Mac's Bars hosts Mitten Jam, hopes to expand audience
The comfort of the dilapidated couch housed in the brick basement of Mac’s Bar, 2700 E. Michigan Ave., in Lansing, was revived by the experimental rockers of Pleasant Drive. The couch managed to fit the four grown men while they kicked back before their return performance at the second Mac’s Mitten Jam.
Pleasant Drive bassist Evan Kincaid was eager to support the return of the festival, which began at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 5 and 6.
Organizers of Mac’s Mitten Jam sought to create a weekend event to provide audiences with a lineup of bands that would not ordinarily be paired together while emulating a summer music festival atmosphere.
“It’s the festival vibe inside Mac’s (Bar), and you can’t get any better than that,” Kincaid said. “That’s what we’re trying to achieve here.”
Kincaid said Mitten Jam integrated the different genres smoothly.
“Mac’s Mitten Jam is a culmination of a bunch of various artists,” he said. “The best way to put it is it strays the lines of rock ‘n’ roll (and) jazz and a lot of fusion in there.”
Pleasant Drive first became involved with Mitten Jam in June as a part of the festival’s original focus on Michigan bands.
The band returned for October’s lineup, but the festival has broadened its scope of attention from Michigan to the Midwest. The expansion provided an influx of diverse performers.
MSU alumnus Ryan Carpenter of Red Cedar Entertainment said the varying acts appealed to various listeners.
“It’s a wide range of genres so we can make it as open to people as possible,” he said. “It’s almost guaranteed that if you come, you’re going to enjoy at least one of the acts.”
Featured musicians included Chicago rock band Indigo Sun, Muncie, Ind., neon band Glostik Willy and Rochester, Mich., indie teen Olivia Millerschin. Overall, improvisation and psychedelic elements were a common chord among the performers.
Although art history and visual culture freshman Allison Stawara wasn’t familiar with any of the bands, she was more drawn to the freedom of creativity the jam bands promised.
“I like jam (and) psychedelic bands — the make-it-up-as-you-go stuff,” she said. “There’s no set form; they just jam.”
Stawara’s friend, English freshman Stephanie Burnham, said it was purely her interest in live music that motivated the two to walk to Mac’s Bar from Brody Complex Neighborhood.
“I just wanted to hear the music,” she said.
Organizers of Mac’s Mitten Jam accomplished their goal of increasing to a biannual festival in Lansing. Carpenter said he hopes to hold the festival outdoors in future years.
“It’s all about growing, (and) we’re making steps in the right direction,” he said. “For this being the second (Mac’s Mitten Jam) and being a fairly small event, I think we’re doing a pretty good job.”