Turnstiles brings live music, New Orleans vibe to the West Side

One of Grand Rapids’ newest concert halls is emerging from the pandemic with four evenings of shows per week, including open mics hosted by Melophobix and Raven Griffin. Spotlight on the venue at Local Spins.

West Side Live: Turnstiles offers live music several days a week. (Photo / Anna Sink)


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It’s a Thursday night on the west side of Grand Rapids and a crowd has gathered inside Turnstiles, while listening to Joe Peebles cover “Wedding Dress” by Derek Webb.

He has a strong mustache and an equally strong voice as he sings the melancholy song in front of a backdrop of classic rock posters. A colorful David Bowie looms over his left shoulder.

It’s an open mic night in Grand Rapids’ brand new concert hall, and with an endearing crowd, a long list of performers are waiting to take the stage, including Tyler Kuiper, Melissa Dylan and Teddy Brewer. among others.

In Bowie’s Shadow: Some People’s Kids on stage at Turnstiles. (Photo / Anna Sink)

“It’s not just a matter of pushing the faders and turning the knobs because that’s my job. It’s not just about making the band sound the best that I can do it for them, but above all about knowing why they play live in the first place: to entertain an audience, ”explains the sound engineer and head of music. Mike Greiner reservations.

“It means we’re all in the same boat to create a great show. I don’t do sound for groups. I work with them to co-create an experience for the audience. It is the very essence of a live performance and makes it an art in its own right.

The bar and concert hall, located at 526 Stocking Ave. NW, opened in April and offers four evenings of live music per week. Open-mic evenings are hosted by various artists, including the local songwriter Raven griffin and indie-jam group Melophobix, which hosts its “Melophobix Groovitational” on the last Thursday of each month. (Details here.)

Tuesdays are songwriter nights, hosted by Grizzly Boys frontman Gunnar nyblad and titled “Tuesdays are the most difficult”. Regular group bookings take place on Fridays and Saturdays.

“I thought it was a fun vibe. There are a lot more people than I expected, ”says Colton Choate, singer and guitarist of Paper lanterns by Jackson, who performed a fascinating rock ensemble of originals and covers on a Friday night, as the opening act for the pop-punk band Grand Rapids Some people’s children.


The parking lot always seems full, the drinks are reasonably priced and the food is inventive. The menu features late-night favorites like Turnt Nachos, The West Wings, and the massive Three Alarm Chicken Sandwich. The outdoor seating has also been approved for the space, using its expansive street corner.

“I wanted everyone to feel welcome, including musicians, to have a place where musicians and people in the industry can just hang out, because, you know, musicians and bartenders are closely related.” says owner Rob Schellenberg, who opened Tourniquets with his sister and parents after a long career in the hotel industry.

Host a monthly “Groovitational”: the funky Melophobix from Grand Rapids. (Photo / Jamie Geysbeek)

“I think because a lot of places have music, the bartenders immediately become friends with the people who, you know, bring people in.”

Spending 15 years in the service industry, Schellenberg has held a number of hospitality jobs as a busser, waiter and bartender. He then spent time as an assistant manager at several local restaurants and bars in West Michigan. His roles have connected him with artists and performers in the Grand Rapids music scene, fueling his desire to one day open his own establishment – one with a unique space.

“It’s like stepping into a dream. Everyday. It’s really great, ”says Schellenberg.

“I could never have become a musician. I mean, I have a passion for music, but it’s a different kind of passion than picking up an electric guitar and practicing for hours. My passion is learning how to make a perfect Sazerac or a Black Manhattan. “

Turnstiles takes its name from Billy Joel’s favorite album from Schellenberg, released in 1976. His art and surroundings are directly inspired by his love for the creative culture of New Orleans. The mission of the venue is to provide an eclectic selection of handcrafted cocktails in an atmosphere of friendly service in a venue that pays homage to a wide range of musical talent.

Future showcases include Harley fox and Acoustic shenanigans June 5; the Melophobix Groovitational at 9 p.m. on June 24; and Pretoria, Future gentlemen and Future skeletons June 25. For more information visit turnstilesgr.com.

PHOTO GALLERY: Some children at the turnstiles
Photos by Anna Sink

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