LowellArts Featured Artist for November 2022: Dutcher Snedeker

LowellArts has launched a music program called the Featured Artist Series: Connecting You with the People Behind the Music.  This monthly feature offers audiences a personal, insider view into the current music scene from the perspective of West Michigan’s talented performers. Check back on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month for a new article or interview from the featured artist. The November 2022 artist of the month is Dutcher Snedeker.


Article by Sue Clements

Dutcher Snedeker is a Grand Rapids pianist who has his fingers on his keyboard but that’s just a small part of what he does. He is actively involved in writing, reviewing, teaching, and doing his part to support the local music community as a whole.

A little bit about his background, Dutcher grew up in a family of musicians who fostered in him a love of the arts, as well as an expectation that music would be part of his life. I wondered if he chose the piano or if it was chosen for him. He shared, “I noodled around on a little Yamaha keyboard as a kid before I started taking lessons at age 8, but the decision was mine after hearing my dad tell me in the car that I’d have to pick an instrument to study. I initially picked drums because I had (and still have) a tendency to be percussive when I was sitting still to drum along with the music, but after one lackluster lesson on practice pads, I picked piano!” He continued, “I’ve kept up with the piano for so long because it is a strong blend of comforts, challenge, knowledge, and artistry. I always thought about playing piano and getting to see the world while sharing something I enjoy with others.”

The Dutcher you see on stage or listen to on one of many recordings is just a part of who he is. A great part, don’t get me wrong. His playing is very engaging and a delight to listen to, but there’s more. During our conversation his answers touched upon a theme – community. Here’s an example: I wondered about local music heroes. Dutcher answered, “I tend to celebrate a hall of local heroes because everyone contributes in their own way.” He talked about the continued growth and support that he gets from bandmates. He mentioned the “folks behind-the-scenes keeping our budding artists taught and supported… (and the scores of volunteers around the festival circuit this summer).” Concluding, he stated “I’m not much for hero worship, because a leader is only as strong as their team and it takes a lot of hands to keep things running.”

As far as the Michigan music scene goes, Dutcher is involved at many levels. He is well aware of the importance for musicians to have business skills that support their art, to be well rounded and well connected. Dutcher is involved with The Michigan Music Alliance. He has worked on their Spread the Music Festival (supporting their Artist Relief Fund) as well as their B-Side Sessions offering free, mostly virtual sessions on topics such as starting your own LLC, or booking contracts.

You can find him performing locally with Earth Radio, Mark Lavengood, Normal Mode, Monsters’ Impromptu, The West Michigan New Music Collective, and Blushing Monk. This past summer he’s been busy traveling all over Michigan for festivals and smaller gigs.

Also, a studio musician, Dutcher shared some about his work at Third Coast Recording Company. “Studio work is usually a fun process for me! … I am there to do whatever the client needs regarding keyboard tracks, which could mean acoustic or electric pianos, synthesizers, organs, or other vintage or even toy instrument sounds. I’ve been in all types of recording environments, so I try to balance that experience with the needs of the artist to reach some common ground.”

He has his own blog, Dutcher Snedeker, where he regularly reviews albums and promotes the local musicians that recorded them. On top of that, he has written for Local Spins, as well as WYCE for their New Music Monday column. Dutcher created and hosts two podcasts. The first, Life is a Piano, where you’ll hear conversations Dutcher has with other keyboardists focusing on the lifestyle, the skills, and what it means to be a professional keyboard player. The other is Mitten Backstage, which centers on conversations with Michigan musicians who have taken their talent around the world, as well as the people in production and the business side of the music industry.

At the time I connected with him, Dutcher shared that he was “on a trip with Earth Radio to write and record another album! We have one record we’re finishing up from last year and this one will follow it. It centers on the prompt ‘If the Earth could speak.’” I’m looking forward to hearing these recordings – they’re sure to be out of this world!

Go catch Dutcher playing, listen to his podcasts, and read his reviews. You’re bound to learn something about our incredible Michigan music scene and hear some great music too.

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