"For us it's a ministry opportunity, and it's for everybody," said Webster, whose classic rock/Christian band Our Rock is headlining the event. "It's a chance for the bands to play, but both before and afterwards to meet and talk to people. Really, it's an outreach for spreading the gospel."
The Band Festival 2018 is set for Sat. June 9 at South United Methodist Church on S. Division just south of 44th St. It features a number of bands, solo artists and family entertainers as well as activities.
"I've been doing differing sized festivals like this from three bands to 12 or 14," said Webster, 68, who plays guitar, keys and sings background vocals for Our Rock. "I think this is the third or fourth one I've done with this number of artists."
Musical styles from country (Riding for the Brand), praise/worship (Jeff & Lori Bond) and bluegrass (Luke Lenhart) are on the bill as well as a puppet show and a "magical" clown for kids. Webster has worked with many of the artists in the past, some in his recording studio.
THE CHURCH CONNECTION
It was more than a decade ago that Our Rock came to South United Methodist to perform at a National Night Out event. Webster keeps in touch with one of the church members, and the pair discussed coming back with something that could also get the neighborhood involved.
Webster and Our Rock are bringing enough equipment to outfit three separate stages on the church grounds so the music can run continuously. The church is providing snacks and setting up kids activities. (In case of rain the festival moves indoors).
"Often bands or other music artists just come in and set up, perform, and then leave," Webster explained. "With something like this they can stay and be a part of everything."
There will be a donation boxes out, noted Webster. The performers are receiving honorariums. But there is no admission charge.
THE ROCK FOUNDATION
Webster, who hails from the Lamont area, started Our Rock in 1991 and in the years since the band has completed six albums and numerous singles. Their classic-pop rock style goes back to the 1960s but carries through to more contemporary sounds. (Sample one of their songs – "Back to the Basics" online ).
They sing mostly original music but also do some "covers" as well as praise songs.
"We do a version of 'How Great Thou Art' in a kind of Elvis Presley style that has been getting plays in various parts of the world," Webster said of their online reach.
In fact, check YouTube and search Lowell Webster and you'll find more than 70 songs he's part of either with Our Rock or other artists.
ALSO ON THE BILL
Ed Englerth of Hastings is a veteran performer and does blues, jazz, acoustic and rock. Gained Access, with lead singer Wilbur Gaertner, is a classic rock "big hair" band (think Sammy Hagar, says Webster).
Jeff & Lori Bond are part of the praise team at Lifestream Church in Allendale and sing praise and worship music. Rick Rediski is a guitarist who performs bluegrass and a number of other genres.
Gene Westveer and his puppet characters have their own stage but will also be leading some "interactive" fun with visitors and other artists. Nancy Greiner is the clowning expert who also does magic tricks.
There may be some last minute changes or additions to the line-up, but Webster says that's just one of the occasional surprises inside the festival package.
"I'm open to doing this kind of thing in other places," he said of his track record of performing at parks, fairs, carnivals, churches and other venues.
Band Festival 2018 - featuring six bands and several other artists
Noon to 8:30pm Sat. June 9, 2018
South United Methodist Church, 4500 S. Division Ave. Grand Rapids.
On the Schedule: Riding for the Brand, Luke Lenhart, Jeff & Lori Bond, Rick Rediski Trio, Ed Englerth, Gained Access, Our Rock, puppeteer Gene Westveer and clown/magician Nancy Greiner
No admission charge, snacks and kids activities available
For more info visit https://www.facebook.com/events/168244224016434/