It’s no new proclamation that Big Rapids is a dead spot for entertainment and excitement, but it is especially lacking in having a thriving live music scene.
The town of Big Rapids has no established music venue that brings in touring artists.
As an avid live concert attendee, this royally sucks for me. But it’s not just me; most Ferris State students enjoy live music. Grand Rapids is the closest city to campus with music venues. Grand Rapids is only an hour drive away, but not every artist makes a tour stop in the city. Detroit and the surrounding cities are the most prominent stop for touring artists, and that drive may top three hours.
Ferris State offers an excellent music industry management program within the College of Business, of which I am a student of. Unfortunately, there is no venue for the program to host live music shows.
Right now the live music scene in Big Rapids mainly consists of open mics and DJ sets at restaurants and bars, or small living room gatherings that have to be kept below a certain decibel level so the city ordinance on noise is not broken. Plus hosting live music without a permit is technically illegal. Including the few big events hosted by the music industry management association and Music Takes Action, which has maybe one well-known artist each year, this is the major extent of the Big Rapids live music scene.
Don’t get me wrong, all of that is awesome and important. Ferris bands and music groups playing at The Raven, Sawmill or Crankers is always a good time and the events MIMA puts on are extensive and great successes. But there is no venue in Big Rapids. How can we be a college town without a venue?
This town not being a music hot spot is understandable. Big Rapids is in the middle of no-where and touring artists would have to travel through Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids to get here. That does not mean somebody cannot rent out a vacant building or warehouse and start a venue. And Big Rapids sure has an abundance of those. One that immediately sticks out is the old Twice-is-Nice consignment store building at the intersection of Elm St. and State St.
An established venue would make it way easier to have concerts in town. Students would not have to ask permission from restaurants or Oakwood for quad concerts. They could simply book a date at the venue. And most importantly, other artists can come perform in Big Rapids!
Clearly, Drake and Kendrick are not making any stops anytime soon, but there are countless acts out there who are amazing and play shows for 50 to 200 people.