June 8 2016 12:15 AM

City Pulse River Rock Concert and Grand American Fish Rodeo celebrate Greater Lansing food, music and waterways

Greg Nagy and his band perform at last year's Grand American Fish Rodeo. This year, the river-centric festival is merged wit hthe first-ever City Pulse River Rock Concert.
Nicole Rico/City Pulse

The Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art, usually referred to as MICA, is known for its popular jazz and blues festivals. This year, it’s adding rock ‘n’ roll into the mix.

The nonprofit organization, founded in 1984, runs an art gallery in Old Town and organizes Michigan BluesFest and Lansing JazzFest. This year, MICA is teaming up with City Pulse to present a weekend of rock music and river-related activities. The first-ever River Rock Concert, which comes to Adado Riverfront Park Friday and Saturday, includes two nights of music, as well as MICA’s Grand American Fish Rodeo.

Rich Tupica, City Pulse Turn It Down columnist and organizer of the weekend’s musical events, cast his nets in Greater Lansing’s musical waters to pull in a variety of artists with local connections. Friday’s headliners, the Verve Pipe, got its start in East Lansing’s early-‘90s music scene.

“I kind of like the idea of looking back,” Tupica said. “When I thought about bands with East Lansing roots, my mind went to the Verve Pipe. It just made sense.”

It made even more sense when Tupica realized this year marks a significant anniversary for the band.

The Verve Pipe’s platinum-selling record, 1996’s “Villains,” was released 20 years ago. The album features the hit single “The Freshmen,” which skyrocketed the band to fame. Friday, the band will play the album live, cover-to-cover, for the first time.

“I did the math in my head while we were planning. It’s a milestone for an album like that,” Tupica said. “I wanted the band to not to just do a regular concert, the kind that people could see anywhere, but one that centered on ‘Villains.’ There are some songs that bands will never play live, so they will say no to this kind of show. But the Verve Pipe guys really liked the idea.”

Joining the Verve Pipe Friday is Greater Lansing-based troubadour Wally Pleasant, who will play his 1992 album, “Songs About Stuff,” in its entirety.

Local ‘80s cover band Triple Lindy will open the show.

While Friday’s show looks back in time, Saturday brings a slate of Greater Lansing’s up-and-coming musical talent. The evening’s Top of the Town Party features singer/songwriter Stefanie Haapala, pop punk outfit City Mouse, indie rockers Elliot Street Lunatic and rapper James Gardin. While Gardin is used to playing on all-hip-hop shows, he’s excited to join a lineup of diverse artists.

“I feel like it’s going to be a family vibe; It will definitely be fun,” Gardin said. “I’m in the process of working on a new record, and it’s exciting to see how people feel about new music. My music is like rap, but it’s filled with a soulful funk.”

The Top of the Town Party will also celebrate the winners of this year’s City Pulse/Fox 47 News Top of the Town contest. Attendees will be treated to free food and beverage samples from some of the area’s top eateries, including Zaytoon Mediterranean, Jersey Giant, Cravings, Glazed & Confused, Strange Matter Coffee Co., Lou & Harry’s, Eastside Fish Fry, El Azteco, P.F. Chang’s and Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe. Top of the Town winners will be recognized in a ceremony between musical acts.

Before the Top of the Town party Saturday, the third annual Grand American Fish Rodeo will present a variety of river-centric, family-friendly activities. Terry Terry, president of MICA and founder of MessageMakers, said that the festival committee considered “hundreds of ideas” to take advantage of Lansing’s Grand River.

“A number of years ago, we realized that the river is an underutilized asset and great feature of Lansing,” Terry said. “It has beautiful shorelines and great boat riding, and we don’t take advantage of it. That spurred us to put on an event that really showcased the shoreline.”

Those discussions led to the creation of the Grand American Fish Rodeo, which centers around fishing events on the Grand River. The festivities run from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., including fishing tournaments for adults and kids, as well as multi-cultural music acts and children’s activities.

“We will have educational tents, showing how to fish, how to bait a hook, how to take care of the Great Lakes, preserving our freshwater and things like that,” Terry said. “We will also have riverboat tours, water taxis and, of course, we have a beer tent.”

City Pulse River Rock Concert

June 10-11 Adado Riverfront Park, Lansing

The Verve Pipe “Villains” 20th Anniversary Concert

With Wally Pleasant and Triple Lindy Friday, June 10 $25/$15 adv./$20 adv. reserved VIP seating

Top of the Town Party

With Elliot Street Lunatic, City Mouse, Stefanie Haapala and James Gardin Saturday, June 11 $8/$5 adv.

Two-night combo: $28/$18 adv./$23 adv. VIP reserved seating Tickets are available at riverrockconcert.com or from the following locations:

City Pulse office 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; closed Saturday and Sunday 1905 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing

Flat, Black & Circular 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday 541 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing

Starring The Verve Pipe performing “Villains” cover to cover

City Pulse River Rock Concert and Grand American Fish Rodeo Schedule

June 10-11 All events at Adado Riverfront Park, 201 E. Shiawassee St., Lansing

Daytime activities
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Riverboat tours ($5 per person)
Noon-11:30 a.m. Beer tent (21 and up; FREE noon-6 p.m., must pay concert admission after 6 p.m.)

The Verve Pipe “Villains” 20th Anniversary Concert
5 p.m. Doors open
6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Triple Lindy
8 p.m.-8:50 p.m. Wally Pleasant
9:20 p.m.-10:45 p.m. The Verve Pipe

Grand American Fish Rodeo
All events FREE unless otherwise noted
8 a.m.-noon Children’s fishing clinic
8 a.m.-5 p.m. All Things Water Tent
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Fishing tournament (FREE to watch, $20 to compete)
10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Riverboat tours ($5 per person)
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Plein air painting
Noon-4 p.m. Multi-cultural acts
Noon-6 p.m. Inflatables for kids
Noon-11:30 p.m. Beer tent (21 and up; FREE noon-6 p.m., must pay concert admission after 6 p.m.)
1 p.m.-5 p.m. Fingerlings Fishing Tournament (FREE to compete, but registration is limited)
6 p.m.-8 p.m. Water taxi (between Adado Riverfront Park and Lansing City Market; $1 per person)

Top of the Town Party
3:30 p.m. Doors open
4:30-6 p.m. James Gardin
6-6:30 p.m. Fish Rodeo awards ceremony
6:30-7 p.m. Stefanie Haapala
7:30-8 p.m. Top of the Town awards ceremony
8-9 p.m. City Mouse
9:30-10:30 p.m. Elliot Street Lunatic