HarmonyFest to bring music, dancing, more to downtown TR

THREE RIVERS — For almost three decades, Three Rivers HarmonyFest has brought the community to downtown Three Rivers for music, food and fun.

It will do so again for the 28th time on Sunday, Sept. 4, beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Main Street in downtown Three Rivers. The downtown block of Main Street will be closed off to let people enjoy the free event, which will feature almost a dozen music acts throughout the day.

“It’s a free event for the community with entertainment, music and spoken word,” HarmonyFest organizer Charlie Wolgamood said. “We close the street down, and it usually turns out pretty well.”

The tunes begin at 1:30 p.m. with folk singer/songwriter Allison Downey, bluegrass-funk band Here Nor There at 2:30, local soul music singer/songwriter Courtney Moore at 4:05, blues/Americana/folk singer Grace Thiesen and her band at 4:30, the Kalamazoo Pipe Band at 5:50, the Caribbean music band Samuel Nalangira Trio at 6:20, country alternative artist Shane Lung at 7:15, up-tempo funk band Funk 211 at 7:45, local poet Debbie Allen at 8:45, and Zion Lion headlining the event at 9 p.m. Show times are subject to change.

Zion Lion played at HarmonyFest in 2021, bringing a variety of Caribbean and reggae rhythms to the Main Street stage. Wolgamood said it was great to have them back for the second year in a row, this time as a headliner, as there was mutual interest from both the organizers and the band to come back.

“They reached out to us early on, and we were about ready to reach out to them because last year they were great,” Wolgamood said. “A lot of people liked them, I liked them, and we thought, let’s give them one more year.”

At last year’s HarmonyFest, a lot of people got up to dance in the area at the front of the stage during Zion Lion’s performance, something Wolgamood said he’s looking forward to seeing happen again.

As for the other acts on the schedule, Downey will bring music with what Wolgamood called a “very positive message.”

“[Downey]’s been here before a lot of years ago. She’s a singer, storyteller, and works at Western [Michigan University] as a professor. She mostly does songs she’s written; she’s a great person to have around,” Wolgamood said.

Wolgamood described Here Nor There, which also performed at HarmonyFest in 2021, as a “psychedelic rock” jam band, who mainly does originals with some cover songs.

As for Moore, she has put out a couple of albums in the last few years, with Wolgamood comparing her style to a cross between Alicia Keys and Nigerian-British soul singer Sade.

“[Moore] has a great voice,” Wolgamood said.

Thiesen, who performed at Art on Main earlier this year, will bring some up-tempo music to the stage, Wolgamood said.

“Most of her stuff is up-tempo, and she’s involved in a lot of positive things,” Wolgamood said. “She has a wonderful voice and a unique sound.”

Wolgamood said the Kalamazoo Pipe Band was brought to HarmonyFest this year by Three Rivers Public Library Children’s Librarian Peter Butts, who is a member of the band.

“I’ve always liked to have bagpipes. It sounds good on the street out there and gets people motivated,” Wolgamood said. “You can’t beat it.”

The Samuel Nalangira Trio, Wolgamood said, gets “people up and moving” and are “very energetic on the stage.” Shane Lung, who also played at last year’s HarmonyFest, mainly plays a mix of covers and originals.

“He’s up and coming, and some of the songs are very emotional. He writes about things that have gone on in his life,” Wolgamood said. “He gives it his all.”

Funk 211 is a locally-based band, Wolgamood said, with Three Rivers Improvement Movement leader Mike Curtis as its drummer. He said they “took a break” for about 10 years and are getting back together for some funk music.

“They do covers and originals, up-tempo funk to get people dancing,” Wolgamood said.

Wolgamood said Allen, the poet, has a “nice perspective on things,” with her material “down to earth” and “simplistic.”

“I’ve heard her a couple of times, and I like what she has to say,” Wolgamood said. “She’s got a nice perspective on things, really down-to-earth type things, things she’s experienced, and the way she expresses herself, it’s done in a simplistic form that gets her message across.”

Outside of the music, Wolgamood said there will be a Kids Zone from 2-5 p.m., featuring storytelling, face painting, caricature drawing, Portfolio Ink with temporary tattoos, and Home Depot with different kids’ projects. Food vendors will also be available, including Weenie King, Ibison Concessions, Mema’s Kitchen, and Wiz BBQ. The Landmark Taphouse and Grille, The Riviera Theatre and Bar, and Useless Creatures Brewing Company will also be set up during the event for drinks.

Overall, Wolgamood said what makes HarmonyFest fun every year is:

“I love music downtown, you can’t beat it. When people are out there dancing and having a good time, that’s what I love to see,” Wolgamood said. “It’s nice for the community, it’s a nice showcase for downtown and our area. We can promote our businesses and our beautiful downtown district, and you get to see people you don’t see often. You get people from both sides of the tracks coming out to have a good time.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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