The Verve Pipe, which is releasing its newest album, "Overboard" this week, will perform Friday at Harborfest.
Harborfest uncorks entertainment lineup
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Get set to rock 'n roll, sing the blues, reminisce with the music of the Fab Four, and laugh at a comedian's jokes during Harborfest.
This year's outdoor entertainment lineup includes headliners The Verve Pipe, blues artist Ronnie Baker Brooks, and Toppermost Beatles Tribute Band, along with regional acts from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Indiana.
Booking The Verve Pipe, which is embarking on a tour this week to promote its newest album, “Overboard,” was quite a coup for Harborfest, according to entertainment committee chairperson Laura Rusin.
“We tried to get them here in the late 1990s, but they had just hit it very big with their hit, 'The Freshmen.,'” Rusin said. “It's great timing that we finally got them when they're releasing a new album and going on tour.”
Rusin also said the committee is happy that Chicago bluesman Brooks will be returning to the festival. “When he came here before his concert got rained out. We're so glad he's coming back.”
To ensure concerts don't get rained out, Harborfest has booked Foundry Hall as a backup for inclement weather. Otherwise, all of the concerts will take place at Riverfront Park on Water Street, downtown.
People who attend Harborfest this year will notice more musical acts Friday afternoon and evening than in previous years.
“You have to have a lot of entertainment on Friday to attract a crowd and keep them coming back for Saturday's performances,” Rusin said. “It's easier to get a crowd on Saturday because most people are already in town on Saturday.”
Here is the lineup of entertainers:
• Daily Lunch Combo, 6:15 p.m., Riverfront Park. This group of energetic musicians from South Haven High School performs a variety of musical selections, focusing primarily on jazz. The group formed two years ago and plays at a variety of local events and fundraisers. Members include
Ian Everitt, Cameron Sleeper, Andrew Sicard, Mitch Rooker and Mitchell Graham.
• Quentin Flagg, 7:30 p.m., Riverfront Park. Flagg, a singer and dancer, hails from northern Indiana and performs hits from the mid-1950s forward, including music of Elvis Presley, John Mellencamp, Neil Diamond, and Frank Sinatra.
He has entertained in Las Vegas, New York, Tennessee, Canada, England and Ireland and has opened for country star Tracy Byrd, the Drifters, and performed with actor and comedian Jim Belushi. Comedian Jerry Donovan will perform during intermission.
• Entertainment from Foundry Hall, 5 p.m. Foundry Hall is a entertainment hall in South Haven that features many regional, national and international touring artists throughout the year.
• Slim Gypsy Baggage, 6 p.m., Riverfront Park. The Indie/rock/reggae group from St. Joseph consists of vocalist/guitarist Morgan Ingle, lead guitarist Cam Mammina, vocalist and bass player Matt Smith, and drummer Scott Christie. The group performs throughout West Michigan at festivals and brew pubs.
• Matt Gabriel, 7:30 p.m. Gabriel's original songs are described as a blend of “folk and blues with a solid rock and roll center.” In the past four years he has performed throughout the United States , from noisy jazz bars in southern Louisiana to coffee shops in Seattle, Wash.
• Jerry Donovan, 8:30 p.m.. Comedian Donovan has performed in comedy clubs, venues and movie sets across the country, working with such notables as Kurt Russell, Jason Segal and Larry “The Soup Nazi” Thomas.
He has been featured on Comcast “On Demand” and has performed throughout the country, from the famous “Caroline's” of New York City to Zeeland's Moose Lodge.
• The Verve Pipe, 9 p.m. Best known for their hit 1996 post-grunge rock single, “The Freshmen,” the popular Michigan-based band continues to release albums, and kicks off a tour this week to promote their latest one, “Overboard.” One of the singles from the album, “Crash Landing,” was released in April.
Brian and Brad Vander Ark formed The Verve Pipe in 1992 in Lansing. Now based in Grand Rapids, the band has released seven albums, including two family-oriented ones, —“A Family Album” in 2009 and “Are We There Yet?” in 2013.
The band's 2001 release “Underneath,” contained the song "Colorful", which was featured on the soundtrack of the film, “Rock Star” and "Happiness Is" featured on the soundtrack of the film, "Joe Somebody." Current band members include Brian Vander Ark, Scott Stefanski, Joel Ferguson, Randall Sly, Craig Griffith and Lou Musa.
