Stolen Wallpaper

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Location: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

Hi. I wish I had a job selling squirrels. They're so furry, and give you toothy grins. Unless they're rabid, in which case they will eat your face off and then find the rest of your family. That's not so good, I guess.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Live Music Log, October 2017

10 11 17  Open Mic at Louie's Trophy House, Kalamazoo  The lengthy gap in shows between this and the last one is where I took a twelve day trip out to the Pacific Northwest.  I used to look forward greatly to these trips....but now I know people.  I missed them, and I missed a LOT of good music while I was gone.  In Bend, Oregon, I missed the Accidentals by a day;  in none of the towns I stopped in was any live music to see on the night I was there.  So, on my way back into Michigan, it occurred to me that I could attend Carrie's open mic for the first time, so I veered off to Kalamazoo.  It was really good to see her, and Kevin Hamman, and Lisa Moaiery, and maybe Ken?  Maybe Darcy?  For the first time in my life, I have more friends than fingers, but of course most of them are sixty damn miles away.  John Roche was grave and gravelly. Kate Arcangeli was earnest and high pitched, with a keyboard instead of guitar.  (Her last song was acapella, frickin fearless.)  Tyler Wood was memorable for playing guitar with only one arm:  he strums with his nubbin, and sings very well.  Kevin Hamman and Mike List were both great. Timothy Patrie was another keyboardist, with a flawless high tenor. (No one ever needs to hear Candle In The Wind ever again, however.)  Lisa Moaiery and Carrie ended the night.  I wish I could come out more often on random nights, but not if it meant working mornings, because screw that noise.

10 12 17  The War And Treaty #2/THE HACKY TURTLES  Founders, Grand Rapids  This band is so powerful that the crowd at Founders (mostly) shut the hell up and marveled at what they were seeing and hearing:  a hurricane of amplified blues, of down and dirty gospel, a kind of revival meeting that atheists desperately want to attend.  The core of the band is husband and wife Michael and Tanya Trotter, who moved from Baltimore to Albion and began making music.  When it came time to tour, they put together a phenomenal band from around the area, tight, professional, multiracial, grinning because they know they're good. The energy pouring off the two massively powerful singers during the show was overwhelming;  I am afraid that Michael in particular may have an aneurysm on stage someday.  They are now touring the South, and I hope the South gives them back, because there's a chance they won't.  Opening was the Hacky Turtles, a kind of Go Rounds Lite:  no bass, funny hats, highly versatile, guitars funky or plinky at turns,  trumpet and banjo making appearances.  Slight faux-Caribbean flavor. Like 311 had gone to finishing school.  Praising with faint damns a bit here, but they were entertaining.

10 13 17 Lisa Moaiery #2 Harvey's, Kalamazoo
               RIVER BEND  Old Dog Tavern, Kalamazoo  This night was kind of weird and unfinished, lotsa ships passing in the night.  Started on the pleasantly ramshackle deck at Harvey's for some of Lisa's tunes, a bit awkward since few others there seemed to be there specifically for her, but she has some very thoughtful songs and a relaxed way of delivering them. Headed over to Louie's intending to see Jesse Ray...but the show started way later than Facebook had indicated.  A young kid named Jacob Rollins played the blues, with massively impressive slide guitar licks and extremely awkward vocals.  Clearly a disciple of Son House and Charlie Patton, but no young white boy in 2017 should be singing about picking cotton.  I left there and went to Old Dog to catch River Bend, a cover band from Otsego which Kaitlin Rose sometimes fronts when it's time to release her inner Ronstadt.  Eric the sound dude was on drums. It was inconsequential but super fun, a good break for her I'm sure from her own emotionally laden songs.  They did Badfinger's No Matter What, a nice slightly obscure surprise.  Nothing I saw this night rocked my world, but it all keeps the hamster running in the wheel.  Music in, life out.

10 14 17 May Erlewine #7  Bell's, Kalamazoo  This was the triumphant coming out party for the Mother Lion album, a small tour with a big band, playing the whole album with only a few other tunes thrown in.  Very sedate (the rare Bell's chairs made an appearance), dim lighting with red predominant, adoring audience:  the kind of show where the artist occasionally reads some poetry aloud and is listened to.  A tiiiiny bit too precious compared to the all out joyfests she puts on with the Motivations, but a great experience nonetheless.  Opening violin pyrotechnics by Katie Van Dusen, who also played with May's band.

