Country Bash

Artists express excitement to play MIMA concert

Three Michigan artists look forward to performing at Country Bash on October 17.

The show will take place at The Gate, beginning at 9 p.m.

Country Bash is the second show in the Autumn Alive concert series hosted by the Music Industry Management Association (MIMA).

“I have pretty high expectations for this show,” Music Industry Management (MIM) sophomore Jake White said. “I think being a country concert it won’t only relate to students, but also the residents of Big Rapids.”

The Balsam Brothers, a Big Rapids-based band, will open the show.

The Balsam Brothers are composed of lead vocalist and Pre-Nursing senior Nate Babcock, drummer and Physical Therapy junior Phil Hartley, bassist and Public Relations junior Devin Anderson, and lead guitarist Austin Benzing.

“We all have different musical backgrounds ranging from metal to bluegrass,” Hartley said, “so we are able to play whatever the occasion calls for. We’ve gone from playing ‘Folsam Prison Blues’ [by Johnny Cash] to Afroman in a heartbeat.”

Though they’ve played all over the state, Big Rapids is always a favorite place to perform for the Balsam Brothers.

“I love getting the chance to mic up my kit in Big Rapids,” Hartley said. “There’s nothing that compares to the power that comes from banging some sexy, loud drums.”

To Babcock, the crowd’s energetic reaction is what keeps them coming back for more.

“Even if just one person can relate to what I’m trying to say or convey through our song is what makes it worth it for me,” Babcock said.

The Balsam Brothers are also looking forward to connecting with the crowd and bonding as “brothers” at Country Bash.

“Performing is one of the best chances to feel truly alive,” said Hartley. “I get to jam with my best friends and produce a sound that within minutes has the crowd up and dancing.”

The next Country Bash performer, Audrey Ray, is also ecstatic to show the crowd what she’s made of.

Ray, a 2013 graduate of Oakland University, has performed all across Metro Detroit and has even traveled to Nashville to share her music.

“I’m looking forward to playing my music in a totally new town with new listeners,” Ray said. “I’m so excited to visit Ferris State University and I’m so honored to be involved with Country Bash.”

Ray will be performing covers of Miranda Lambert, Blackberry Smoke, The Black Crowes, and Lady Antebellum as well as some original songs.

“My originals are like my babies,” she said. “My lyrics truly speak the truth from all my heart, and I play every song with dedication, heart, and soul. I give it my all and I don’t let anyone down.”

Ray’s ability to “give it her all” at every show comes from her intense love of music and performing.

“I always knew that no matter what I’d be doing that music would be a part of my life someway, somehow,” she said. “It’s the ultimate greatest feeling out there once you stand on that stage and feel the lights hit your face, and hear the deep sounds of the drums and bass.”

If you like what you hear from Audrey Ray, you can purchase her original songs on iTunes.

Detroit artist Matt Austin will round out the night at Country Bash.

“I have a new band behind me and we are better than ever,” said Austin. “We are excited to perform in a new venue.”

Being a husband and father of three hasn’t stopped Austin from being featured at Faster Horses Music Festival and opening for big-name country stars such as Lee Brice and Brantley Gilbert.

Though he graduated from Madonna University with a Nursing degree, Austin’s heart has always been with the music industry, and he’s here to stay.

“It’s everything combined that makes it great,” Austin said. “When a crowd is energetic and having a great time it tops the cake, though!”

You can find more information on Matt Austin and his singles at

MIM junior Mellisa Lewis had the opportunity to coordinate the show.

“The process of coordinating this event has been a learning experience, and at times stressful but I love it all at the same time,” Lewis said. “I’m thankful my program allows me to get hands on experience of putting on an event. I enjoy doing this and hope people enjoy the show.”

Tickets are $5 in advanced or $10 at the door. Tickets can be purchased from any MIMA member or in room 124 in the Business Building.