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First Things: May 2022

A roundup of happenings in SW Michigan

Please note: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, some of these events may be cancelled or changed after press time. Please check wih venues and organizations for up-to-date information.

Wesley Stace

Something Jazzy

Wesley Stace performs May 3

Wesley Stace, the English singer and songwriter who had critical and popular success as John Wesley Harding in the 1990s, will perform from 6–7:30 p.m. May 3 in the Van Deusen Room of the Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St.

Stace released 17 albums under the Harding name before switching back to his birth name for more recent recordings, including 2021’s Late Style, which he has called “a jazzier album.” He has recorded duets with, among others, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and Rosanne Cash.

Stace has also published four novels, including the international bestseller Misfortune. He is the creator of Cabinet of Wonders, a monthly variety show at New York City’s City Winery, and has taught at Princeton, Swarthmore and Fairleigh-Dickinson universities.

To register for the event or for more information, visit

Unsafe at Any Spreed

Something Familiar

Unsafe at Any Speed to play at Bell’s

The band Unsafe at Any Speed, a side project of Greensky Bluegrass founding member and guitarist Dave Bruzza, will play in the Bell’s Eccentric Cafe Back Room at 7 p.m. May 14.

Bruzza is a multi-instrumentalist and song-writer from Michigan who has toured the country with Greensky Bluegrass for more than 20 years. He formed Unsafe at Any Speed in 2018 for a short run of shows in the Midwest, and the band has become a regular project for him in Greensky Bluegrass’s downtime. The other members of Unsafe at Any Speed are keyboardist Jimmy Matt Rowland, drummer Michael Shimmin, guitarist Justin Mazer and bassist Jeremy Darrow.

Tickets are $22 in advance or $25 day of show and are available at and Bell’s General Store, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave. For more information, visit

Something Wheeled

TrailBlazer ride kicks off Bike Week

Have you got the mettle to pedal to South Haven? Then you can join other biking enthusiasts for the TrailBlazer ride May 7.

The event kicks off Kalamazoo Bike Week May 7–13 and offers participants the option of riding the 34-mile Kal-Haven Trail, which links Kalamazoo to South Haven, in one day or in stages throughout the week. There are also adjacent road routes of 25, 50, 75 and 100 miles for those wishing to ride on paved roads. (The trail is compacted limestone.)

Hosted by Friends of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail and Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail, the ride is an annual fundraiser to support the expansion and maintenance of the trails. The fee to participate is $30 for individuals or $45 for families. For those choosing to ride one way, shuttle rides are available for an additional fee. To register or for more information, visit

Something Fresh

Outdoor farmers markets return

Those harbingers of summer — outdoor farmers markets — return to Kalamazoo, Portage and Texas Township this month.

The first market to open for the season will be the Portage Farmers Market, on May 1. This every-Sunday market is open from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. by Portage City Hall, 7900 S. Westnedge Ave. The market features farmers, vendors and music and runs until Oct. 16. For more information, visit

Opening day of the Kalamazoo Farmers Market is May 7 and heralds the market’s return to its refurbished location at 1204 Bank St. The $4.2 million renovation project, which began in April 2021, has added new vendor space, restrooms and an office building as well as a performance stage and paved parking. The market is open every Saturday from 7 a.m.–2 p.m. through October; Tuesday and Thursday hours will begin in June. For more information, visit

May 7 is also the opening day for the Texas Township Farmers Market, at 7110 West Q Ave. The market is open from 8 a.m.–noon every Saturday through Oct. 15 and will also be open from 4–7 p.m. Tuesdays from June 7 to Aug. 30. For more information, visit

Something Good

News collaborative focuses on mental health issues

In an effort to enhance the news landscape and promote diversity and inclusion of voices among journalists and news sources in Southwest Michigan, a group of 12 news media outlets and organizations have formed the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative (SWMJC).

The media and community partners of the SWMJC include: Community Voices, Encore, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette, New/Nueva Opinion, NowKalamazoo, Public Media Network, Southwest Michigan Second Wave, Watershed Voice, Western Michigan University School of Communication, WMU Student Media Group and WMUK Public Radio 101.3 FM.

The collaborative began in 2019 and in September 2021 received a $100,000 grant from the Solutions Journalism Network to launch the Mental Wellness Project, which examines the limited access to mental health services due to societal stigma, shortage of mental health professionals and the availability and affordability of high-quality services to meet the gap in access. The collaborative also was awarded $27,500 from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation to support the work.

Stories and reporting produced for the project can be found at

Encore Magazine

Encore Magazine is Southwest Michigan’s Magazine, bringing readers intriguing images and stories of the good things, good works and great people of our corner of the mitten. Published 12 times a year, Encore in its fifth decade of serving Southwest Michigan, carrying on a historic tradition of being the premier lifestyle publication of the greater Kalamazoo area.

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