Grounds For Thought hosts concerts by high caliber musicians in a variety of genres

Grounds For Thought may be a coffee shop and used bookstore on a daily basis, but it also hosts live music on a regular basis.

Owner Kelly Wicks said he doesn’t focus on any particular genre, but instead brings in a variety of “high caliber” acts.

Grounds For Thought has hosted a range of musicians, from Eddie Shaw – who Wicks called a “living blues legend” – to Pierre Bensusan, who was voted Best World Music Guitar Player in 2008 by Guitar Player Magazine Readers’ Choice.

Wicks has been booking acts for the Black Swamp Arts Festival for its entire existence, and in that time he has gotten to know musicians and agents. That helps him book musicians he otherwise likely wouldn’t be able to.

“It is one of the most incredible things in this town,” said Dan Stutzman, who designs posters for the shows. “These are bands that you would go up to Ann Arbor and pay $15 to see.”

At Grounds For Thought, the shows are free.

Other shows have featured Rahim Alhaj, a Grammy-nominated musician who plays the oud, a stringed instrument; Jim Suhler, a guitarist who has played with AC/DC; and Frank Vignola, a guitarist who has played with Madonna and Ringo Starr.

Rhythm Future Quartet played at Grounds For Thought in September. Jason Anick, the band’s violinist, said Grounds For Thought is a “world-class venue” for music as well as a “culture center” due to the coffee and books.

Some may wonder how Grounds For Thought is physically able to host concerts. But once tables and shelves are moved, a hundred people can enjoy a concert.

“It’s surprising how many people we can fit in here,” Wicks said.

The set-up was smooth when Rhythm Future Quartet played, Anick said.

“They do a good job transitioning it into a music venue,” he said.

The next concert at Grounds For Thought will be The Infatuations on Nov. 15. It’s a celebration of Grounds For Thought’s 25th anniversary.

The first concert, in the fall of 1989, was one person in the front window. The shop didn’t occupy all the space it does now.

“The scope and the size of our shows has continued to evolve,” Wicks said.

Now Grounds For Thought can accommodate groups of eight to 10 people.

In addition to concerts, Grounds For Thought has hosted events like flea markets and author signings.

“We’ve had funerals and weddings here too,” Wicks said.