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This Week's Events

GRABB Black Market: The Real Black Friday is Back!

Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21 -22, See website for times and maps
OK, I will admit that I wanted to employ just the right amount of provocative to get your attention, not only about the return of the Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) Black Market but also the debut of the 1st Annual GRABB Awards reception.
This year's Black Market is an event devoted to increasing the visibility of Black-owned businesses, bringing the community into the awareness camp so they can understand the power of patronizing these local businesses, and supporting the businesses during the holiday season and beyond. This year, the market is combined with a new event, the GRABB Awards. The GRABB Awards were created to recognize, reward and celebrate Black businesses, individuals and community organizations that work hard to build up and make a difference in our community. So this weekend's event is a one-of-a-kind, two-day, two-part event designed to help jump start your holiday shopping while supporting and celebrating Black businesses.
This year's GRABB Awards on Friday evening will feature keynote speaker Pashon Murray, Co-Founder of Detroit Dirt, who was recently honored at the 2014 Martha Stewarts American Made Awards. http://detroitdirt.org/
The GRABB Awards reception is $25 to attend and will be held at the Avenue for the Arts' Mosaic Space (25 S. Division Ave.). Guests of the GRABB Awards will be treated to an unforgettable evening that includes the chance to enjoy the keynote speaker, network, shop and enjoy a beverage or two.
On Saturday, the free-to-enter Black Market Pop-Up Shop will move from Friday night's South Division spot to Southtown's LINC (1167 Madison Ave. SE). Guests who venture to this vibrant and beautifully developing community-focused neighborhood will be treated to a great shopping atmosphere featuring live soulful music, children's activities (including a chance to visit with Santa), as well as prizes and giveaways for kids of all ages.
"The Black Market reinforces the work of GRABB to foster a micro-economy that supports the revitalization of the Black community and expands opportunities for Black businesses in the Metro Grand Rapids area," says Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses' founder Jamiel Robinson. "Also, to improve the quality of life for impoverished Black families by creating a viable and sustainable business community."
The urgency of this matter in our community is underscored by the recent visit to Grand Rapids by the co-author of Just Growth, Dr. Manuel Pastor, who, along with co-author Chris Benner (profiled in G-Sync Editorial LINK) discussed his startling research about the very real conditions of racial equity and economy, and what it means for our future city. While in Grand Rapids, Dr. Pastor reiterated what Benner had already revealed to a packed house at Meijer Gardens -- that nearly 45 percent of the estimated 40,000 African Americans in Grand Rapids live at or below the poverty line. GRABB is trying to change that.
"The Black Market represents an opportunity for us to shift our consumer behaviors and activity," says Robinson. "Through the Black Market I seek to continue to create more visibility and awareness for Black businesses in the Metro Grand Rapids area."
If there ever was a time for you to get off your butt and support your community regardless of color, now is the time. (I do hope you will make time to stop by here on Saturday.)
Admission: $25 for the Friday night awards reception, Saturday is free.

Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival: Try Them All!

Thursday, Nov. 20 - Saturday, Nov. 22
Are you the type of foodie who has fantasized about being under one room with access to 1,200+ wines and 200+ beers, plus an array of handmade (and many local) ciders and light-up-the-night spirits?
If you are a local and you answer, "Yes… and I have been for years now been seeking such an experience," then I must say, "Where have you been all this time?" because this weekend we offer such an experience right downtown at the Grand Rapids Wine, Beer and Food Festival for the 7th year in row.
Within this ultimate one-stop-shop are thousands of chances to sample from the thousands of bottles found in The Vineyard or Brewer's Loft. And with the advent of the ever-growing cider market, you can wander about the Michigan Blue Cider House courtesy of BLUE Magazine.
There even are dining opportunities that you have to experience firsthand. But do not delay securing a reservation at any one of these specialty food and drink pairing dinners. These are a hot ticket that must be purchased in advance. Here is a link to get you right to the front of the ticket counter. 
So before you head home for the holidays and try to impress the parents or prove to your kids that you still have it in you to try new things, stop by to ensure you have the best host and hostess gifts before you walk in the door this holiday season.
General Admission: Advance single day ticket sale special ends 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20. After Thursday, ticket prices are $20 for a single day pass to $40 for the entire weekend. Sampling tokens sold on site.

