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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Inaugural Sounds of the Zoo roars out of the gate with over 50 bands and a mission to lift the Kalamazoo scene

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Artwork for Sounds of the Zoo

Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert has organized and memorized the entire 50-plus band schedule of her brainchild, Sounds of the Zoo. The free festival, which takes place Sept 26 - Oct 2 at a variety of Kalamazoo venues, will feature an array of West Michigan bands and performers who play all kinds of music. Events run from 6-10 pm Monday through Thursday at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, the Hilton Garden Inn, Old Dog Tavern, and the Xperience, with full-day music at Bronson Park on Friday and Saturday. On top of that, the festival will feature 4 Busking Performance Stations along the Kalamazoo Mall on Saturday, October 1 from 12:00-6:00pm. See the full schedule here.

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Courtesy photo
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Sounds of the Zoo founder Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert

In a conversation with Cara Lieurance that also includes performer Carolyn Koebel, Hudson-Prenkert says she has been active as an artist, performer and music lover in Kalamazoo long enough to see the writing on the wall: without a strong, supportive local music scene, Kalamazoo will lose part of its identity. So she designed a festival not only to showcase outstanding talent in the region, but to provide expert talks and workshops to benefit musicians of all levels. She also decided to make all events free to maximize inclusivity and remove financial barriers. Koebel and Hudson-Prenkert talk about the fellowship among musicians who become each others’ fans when they play on the same festival. It leads to organic partnerships and opportunities they both see as invaluable to the health of the arts community.

Members of the Dacia Bridges Project, including Carolyn Koebel, will perform in tribute to Bridges, a vivid songwriter/performer who died unexpectedly of an aneurysm in 2019. That concert is Wednesday, Sept 28 at Old Dog Tavern.

Donations and sponsorships are welcome. For more information, visit the Sounds of the Zoo website.

Cara Lieurance covers local music with live morning interviews, and produces WMUK's Let's Hear It weekday mornings at 10 am Mon-Fri, showcasing local interviews and performances. She also produces The Pure Drop, an hour of Celtic music, with musician Dave Marlatt.
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