Arts & Entertainment and Lakeshore

Pin Drop Concerts pushes Lakeshore music scene

March 22, 2013
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Pin Drop Concerts pushes Lakeshore music scene
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Silence, please. Pin Drop Concerts — held at Seven Steps Up Event and Banquet Center in Spring Lake — offers listeners a “no talking” concert experience.

“The reason why they are ‘pin drop’ is because if anybody is talking in the room, everybody can hear them,” said Michelle Hanks, who co-owns the venue with her husband, Gary. “At our place, if one person is talking, they are annoying 110 people. So we say right up front, ‘While the artist is performing, don’t talk.’ That is what Pin Drop is about.”

Hanks explained that the acoustics in the listening room are stellar, which is why sound carries so well. It also is the reason that performers who have played the venue are raving about the experience.

“It is all designed around that experience, because we felt if we could provide this amazing experience for the concert listener and the amazing experience for the artist, those two things would come together and create really magical concerts, and they do.”

Pin Drop Concerts are held in the former grand ballroom of the building located at 116 S. Jackson St., which was constructed in 1912 and originally held a Masonic Temple and then later a community center.

“The room is beautiful,” Hanks said. “We have original hardwood floors and tall, original ceilings. It has Chicago common brick throughout the room.”

The room is set up to hold 110 people with seating options that include four top tables, love seats and couches. Candles light the room and tables are covered in linens. And no plastic cups allowed.

“Most of the time when you go to a concert, you are seeing them from hundreds of feet away,” Hanks said. “The furthest seat in our venue is 35 feet away. Everybody in the room can see and hear, and the music washes over you. You become a part of it. You experience it as opposed to listening to it.”

The space provided the motivation for the Hanks to start seeking out musicians to play the venue.

Hanks said it was a challenge to secure the first artist, but once she landed folk singer Alice Peacock, others followed. One helpful selling point for the venue is its proximity to Ann Arbor and Chicago, which makes it easy for artists on tour to add in the Spring Lake venue. That’s how they landed Pat McGee.

“He is one of our biggest supporters now,” Hanks said. “He says we are one of the best listening rooms in the country. He is a huge fan of ours, and he is actually coming back. In February, this will be his third time in our venue. Now he makes sure that he can play our place.”

The lineup has quickly grown to include some well-known veteran musicians as well as some up-and-comers. Hanks said they are all world-class, professional musicians who tour nationally. Some are signed to major record labels and many have strong followings in other parts of the country even if they are less well-known in West Michigan.

Some of the musicians who have played the Pin Drop stage or are part of this year's lineup include: Neil Jacobs, Garrett Borns, Seth Glier, Ruth and Max Bloomquist Band, Willy Porter and Jonathan Edwards.

Hanks said that artists are provided with a very unique experience when they play at Seven Steps Up.

“We take care of them from the moment that they get there. There is a really great energy from the moment they get to the venue. The green room is our private home — we live above the venue — the artists say it’s one of the best green rooms in the country, because it’s a beautiful loft upstairs. We feed them dinner after the show in our home; I make it. A lot of times, the artist may stay with us or in a hotel.”

Hanks is proud to provide a new element to the growing Spring Lake/Grand Haven music scene, a scene that she describes as offering a lot of bar and restaurant venues, as well as outdoor playing opportunities, but one that often is focused on very local and hobby musicians.

“We are a tourist town, so there is a lot of music in the summer,” she said. “We have some great artists and the typical bar venues and there are a lot of them. . . . They tend to do mostly cover bands, some original music, tend to be local or regional talent that is playing. There is a music scene change happening, at least that is the way a few of us feel.”

Pin Drop Concerts have helped draw more national talent to the community.

“I think there are some amazing stories here about what people are doing and how they are partnering.”

Seven Steps Up partners with the Spring Lake Holiday Inn on concert getaway packages, which include the room, tickets to a Pin Drop Concert and a restaurant voucher.

She said the packages have attracted visitors from Ann Arbor, Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis.

She added that she also has noticed more businesses bringing clients to the venue, particularly out-of-town clients. She pointed out it’s a more memorable experience than just taking a client to dinner.

The concerts are growing in popularity, with the recent concerts selling out, and people being turned away at the door.

To find out who is playing the venue visit http://www.pindropconcerts.com.

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