We all love beer, we love pool, we love laughing, hey it’s all entertainment.  But you know what kicks all of those things to the curb?  Watching and listening to a musician pour their heart and soul out to an audience through a guitar, or a banjo, or their voice, or you name it.  To me, that’s what I take home with me and think about the next morning when I wake up.  Musicians work hard, they party hard, harder than any of us, but they possibly work harder than any of us as well. 

I was once in a bar in Seattle, WA for an open mic night and a man probably in his mid 60’s was singing bar room country songs.  It was ok, I guess.  No one really cared, we were drinking and trying to pay attention, but it was just not grabbing the crowd so everyone treated it as background music. Then one of the most amazing things happened. This guy put his guitar down, took his cowboy hat off and sang an opera song all A Cappella. The entire room shut up. We all watched this man make the most beautiful sounds we have ever heard. Not a soul made a sound. The bartender didn’t work. No one moved. It was an incredible moment.  

We all get caught up in those fun, party, bar moments.  It’s Friday, it’s Saturday we’re off work, we want to party.  But there is an amazing thing that can happen when you witness art being performed.  Not every performer is at a level where they can perform in a big open theatre, or in a symphony hall, etc… Some performers work all week on a song, fine tuning every note, every lyric, and then go perform it to a crowd of loud people. I’ve been on both ends, believe me. I’ve been performing for a loud crowds and I’ve been a part of a loud crowd.

I’ve got two words for you for your next adventure out for live music. Listening. Room. A Listening Room is a music venue, it’s got a bar, plenty of booze, a crowd, and it’s a darn good time.  But the main reason you are there is to listen.  It’s for the artist.  Everyone pays for tickets to hear the artist play, just like you would at a bar or any other venue. You then grab a craft brew like you would at any other venue, and then you sit down and shut up. And it’s amazing.

Seven Steps Up - Listening Room
Liz Longley Performing at Seven Steps Up Photo: Kevin Reedy Photography

Just about a 25 minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids you will find one of these rooms.  It’s called “Seven Steps Up” and it’s located in Spring Lake, MI at 116 S Jackson St.  Take a night and enjoy the song.  Listen.

I host a show on WYCE 88.1FM called WYCE 88.1FM GR LIVE Radio , it’s a radio show we do in downtown Grand Rapids and it’s free to come watch us.  It’s every week at noon on Thursday!  It’s free and features live music and interviews. Join us any day for lunch or a beer during GR LIVE radio at HOME at The BOB on 20 Monroe Ave NW right in the heart of downtown.

If you weren’t there this past week, take a listen to the podcast here.  We welcomed performers The Muteflutes and The Trash Hounds as well as an interview with listening room “Seven Steps Up” owner Gary Hanks!