The Rapidian

Big Dudee Roo brings diverse influences to indie music scene

Big Dudee Roo reinforces the frequencies of Grand Rapids indie music scene, and their diverse influences help express the community's unique sounds.
Underwriting support from:

/Scott Warren

The Wayland-based band Big Dudee Roo exemplifies today's Grand Rapids indie music scene well. The lead vocal harmonies, accompanying folk instruments and eclectically-developed foundations help paint a picture of our scene in many important ways. Their representation of a part of the Grand Rapids music scene is getting noticed outside the area, as well.

The group's folk-rock classification points to their foundations. Lead vocalist Aurora Lewis brings a soulful, soft tension to the music, while Justin Dore shines with his adaptable, versatile and classically inspired lead guitar. Songwriters Max Lockwood (lead vocals and bass) and Nate Wagner (guitar and banjo) provide the lyrical depth and guide each member of the band with equal attention. Kurt Rizely provides a solid structure with unifying grooves that completes the ensemble.

The naming of Big Dudee Roo remains a secret as each member provides a wholly different and entirely humorous context for the name. But the differing stories do not reflect the band's intentions as musicians.

The album"Listen to Your Discontent," released in December of 2011, takes an authentic egalitarian approach. Instead of elaborate solos and lead-man-ownership, the group emphasizes harmony over melody and blends several individual influences into one specific sound. If the venue allows it, they also set up on stage in a linear line, as opposed the common circular stage arrangment where the bassist and drummer play behind the vocals and melodic instruments. It's difficult to sustain this style of music and performance. So how do they compromise in order for no voice to be greater than another? 

"Usually our songs always have more input from one person: whoever wrote the song will lay down the form for it and any specific parts. But everyone always has their own space to fill with what they can hear, and this is where we begin to feed from each other and much of the time the song will take on a new life at this point," explains Nate Wagner.

This idea of equality also plays a role in their lyrics. The group focuses on environmental issues and themes of social injustice, which naturally channels into their moods and tempos; but they're more than a typical rainy-day type of folk rock. They often dabble in other genres by exploring the anger in punk, the despair in blues and the humanity of soul.

Every band member grew up in Wayland, and now fully embraces the music culture of Grand Rapids. It's often difficult for bands to avoid the influence of a specific music scene. Big Dudee Roo recognizes this challenge, and they address it through their diversity.

Kurt Rizley says, "The Grand Rapids and Michigan music scene is really diverse. We try [to] stay true to ourselves and our music. We never change our sound to fit a certain genre or fit into a certain scene. You can hear it in our music and I think a lot of people respect that."

Like the Grand Rapids indie music scene, Big Dudee Roo balances diversity within a singular voice. This approach leads to a unique, intriguing, and egalitarian sound that no doubt helps spread our spirit of the times to new areas. Big Dudee Roo will help represent Grand Rapid's own "voice of the generation" at the upcoming 5th Annual Bob Dylan Tribute Concert at Founders Brewery on May 19th.

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Big Dudee Roo is a sight to see.  Chock full of talent and energy, thoughtfulness and soul.  They're so young, but SOOOOO talented.  I can't wait to see what they do at the 5th Annual Bob Dylan Tribute at Founders Brewing Co. on May 19th!  I <3 Big Dudee Roo!