10 20 17  REDEMPTION NIGHT:  MATT GABRIEL/Carrie McFerrin #10/Megan Dooley #13/Brian Koenigsknecht #6/Darcy Wilkin #7/Olivia Mainville (with Brandon James) #14  Old Dog Tavern, Kalamazoo  This is probably the pinnacle of my life as any kind of public person:  a show I conceived, packaged, and sold, with a lot of help amid the dead ends.  I had a very musical marriage:  we met in the mtv.com chatroom when I mentioned the band Supertramp, her improbable favorite.  After it dissolved, great swaths of music were now minefields of bad feelings.  I wanted to stop feeling sad every time I heard the Beatles' I Will or Domestic Problems' Untitled, among many others.  So the idea:  ask some of my new musician friends to play these songs, to reclaim them, to make new happy memories to at least partially overwrite the old sad ones. Redeem the songs:  REDEMPTION NIGHT.  It first started forming in my wee noggin back in May, and I started talking about it to a few people in June.  Megan Dooley's enthusiastic reaction to the concept led me to pursue it vigorously, and Darcy Wilkin's advice and assistance is what got the thing to the finish line.  Three attempts to put this together as a house show all failed:  I was about to give up when Darcy suggested Old Dog Tavern as a site, $5 a head instead of $20, costs amortized across the masses.  Confusions over who could play what dates where led me to ask more singers than I feasibly could feature....so of course in the end I featured almost all of them. Oct. 12 would have been my tenth anniversary, the 20th was the closest to that dread date I could get.  Kaitlin Rose Parmenter graciously let me have that date in exchange for keeping Matt Gabriel, already signed for that date, on the bill.  I didn't know Matt, but his intense melodic musings fit well in the end as an opening set, and I was glad to meet him and hear his talent.  Carrie was a hoot, bantering Carrieishly between bouts of smashing my heart to splinters with Supertramp's "Give A Little Bit," Inara George's "Fools In Love," and a slow version of her "The Wolves." Ably assisted by Mike List on lap steel:  I wish I had more time in between vacation and foot problems to corral more collaborations between these amazing people.  Dooley had refused to tell me what she picked to play off my list of Redemption Songs; she walked up in her long white pimp coat, flashed a shark smile, and completely destroyed me with "I Will," the song I had sung over the phone to my wife that (we both later agreed) had clinched it, and Bright Eyes' "First Day of My Life," a song she was obsessed with. Her own redemption song:  Coldplay's "The Scientist." I didn't talk to her much that night, she was back at the cool kids table while I was on the edge of my seat at the stage, but it meant a lot to me that she was always behind this. Brian was....feeling jovial.  No pain.  Loose limbed.  Dude was drunk.  But that voice!  His redemption song:  Tom Petty's "A Face In The Crowd." Carrie and Laurie Laing added harmonies on a couple tunes, Dooley duetted on a killer "Please Call Me Baby," my beloved "Last Of The Venues" was played, then he finished up with a masterful rendering of Supertramp's "Downstream," a piano ballad he found a way to blow us away with on acoustic guitar.  Darcy was really battling uphill against an increasingly disinterested crowd of also rans, but I sure appreciated her efforts.  "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" was affecting.  Then, for TMBG's "She's An Angel," she called me up on stage to botch pushing one key on a Casio, and ambushed me a little by getting me to sing on the last chorus.  Mortifyingly thrilling.  Another highlight: her original, "Letters In A Drawer," very appropriate to the theme.  Olivia was coming from another gig in Zeeland so she played last: she had no connection to the other players except possibly Dooley, so I was very grateful for her participation.  She redeemed the hell out of "The Man Who Sold The World,' then played a bunch of new songs, one so new it has no name yet, as well as the Boswell Sisters' 1934 hit "Everybody Loves My Baby," then Brandon (along for the ride on googly eyed bass) closed the show with "The Deal."  There were half formed plans for a grand finale where I would lead the ensemble in Da Vinci's Notebook's "Enormous Penis," but I could not herd the cats together, and I was feeling too overwhelmed to fight off stage fright anyhow.  The crowd was loud and frequently disinterested, none of my family could make it, and my foot was in a boot from cellulitis.  It was perfect anyway.  Thank you to all who sang, all who came, and Ken Campbell for filming it.  It's all downhill from here. And who doesn't like sledding?

