Ypsi’s Newest Bastion of Live Music, Grove Studios

. January 19, 2017.
Ex-American Performs at the opening of Grove Studios on January 6 - Photo: Christina Spivak
Ex-American Performs at the opening of Grove Studios on January 6 - Photo: Christina Spivak

Let’s start by calling back to the first two installments of my “Venues” series from last autumn and winter, and then we’ll get into the exciting news about Ypsilanti’s newest musicians-rehearsal & performance space, Grove Studios.

Now, back in September, we spoke with local artist Alexis Ford, who heads up the nonprofit Music & Arts Guild. My conversation with Ford about the work of forging a more supportive music scene led me to the Arts Alliance of Ann Arbor (interview), where we discussed the possibility of establishing a regional artists’ collective. SPUR Studios came up in each conversation; a recently-closed hive of rehearsal spaces by VG Kids.


Local musician Rick Coughlin founded Grove Studios last year with the goal of establishing it as a community space for musicians—by musicians, with access to rehearsal spaces, primarily, along with providing facilities for collaboration and occasional performances. Located at 1145 W. Michigan Ave., this is a 6,500 sq ft space that Coughlin is currently renting, but saving up to own in the near future.

Coughlin saw that a vacuum was left by the closing of SPUR, which had up to 30 spaces for bands and ran at capacity for six years. After spending that much time with his own bands inside SPUR, Coughlin started thinking about the addition of an auxiliary space that provided a similar space (with optimally more cleaner facilities).

That’s where Grove comes in… Currently still in the work-in-progress stages, Coughlin has partnered with Ford (of the Music & Arts Guild) to host some pop up performance events aimed at raising funds for eventually purchasing the property, doing some renovations, and eventually building out to create more studio spaces.

“(Coughlin) did a series of surveys which proved there is a high need for music practice space in Washtenaw County,” said Ford. “I feel that Grove Studios can become a reality in the way that is envisioned because the community so strongly desires it. It will be telling to see what kind of financial support will be available in order to make Grove happen, but the enthusiasm so far has been promising.”

The primary function of Grove Studios is to provide practice space for musicians, Ford said. But, Coughlin noticed that the storefront section of the property was available for rent, so he suggested that the Music & Arts Guild utilize it for a performance and gallery space.

You can help support Grove Studios with four upcoming fundraising concerts, starting this Friday, Annie Palmer and JT Garfield will be doing solo sets at Grove, along with one of my favorite performing groups from last month’s Mittenfest, emcee FLWR.CHLD & post-rock/funk/hip-hop ensemble GRDN. While I wish I could stream a song from FLWR.CHLD, he’s been exclusively performing recently and just hasn’t gotten into a studio yet, but this will change next month, however, and I intend to follow-up with a formal feature; stay tuned.

These upcoming Friday evening performances are sponsored by the Music & Arts Guild.
Jan 27: Doogatron, Brooke Ratliff & Jason Wisley, Orphanage
Feb 3: “I <3 Music” – art show and record-listening party, (“BYO Vinyl”)
Feb 10: Ada Z, Gus Tasker, Mindful Dynasty

“The plan is to have clean, secure and sound proofed rehearsal spaces which can accommodate musicians, music instructors, music recording engineers and others,” said Ford. “The use of the front of the building for performance and gallery space is a secondary, but still important interest. I believe it definitely will be a good asset to the community as a venue for emerging performers and artists.”

Going forward, Ford is feeling enthused, but she knows there’s a lot of work ahead for Grove. “. Rick Coughlin has formed an amazing team, which includes myself and other volunteers, along with partners Erich Friebel and Breck Crandell. Coughlin added his hope that the space can become a unique hub that bolsters the scene in a way that a bar or a typical rehearsal space couldn’t, otherwise.

The Music & Arts Guild is entering its 3rd year of operation, meanwhile, with 25 members and growing! You can also tune in to AM1700 Thursdays at 6pm for the Guild’s local music showcase.

If any bands out there want to get in touch with Ford about donating a performance to Grove, (or just to learn more about the Music & Arts Guild), you can email: AlexisKFord@gmail.com. You can also find out more about Grove from Rick at: rick@grovestudios.com

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