Whether it’s eating out at a local restaurant or enjoying a nearby park, people in Southwest North Dakota are always looking for an adventure.
By Frank Turner
Due to limited choices in small towns, however, people lose interest in visiting the same places over and over. To liven up small towns, some businesses and individuals are looking to live music to keep local downtowns new and refreshing.
Local musician Judy Larson said she is looking to foster the live music scene in the entire Southwest North Dakota region. She hopes to give adventure seekers more options for finding local music and she wants to encourage more musicians to start performing.
“Right now, people have moved away from live music,” said Larson. “You can watch a music concert sitting at home, but it’s not the same.”
Larson said that the best way to promote live music in the area is to start with local youth.
“In Lemmon, right now, we have a group of students who put on performances,” she said. “It’s really great to see the youth involved because they can see themselves in a different way. It’s about being in different groups and making a production happen.”
Larson herself plays bass and accordion in a 3-piece band called Eclectic Wreck, based out of Lemmon, South Dakota. Just recently they traveled to Adams County to perform at the Peacock Mercantile and, according to Larson, it was a great success.
“I didn’t start playing in a band until my 40’s. I was a performer in school when I was involved with theatre, but I never thought I would be capable of being a performer on stage for pay,” said Larson. “My husband finally decided that it would be cool to be in a band, so we just went ahead and did it.”
Larson expressed that performing live music isn’t just for high schoolers and college kids. It’s never too late to start performing, she said.
“Just having people see themselves as performers and them being able to bring joy through their music is incredibly important,” said Larson.
With live music, both performers and listeners are involved in one way or another. Music has its way of including everyone. Judy said that she hopes this universal draw to music could be used to attract more people to downtown businesses or farmers markets.
“I think, especially the younger generation, they see live music as something more,” said Judy, “It attracts a new customer base for businesses. It brings out those people that wouldn’t come out just to visit with friends but would come out for live entertainment.”
Already, Bison has hosted an open mic night to encourage more people to get up on stage and share their talent.
“It’s something that has to be built. It almost has to be a shift in culture,” said Judy. “Live local talent is something that should be seen as something with value.”
Judy said that people interested in live music should keep an eye out for downtown events. Bands like Dakota Routes, Eclectic Wreck, Broken Spokes and Thunder Road can usually be found sharing their sound all throughout Southwest North Dakota.