Featured Artist of the Month
June 2023 - Prior Noon
About Prior Noon
THEY WON! “They” are Lowell’s own Prior Noon. What did they win? They won the B93 Battle to The Bash which means that Prior Noon will be the opening act at the 30th Annual B93 Birthday Bash at LMCU Ballpark on Saturday June 17th at High Noon. (Prior Noon at High Noon, I just had to do it.)
This is no small victory for the members of Prior Noon. There were eight bands all trying to earn the honor of kicking off the 30th Anniversary concert as the opening act for Jon Pardi, Gabby Barrett, Michael Ray, and Shane Proffit. The winners were chosen using a combination of responses to performances at The Intersection in Grand Rapids and fan input on social media. Pretty impressive for a band that has only been playing together officially since May of 2020. Even more impressive when you factor in a little inconvenience known as COVID-19 that hindered any band trying to play shows and gain a following.
While Prior Noon officially debuted in May of 2020, the band members have known each other and played together at their church in Lowell for many years before the launch. In fact, two of the members are lifelong collaborators: Drew and Nick Struckmeyer are brothers. Nick plays lead guitar (electric) and Drew plays bass and sings back-up. Joining the brothers are McKenna Grody on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Jay Stadt on drums and Joe Warren, rhythm electric, backup vocals.
This reporter first heard McKenna Grody when she sang the part of Mary Poppins in the musical, of the same name, staged at Lowell High School in 2019. My wife and I were blown away by her amazing, versatile voice. Our reactions were complete with goosebumps, gasps of amazement, and leaking eye sockets. (Must have been a high pollen count in that auditorium.) It must be mentioned that she was a sophomore at the time. IMHO country and country/rock music is all about the message in the song and McKenna certainly knows how to front a band and sell a song.
Drew Struckmeyer explained the roots of the band, “Our family moved to Lowell when we were five and three; Jay’s family lived across the street and the three of us have been best friends for years. We met McKenna and Joe through the church we all attended growing up and began playing music with them in the worship teams there in middle school.” This also explains how a band that has only been playing together for three years seems so comfortable with each other on stage.
Prior Noon has been remarkably busy since May 2020. They have a catalog of forty-five cover tunes that are performance ready, and they have ten original songs to put in their shows as well. Drew noted, “When we do a big opener like our Jo Dee Messina and Granger Smith shows earlier this year, we generally only get about 30-40 minutes, so we play almost all originals with a couple of covers mixed in as well. However, a 2-hour set like our upcoming one with the Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts in Lowell, will be about one third originals and two thirds covers.”
The appearance on the Showboat Stage as part of the Lowell Sizzlin’ Summer Concert Series happens on Thursday June 22nd at 7 pm. To say that the members of Prior Noon are stoked to play at this fantastic hometown venue is an understatement.
One of the questions we had to ask Drew was about the name of the band. He answered, “For as intentional as we are about making each lyric and moment in our songs significant and meaningful, we have always laughed about not having a great explanation for the name other than ‘it sounds cool.’” Yes, it does – especially if you are kicking off a festival at noon.
We mentioned above that Prior Noon has been busy despite the limitations of COVID. They took a trip to Nashville, TN in 2022 to record their first EP. They have played at a plethora of venues including, The Intersection, Wildwood Family Farms, The Stray, Frugthaven Farm Summer Concerts, East Grand Rapids Concert Series, Celadon Concert Series, The Smyrna Bar, Frugthaven Farm Cider House Shows, Founders Brewing and the Garage Bar in Ada. As this is being written, their songs have been streamed over 125,000 times and that number goes up every day. They have also recorded and posted half a dozen videos of their original songs. We will put links at the bottom of the page, and you can treat yourself to these videos, they are very well produced.
The videos are the handiwork of yet another friend, Noah Hempel. The one they did together in the fall of 2022, “Last Goodbye”, was nominated for a Michigan Music Video Award this spring. Another talented artist from Lowell, Eric Dimmick of Ozone Films, has started working with Prior Noon in the creation of promo videos.
Struckmeyer had this to say about their songwriting process, “The majority of our writing is pretty collaborative. Oftentimes, I’ll have an outline for a song and will record it as a voice memo on my phone with just me singing and playing acoustic. From there, I’ll send the idea to everyone with some notes on the feel of the song and everyone does their thing: McKenna finds a way of making the melody more grabbing and finding harmonies, Nick adds in the signature guitar lines and licks, Joe finds great spots to fill and has good ideas on arrangements, and Jay finds the groove of the song and the best places for fills and transitions.”
The schedule for Prior Noon is a great reflection of how their hard work is paying off. The power of their live performances is validated by the fact that they will be the kick-off band at B93’s popular annual concert. “I think every kid, or at least every kid that has an interest in music, at some point in their life hears a song on the radio and imagines themselves playing it on stage for a huge crowd,” Drew commented. “So, getting to actually do that on some pretty cool stages is an awesome feeling. It’s also hard to beat the feeling of writing songs that mean something to you and being able to play them for people and see them singing along to them. Doing all of that with your best friends makes it even better.”
Hopefully reading this has put a desire for you to experience Prior Noon for yourself. Their main website is www.PriorNoon.com . They have a Facebook page, and you can listen to their music on Spotify and other streaming services. Watch their videos at www.youtube.com/@priornoon6810. Drew told us Prior Noon would love to see you and yours at one of their shows. They look forward to meeting you.