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The Rebirth of | by Nick Manes and Brian Edwards

T DIDN’T TAKE LONG FOR a little rock and roll anarchy to turn up at the newly re-launched Val-Du- Lakes Amphitheatre. The moment arrived just three

songs into the first live set in more than a decade at the legendary out-

“There was a traffic jam for 14 miles”

door theater. Sal Coz Costa, the lead guitarist for opening night opener My Darkest Days, invited fans to tip over a barricade fence and rush the stage. Fans of the Toronto rock band more than readily obliged, streaming forward. Security began to sort out who belonged in the pit and who didn’t, but then relented and let the 400 or so fans who’d shown up for the opening set stay up front. The mosh pit was open. Leaning against a barri-

cade and watching the scene unfold, Val-Du-Lakes owner Brian Lowing shrugged and said: “It’s a rock show. It’s sup- posed to be fun.” Lowing and partner Ned Timmer certain-

ly seem to have fun in mind with the newly re-launched Val Du Lakes. In its heyday, the venue hosted the likes of Aerosmith, Metallica and Stevie Ray Vaughn in the ‘90s. After more than a decade in mothballs, they’ve reinvented Val Du Lakes as an outdoor venue,

52 | REVUEWM.COM | JUNE 2011


VAL-DU-LAKES 1511 N. Wilson Rd., Silver Lake

June concerts: Free-kie Fridays (June 3 & June 25); 38 Special with Molly Hatchet (June 4); Summer Soundfest (June 10-11); Collective Soul with Better than Ezra (June 18); Gin Blossoms with Tonic (June 25).

Erickson says. “[But] it was a helluva party!” Perhaps there can be traffic jams in the

area again, as Val-Du-Lakes is reopening with a full line-up throughout the entire summer. “[Val-Du-Lakes] had been closed for the

better part of 15 years,” Timmer said. Timmer explains that he met with Brian

and Mary Lowing, who own the concert venue, about putting on a charity show. “We figured if we could put on one show,

with three massive outdoor decks, lawn space for chairs and the pit in front of the stage. The 80-by-48-foot stage pumps out 80,000 watts through a sound system that reaches into every corner of the outdoor venue. Located north of Muskegon on Silver

Lake, Val Du Lakes was a powerhouse throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, before closing in 1996. If you can think of a big-time rock and roll or hair metal band, there is a very good chance they played Val-Du-Lakes. From Stevie Ray Vaughn to Guns ‘n Roses to Foghat, all made appearances. Paul Erickson is basically

a rock and roll historian. As one of the original owners of Val-Du-Lakes, he had the honor of 15 years of music history. He worked with Orbit Room owner Don Dorshimer in Grand Rapids

who helped bring in the giant headliners through his Belkin Productions company. “Belkin Productions was the muscle for

bringing in big bands,” Erickson says. Due to this long history, Erickson has a

whole host of stories. Like the time when a white hot Guns n’ Roses, who went from rela- tive unknowns to chart-topping stars, played a show at Val-Du-Lakes.


we could do a whole season.” One of the most interesting aspects of

this upcoming season is the return of bands that once made Val-Du-Lakes a hot spot. “38 Special and Molly Hatchet were some

of the last bands to grace the stage in ‘96. They will be among the first bands to grace it again,” Timmer says. That particular show will take place on

Saturday, June 4. Other highlights include ‘90s favorites Collective Soul and Better than

Ezra, as well as classic rockers Cheap Trick and Meat Loaf performing on back-to-back days. Val-Du-Lakes will also host the two-day

Summer Soundfest the weekend of June 10. The festival will include many regional, as well as national acts from a variety of genres such as metal, alt-rock and hip-hop. Acts include Glassjaw, Brother Ali, If He Dies He Dies, Stepdad, Super Dre, and others. Val-Du-Lakes will also present several na-

tionally touring country musicians, including Sara Evans (May 28) and the Xtreme Muzik Tour with Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson. The venue also has scheduled a series of

Free-kie Fridays, a no-cover evening where fans can check out the amphitheatre for free. Timmer says the free shows, which will fea- ture nationally touring artists, will be ticketed events. Tickets will be available at the venue, online or through WMMR 101.7-FM. For complete concert listings visit valdu- n


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