10 21 17  Thunderbolt & Lightfoot #4/Gifts Or Creatures #2/Brian Koenigsknecht #7  Rootead, Kalamazoo  Beautiful show in a beautiful space on an unusually beautiful late indian summer day.  Started off at Carrie's Backyard Boutique, with Bride of Fleckenstein once again jamming acoustically while clothing was sold;  from there, Laurie accompanied me over to the (really hard to find) new venue, Rootead, in an old factory next to the Kal-Tone Guitar craftery. Sedate compared to the previous night's rowdy:  thoughtful songs and arrangements in an airy (tiny bit hipster) space.  (Unfinished:  there were some jokes about the chasm of bricks immediately behind the performers.)  T&L have possibly the best harmonies in Kalamazoo and that is saying something;  I hope for more material from them. (Mine your Corn Fed Girls past!) Gifts or Creatures, ostensibly headliners, played in the middle, a set very close to what they played at Harvest Gathering but only as a duo this time.  I get the definite sense that Brandon Foote could melt our faces off with that guitar should he so choose, but he uses effects and techniques to soothe and inform instead.  And Bethany is the perfect partner for their little historical curio songs.  Brian played last, tonight in a very sober vest and proper trousers, with his bud Geoff on guitar and a string duo: absolutely pindrop beautiful.  (Let me be clear, I like my Brian both ways.)

10 22 17 Megan Dooley #14  Kent District Library, Cascade Branch, Grand Rapids  I am adding this show in two months late because apparently KDL deletes its events and I completely forgot it happened.  Only two days after Redemption Night, too.  Dumb me.  Dooley does not like early shows, though her voice does:  she sounds so good in an environment in which she can be heard.  I'm sad that she's retired so many originals, but her cover choices remain impeccable:  at least one song from every decade, she says.  Once again sang the reefer song to a roomful of children.  She's a shark, but she's taken the pledge:  friends not food.

10 22 17  Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys #4/Dan Rickabus #3  Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids  My bad foot meant I couldn't work, and could instead attend this Sunday show, part of the Farewell Huggy Bear tour.  Mark Lavengood is leaving the band to stay in GR, and they seem to be taking the opportunity to ditch the "Flatbellys" name.  Dan opened the show with a few Void/Journal numbers on ukulele, with a couple of Flatbellys guest shots. I didn't take notes, so I can't remember everything I'd like to, but this was SUPER FUN TIMES.  Lindsay Rilko's voice is the finest honey, and the three men are No Slouches Either. Top notch musicians playin' around, to a crowd that kinda sorta listened (I hate you, Pyramid Scheme).  Hightlight:  "In Transit," a Flatbellys tune just released as a Lavengood solo single, and the grand finale, John Hartford's "Get No Better," in which Dan, Emilee, Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, May Erlewine (who also guested on her own song "The River Jordan"), and Max Lockwood joined the jamboree.

10 25 17  Open Mic at Louie's Trophy House, Kalamazoo  I seriously can't remember anything musical from this night, other than T Rex Roth's intense reading of several Pat Carroll songs.  But I had fun with people who seem to like me, and some really tasty chicken wings, and that is Living My Best Life right now.

10 27 17  The Accidentals #4/The Crane Wives #35/JAKE ALLEN  Frauenthal Theatre, Muskegon  Jack Clark co-runs the Red House Concert Series that stages such great shows in the Grand Haven museum;  he was one of the people I talked to on the road to Redemption Night.  This was his Big Fish:  a thousand seater with the biggest band in Michigan right now.  I first saw the Accidentals and the Crane Wives at the same time;  the numbers above tell you where my loyalties lie...but the Accidentals are more and more impressive, as their road tested skills and ever-improving songwriting propel them across the country on Sony's dime.  I love the Wives' songs, first and foremost, but the Accidentals achieve a solid wall of sound, with only three (or four) players, that is complex, melodic, and affecting as hell.  "Crow's Feet" is an amazing song.  Other highlights:  ""Memorial Day," "Earthbound," "The Sound A Watch Makes When Enveloped In Cotton," the company of Julie, and the grandeur of the Frauenthal Theatre.  Kate said she thought this might be the biggest crowd they've ever played for!  There was a new Emilee song, "Volta," and both bands joined forces for a roaring "Sleeping Giants." Second Wives show I've ever seen, after Harvest Gathering, with nothing from the first two albums:  they can see the future from here.  Jake Allen is a guitar wizard, also in the Accidentals' touring band, who has good songs but somehow sounds like a CCM artist to me, I need more time with him.

