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/Christopher John Wilson Photography
On guitar is Tim Bowman from Detroit along with one of his band members.
One of Michigan’s most popular free jazz festivals returns this summer for a sixth year to downtown Grand Rapids. GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation takes to the Rosa Parks Circle stage in the heart of downtown this Aug. 19 and 20.
“There’s something special about jazz that brings people together like no other art form. It’s because jazz is so diverse – it has so many styles, from Big Band to Latin to Contemporary, and I’m just naming a few,” said GRandJazzFest Founder Audrey Sundstrom.
“GRandJazzFest is what community is all about.”
The free festival typically draws thousands to downtown Grand Rapids over the course of the two days. DTE Energy Foundation returns as the Presenting Sponsor for the sixth year in a row. “The DTE Energy Foundation is proud to once again bring free, world-class jazz music to downtown Grand Rapids,” said Faye Nelson, vice president at DTE Energy, board chair and president of the DTE Energy Foundation.
“By investing in GRandJazzFest, we’re helping to boost the local economy, strengthen the vitality of the region, and show off all that Grand Rapids and West Michigan offer.” GR and Jazz (the non-profit, all-volunteer-run producer of GRandJazzFest) is pleased to announce a special collaboration with the Grand Rapids Art Museum for the 2017 festival: The festival’s Sponsors / VIP Area will be located on the GRAM front terrace where refreshments and snacks will be provided.
Additionally, GRAM will have an outdoor bar area set up at the base of its front steps adjoining Rosa Parks Circle for attendees who would like to purchase and consume refreshments and enjoy the festival. Holding the festival in the center city is by design, to enable festival-goers to take in all that downtown has to offer: restaurants, clubs, museums, microbreweries and shops.
The festival typically occurs during Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids. Festival organizers will announce the 2017 lineup of performers at a special event on April 26 at the House of Entertainment and Music (H.O.M.E.) at The B.O.B. in conjunction with International Jazz Day.
That night at H.O.M.E., the Steve Hilger Jazz Quintet takes the stage. Hilger’s band has performed at past GRandJazzFests. Hilger also serves as a board member of GR and Jazz. “Jazz is a year-round passion here in West Michigan. We’re excited about a fun evening and a great way to reveal our 2017 lineup to jazz fans on April 26,” Hilger said. The Lineup Reveal Party event is a sanctioned event of International Jazz Day – a global celebration of jazz.
Details on the Lineup Reveal Party will be posted on a Facebook page dedicated to the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/195656400930711/. At the 2017 GRandJazzFest this August, eleven diverse jazz artists and bands will perform, including a student jazz band and two major headline acts. Free face painting by Fancy Faces will be available for kids and, if lines aren’t too long, for “kids at heart.” Grand Rapids city commissioners approved GRandJazzFest as one the events that it will co-sponsor in 2017.
GRandJazzFest 2016 received distinction as a Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Signature Event along with two other festivals, ArtPrize and LaughFest. In addition to DTE Energy Foundation, the City of Grand Rapids, and GRAM, sponsors for the 2017 event to date include GR and Jazz, IntentPR, Gilmore Collection, Hilger Hammond, Amway Hotel Corporation, Experience Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Community College, Swift Printing, Corporate Live, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Matt Huizenga Video Production, Meijer, Steelcase, Rockford Construction, Kitchen67 and MoxieMen. Sponsorship opportunities are available at http://grandjazzfest.org/sponsors/. “We are so grateful to all of our sponsors for their support – we could not do it without them,” Sundstrom said. “We’re seeking additional sponsors to help us bring a full weekend of FREE, family-friendly live jazz performances to West Michigan!”
People can get a taste of past GRandJazzFests by viewing the “recap” videos here. More information on the sixth annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation can be found at www.grandjazzfest.org, and at the festival’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites.