I caught Wally Pleasant's weekly Cuppa Java gig recently and witnessed a full-on Wally show, featuring old favorites "Denny's at 4:00 A.M." and "I Hate Cops" and new crowd pleasers "The Day Ted Nugent Killed All the Animals" and "Amusement Park Death Song," from Wally's new disc WALLY WORLD. Wally's coffeeshop shows draw fans ages 14 to 60; his unique perspective and life observations appeal across age groups. On this particular night, Wally asked his audience to write a "rock opera," with audience members as Richard Simmons, Pee Wee Herman, Ricki Lake, and Courtney Love. It's always a little weird at a Wally show, but sometimes that's the point.
Flashback is the current house band at Mac's Saloon, and I urge everyone to check them out. You'll be treated to a night of rock and roll nostalgia, as Flashback covers a host of early seventies favorites, from the Beatles and Lovin' Spoonful to Santana, Steppenwolf, and the Doors. The music is delivered with zest, and the band's energetic flair makes the tracks sound a lot fresher than the bland "alternative" crap that is being covered all over town. Catch Flashback while you can; I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
The Roswells and the Old Style Band played a recent fundraiser for the Dansville Athletic Boosters at Mason's VFW hall. The Roswells played a blend of alternative rock, with a few covers thrown in, while the Old Style Band stuck to traditional covers such as Clapton, et al. While neither band set me on my ear, a group jam at the end of the evening proved that there was a good band present; unfortunately, they were divided among the two groups. Together the bands made up for one another's shortcomings, and maybe I'm not the only one who noticed.
If you'd like Shane to catch your show, call him at (517) 694-5625.
It was a killer show at the Silver Dollar December 10th. Four bands at seven bucks a ticket for what turned out to be one of the hottest shows to hit Lansing for quite a long time. First on the bill was Dahlia Grey from the Jackson area. This trio blends '60/'70s songwriting with experienced chops to make a unique musical statement. I don't know if the audience knew what to make of them, but they applauded strongly after each song.
Next up, a local heavy hitter on the hard rock scene, Uncle Chuck. They raised the adrenaline of the crowd a few notches. With their aggressive, abrasive, '90s metal sound (a la Tool or Rage Against the Machine), they are definitely some guys to keep an eye on.
The Almighty Ultrasound, from San Diego, slapped the gathered mass in the face. The crowd seemed hesitant at first -- the band's looks didn't seem to click with the local scene -- but the techno/heavy rock sound was winning them over. This band has been making some waves. I think we had better get used to them because we're going to hear a lot more from them.
Topping the night, The Hunger tore it up. With a show that blends industrial and metallic with punk and pop, delivered with overwhelming attitude, they had the whole place jumping up and down! Without a doubt, this band is one of the next big things. Just because I've already heard the comparison a hundred times, yes, this show did have the same vibe as when Alice in Chains played the Dollar. 'Nuff said.
The Rock House has started featuring original rock on the weekends as well as the weekdays. I caught Powerface down there a couple of weeks ago. Their heavy riffing and grooving sound had the place moshing. How does a band this heavy have a following of so many good looking women?
Spanish Angel put on a good show at the R.H. These guys are a heavy rocking outfit with thrash leanings. I've seen these guys at many a house party, and it's good to see them playing in a club setting.
Glen Related made its way through heavy snows to perform at the House. Too bad the weather was so crappy because the show was hot. Got to give them credit for putting their all into the show even though most people didn't want to brave the winter storm.
A band with a split personality? Could be, but they put on a killer show anyway. Who am I talking about? Storyville, of course. Great show, great songwriting; not heavy, just tasty good old rock and roll. For those who don't know, if you like traditional Irish music, check out their other incarnation, Lash.
If you'd like Patrick to catch your show, call him at (517) 669-7124.
