago, and now the island is full of musicians playing in bars and converted garages. It's a unique tradition documented in WMUK's "Golden Days and Friendly Faces." And today, the traditions are continued with a group in lower Michigan called the Beaver Island Club of Grand Rapids.

The members of the Chicago rock 'n roll band American Grizzly say they don’t really dream of best-selling albums and sold-out concerts. Instead, the band of Western Michigan University grads say their strategy is just to play shows and see what happens. So far, they say, it’s worked. In just a few short years, the band has gradually grown bigger, and now they’re releasing their debut album, funded completely through friends and fans. 

'Alice in Wonderland' in concert in Lucerne, Switzerland
Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

This April, Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo will show the Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland with a live performance of the score by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. This may not sound like a big deal to you - but to the symphony, it’s huge. Why? Three words: Walt Disney Pictures. 

Martha and Bill Beverly of Kalamazoo at a Sacred Harp convention in Ireland last year
Martha Beverly

In a church choir, you know it’s unlikely that you’ll get to call the shots. The choir director picks which songs you sing and how you sing them. And if you’re not the best vocalist, you might be slowly - but politely - ushered out. But in individual homes across the country, people are holding more democratic singings where everyone is welcome. It’s called Sacred Harp singing

Fred Western

A specific question has been on the minds of a lot of people in the Kalamazoo arts community lately: What happens when the media changes, and arts coverage from the local newspaper shrinks in just a few short years?  The shift has happened fast in Kalamazoo. Now, arts leaders have a plan to collaborate on a new arts publication. Its purpose: to serve as a hub for listings, reviews and arts features for Southwest Michigan.