GR Comic-Con - Let's Play Dress Up (Adult Version)

Friday - Sunday, Nov. 21 - 23, see website for details
If you are an alien and you want to take over the city of Grand Rapids, then this is your weekend to stage that attack, as the streets and halls of hotels will be filled with comic fans many adorned as their favorite character who will descend upon our fair snow-covered city for the ever-growing Comic-Con. You'll blend right in with the costumed crowd.
If you know what Comic-Con is, then you are already preparing your outfits for the weekend festivities that sprawl from the DeltaPlex for the convention to the area bars and businesses ready to receive you just as you are. (Area merchants will only take cash or credit cards, so hold your geeluck-luck bills for your next outer space stop back in Zoltazick.)
If you do not know what Comic-Con is about, then start here and work out where you will land your ship this weekend. It will be worth it no matter where you land or how you arrive.
Details here for all programming, including when Nichelle Nichols a.k.a. Lt. Uhura from the original “Star Trek" will be at the event. LINK: Complete List of Comic-Con Events
Admission: $12 - 35 with special pricing for kids.

Feedback 20: Sinkevics Takes the Wheel

Sunday, Nov. 23, 4 - 9 p.m.
Sometimes a writer will step back and let another take over. When I asked John Sinkevics, editor and publisher of Local Spins Online Magazine, to reflect on his last 20 years of producing the music-fueled charity event, Feedback (first known as Basement Bands Benefit), I expected a few bits of quotes. What I got is really worth printing in its entirety, but here are a few things should know before you venture out to attend this concert. These are John's reflections on Feedback:
"For two decades, this has been a true labor of love for me and my band mate, friend and guitarist Charley Honey. When we first launched this 20 years ago at the old Intersection in Eastown, we looked at it as a way to raise money for a good cause -- supporting food pantries for needy families coordinated by Access of West Michigan -- and spotlight under-the-radar bands who sometimes don't get the attention they deserve.
That first year, our band The Honeytones played, along with an unusual garage-rock outfit Workshop. Headlining the show was Two Headed Sam, a very cool, soulful rock band whose membership happened to include Mark Sellers, who'd later go on to great success as a restaurateur and GR bar magnate (Stella's, HopCat, Grand Rapids Brewing Company).
Since that time, Feedback has been held at Billy's Lounge (formerly Martini's), The Rhythm Kitchen, The B.O.B. and for the past several years at Founders Brewing Co. 
Over the years, a who's who lineup of talented bands has played Feedback, including The Concussions, The Crane Wives, Midlife Crisis, The Willeys, Molly Bouwsma Schultz, Ralston Bowles, Valentiger, Jimmie Stagger, Nathan Kalish, DangerVille, Jim Crawford Band, Knee Deep Shag and more.
So to commemorate this anniversary, this year's show features some popular performers from past Feedbacks: Domestic Problems (which is playing Founders for the first time ever on Sunday) and The FuzzRites.
Plus, The Honeytones will bring in some special guests to play with them during their opening set  -- harmonica player Hank Mowery and singer Hannah Rose Graves. And there could be some surprises to boot. In addition, there will be a 50-50 raffle and sales of a commemorative Feedback poster to further aid the cause.
There have been some drop-dead amazing performances over the years: Domestic Problems playing to a jam-packed Rhythm Kitchen with folks sitting and lying on the floor; Molly Bouswma Schultz and Friends tearing it up at Founders in what would be the predecessor to Vox Vidorra; The Concussions filling the dance-floor with their surf-rock goofiness.
For me, few things have been more satisfying than hosting an event that's not only a wall-to-wall blast with some absolutely incredible performers but one that's raised more than $25,000 in donations for an organization that really needs the help to serve a growing population of needy families in Kent County.
A couple of years ago, I became a board member at Access, partly because my involvement with Feedback concerts got me to see what good work this organization does and partly because it's a passion of mine to battle hunger and poverty. So many folks just don't realize how many people in our own community are struggling to get by every day. Access of West Michigan does so much with so few resources I'm hoping Feedback helps raise awareness of their mission.
Also, we've actually asked a bunch of bands who've played Feedback in the past to swing by Sunday's event so we can acknowledge them and give them a shout-out from the stage. It's a long roster of top-notch artists who've donated their time to the cause over the years."
Thanks, John, Charley, and all the artists who help make sure that we all remember that charity begins at home…even if your definition of home translates into the entire city. "Good will to all" suddenly has fresh meaning. Be thankful this year for what we have and for what we can do when we make music together. Stay classy, GR!
Admission: $5 donation, but please consider giving more if you are able to do so this year.
Editor's note: John Sinkevics' legacy to our region is evident not just though his charity but via his Local Spins Online Magazine. Sinkevics provides our region with a great online portal through which we can all connect more fully with the music that is changing the face of our city. Local Spins is without a doubt an essential online music guide for locals looking to gain a solid perspective and for those outside our region who wonder what the hell is happening in Grand Rapids. 
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