As some of you may know I organize and host weekly songwriters rounds at Waldron Public House every Tuesday night. Last night during a round featuring Joe Rodriguez of the band JOE, Ben Steer of The Zannies, and Samantha Andrade aka Charlie Darling a conversation was struck up on stage between the performers that really stuck with me. The conversation was about how supportive the music scene here in Grand Rapids is. It’s not uncommon to go to a show and see members of a band that isn’t even playing that night hanging out in the crowd, not because they have to, but because they genuinely enjoy the music and want to support the other acts.
As someone who has only been in Grand Rapids for a couple months this support has been really heart warming to see. I spent the last six years in Nashville working as an engineer/producer/songwriter. Despite the fact I was one of the lucky ones who was able to find a group of friends who were very supportive of each other and would trade work when we were able to, the city itself was the exact opposite of Grand Rapids support wise. As long as you were the next big thing or someone could gain something from being associated with you people would latch onto you. As soon as someone better came along they would typically dump you without a thought. Even with the group I was involved with, we were friends and would help each other out, but when it came down to it, we all made our living off music, and ultimately we were each others competitors. If we were busy we would give someone else some work, but our name meant everything so we had to be very weary on who we passed work off too.
Grand Rapids does not have that problem. Even for someone new in town like me. I feel like I’ve been welcome into the community with open arms. When I made the decision to move back to Michigan to be closer to friends and family I was expecting to have a much harder time to get my name out in the music scene here. I could not have been more wrong. Everyone has been very welcoming and supportive, making my decision to leave my career in a city like Nashville to come to a city that isn’t exactly known as a hotbed for the music industry feel like the best choice I have ever made.
I may not be as busy as I used to be but I have faith that will change eventually. The quantity of talent may not be here yet but the quality of musical talent in this city rivals anything I’ve seen in Nashville. I have nothing but complete faith in the city to make its mark in the industry in the near future. And when that happens I know the sense of community and camaraderie will still be as unique and great as it is now.