A couple of years removed from the worst of the devastating COVID crisis, Local Spins asked Michigan musicians what they’re most thankful for as 2023 draws to a close.
For most working musicians, creating their art and performing for audiences comes down to pure passion and an unceasing drive to make a statement with music.
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But for many, it’s also a daily battle for survival — financially, emotionally, physically and otherwise.
And the lingering effects of the COVID-19 shutdown that wiped out touring and isolated these artists for long periods of time dragged on much longer than many would ever have predicted.
Fortunately, 2023 will be remembered as the year that it all — or mostly all — came back, even if that meant varying and new ways to approach live music, recording and sharing their art.
With that in mind, Local Spins asked a select group of musicians representing different genres and different parts of the region to reveal what they’re most thankful for on Thanksgiving Day 2023. Here are their responses — and feel free to leave you own in the comments below.
And Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to all.
SETH BERNARD (Singer-songwriter, musician, Earthwork Music founder)
“I’m incredibly thankful for the way our musical community showed up to support me through a very difficult and challenging time as I navigated health challenges this year. I have always been proud to be a part of this community and today I can honestly say I’ve never been prouder and more thankful.”
(Read more about Bernard’s challenges in this Local Spins Artist Spotlight.)
SAMIL MOLINA (Producer, Hip Hop Artist)
“I’m very thankful and grateful for the love of my family, especially my wife and my kids. They’re the source of my strength and help bring me balance.”
GRACE THEISEN (Kalamazoo singer-songwriter, member of The Rebel Eves)
“I’m thankful for the incredible Michigan music scene that’s been so supportive of both my band and The Rebel Eves. I do not take for granted that as an independent artist, our lifeline is the tangible support of this community – whether through buying tickets, merch or sharing our music – they make it possible for us to do music as a career.”
The Rebel Eves play The Clover Room in Kalamazoo with Rachael Caskey at 8 p.m. Saturday, the C3 Spiritual Community in Grand Haven at 10 a.m. Sunday and Wildflower Yoga Studio in Grand Haven at 3 p.m. Sunday.
CHRIS CRANICK (Overdrive Orchestra, WYCE-FM Music Director)
“I am most thankful for the wide array of artists and genres in The Mitten, as well as the open minds and ears of Michigan music lovers. For a band that refuses to be pigeonholed to one certain genre, likes to play unapologetically loud, improvises, and asks the audience to take a musical journey, we are extremely grateful for those listeners that not only take that loud musical journey, but relish it. I strongly believe there’s something for everyone to enjoy in our music, and even if there isn’t, there are so many other incredible artists here in Michigan that can scratch a listener’s musical itch.”
KATE HINOTE (Kate Hinote Trio, Blueflowers)
“There are so many things to be thankful for when it comes to the Michigan music scene, but this past year has shown me just how robust it is all over our great state and I felt welcomed and appreciated everywhere I went. I traveled more this year than any year prior, and it seems like I’ve barely scratched the surface at the opportunities that the mitten has available to connect musicians and music lovers and really provide a valuable experience to everyone involved. I feel daily gratitude that I get to do this music thing at all, which is primarily due to the support system I have that allows and encourages me to. Having just wrapped up my tour season, I am feeling particularly grateful to the people that spent time with us at our gigs this year and encouraged us to keep going, as well as to the passionate folks that work tirelessly to support independent musicians and fuel our thriving music scene through written interviews, podcasts, radio spins, and creating events and platforms that shine a spotlight on independent musicians and/or provide an opportunity for us to talk about our work, the craft, or our mission. I’ll be entering 2024 fueled up and ready to keep exploring.”
BEN TRAVERSE (Folk singer-songwriter)
“I’m most thankful that Michigan’s music scene is community-forward, prioritizing collaboration and genuine friendship over individual success.”
Ben Traverse plays The Stray in Grand Rapids on Jan. 19 with Hearth & Hymn and Ralston Bowles.
SARENA RAE (Singer-songwriter, leader of The Music That Raised Us)
“When it comes to Michigan’s music scene, I am most thankful for the spirit of comradery that has been cultivated among artists. It’s special to see so many musicians from different backgrounds come together to collaborate and uplift one anothers projects. Michigan has become a place where new ideas blossom, but it wouldn’t be made possible without the help and support of many creatives working together. I find myself thankful to be creating music and living in Michigan right now, it’s an exciting time to be here. ”
MONK MATTHAEUS (Co-founder of the Hip Hop Association of Advancement & Education)
“I’m thankful for the folks who go beyond aesthetics, trends, or taking the ‘safe’ route for gigs or local fame. The folks who are looking to blaze new trails, challenging the perpetual West Michigan status quo through music and visual art to preserve and create culture in our hungry-for-culture mid-sized city. I’m thankful for those who think outside the box and place themselves in situations that yield real growth. Those few are inspiring and motivating to stand beside and learn from.”
KANIN WREN (Pop singer-songwriter, star of the Taylor Swift Experience)
“I am forever thankful for the venues that booked me as a 14-year-old singer. Their decision to take a leap of faith and support a young artist like myself has shaped my career and brought me to where I am today. It was through these early performances that I was able to gain invaluable experience, build my confidence, and develop my skills as a musician. Each venue played a significant role in my journey, and I am indebted to them for the opportunities they provided. Without an audience it’s hard to grow as a performer. Bravo to all of those venues that have open mics for young musicians.”
Kanin Wren’s Taylor Swift Experience plays The Intersection’s Elevation in Grand Rapids on Jan. 24 and Ferris State University in Big Rapids on Feb. 24
THE GASOLINE GYPSIES (Americana, roots rock band)
“I think we’re just thankful to be part of such an incredible scene. Michigan’s music is so prolific and diverse, and it’s a really special thing we have happening here. We’re incredibly blessed with not only the music, but also festivals and venues that all foster Michigan-made music as well. It’s an awesome community to be in, and we’re so grateful to be part of it.”
MAX BROWN (Guitarist, bassist, bandleader The War & Treaty)
“The thing I’m most grateful for in the Michigan music scene is the supportive community. The people who gave me a shot to make music have become some of my best friends and I am endlessly grateful to have learned how to stand on a stage and make noise in Michigan.”
Max Brown will join The War & Treaty in performing the National Anthem before today’s Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field (televised on FOX starting at noon).
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC