While it’s not expected to open until late summer of 2019, Quinn Mathews is already hard at work planning the proposed Studio C Listening Room at the major downtown development Studio Park.
Matthews, currently the station director at local radio station WYCE, will leave his job in August and turn his undivided attention to the new project that could further evolve what he called an already special Grand Rapids music scene and offer a place for local, regional and national artists to play their music to a captive audience.
“It really is an incredible music scene and it continues to grow,” Mathews said. “Regionally, it’s always been in a good spot, between two legendary music cities in Detroit and Chicago, but there is something special about the local music scene here, people want to be here and like Grand Rapids.
“I’m sure there are egos here and there, but for the most part they work together to make it better,” he said.
The listening venue will further diversify the venues available to local, regional and national musical acts available in the city, joining venues such as Van Andel Arena, DeVos Performance Hall, The Intersection, Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater, 20 Monroe Live and The Pyramid Scheme.
The listening room came to fruition through a desire of J.D. Loeks wanting a musical component to the Studio Park development and conversations with Mathews, who moved to Grand Rapids four years ago from Nashville, where he and his wife were musicians and worked in the music industry.
He felt the planned 200-seat listening room would be a perfect addition to the scene. While listening rooms are often a setting for singer-songwriters and small acoustic sets, Mathews has seen a variety of genres within listening rooms in other cities and foresees events like Sunday Jazz Brunch, spoken word, folk and bluegrass.
“We will play around with it and have some fun with different styles,” he said. “We’ll utilize all the genres we have available to us here in Grand Rapids.”
The room won’t only showcase local and regional bands, but national acts wanting a stop between Chicago and Detroit — a reason venues such as Van Andel Arena and 20 Monroe Live and even the 400-person Pyramid Scheme often draw well-known acts. Program planning will begin this fall and booking acts could begin as early as the start of 2019.
Another smaller option can provide both fans and artists a cozier way to experience the music. Listening rooms offer a bar, but when the lights go down, Mathews said it’s like a movie and meant to be the center of attention.
“Jack White can play 20 Monroe, a 2000 seat venue and the night before he was playing at Little Caesars,” Mathews said. “Because it’s a small market you can catch these guys in a more intimate setting.”
*Rendering courtesy of Studio Park