Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Mellencamp’s No Better Than This Tour Making A Stop In Grand Rapids

Documentary Film Chronicling The Creation of The “No Better Than This” Album To Open The Show

Concert dates for the next leg of John Mellencamp’s No Better Than This Tour, that began last year in Indiana, have just been announced with a performance set this November 1st at DeVos Performance Hall at 7PM. Tickets go on sale Friday, August 5th at 10am. Prices are $42, $72, $92 and $125. Tickets will be available at the Van Andel Arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets,, or charge by phone: 800-745-3000. Tickets will also be available at the DeVos Place box office during the on-sale and following the on-sale, beginning August 8, 2011.

Mellencamp’s No Better Than This Tour is just back from a run of dates in Ireland, England, Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy. The 17-date tour begins on October 25 at Boston’s Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theater and will be making a stop in Savannah, GA at the Johnny Mercer Theater on November 11.

This Savannah show is of extra significance in light of the fact that sessions for Mellencamp’s critically acclaimed “No Better Than This” album began less than half a mile away at Savannah’s First African Baptist Church. Mellencamp and producer T Bone Burnett would go on to record the rest of the album at Sun Studio in Memphis and in Room 414 of San Antonio's Gunter Hotel where Robert Johnson recorded in 1936. The sessions were documented on a 55-year-old mono tape recorder using just one vintage microphone at each location.

As a reflection of the diversity of styles and material that have been a hallmark of Mellencamp's eclectic career, the No Better Than This concerts are formatted into three segments. These showcase John Mellencamp in an acoustic context, fronting a small combo recalling blues/country and rockabilly roots and with his full rock band. Musicians backing Mellencamp include Michael Wanchic (guitar), Andy York (guitar), Miriam Sturm (violin), John Gunnell (electric and upright bass), Dane Clark (drums and percussion) and Troye Kinnett (accordion/keyboards).

Each of the No Better Than This tour dates will be preceded by a screening of It’s About You, the documentary by filmmakers Kurt and Ian Markus, shot on Super 8, over the course of 2009’s Bob Dylan-John Mellencamp-Willie Nelson tour of minor league baseball stadiums. The hour-long film, both a SXSW Film Festival and Nashville Film Festival selection, chronicles the creation of the No Better Than This album that was recorded on that tour’s off days. The film will be shown at 7 PM at each of the No Better Than This Tour venues so ticket holders are advised to arrive in time to see it.

As was the case with its album namesake, No Better Than This concerts have been the subject of an impressive number of laudatory reviews. A selection of excerpts from those follows. “Mellencamp gloriously proved that not only is he one of America’s treasures, an incredible singer-songwriter and guitarist, he’s also a master at putting together a set.” - Dallas Morning News:

“…A concert that seesawed between facing mortality — full of songs about death — and a stubborn determination to live fully.” - New York Times

“...He maintains remarkable vocal strength. It's an instrument that's perfectly suited to a catalogue of songs that aim to provide a voice to a cast of uncelebrated working-class figures.” - Richmond Times-Dispatch

“His voice, grainy and loaded with gravitas, remains as compelling and as affective as it was the day he recorded ‘Pink Houses’ in 1983. It’s a voice that’s as distinctive as any of his arguably more famous peers, from Dylan to Springsteen to Petty, and like those artists, it’s attached to a man who has kept integrity high on his priority list. Johnny Cash once referred to him as one of the ten best songwriters, and Mellencamp’s newer material didn’t disappoint in a live setting.” - American Songwriter

“ was a generous show, giving the fans what they wanted, but also allowing the leader to indulge in a more old-school style.” - St Paul Pioneer Press

“This concert was superb from beginning to end, with Mellencamp and his crack band taking a stripped down, neo-folk approach until the last quarter, when he unleashed his rock 'n' roll persona. I'm loath to call anything the best, but if I have to choose, this was the concert of the year in Pittsburgh.” - Pittsburgh Tribune

Friday, July 22, 2011

Broadway Grand Rapids Presents "Come Fly Away"

The new Broadway musical, COME FLY AWAY, conceived, choreographed, and directed by Tony Award-winner Twyla Tharp and by special arrangement with the Frank Sinatra Family and Frank Sinatra Enterprises, will open at DeVos Performance Hall on Tuesday, October 4 through Sunday, October 9, 2011. Tickets go on sale Sunday, August 7 at 10am to the general public with tickets from $27.50. Presale tickets are available Wednesday, July 27 at 9am to members of the Broadway Grand Rapids Eclub. To join the Eclub and receive exclusive presale offers to upcoming shows visit

COME FLY AWAY is a co-presentation of Broadway Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Ballet Company. The Grand Rapids Ballet Company is thrilled to see Twyla Tharp's choreography returning to West Michigan. Last season's Ballet presentation of the Twyla Tharp choreographed NINE SINATRA SONGS was a runaway hit! COME FLY AWAY is sure to be just as spectacular, combining Twyla Tharp's choreography and Frank Sinatra's crooning once again. Broadway Grand Rapids hopes to build on the excitement and interest in dance generated by nine Sinatra songs, and create a wonderful experience for both theater and dance audiences.

