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Mixtape: A blend of jazz, funk, and bluegrass in new releases from West MI

Album covers for Full Cord and James Reeser & The Backseat Drivers
Photos courtesy of Marcus Giddings and Full Cord
Sinkevics' picks for the best new releases out of West Michigan include a mix of blues, funk, and bluegrass.

Hoping to attend a local concert or two before the summer ends? 

John Sinkevics, editor and publisher of Local Spins, has you covered. He joined Stateside with an update on three noteworthy West Michigan bands that will be performing across the state this month. 

Desmond Jones

Grand Rapids jam band Desmond Jones, which features five multi-instrumentalists, recently released their sophomore album Hello, Helou. Sinkevics says this latest album, while “still funky and jazzy,” expands the band’s musical boundaries by including elements of prog-rock, Americana, and folk.


Desmond Jones is playing Thursday, August 8 through Saturday, August 10 at the Cowpie Music Festival near Grand Rapids. They’ll also be performing at the Sizzlin’ Summer Concert Series in Lowell on August 15, at Otus Supply in Ferndale on August 23, and Union Street Station in Traverse City on August 30. The band will be hosting a vinyl release show for Hello, Helou on August 24 at Elevation inside The Intersection in Grand Rapids alongside The Hacky Turtles and Earth Radio.

James Reeser & The Backseat Drivers

Blues band James Reeser & The Backseat Drivers just debuted their first album Live Now, Pay Later. The band has been a musical fixture in Grand Rapids for several years, contributing to the long history of blues influence in that region.

“I like the fact that they’re a no-nonsense sort of blues band,” Sinkevics said. “That’s really what blues is all about in my view.”


James Reeser & The Backseat Drivers will be performing Wednesday, August 7 outside of DeltaPlex Arena for the Summertime Blues Series in Grand Rapids, and again on September 8 in Dorr for the Salem Township Park Concert Series. 

Full Cord

Full Cord has been playing bluegrass tunes for over a decade. Their new studio album, Choreomania, will be released later this month.

“[The album is] really a joy to listen to, and it really reflects their live, sort of lightning-quick instrumentals as well as their vocals,” Sinkevics said.

He describes the band's style as one that swings between old-school bluegrass and “newgrass,” while also incorporating jazz, Italian, and classical sounds.


Full Cord will be playing at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo on Friday, August 9. Their official album-release show will be on August 16 at the Hoxeyville Music Festival in the Manistee National Forest. The band will also play the Mitten Bar in Ludington on August 23.

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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