Winter Jam made a stellar stop at Ypsilanti’s EMU’s Convocation Center on a snowy Sunday February 17th. The festival was on it’s 22nd of 42 stops from city to city spreading faith, love, hope, and worship.
There were musicians who sang praises from all over the musical spectrum – hip hop, rock, soul and folk (to name a few). Regardless of background and influence, each band’s talent, passion, and power of praise shown through. The venue was packed with fans of all ages, and from all walks of life. The Convocation Center was filled with a positive energy, and lots of smiles.
Starting off Winter Jam’s main acts strong, Dan Bremnes presented incredible songs with an acoustic guitar. The audience was ready to sing and dance, right from the start.
Next, Hollyn brought terrific vocals with a dash of rock. The band got the crowd energized, to their feet, with hands in the air.
Throughout the festival in between artists, speakers would pass on positive messages, and even shoot t-shrits into the crowd. Adam Agee presented one song inspired by his mission trip. “I promised a bunch of kids I’d tell their story.”
Later in the evening, Adam returned to the stage to tell his account of sponsoring a child through the evening’s spotlight organization, “Childfund International”. Audience members were encouraged to sponsor a child. In doing so would come both the satisfaction of changing a life, but also a wristband to meet the night’s headliner (Newsboys United) after the show.
Winter Jam founders, NewSong brought a Sunday church feel with powerful vocals, an organ, rocking guitar, horns, and beautiful harmonies. Preshow opener, Ty Brasel made an appearance with a full on choir to ad a bit of hip hop to the mix.
Skillet drummer, Jen Ledger fronted her own outfit with memorable lyrics and an energetic performance.
The night’s next speaker, Zane Black, shared his experience to a better life through a life-changing trip to church. Zane went from a life of drugs, overdose, and even a coma to literally preaching from a skateboard to the Winter Jam crowd as a terrific metaphor for God’s love.
Next to the stage, Mandisa’s set was wonderfully choreographed with character, finding her backup singers and dancers getting down to the passionate jams. She brought a powerful message to keep going with memorable music about praise and hope. She encouraged the excited crowd to sing along with her. With a message of unity and love, Mandisa focused on all areas of the audience. Her fighter spirit shined her whole set through.
After Mandisa was the sharp-dressed Danny Gokey. With his rock-vibed set, Danny had an impressive horn section that swayed along. Danny got the crowd dancing, and impressed all with soulful, heartfelt vocals. Toward the end of his set, Danny performed a track with just an acoustic guitarist, and piano playing throughout. Phone flashlights danced and illuminated the audience as they sang along. He closed out the evening with “The Comeback”.
Before the night’s final artist, Rend Collective took to the stage with the hope of revival. The band brought a folk sound from Northern Ireland. The spirited group had a fiddle, accordion, electric and acoustic guitar, to name a few instruments. During their set, a sea of bubbles erupted against the stage, coating the crowd in sparkly orbs. A heavy drum sound kept time.
Singer Chris Llewellyn commented that it’s close to St. Patrick’s Day, and maximum Irish for the year. He encouraged fans to dance in Irish fashion, alternating hopping on one leg.
“It’s already like we’re in Dublin!”, he exclaimed. Confetti showered the dancing crowd, much to everyone’s delight. At the very end of their set, each member donned a panda mask.
After their set, NewSong member Russ Lee returned to the stage, and told a heartfelt story of one of his experiences Winter Jam had yielded. The moral was that he did not want anyone to have to miss the festival, and the message of worship it can provide. An offering bucket was passed around to help out the festival. Since tickets are discounted at the door, and folks even admitted who can’t afford it who need the evening’s message, Russ emphasized the importance of everyone pitching in and helping if they can. Ten percent of the offering was set to be donated to a local organization playing a large part in youth ministry.
The lights dimmed again, and the stage was set for the Jam’s main act, Newsboys United.
Newsboys took to the stage to start off their night strong with “Born Again” ,”That’s How You Change The World” and “Live With Abandon”.
Next, lead singer Michael Tait encouraged the crowd to move side to side “like this, come on! Like one big black gospel choir with a lot of white people from Michigan – love ya!”
The band started into “He Reins”. After the first chorus, Newsboys of old, vocalist Peter Furler and bassist Phil Joel emerged to round out the beautiful song. Together, the united six gentleman churned out greats like “I am Free” and “Breakfast” with rock abound and incredible harmonies soaring over the center. During “Something Beautiful”, Michael Tait shouted out each member of the band.
Newsboys United then shared new songs from their forthcoming self-titled album, which is due out in May. Through the festival, the band offered a special pre-order that included two albums for $10.
At one point, they even brought a couple of excited fans on stage to dance along.
Michael Tait touched on his love of Michigan, and shouted out keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, who is from the Detroit area. He also touched on the importance of putting God back in America, and taking time out to love people.
He encouraged the crowd to sing along to amazing track, “We Believe”. The chorus of audience members filled the room. Afterward, Peter Furler commented, “Mike, we might have found the loudest Americans in America”.