Neither blizzard conditions nor a near fatal head cold can keep me from chasin' down good blues music here in Lansing. So, battling both, I ventured down to the Green Door to hear the smooth Root Doctor band. The Doctor was in, but featured guest Big Billy Ryder from Grand Rapids couldn't make the drive due to slippery roads and blowing snow. I was really looking forward to the sound of Billy's harp alongside one of my favorite local bands. Freddie Cunningham's soulful vocals and Scott Allman's tasty guitarwork are always a treat to experience, and when James, Doug, and John set down the smooth blues groove, dancing and sing-alongs break out in every set. Scotty told me the Root Doctor debut CD is almost ready for release, and you should grab it and add it to your collection as soon as possible.
Valentine's Day at Capitol Hill Station! What can I say? A great combination of people in love, steamy sweet blues, cozy atmosphere, excellent food and drink provided a major mojo delight night. My sweetie and I heard great veteran Detroit bluesman Johnnie Bassett and his Blues Insurgents shake, rattle, and roll, and they got everyone smilin', swingin', and sweatin' with his ultra-cool swing blues sound. What a great Motown treasure Johnnie Bassett is! Smooth delivery and crowd-pleasin' stories set up song after song of pure blues pleasure. Rock me, baby! Local harp-blowin' bluesman Cool Ray Aleshire of Those Delta Rhythm Kings sat in with Johnnie and his band for a couple of tear-it-up blues classics. What a great night!
A special guest sat in with The Roadmasters during their latest stand at the Garfield Lake Tavern. Patti Ross was called up to the stage and ignited the place with a scorching vocal and red hot harp-blowin' lead break on ZZ Top's "Tush." A 15-minute version of "Stormy Monday" followed, with Patti Ross singing and blowin' harp while The Roadmasters, trading off lead breaks, played the blues in the traditional roadhouse style. Catch Patti Ross and the Wanted at the Colonial Bar and Grille in Lansing whenever you get the chance. [Their burgers are great, and the grill's open late, so you can catch some good tunes while you grab a late dinner at the Colonial. -GW]
Another Capitol Hill Station visit, and it was Cool Ray and the Snakehandlers' turn to blast out some jump blues and warm up the cold winter night. Cool Ray Aleshire and the boys turned out some fine original material as well as some smokin' blues covers. Mike Daniels from Smooth Daddy and the Blue Avenue Delegates and Mike Somers from The Roadmasters [which is why, per Renegade policy, Mike had to focus on Patti Ross rather than the Roadmasters in the previous paragraph, though I'll add that The Roadmasters are an extremely fun blues band. -GW] were called up on stage and joined Cool Ray on "Sloppy Drunk" and "Lollipop Blues." We were swingin' and jumpin'! My favorite song of the night, and for probably quite some time to come, is the heartfelt and soon-to-become blues classic "Pig Foot and a Beer." Rave on, brother Ray!
If you'd like Mike to catch your show, call him at (517) 393-8473.
Ekoostik Hookah is a five piece folk crowd pleaser. The band has a mello groove-funk sound. The jazzy frevelss style of the bassist in combination with the modern twang singing, solid drumming and keyboarding, packed the dance floor full. The band played well together and had a welcoming stage presence.
If you'd like Elizabeth to catch your show, call her at (517) 351-1247.
If you'd like Bob to catch your show, call him at (517) 625-3282 (but don't call him until April).
To help club-goers, the Renegade asks the Lansing area's local bands to describe themselves briefly. Their descriptions are featured here.
Playgrind: "Two albums deep with a third in the works, Playgrind is a continually evolving entity of music and personal growth. Endorsed by Jagermeister, our heavier but uplifting music provides an alternative to listening to alternative music."
No longer (for now) on the radio airwaves, Jaz McKay has a new outlet for his humor, as well as a new way to spotlight original bands and musicians from the central Michigan area. The Jaz McKay Television Show airs on Tuesday nights at 11:00 pm on TCI channel 30 (channel 28 on the MSU campus). Watch for it on other cable providers soon. For more info, call (517) 337-4614 or (517) 484-2246.
The Reggae Rising Festival is 8:00 pm, March 22nd at Kalamazoo's State Theater. Performing will be Indika featuring Devon, Roots Rock Society, and D.J. Rootsmon Bird, plus Ras Kente & Posse.
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