The band The Change performs on the Sugarbush Stage at the Buttermilk Jamboree in Delton, Michigan. Courtesy The Change
One Michigander is trying to merge the music culture across the two sides of the state.
Kevin Lamb, founder of This is a Good Sound, has been traveling the state to help promote and book shows for bands to perform at different venues.
“We have all these amazing bands in West Michigan and all these amazing bands in Detroit,” he said. “Each one of them has a harder time going to the other part of the state. They don’t know as many people, they don’t have as many fans. So, my organization is making that a little easier for musicians.”
Lamb’s name is a familiar one in the music industry, where he has been frequently promoting 15 to 20 different bands, about five of which are from West Michigan. He has helped to produce some festivals including Handmade Music Festival in Chesaning.
Although his name may be recognizable to some, Lamb is introducing himself and bands from the eastern side of the state to the West Michigan music scene and building relationships with venue managers to book gigs for bands.
“In music, it can be really hard for artists to book gigs,” Lamb said. “In addition to playing music, making music and marketing themselves, they have to find places that will hire them and that is something that they constantly have to do. It is not like you apply for a job and get it, a musician has to, day in and day out, get all these gigs, some of them a couple hundred a year and then they have to do the same thing the next year.”
He has been organically reaching out to venue managers in West Michigan through Facebook Messenger and email. One of the first venues that responded with interest was Grand Rapids-based Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill, located at 760 Butterworth St. SW. The venue hosts live music performances Friday through Monday.
“He just reached out to me out of the blue and asked about booking some shows,” said Ted Smith, co-owner of Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill. “I recalled seeing him around before. So, when he told me the bands he wanted to bring, they are just very high-quality bands. So, I was just looking toward forging that relationship and bringing some cool bands in here.”
For next month, Lamb booked Detroit-based Audio Birds, Port Huron-based Gasoline Gypsies with Kalamazoo’s Megan Dooley, opening up for Dixon’s Violin with special guest Drew Phoria to perform at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill.
One of the bands Lamb is promoting is Grand Rapids-based Desmond Jones, and this month, he started managing The Change, which is a roots-based band that performs Americana, blues, rock and bluegrass music.
“Kevin has decided to take us on under management, and we are going to go with This is a Good Sound and we are really excited,” said Ryan Williams, founder of The Change. “He has a really good music sense, and we just have a lot of faith in him. We feel as though he can take us to the level that we want to be.”
Lamb said he helped book Desmond Jones to perform at The Loving Touch in Ferndale in January.
Smith, who has been in the music industry for over 30 years, said there are more venues, competitions and shows going on every week now compared to years past.
“Grand Rapids used to be notorious for ‘Oh, there is nothing to do,’” he said. “I got out of the army in the mid-80s and came back to Grand Rapids and there weren’t many venues. The Orbit Room wasn’t open yet, the arena didn’t exist, there was no 20 Monroe Live and the Intersection … only (had) a 240-seating capacity bar. So, in the last 30 years, there have been a lot more venues opening up and some of the breweries are doing live music.”
Lamb said the more the music industry in Michigan forms an alliance, the state can stand out like some of the music cities in the country, including Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas.
“The music industry can be tough, but Michigan restores a lot of hope and faith with beautiful festivals like Harvest Gathering or Blissfest,” he said. “They really honor the land; they honor a sense of community.”