• Serita's Black Rose, 6 p.m. Three-time Eclipse Award winner Serita Crowley performs throughout the Midwest, with music that captures the sounds of Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige and KoKo Taylor. She has opened for Smokey Robinson, and has shared the stage with Brian Vander Ark of The Verve Pipe, KoKo Taylor and James Brown.
• The Kelly Richey Band, 7:30 p.m. Cincinnati, Ohio blues rock guitarist Kelly Richey has been described as “Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman's body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out.” She has performed for more than 30 years, first starting as a teenager. Richey has shared the stage with such legends as Lonnie Mack and Albert King, and has opened for Joe Cocker, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Foghat, REO Speedwagon and George Thorogood.
• Ronnie Baker Brooks, 9 p.m. Chicago blues singer and guitarist Brooks joined his father, Lonnie Brooks' band soon after graduating high school. His guitar work is included in Lonnie Brooks' album, “Live from Chicago: Bayou Lightning Strikes. He then went solo in 1998, with his first album, “Golddigger,” produced by Janet Jackson.
The album earned him a nomination for Best New Artist at the 2000 Blues Music Awards. He followed that album with “Take Me Witcha,” in May 2001 and “Torch” in 2006. The album includes guest contributions from Lonnie Brooks, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, Willie Kent, and Al Kapone, and was produced by Jellybean Johnson.
• Area Praise and Worship band performances, 11:30-12:30 p.m.
• Toppermost Beatles Tribute Band, 12:30 p.m. This Farmington, Mich.-based band recreates the energy and youthfulness of the Beatles.
Toppermost has been voted the Best Beatles Tribute Band in Michigan six years in a row.. Its members include Ron Lockhart as George Harrison; Mario Kyriakides as Ringo Starr; Tom Biab as Paul McCartney; and Tony Iadipaolo as John Lennon.
Harborfest Schedule of Events
Harborfest gets underway with free concerts, dragon boat races and a classic boat show
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
It takes roughly $35,000 to stage Harborfest each year, and once again, sponsors have come through to help the event celebrate its 23rd year.
“We have more sponsors this year than in the past,” said Linda Bosma, a member of Harborfest's committee. “It takes at least $30,000 to put on a festival that will attract people to South Haven. The entertainment alone costs $20,000.”
Harborfest, which celebrates the town's maritime heritage, will take place Thursday-Sunday, primarily at the city's Riverfront Park that overlooks the city's harbor on Water Street.
The event offers a smorgasbord of activities, including free concerts, the popular Chinese dragon boat races, a classic wooden boat show at the Michigan Maritime Museum, a pancake breakfast by the South Haven Kiwanis Club, a beer garden, food fest and craft fair.
“We want to be sure to promote both sides of the river,” Bosma said in regard to the museum's classic wooden boat show.
The museum has scheduled its wooden boat show in conjunction with Harborfest for several years, however, because most of the festival's events take place on the south side of Black River, the museum's activities, which are on the river's north side, sometimes get overlooked.
“The museum is part of this community, too,” Bosma said.
The Maritime Museum, 260 Dyckman, will not only host its classic wooden boat show on Saturday, it also will sponsor a vessel salute on Friday, toy boat building for youngsters throughout the day on Saturday, and several presentations about the museum's historic boats.
“We've been doing this show for 33 years,” said Patti Montgomery-Reinert, the museum's executive director. “You want to have things going on both sides of the harbor during Harborfest.”
Not only are Harborfest organizers trying to work more closely with the museum to promote its activities during the festival, it also has been drumming up more interest in the community by hosting a T-shirt logo contest and a community events calendar that features logos that were submitted by area students and adults.
“We turned the contest into a fundraiser by selling the calendars and they're selling well,” Bosma said.
The logo of South Haven artist Juanita Mercado ended up being chosen as Harborfest's official 2014 logo. It depicts a message in a bottle with a view of the city's lighthouse and harbor in the background. It along with other contestant logos are depicted on the calendar pages.
“We had about three-dozen entries which is pretty good for a first-time effort,” Bosma said. “We're planning to continue with the calendars and want to put more community events on it for next year.”
Harborfest also promoted itself more so this year by renting a billboard on Interstate 196, in Berrien County.
“We put more money into PR this year to attract more people to the festival,” Bosma said. “If the weather is good, we'll have a good turnout.”