The East side of Grand Haven was filled with the sounds of 46 different bands on Saturday afternoon for this year’s Walk the Beat music festival.
Muskegon native Brendan Martin called it an ArtPrize for musicians and the comparison fits, with outdoor stages lining South Beachtree Street from Clover Bar all the way up to Fulton Street at Fricano’s Pizza. The 23-year-old’s band, Spike The Media, played the first two-hour set at 321 Wellness.
“It gives a lot of different local musicians a platform to get their sound out there and it’s cool because for…spectators, they can come and they can check out a band and they can say ‘Wow this is kind of cool but what else is there?’” Martin said. “And they can check out a nice palette of what the town has to offer, like local talent and you just get to discover a lot of neat music that way. It’s cool that Grand Haven puts something on like this, there’s nothing really quite like this sort of festival, at least near here, so it’s a cool opportunity.”
Walk the Beat is a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide opportunities in music for artists who may not be able to afford it. They host several events throughout the year leading up to Walk the Beat, the winner of which gets 40 hours of studio time. This year’s winner was Cosmic Knot, with Mojo and Stone Soup and The Broken Teeth tying for second and each receiving $500.
Spike The Media came about when Martin’s father suggested he get a band together to play during the breaks of his cover band’s shows. So, in 2013 Martin, his sister Lauren, now 20, and their two cousins started a band. Devon Lamrock, 22, still plays the drums for the band but their other cousin has since moved out of state and was replaced with Matt Jeroy, 18, just two months before Saturday’s event.
“Working with my sister—we’ve always gotten along, just as siblings and we both share an equivalent love for music and all that,” Martin said. “So it’s really cool to be able to work together and do songwriting and…have your songwriting partner literally live with you. We’re both into different things, she more into indie pop and I’m more like rock and metal, so when we write together it kind of crosses over and something unique comes out of it.”
During their set on Saturday, Spike The Media gathered a decent sized crowd and Martin said they “had a blast up there” and that was a win to them.
“Recording time would be great, don’t get me wrong, but I think knowing that we moved enough people to get them to go to their phones and vote for Spike The Media and having that translate to a victory on our end, that would mean a lot just because it means that we’re connecting with people,” Martin said. “Even if we don’t win, we still get compliments and all that, we know that we’re touching some people and they’re enjoying what we’re doing.”
The other band playing at the 321 Wellness stage was The Loose Nukes, a blues rock band from Grand Haven. Lead guitarist Gregory Ferguson said they wanted to participate to support the community.
“Third Coast (Recording) does a lot of good things around here so we just wanted to come out, play with all the other great bands that are out here and support Grand Haven,” Ferguson said.
The Loose Nukes came about seven months ago after bassist Jeff Jeanette and Ferguson’s previous band began moving in a direction they weren’t entirely happy with, so they started their own band with lead singer and guitarist Bret Balcom and drummer Keith Carlson. Balcom said that each member comes from a different background, from blues to punk to metal and it makes for a sound unlike any other band.
“Honestly, it is cool that all our different backgrounds mesh so uniquely,” Balcom said. “I’d say it’s hard to find a band that has a similar sound to us. People have asked what we sound like and honestly it’s hard to explain sometimes. We’ve heard everything from Arctic Monkeys in a punk genre to Black Keys in a garage rock to even older, like we kind of sound like Jimi Hendrix’s modern stuff. So we dip a little bit everywhere.”