Albion College’s homecoming started the weekend off right with alumni visiting, a football game happening and everyone having a blast on campus. With so many events in motion, there was even more to see and do downtown.
A festival sponsored by Albion, Walk the Beat, was in full swing Saturday afternoon with music ebbing down the streets and groups of people flocking the area. Just walking to downtown from the college, I could already hear the music vibrating in the air. Sounds of a guitar and even a trumpet floated down before I even hit Superior Street. By the time I got there, five tents were set up and spread out for the musicians. Anyone could stop by one tent and listen to the music for a while before traveling further down the road to catch hold of a different style of music.
Ten musicians played downtown during that time with five different areas along Superior Street. The five locations were the Bohm Theater, Dickerson Music, the Albion Food Hub, Kids ‘N’ Stuff and Albion Malleable Brewing. Benches surrounded each music stop for the audience to sit, relax and enjoy the sounds. In each of those areas, stands were set up for food and for the chance to win prizes. Kids ‘N’ Stuff even offered the opportunity to win a guitar. By giving donations, the public could vote for their favorite band at the festival. The donations went to raising money for kids’ musical education and instruments in the area.
“In Grand Haven they raised almost $40,000 this year to buy instruments and music lessons for kids, “ said Cliff Harris, a chemistry professor at Albion College who led the event last Saturday. “We hope to be at that level by our third year, too.”
Along with Harris, the Executive Director of the Bohm Theater Nancy Doyal, Stephanie Dobbins from Swingin’ at the Shell and English Professor Jess Roberts helped in leading the event.
Some of the ten bands featured at Walk the Beat included the Jake Kershaw Band, playing the blues with stunning guitar solos and overall performance, and Deacon Earl & Congregation, too. Some of the rock artists included Elroy Meltzer and Allie Garland, who played Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen remarkably well in her own style and voice. Also, Albion College’s very own Director of Orchestra James Ball performed at the event too, playing the bass in the River Jazz band.
While there were plenty of people traversing the streets to listen to some good jazz or rock music, it seemed that not enough knew about the event. This is the first year Walk the Beat has come to Albion but the community should expect to see it again. Hopefully by that time, it will gain more publicity for the music and fundraising aspect. Sponsored by Albion College, Walk the Beat is a superb fundraising event that introduces amazing musicians from the area and helps promote kids’ musical education.