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South Dakota Concerts & Events

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South Dakota is a large Midwestern state with the Black Hills National Forest, where historical monuments such as Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial are located. Few people associate South Dakota with music or entertainment, but the state does have something to offer both locals and travelers. Continue reading to learn more small cities with musical backbone, museums that double as concert venues, and venues that are designed for local performers.

In South Dakota, small towns contain respectable musical talent.

Although good music is often associated with big cities, small cities and towns should not be ignored. Ranked among the best places for small scale spaces with massive musical quality, South Dakotan cities like Vermillion demonstrate that music transcends geographic limitations. A standard college town on the surface, Vermillion is home to the University of South Dakota, meaning it has a built-in audience, frequenting venues like Carey’s Bar, Maya Jane’s, and Rounding 3rd Bar and Casino. Some local favorites are Shawn Colvin, Billy Yost, and Paradise Fears.

South Dakota is home to educational concert organizations that double as one-of-a-kind concert venues, such as the National Music Museum and the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association.

For an upscale, cultural, informative listening experience, music enthusiasts should seek out music museums. The National Music Museum is one of these places, often called the “music Smithsonian,” a seemingly unusual fixture in South Dakota. An impressive collection of over 15,000 instruments are slowly filling out the museum. What makes concerts at this museum unique is that they showcase exceptional musical instruments. Those interested in how an instrument’s design, fabrication, and technology influence sound will be amazed. A part of the University of South Dakota, this museum hosts artists will impeccable skill, such as T. Wilson King on vintage guitars, Joy Vinikour on harpsichord, and Kenneth Be on Elizabethan instruments.

For people looking for something a little more conventional and current, the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame are a couple of organizations that host live music events throughout the year. Two relatively new halls of fame, they are eager to grow their collections of memorabilia and develop their presence in the community. So, for those planning trips far in advance, keep an eye out for events that come up as they gain traction.

South Dakota is experiencing a resurgence of local artists.

Across South Dakota—in places like Rapid City and Sioux Falls, small venues are creating the scaffolding for the local music scene. Places such as Black Hills Vinyl, Seed Theater, and Latitude 44 lead the way with organic, community connected venues. Venue operators and musicians strive to return to a 90s type of music scene. They want to make a place where up-and-coming artists can stop and play before moving on to another town; they want to make a place where more artists are compelled to come out and perform.

Some of the newer South Dakotan bands that venue creators are hoping will benefit from their efforts are the following: Amos Slade, Avian Sunrise, The Kickback, Mystery Pills, Paradise Fears, Roman Ships, Soul Crate, The Tinderbox, Typical Hunks, and Wumpus. Interestingly, research on radio station preferences show that the most popular music genre in South Dakota is electronic dance music. The state’s musicians are making sounds ranging from displaced psychedelic to sludgy rock to bright pop folk to throwback soul-infused hip-hop to lightly cascading indie rock.

With this renewed interest in the scaffolding musicians need to perform, live music may very well become a main source of entertainment in South Dakota again in the next few years. Residents of the state can get in on something cool at the ground level. Vacationers can stop by and get a glimpse at the buzzing sounds of what is on the horizon for the state’s contemporary music scene.