If there’s one thing that hasn’t been seen on campus in a while it’s a country music act. The opportunity to experience one has now arrived as Josh Gracin brings his down-south-style to NMU.
Students who have never attended a concert by him can expect high levels of energy and crowd interaction, Gracin said. Audience members can also expect a sound that’s different from other country music that is popular today.
“It’s country, but not,” Gracin said. “You can’t place it anywhere but country, but it’s not your typical style.”
Gracin’s big break came when he sang, “I’m Movin’ On” by Rascal Flats on an episode of the second season of “American Idol.” Rascal Flats’ bass player was so impressed with Gracin’s talent that he put him in touch with their producer, which ultimately led to Gracin’s record deal. He recorded a self-titled album in 2004, which was certified gold the same year.
“‘American Idol’ was an overwhelming but amazing experience,” he said. “It gave me a head start in a dream I’ve wanted since I was a kid.”
Gracin, a native of Westland, Michigan-a Detroit suburb- is heavily influenced by Motown music. Other musical influences include R&B, Garth Brooks, and Rascal Flats.
Gracin also has a special treat in store for those who attend the concert. As part of his “Tweet to Win” contest, which Gracin chose to do especially at Northern, audience members can go to his Twitter page (www.twitter.com/joshgracin) and request which songs they’d like to hear, thereby creating his set list for him. One winner will be invited on stage to sing a duet or be serenaded by Gracin.
Fans present at the concert will also receive special information on how to enter the grand prize in the “Tweet to Win” contest, which is a trip for two to Los Angeles and two on-camera seats at a taping of an episode for the upcoming season of “American Idol.”
Originally, Upfront and Company general manager John Ruuska had wanted Gracin to play at the bar, but decided that the size of their venue would not accommodate the large number of anticipated concert-goers.
Luckily for NMU students, there was another group on campus who had also considered bringing Gracin to town. Northern Arts and Entertainment (NAE) said they had been considering bringing Gracin to campus all last year.
“We’ve gotten a lot of requests for country music since we did our last country act a few years ago,” Tapani said. “Last year we did Hinder and this is obviously very different.”
NAE’s goal, according to Tapani, is to get as much of a variety as possible when bringing bands so that they can try to appeal to every group of students.
The co-sponsorship, which is the first for Upfront & Company, benefits both groups.
“Planning concerts takes a lot of work, and sometimes scheduling takes a very long time to work out, or doesn’t work out at all,” Tapani said. “Since the Upfront already had Gracin booked last spring, we were able to put on a show right at the beginning of the year to kick off the semester.”
Having both Upfront and NAE share Gracin’s fee enabled them to keep the cost down, which is a major benefit to students.
“We’re sharing the financial burden, which will be a win-win situation for everyone,” said Ruuska. “Also, due to the volume of shows we do during the course of the year we usually have an advantage with respect to pricing when we book acts.”
If all goes well at the show, Ruuska says he hopes to co-sponsor more concerts in the future.
“I think it will be a great concert,” Ruuska said. “Music fans will have the opportunity to see an up-and-coming country act before he gets big.”
Tapani added that even though some students may not recognize Gracin’s name, they’ll know his songs when they hear them.
The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. with special guest, Trailer Hitch, opening the show. Tickets for members of the general public cost $17, and all tickets are available at NMU E-Z Ticket Outlets. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.