The COME FLY AWAY cast has been invited to participate in the ArtPrize 2011 grand finale and closing ceremonies on Thursday, October 6 at DeVos Performance Hall. The cast will perform as lead-in to the suspense and surprise of the winners’ announcement. Due to this exciting collaboration, the Thursday 7:30pm performance of COME FLY AWAY has been cancelled. Broadway Grand Rapids Thursday night season ticket holders will be given the choice of attending one of the other seven performances.

COME FLY AWAY follows four couples as they fall in and out of love during one song and dance filled evening at a crowded nightclub. Blending the legendary vocals of Frank Sinatra with a live on-stage big band and 14 of the world’s finest dancers, COME FLY AWAY weaves an unparalleled hit parade of classics, including “Fly Me To The Moon,” “My Way,” and “That’s Life,” into a soaring musical fantasy of romance and seduction.

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times calls COME FLY AWAY, “Spectacular and dazzling! This is a major new work, with a stage full of brilliant performers. Twyla Tharp’s electrifying celebration of the music of Frank Sinatra will sweep you up in a complete spell.” Linda Winer of Newsday calls the show “A dangerously gorgeous dance adventure,” while Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press calls the show “Astonishing-- A love letter to romance, not to mention the man and his music, with eight marvelous leads and an orchestra of sterling musicians.” And Richard Zoglin of Time Magazine states simply, “COME FLY AWAY delivers the purest jolt of pleasure to be found on a Broadway stage.”

The show’s score combines classic and newly discovered vocal performances from the Sinatra archives, along with Sinatra’s signature arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Quincy Jones, among others, and brand new charts, for this fresh innovative musical.

COME FLY AWAY is affordably priced from $27.50 and will perform 7 shows at DeVos Performance Hall from October 4-9, 2011. Tickets go on sale August 7, 2011. Tickets may be purchased at the DeVos Performance Hall box office, all Ticketmaster locations, or via phone at 1-800-745-3000. Group discounts are available by calling 616-742-6185 or by e-mailing

For more information on the 2011-2012 Fifth Third Bank Broadway Grand Rapids Series visit

For additional information, please visit

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taste of Honey Tour Bringing R&B Crooners Tank & Avant To Grand Rapids

Contemporary R&B mainstays Tank and Avant are coming together to perform all their smooth, soulful hits at DeVos Performance Hall on Friday, August 12 at 8PM. Relative newcomer Noel Gourdin will also be on-hand to serenade the fans.

Tickets for the performance are on sale now. Prices are $37.50, $47.50, $52.50, $57.50 and $71.50. Tickets are available at the Van Andel Arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets,, or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Tickets will also be available at the DeVos Place box office after August 7, 2011.

Tank and Avant have each recorded several albums in their successful careers and garnered solid fan bases respectively. Combined, the two singers have worked with some of the genre’s biggest names including the late Aaliyah, Brian McKnight, Ginuwine, Keyshia Cole, Donnell Jones, Jamie Foxx, Monica and Chris Brown to show just some of the influence they’ve both had over the last decade.

Since 2001’s “Maybe I Deserve” was all over the R&B charts, Tank has come a long way and was more recently nominated for a 2011 Grammy on his collaboration with Chris Brown’s “Take My Time.” On the heels of his 2010 album, “Now Or Never,” Tank teams up with Avant, whose songs have littered the charts as well. Avant also released an album in late 2010, “The Letter.” Simmering with radio-friendly yet relatable introspections about romance/love, commitment and other realities of life, “The Letter” finds singer/songwriter Avant steady in music’s mainstream ranks – joining such predecessors as Maxwell, Marvin Gaye, and D’Angelo.

Noel Gourdin has recently released his sophomore album, “Fresh: The Definition” last April. The up-and-comer spent much of his childhood in Mississippi, giving his music a big-city edge with a country soul.

This event was scheduled as part of the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority’s Community Inclusion Group’s (CIG) ongoing commitment to bringing diverse yet universal attractions to downtown Grand Rapids.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Clean, Family-friendly Comedian Brian Regan to Entertain DeVos Performance Hall

Critics and peers agree: Brian Regan has distinguished himself as one of the premier comedians in the country. The perfect balance of sophisticated writing and physicality, Brian fills theaters nationwide with fervent fans that span generations. Soon, Regan will bring that comedic balance to Grand Rapids. The clean and family-friendly comedian is coming to DeVos Performance Hall on Saturday, October 1st at 8:00pm.

Tickets go on sale this Friday, July 15th at 10am and are $39.50 each. Tickets will be available at the DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

Brian Regan has distinguished himself as one of the premier comedians in the country. Brian’s non-stop theater tour has visited more than 80 cities each year since 2005 and continues through 2011. It is the quality of his material, relatable to a wide audience and revered by his peers, which continues to grow Brian’s fan base.

In March of 2010, Brian broke the record for the most consecutive shows by a comedian at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City with five sold out performances. The previous record was four shows set by Jerry Seinfeld in 2005.