10 28 17  Domestic Problems #2  The Intersection, Grand Rapids
                The Crane Wives #36  Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids  The old love battled the new love, and the new love won.  DP is a classic party band with a horn section and brassy original tunes from the heyday of GRD Rock, in the late nineties;  they only play a few times a year, so I bought tickets early for this event.  With my injured foot, I had to sit down in the back, which compromised my enjoyment immensely, and also reminded me strongly of the time my ex wife and I went to see them at Billy's, and her agoraphobia forced into the room BEHIND the stage, where we could hear but not see. The band were dressed in Stars Wars themed costumes.  Billy, the singer, had a Leia wig and a T shirt reading "Don't Call Me Princess."  They were to play their album Play in its entirety....for the second set.  The first set was full of sweaty fun, but as the second started, I was watching the time, not wanting to miss any Wives.  When buddy Dan threw up the bat signal, I left the Intersection without a backward glance, got my illegally parked car out of the lot somehow without hitting any costumed revelers in line for the eighties dance party, and got to the Scheme just in time.  Dan: Mario.  Ben: some kinda Boy Scout character I didn't know.  Emilee:  Han Solo. Kate:  almost unrecognizable as Tina from Bob's Burgers.  The new song, Volta, was repeated.  The safe ship was harbored.  Stefany had a toothache.  These are my favorite songs, and my favorite people:  no way to really deny it.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Introductions

Matt Gabriel is a singer/songwriter from Grand Rapids who has spent over ten years honing his bluesy folky sound.  Making his Old Dog debut tonight. His next local show will be at Our Brewing in Holland on November 24.

Carrie McFerrin is not from here, but she is OF here now:  raising her family, hosting the open mic at Louie's every Wednesday night, and playing her swanky twang for our lucky ears, often with her musical partner Matthew Borr.  (Band name to be revealed next week Friday on this stage!) She will also be playing in the round with Kaitlin Rose and Stacy Koviak-Davison at Webster's on Nov. 3.

In many ways, Megan Dooley IS Kalamazoo music.  15 years of playing her own great originals and songs from the vast American songbook, she has crafted a lasting legacy of music, and she is nowhere near done yet. She will be at the Cascade Library on Sunday, and at the Hilliards Corner lounge next Sunday.

After being a valued part of the Kalamazoo scene for almost 20 years, this is Brian Koenigsknecht's moment:  widespread acclaim for his album From The Shallows To the Deep, powerful live shows, and collaborations with just about everyone in town.  Tomorrow night at Rootead is just such a night, with Gifts or Creatures, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and a string section.

Darcy Wilkin has a lot of irons in the fire: longtime membership in the folk group The Corn Fed Girls, the long-running WMUK show Grassroots, which she hosts with her father, Mark Sahlgren, and now she's venturing out to play solo.  She is playing Nov. 2 at the Richland library, and the 24th at Louie's along with Brian and Jonathan Timm.

From Holland, Olivia Mainville is the youngest act here tonight, but she has accomplished a great deal, with much more to come.  Constant touring with her Aquatic Troupe has paid off in great sound and wide recognition.  Her new single, Danger Death Ray, comes out on Halloween.  She plays with Brandon James tomorrow night at Grand Armory in Grand Haven.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Olivia Mainville and the Aquatic Troupe, "Danger Death Ray"

Olivia Mainville just turned 21, and she's already on the third reinvention of her sound. First was earnest balladeer, then lively pop-folk party music, and now, with this song and some other new ones I've heard, we're heading into black magic purveyed with a smile. Danger Death Ray is a cautionary tale: you can love the dead, but maybe don't LOOOVE the dead. Doomy tympani punctuation to lively gypsy swing, anchored by Adam Schreiber's idiosyncratic timekeeping, Bleu Quick's trusty trombone (the only surviving element from the first LP), and a welcome jaunty violin darting around the periphery like a tipsy hummingbird. Recommended for fans of Gogol Bordello, Davina and the Vagabonds, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and early Andrew Bird. This video clip is an in-studio live recording, NOT the final studio version: for that, check iTunes and Bandcamp, rather appropriately, on Halloween.