You approach South Haven’s city limits, and images instantly leap to mind: beaches, dining, shopping, lodging, camping, hiking, adventures out on the water. You also think of the sights, sounds and smells of South Haven nightlife, festivals and markets.
But that’s not the main reason you’re heading back to the Haven this time. This time, you’re here for the inspired live music.
It’s Saturday, March 16. You step inside the front lobby of Lake Michigan College’s South Haven campus for Chocolate, Wine & Jazz.
Lake Michigan College's campus in South Haven, MI
You weave through an inspired mix of visitors, students and locals, all of whom, like you, are there for the special event co-hosted by the college and Foundry Hall. Many are interested in the choices of wine from LMC’s Wine and Viticulture Technology program, as well as the table of (free!) chocolates handmade by the college’s culinary students.
Chilled wine for the visitors
All are eager for a full night of jazz featuring three spirited sets.
You collect a couple of the luscious, colorful chocolates, a napkin and a glass of red wine. Then you drift toward the stage, which is already coming alive with the smooth sounds of the LMC Jazz Band, including original writing by member Jared Willer.
At first, much of the audience is seated, tapping their fingers or rocking their crossed legs to the rhythms. As the set continues, a few begin to clap. Others stand, move off to a side and start to sway or dance. Before you know it, you’re moving a little bit too.
After the first set concludes, you return to the chocolate table and step into the lengthening line, where people are chatting about the rich flavors and the intricate designs of the students’ creations. You hear some of it, but the rest is a blur: You’re already eyeing the next pieces you want.
Decadent chocolates prepared for the crowd
A short time later, you see the regionally renowned Ivan Akansiima Trio setting up. They plug in and greet and thank the audience. Then they burst into a full hour of virtuosic play in arrangements fusing whimsy and soul. The longer you listen, the more you want to learn to play the guitar – or the upright bass.
(You also learn that Ugandan-born Akansiima, an LMC graduate, was a featured artist at South Haven’s inaugural Jazz Fest in 2017.)
The Ivan Akansiima Trio in action
For the third and final set, the LMC Jazz Band once more takes the stage. Listening to them again, you realize they’ve been giving you a new appreciation of jazz standards such as “D Natural Blues” as well as Motown favorites.
When the music finishes with a flourish, you join the applause and begin making your way toward the doors through clusters of conversing, smiling people. Just then, you hear that lots of chocolate is left, and you can take home as much as you wish. You accept the offer.
As you move out toward the parking lot, your ears and your sweet tooth equally satisfied, you too begin to smile, knowing that Chocolate, Wine & Jazz was but one more joyful note in what will be another melodic year in the Haven.
More Music to Plan For
Riverfront Concert Series - May 23–August 29, 2019 (sponsored by Foundry Hall)
Bring family, friends, blankets and chairs to Riverfront Park for free live music every Thursday! Set on the banks of the Black River close to downtown South Haven, the series features an array of styles including jazz, folk, classical and contemporary. Treat yourself to big talent as the sun sets and the lake’s gentle breeze begins to drift in.
Each concert begins at 7pm and lasts about 90 minutes. You can view the schedule here.
Listeners gathered for an evening at the Riverfront Concert - Photo credit: Tom Renner
Rhythm on the River - July 19 & 20, 2019 (sponsored by Foundry Hall)
Be here when the Huron Street Pavilion fills with live music and family fun from 5pm to 10pm. Foundry’s Hall’s planners are busy setting the line-up of local and regional musicians for this year’s free event. The South Haven festival features local food and a beer garden as well.
Keep current with updates and details here.
3rd Annual South Haven Jazz Festival - September 13 & 14, 2019
(sponsored by Foundry Hall)
Dance over to downtown South Haven when it comes alive with cool beats, inspired art and great food. Come for the music – stay for the scenery! The jazz festival’s timing is ideal for late-summer harbor walks, beach strolls and of course sunsets over the lake.
Photo credit: Dylan Nelson
Keep current with event news and updates here.
South Haven Performance Series - June Through December
Now in its 10th season, the series showcases accomplished classical performances from voice to brass and string instruments. Admission is always free for students; admission for non-students is $10 (free for the December holiday show).
Find more information and view the concert schedule here.
With so many ways to indulge your craving for culture, you could begin asking when won’t you be able to visit the Haven. Get your calendar and start making your plans!
About the Author
A creative writer for many years, Jon Davis (eloquentarrow.com) paints pictures with his words and captivates readers with distinctive language. He now shares his love for South Haven with us, writing about the experiences you can have only in the Haven. Jon resides in Oswego, IL, with his wife, Kristie, and two daughters. They visit South Haven often to take in the scenic beauty and spend meaningful time as a family.