The idea for Mitten State Music first took shape at the very beginning of 2007, at a time when it was clear that the Michigan music scene was on the rise, but the talent and communities were surprisingly isolated from each other.

Exactly a year later, The Record Lounge opened in East Lansing during the first days of 2008, and owner Heather Frarey made it a point to dedicate shelf space and her full support for Michigan musicians. She and founder Joel Heckaman hosted dozens of local musicians in the small location, and they launched the Middle of the Mitten local showcase to host bands from across the state in January 2009, timed to celebrate The Record Lounge’s first anniversary.

The next year, Michigan State University writing professor Jon Ritz, himself a local musician, joined the team shortly after the second showcase in 2010. His interest in building the artistic community, combined with the coordination of university resources, student volunteers and interns, and local connections, helped foster the talent behind the stage as well as on it.

Middle of the Mitten expanded into a full festival, covering multiple days, including venues in different cities, for hundreds of attendees each January until 2014. Although attendance plateaued, digital and social media engagement never slowed down, so in 2015 the team decided to focus on building a web presence for supporting the music community year-round.

It became clear that a name change was necessary to focus on the state of Michigan as a whole, instead of the “Middle” location of the festival, and Mitten State Music officially launched January 2, 2017 — exactly ten years after its first spark as an idea.

Mitten State Music will not only provide a platform for the entire Michigan music community, but the organization will also work to build a network of resources to connect local music scenes across the state.

Our Team

Mitten State Music is supported by a talented team of writers, editors, photographers, and other great people from across the state. To see who they are or to learn about joining, click the link below.

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Join Us

We would love for you to join us! To find out more about the Mitten State Music team and how you can get involved, click the link below for current job postings or email contact@mittenstmusic.com for more details.

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