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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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Music venue opens in Allendale, supports mission in India

Watch out Grand Rapids, there is a new music venue in West Michigan. And with an Allendale location, it’s only a few minutes away from Grand Valley State University’s campus, which is perfect for targeting its main audience – students.

The Yellow Box, located at 6375 Winans St., opened as a café and music venue in January and has since started booking local artists to perform in the intimate setting. Previous performances include, Alex and The Brave, and Jake Down and the Midwest Mess, with future shows booked into July, including The Brilliance Music, and Soil and the Sun.

Not being used, the Yellow Box was given to Wellspring Church, which then raised money for renovations and remodeling to turn the building into a coffee shop venue. Because the building is debt-free, it operates in a completely self-sufficient manor, while raising money for the church’s missions in building orphanages in India, said booking manager, Matt Everitt.

“Funding from it comes within it’s own operations,” he said. “When we bring in a band that costs money, we just charge for the ticket prices for that day, and once we meet that price, anything above that goes towards the mission.”

All of the baristas and servers work on a volunteer basis, which Everitt said allows for every profit over production costs to be donated to their mission.

Since opening in the middle of January, the café, officially named the Yellow Bicycle Café, has raised about $300 a month in coffee profits, Everitt said. After paying booking fees and selling tickets, the venue has raised about $500 in profits to be donated, he said.

So far, Everitt said the 200 maximum occupancy venue has had somewhat low attendance, with an average of about 20 people per show and the largest of about 100 people. But many of the artists have been begging him to let them perform there again.

“(Artists) love the venue because it’s more designed to be a comfortable place and they love playing it because it’s a great atmosphere,” he said. “The people go there because they genuinely love the music and there’s just a really good vibe going on. Even when we’ve had low attendance, we’ve had bands come saying, ‘Please have us back, we love playing here.’ They love it.”

He said many bands are excited and willing to cut them a break on booking costs to help support their mission. Having local artists interested in helping is what Everitt said will be the key to making the Yellow Box grow into the community he sees it becoming.

“The musicans we bring in, we bring them in because we love their music, and so, we’re making relationships with the musicians,” he said. “Any band that comes in to play, because we can’t pay them, we offer them a free recording session with a video and we post it online, and that’s been getting a lot of positive feedback, and building the sense of unity with the musicians that play there.”

Danielle Poll, a GVSU student and barista at the café, has been volunteering her time as a way to help out, while being a smiling face for people who might not typically enjoy the coffee shop style atmosphere, she said.

She encourages students to check out the venue, and hopes it will continue to grow.

“It is gorgeous in there, for one, it’s not like anything you’d see in other places because our pastor actually helped decorate and pick out a lot of the different stuff, and we’ve had a huge team of volunteers creating this place,” Poll said. “But it’s pretty cool that there’s this venue right here in Allendale because it’s a lot closer to Grand Valley’s campus then Grand Rapids, or Holland. Like, it’s something that’s right here, right around the corner from campus that you can go and enjoy different bands.”

The Allendale location is a “God’s send,” Everitt said. Although most of their advertising has been through social media and word-of-mouth, attendance is starting increase, he said, and bands are asking to perform.

“I would love to see it just be a community or collective, or whatever you want to call it, where all these different genres of musicians come in, hang out, support each other’s music and have a place to express their art,” Everitt said. “And nothing would make me happier than to see a comfortable atmosphere where musicians can come in and share what they love to do.”

For a schedule of upcoming shows, or information the Yellow Box missions, go to www.theyellowbox.org.
arts@lanthorn.com



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