Ypsi Live Music Scene, a Facebook group organized by Ypsilanti resident and singer-songwriter Shannon Lee, has bloomed into a networking space for local musicians – even during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lee created the group in late 2017 after noticing that Ann Arbor musicians had several groups to network in, but Ypsilanti musicians did not. The group has since taken off, with Ypsilanti-area musicians in all genres sharing announcements, event invitations, and video and photos of shows they've played in the area. Lee says many genres are represented in the group, from hip-hop to country, and participants range from one-man shows to larger organizations and music venues.
"I love Ypsilanti, and it's got such a vibrant music scene," Lee says. "It seems like Ann Arbor gets a lot of the attention, more resources, more venues. I was noticing my Ypsilanti musician friends were posting their shows on those Ann Arbor pages, and I was feeling like Ypsilanti deserved its own page. I think we should have a source of pride for where we live, the community we have, and the way we treat each other."
Lee says Ypsi musicians are generous in the way they support others online and in person.
"We're always promoting each other's music," she says. "I like that aspect of Facebook. It gives us a tool and some visibility to be our own PR people, or do PR for other people we like."
Although Ypsilanti doesn't have the same density of live music venues as Ann Arbor, that's changing. Lee cites Ziggy's as one of the most visible venues in downtown Ypsilanti, but says she has enjoyed performing in the Triple Goddess Tasting Room at Unity Vibration as well. She says the owners of the Ypsi Alehouse are also "accommodating and generous."
"They give you free food and beverage, and if you want to go over your time slot and play an extra song, they don't hurry you out," she says.
She says she used to think of Grove Studios as a place to rehearse and record, but more recently, she appreciates that its owners also host outdoor, live-streamed concerts in their backyard.
The group has continued to highlight opportunities for musicians to perform and connect despite the extreme limitations the pandemic has imposed on in-person events. Grove Studios is one of several organizations that posts to the Ypsi Live Music Scene group, highlighting the venue's podcasts and live-streamed music events. Kandace Fredrick, who manages live music at the Triple Goddess Tasting Room, also posts invitations to catch masked, socially distanced shows at the venue.
More recently, Frederick has been advertising weekly Zoom Community Open Mic events to the group as well. Each Wednesday evening, everyone who wants to perform gets a chance, and the hosts rotate through the list of performers. Music, poetry, stories, and dancing are all welcome, as long as each performance lasts about the length of an average song.
The Ypsi Live Music Scene group is public, but anyone who wants to join must be approved. Lee says she makes an effort to vet those who request to be added to the group to make sure they are musicians with a tie to the Ypsilanti area. Interested Ypsi-area musicians can check out the group and ask to join it here.
For more Concentrate coverage of our community's response to the COVID-19 crisis, click here.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Tom Gottsman.