Inside the Mitten concert series turns it up at Lakeshore


Courtesy Watermark Center

Muskegon’s popular Inside the Mitten concert series — which attracts bands to the Lakeshore — is set to kick off on Friday.

Inside the Mitten has become a highly anticipated series, which takes place at the Watermark 920 facility in downtown Muskegon and is operated by Watermark Live.

Previously, city residents had few options to view top musical entertainment in the area, typically having to drive to neighboring cities to see performances. Now, musicians and bands are vying for a slot on the Inside the Mitten lineup.

“It’s exposed Muskegon as a serious venue for some of these artists,” said Sarah Rooks, president of the Watermark Center. “I know a lot of them haven’t played here or never thought of playing here before, so it’s been a nice outreach both ways.

“People don’t have to go out of town to see high quality entertainment anymore," she said. "It’s a really, really nice night out.”

All bands are Michigan based and perform original music. The venue is set up with café-style tables for people to mingle and talk during the performance, as well as plenty of space for dancing.

Friday's performances will include Malechai from 7-7:45 p.m., Project Grizzly from 8-9:15 p.m. and King Crabapple from 9:30-11 p.m.

Past performers have included, among others, The Crane Wives, Ida’s Rope, Homeless Poet and Four Finger Five.

In addition to the music, local businesses Fatty Lumpkins Sandwich Shack and coffee bar Drip Drop Drink are both available inside the venue during the series, as is a bar stocked with Michigan beer and wine.

“I think that the Inside the Mitten series showcases and highlights most of all collaboration,” Rooks said. “We bring in our close friends and our partners from Fatty’s and Drip Drop, and it’s a good example of people working together to change their town and to bring high-quality entertainment and not wait around for somebody else to do it — just to get out there and do it.”

The series is also open to all ages — which sets it apart from many other small venues that are typically 21 and up. Rooks said it is not uncommon to see children and 70-year-olds at the same concert performance.

Though Watermark 920 can seat up to 360, Rooks said they limit ticket sales to between 200 and 240 to create a more intimate space for the concerts.

“We try to keep the night intimate and small so that the crowd gets to interact with the band,” Rooks said. “We have a moderator, and the moderator goes through the crowd and collects questions and then presents them to the band for the audience to get to know the bands better and for them to get to explain their music and kind of talk to the crowd and interact with the audience.”

The format has been well received.

Local charities also benefit from the series. The Noah Project, a no kill animal shelter in Muskegon, has been the most recent charity recipient.

Rooks said that she expects eight Inside the Mitten concerts as part of the 2013 series, running February-May and September-December.

For all concerts, doors open at 6 p.m., with the first band playing at 7 p.m. and the main act taking the stage at 8 p.m. Performances usually last until just about 11 p.m.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. 

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