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The Awesome Mitten - Michigan's Best Live Music Venues

Michigan’s Best Live Music Venues

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    Michiganders are smart: we know that life is not complete without live music. More often than not, the venue can make a large difference in the enjoyment of the musical experience, so it is time to dive into some of the best live music venues that the Mitten State has to offer.

    1.Bell’s Brewery

    A brewery that plays live music – need I say more? With a broad range of musicians playing folk, rock, indie, funk, swing, and roots, the ever-changing band list has enough variety to satisfy all musical tastes. To equally satisfy the ear and palate, the ever-so-famous brewery also caters for the consumption of delicious beers. The Eccentric Cafe located in the back room usually has live music three or four days a week – on the off days, fun events such as trivia quizes are offered for the entertainment of beer enthusiasts.

    2.Founders Brewing Company

    The Awesome Mitten - Michigan's Best Live Music Venues
    Photo Courtesy of Founders Brewing Company

    Tucked into Grand Rapids, Founder’s Brewing Company is another microbrewery with live music. Hint, hint, world – this is the loveliest combination. The owners of this brewery strive to bring entertainment that matches the personalities of Grand Rapids beer drinkers: fun, lighthearted, and full of joy. Their website offers a full calendar of who will be playing when, with regulars, including The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, performing every first and third Sunday of the month.

    3.Kalamazoo Valley Museum


    The Mary Jane Stryker Theater located inside the Kalamazoo Valley Museum strives to host live music that reflects the energy and diversity of Kalamazoo. This theater can be rented for many purposes and is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The K’Zoo Folklife Organization plays the first Sunday of the month, and invites audience members to bring their own instruments and participate in the enjoyment of acoustic music. The annual Fretboard Festival is also held at this venue, and invites inquiring minds to meet instrument designers, attend live performances, and participate in stringed instrument workshops.

    4.Leilapalooza

    The Awesome Mitten - Michigan's Best Live Music Venues

    Photo Courtesy of Leilapalooza
    A music festival held at Battle Creek’s Leila Arboretum, this one day event packs over 40 musical acts onto four stages. The best part? It’s free! There is a small fee for parking, but all proceeds go to Kingman Museum and to beautifying the Leila Arboretum, therefore making it all the more worthwhile. Centrally located among all the musical talent is the esteemed beer garden. There are tents selling the usual festival merchandise – however, Leilapalooza offers something unique: the Beard Tent. Here you can find the best beards attending the festival. Beards, music, and beer! What else could you want?

    5.Rosa Parks Circle

    Best Live Music Venues - The Awesome Mitten
    Photo courtesy of Allen Wegener

    Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, this is a gorgeous venue for an outdoor concert. ‘Ecliptic’ is the name of this 13,000 square foot amphitheater that is used year round. Not only does it have live music during the summer months, but during the winter it is home to a public skating rink. At night, 166 fiber-optic lights shine through the ice to light the rink for skaters. Live music is also played here on New Year’s Eve to ring in the New Year in good spirits.

    6.The Ark

    Ann Arbor’s finest music venue is a non-profit organization, with the aim of bringing music and art to appreciative fans. The Ark was originally created for students to have a place to enjoy themselves without the pressures of school, drugs, and societal stressors. Currently, a range of memberships can be purchased to get discounts on tickets and concessions, and to access advance ticket sales. The Ark also brings the Ann Arbor Folk Festival to town every year, joining up with the University of Michigan Center for Campus Involvement to bring a variety of folk and roots artists.

    7.Royal Oak Music Theater

    Best Live Music Venues - The Awesome Mitten
    Photos courtesy of Marc Nader

    Since opening in 1928, this theater has had the opportunity to host some amazing talent and many of pop culture’s favorite acts. Not only is live music played here, but comedians grace the stage as well: NSYNC, Modest Mouse, and Robin Williams have all performed at this venue and packed the house. I recently had the pleasure of coming here to see Passion Pit, and was in awe of the architecture. True to its decade, this arena has a beautiful balcony overlooking the entire theater. Perched atop this balcony are incredible, body-length chairs, perfect for lounging between bands.

    There you have it, a look at seven of Michigan’s loveliest venues to enjoy live music (and often, drink beer at the same time!). Check out any of their websites to find out what kind of entertainment will be playing next at a venue in your region of our Awesome Mitten.

    ~Jennifer Hamilton, Feature Writer

    Have a favorite live music venue we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!

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    This content is brought to you by the generous partners of the Awesome Mitten. Organizations who are dedicated to helping people engage with our amazing state of Michigan. Visit our featured partner below and see a list of all partners here.

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