The band also performed dc Talk favorite, “Jesus Freak”, with a special appearance by the talented Tray Little. As a united unit, Newsboys were clearly loving presenting their message of worship, and enjoying performing together.
Next, Peter Furler remained on drums, as drummer Duncan Phillips set up on a rotating kit. The two incredible drummers faced off on opposite ends of the venue. Duncan’s drumkit rotating impressively as the audience cheered them both on.
Newsboys United closed out their night with gigantic song, “God’s Not Dead”. Michael Tait exclaimed, “God bless Michigan!” as the band stood center stage to bow together.
Pastor and author, Bobby Joyner ended the evening with a prayer.
Winter Jam 2019 will be continuing across the states through the end of March.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Ford Arts Beats & Eats celebrated its 21st year by bringing end of summer fun to the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.
The bustling festival spanned four total days, extending through the holiday weekend and wrapping up on Labor Day Monday.
Several artists lined the streets with tent shops, showcasing everything from handcrafted treasures to lovely art prints. There was a little something for every art seeker such as jewelry, ceramic pottery, photographs, clothing, and anything in between.
The food was just as exciting with vendors serving up local cuisine, BBQ, as well as tastes from across the map.
Several stands served beverages as well, making a perfect addition to the hot days.
Music was a staple of the festival each day. A great deal of local talent was in the spotlight on many of the festival’s smaller stages, with artists from several genres spanning all the way from bluegrass to electronic.
At the Michigan Lottery National Stage, several superstars made a stop such as AWOLNATION, Eddie Money, Matt Nathanson, Rival Sons, Ben Folds, and Everclear (to name a few).
Carnival rides and fun games were at different ends of the festival, filled with smiling families and little kids who were so happy to have won a prize.
Overall, this edition of Arts Beats & Eats was a resounding success, and always is the perfect way to wrap up the summer before children are heading back to school. As expected, the festival provided great family fun for all ages, great music, and unique art for the interested eye.
Festival review and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
AWOLNATION made a great tour stop on Sunday September 2nd at Royal Oak Michigan’s Arts Beats & Eats festival.
A gentleman from Detroit’s radio station, Alt 106.7 introduced the band. He had even personally suggested AWOLNATION to play at the festival.
Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” greeted the band to the stage. The roaring crowd was ready as lead vocalist Aaron Bruno paced up, scanning the audience. AWOL started off their night with the lead track from their latest album entitled “Here Come The Runts”. Before venturing into “Hollow Moon” Aaron stated, “I’m looking for the best dancer here tonight!” His quest continued throughout the evening.
“I’m still looking for the best dancer here tonight. You could be anywhere! Who are you? What’s your name? What’s your best move?”
Their track “Passion” included a seamless transition into short but epic track, “Sound Witness System”.
Before the wonderful “Kill Your Heroes”, Aaron told the crowd, “We met some of you back in 2011 on our first record, ‘Megalithic Symphony’. We’ve been gaining new family members all along the way… and what a twisted family we’ve become, wouldn’t you say?”
The band continued into a slowed down track of the hit.
“We love you more than you’ll ever know, ladies and gentleman… but I’m still looking for the best dancer here tonight! Where are you?” He encouraged the crowd to let loose and act a fool as they jammed into “Not Your Fault”.
Before beautiful song, “Table For One”, Aaron picked up some flowers and shared, “Love is in the air tonight, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls! People of all ages.” He tossed the flowers to excited fans, and talked about not having many opportunities to go to dances and slow dance growing up, so he wrote a song where “we could all slow dance together, you see. So everybody put your arm around the person next to you, and let’s try to unite and swing side to side”.
Before “Miracle Man” ended with one last breakdown, Aaron encouraged the crowd to jump! “We can all jump so high, we can touch the stars that you can’t even see yet. If you try your hardest. 1-2 1-2-3- GO!” The audience responded with jumps and arms a-waving.
The band’s passion was on full display, and their musical talents shined throughout the entire set. AWOLNATION included tracks from each of their three full length albums.
After 2015’s “Run”, AWOLNATION exited the festival stage.
The crowd started clapping, cheering and chanting. “EN-CORE, EN-CORE!” until their musical heroes reemerged for three more tracks.
To start off their encore, they ventured into “I’m On Fire”, their spectacular cover of Bruce Springsteen’s jam for the “Fifty Shades Of Grey” Soundtrack.
Next up, they got the crowd moving again with high tempto jam “Burn It Down”.
AWOL ended their set with mega hit, “Sail”. To close out the night, Aaron introduced each member of the band.
“It’s been absolute pleasure entertaining you tonight, and please understand you entertain us just as much with your sweat, your high energy, and your passion for music. I hope you made some new friends and new family memebrs tonight. I hope your ears ring ’cause we’ll be thinking about you for the next week. Would you like us to come back?”
The crowd collectively cheered.
