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/// LOCAL MUSIC In the Studio:


by Kevin VanAntwerpen | kevin@revuewm.com Sam Kenny Bringing Back World War I


Problems, hosting an open mic night at Putt Putt’s bar on Fulton Street or maybe even playing to a group of drinkers and diners at Applebee’s. But if you’ve seen Kenny’s live perfor-


S


SLEEPING BEAR


Folk music you can smile to M


OST WHO THINK OF a ‘high school band’ picture a group of 16-year- old kids in a garage jamming out power chords on their parents’ old guitars. But close your eyes and listen to new Grand Rapids folk outfit Sleeping Bear and you’d never guess that front man Josiah Gentry and


drummer/vocalist Brent VanEnk are still only high school seniors. “When I first started performing around town on my own, it worked in my favor, being so young,” said Gentry, who spent almost five years


prior as a solo artist. “But now we have to fight the stereotype of being a ‘high school’ band. Obviously, there are a lot of punk garage bands who get together, and it’s really hard to distinguish yourselves to industry professionals, who almost immediately write you off.” Gentry’s experience as a solo artist isn’t the only well of musical talent to be tapped in the band. Keyboardist/vocalist Sarah Main also


performs in the Grand Rapids symphony. To testify to the group’s talent, its first performance as a band sold out the Division Avenue Arts Cooperative in Grand Rapids. But selling out venues isn’t the primary goal of Sleeping Bear. Instead, Gentry explained that if he could have one thing from the project,


he wants listeners to walk away “feeling good.” He explained the band’s Christian faith is at the core of that notion. “We’re trying to give off a good message and be encouraging to people,” Gentry said. “Our music isn’t Christian music and it’s not non- Christian music. It’s basically about life stories. We just want to show people the love that Christ showed.” n


REVUEWM.COM | JUNE 2011 | 47


mance — a visceral folk show that involves leaping, ducking, kicking and shouting, no matter the venue — he’s not a face you’ll forget. Currently, Kenny is in production with


Mike Kirkpatrick for his 14-track sophomore album, World War I. While not “technically” a concept album, Kenny felt that the album definitely had ties to an early 1900’s world. “There were some songs that seemed to


fit the turn-of-the-century era,” Kenny said. “There were some that mentioned war, and some that – when put on an album titled World War I – just seemed to lean the right way.”


AM KENNY HAS A FACE you may recognize. When he’s not pursuing his solo career, he can be found jamming onstage with Grand Rapids rock veterans Domestic


The title itself came from a poem


Kenny had written about gassings dur- ing the First World War, which he’d read about in the book World War I by S.L.A. Marshall. He was in the middle of writing the title track, for which he had a chorus but no verses, when he realized the poem would fit. This time around, his producer played a very large role, Kenny said. He went as far as to cre- ate a 20-track demo and let Kirkpatrick decide which songs would make the final cut. “I wanted [Kirkpatrick] to like the songs he


was working on. I’ve heard stuff that producers work on that they obviously don’t like and it doesn’t sound as good. But he picked 14.” In addition to his song selection,


Kirkpatrick will be loaning Kenny his musi- cianship, alongside several other local musical celebrities, including Karisa Wilson, Russell Gorton, several members of A Thousand Plateaus and Eastern Blok drummer Mike Caskey. n


SCENE |SOUNDS | SIGHTS | DINING | SCHEDULE


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