REO Town is Lansing’s home to craft coffees, craft beers, craft barbecue and craft shops, but it’s also a place where businesses on the 1100 block of South Washington Ave. allow homegrown musicians to share a craft of their own.
Within the artsy, vintage-themed business district lies an eclectic music scene, showcasing a variety of live bands, local acts and talent. With a little something for everybody, here are five places to enjoy music in REO Town:
With live music every Monday and Friday nights, Blue Owl offers a platform for seasoned bands and local up-and-comers.
“The smaller, more intimate nature of our space allows performers to interact with and get to know the audience and each other, which creates a strong community in and around the local music scene,” said Tania Howard, Blue Owl’s booking manager.
Along with the live music, customers can enjoy Blue Owl’s speciality coffee drinks as well as locally sourced sandwiches, salads, cookies and muffins.
“We place such a strong focus on original artists, many of whom are locals,” Howard said. “When you support the music at Blue Owl, you really are supporting music that is being created in and by your community.”
The shop’s easy-going atmosphere makes it a sure place for a relaxing night out.
“Whether you are an artist looking to perform or are just interested in coming out to a future event, our full musical calendar is listed on our website under the music sign-up page.”
Looking for jazz acts? Folk music? Classical artists? The Robin Theatre has it all.
“I’ve been going to The Robin since the doors opened,” says Nikki Barry, a monthly patron of the theatre. “I’ve seen everything from burlesque music and open mics to holiday specials, poetry slams and dance recitals. The atmosphere is very bohemian, laid back, comfortable and welcoming.”
The 90-seat space offers a cozy venue for anyone to enjoy a show.
Beverly Hynes, another frequent at The Robin Theatre, recommends the “inviting” venue to anyone looking for something unique to experience in Lansing.
“I’ve seen bluegrass, gospel, rock and a classical guitarist at the Robin. My first time was to see a classical guitarist. He asked for a volunteer, so I got to recite poetry while he played guitar,” Hynes said.
Starting with only a handful of bands and a small art competition, REO Town’s hit festival “Art Attack!” grew into a crowd favorite over the span of seven years.
“Art Attack is a good venue to see a bunch of talented local bands for free with art activities, food and beer,” said Ryan Wert, owner and operator of Elm Street Recording and director of the REO Town Commercial Association. “We try to cover the spectrum, style-wise. We also try to do a lot of hip hop stuff, especially with a live band, and we have a couple of DJs who spin vinyl between sets.”
The Record Lounge is another way for people to find and enjoy a variety of music.
“We are the go to place in town for a wide variety of both new and used vinyl,” said Heather Frarey, owner of The Record Lounge. “We bring a place for artists and bands to play as well as to sell their music. We have in-store shows from spring through fall and are a proud participator in ‘Record Store Day’ in April of every year.”
Record Store Day is a day when different artists release limited edition albums world-wide. Vinyl stores across the world participate by selling these albums. This year’s celebration is April 21st.
The Record Lounge is home to many genres such as indie, alternative, rock, funk, metal, jazz and more.
“I was looking for vinyl albums from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s to recreate my record collection from my MSU college years,” said Tom Ori of Jackson, Michigan. “There is always interesting music playing. It allows for the freedom to hang out and take your time flipping through albums and it also welcomes one to chat with the workers about music.”
“I go to Lansing periodically, and now make it a tradition to stop by when I do,” he said.
The REO Town pub is another venue that hosts live music for Lansing residents.
The audience can enjoy an occasional live show while drinking craft beer.