Aaron asked, “Do you want to party with me one more time tonight? JUMP!” As “Sail”‘s last musical breakdown kicked in, everyone in the crowd danced, jumped and raged.
AWOLNATION left the stage one more time, leaving the crowd cheering and shouting in satisfaction.
They were most certainly a welcome addition to the Arts Beats & Eats festivities this year.
AWOL will be continuing their tour into California this month, and ending out at New Orleans’ Voodoo Fest this October.
1. Here Come the Runts
2. Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)
3. Seven Sticks of Dynamite
4. Passion / Sound Witness System
5. Not Your Fault
6. Kill Your Heroes
7. Table for One
8. Miracle Man
9. The Buffoon
11. Run (with Thunderstruck intro)
12. I’m On Fire
13. Burn It Down
Photos and review by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Omaha‘s jewel festival, Maha, has announced its exceptional 2018 roster.
The two-day event will take place this year on Friday August 17th and Satruday August 18th in Stinson Park in the lovely Omaha, Nebraska.
The festival will feature 16 bands, and be headlined by the likes of Weezer, indie greats TV On The Radio, Father John Misty, and The Kills.
Maha is celebrating its 10th year in 2018, and is also welcoming volunteers to help run the festival. Maha will exchange admittance to the festival for a helping shift. If you live in the Nebraska region, this seems like a great opportunity to lend a helping hand, and hear some great music!
Two-day general admission early bird passes are available now at $90, with a handsome two-day VIP package (with many perks!) at $290.
Spotlight by Tiffany Cuthrell, lineup photos courtesy of Maha Music Festival
Ludacris put on a dynamic show for Summerfest’s 50th year on Sunday July 2nd.
Just after the 10 o’clock hour, DJ Infamous took to and set the stage and addressed, “I’m Ludacris’ DJ, you know what that means!”
He encouraged everyone to wave their hands and make some noise to welcome Ludacris out.
To a rally of cheers, the man of the 10 o’clock hour appeared in front of the wall to wall crowd. The hip hop hero from Atlanta started out the night with some mash-ups snippets of songs from over the years of his career, deciding to test the crowd right off the band to see if they were true fans. He joked that he wasn’t sure if Milwaukee was full of fans of his music, of “Fast and the Furious”. Based on the resounding applause, it seemed the answer was both.
Luda made sure to give a shout to the local area codes, and jumped right into track from early albums. The packed crowd sang along intently.
The hip hop great included tracks from across his discography, and left no doubt of his shining presence that radiated throughout the evening.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
Summerfest delighted fans from far and wide in its golden year over an eleven day span.
Buzzing with excited anticipation that had been building up for months on end, Milwaukee’s highlight kicked off its festivities on Wednesday June 28th.
Despite some rain and severe storms, the festival partied on, not dampening acts like popstars Misterwives, or Red Hot Chili Peppers in the slightest.
With extremely reasonably priced tickets, giveaways, and promotions, the festival grounds were virtually packed each and every single day. Starting off admissions was a can drive – “stomp out hunger”, trading non-perishables for those in need for tickets… Next up, throwback Thursday the 29th turned back the clock with half off drink prices, and classic bands from decades abound like Foghat, The Church, Fishbone, and many more. The festival also celebrated evening two with beautiful fireworks, set back a day due to the relentless storms. Other spotlight days celebrated seniors, veterans, families, purchases at Goodwill, and even Mountain Dew.
America’s birthday found fans across the festival grounds decked out in red, white and blue ensembles of all kinds.
American Family Insurance Amphitheater, the festival’s main stage, presented a wide variety from acts like legendary Paul Simon, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, country giant Luke Bryan, and powerful gal P!nk (to name a few). Ground stages presented up and coming artists, and well established acts from the festival’s hometown of Milwaukee, as well as abroad.
Areas were set up to celebrate and commemorate the festival’s 50th year, as well as a beautiful book on stands with photographs from over the years – 50 Years Of Smiles.
The festival had a little bit of fun for everybody, and folks of all ages. Special areas were set up for kids to play, get their faces painted, and even create unique tie dye. A sportszone highlighted everything from wrestling to BMX, while the Kohl’s captivation station kept imaginations and explorations no further than fingertips away. Food of all varieties was plentiful at both stands and little shops, providing delicious tastes for just about any pallet – ice cream, BBQ, noodles, pretzels, and even a Wendy’s.
Both a ferris wheel and skyglider provided high-flying views of the grounds.
Despite the first day of storms, overall, the weather was pristine with only one exceedingly hot day. An ever-flowing fountain provided cool relief, as did multiple beverage stops all around.
The festival wrapped up its final day on July 9th with bands like The Shins, The Spinners, and Walk Off The Earth.
Milwaukee’s shining star certainly did not disappoint and brought a party for the record books in celebration of its 50th year. With an ever-growing array of variety and fun for fans, the sky’s the limit for Summerfest’s future. Here’s looking forward to Summerfest 2018!