CAUGHT IN THE ACT...
...by the publisher
I caught a little country music at DJ's Station House. The High Bounty Band played everything from "Hearts Are Gonna Roll" to "Tequila Sunrise" and even attempted (quite successfully, I might add) a request for Skynyrd's "Gimme Three Steps."
Vernon Yard recording artists Maids of Gravity took a Small Planet crowd on a hypnotizing ride of mildly catchy distorted guitar pop and, occasionally, some weird mellow alternative hybrid. It's a MOOD thing!
The North Lansing Heritage Festival sported a full musical slate. I stopped by a couple times and caught some good music. At its chunky, booming best Big Blue Couch may have punctured the clouds as a dry evening turned into a downpour within the confines of the band's opening song. Jim Cott and the Silver Sun utilize loud, blistering guitars and powerful, classic rock vocals to create all-new, all-original, classic sounding rock songs. Ballads "What I Need" and "I Need You" were surrounded by a set full of traditional-style classic rockers as "classic rock day" began. The Crunch Hogs followed, showing a hint of alternative, though their guitar riffs are catchy classic-style rock, as are the harmonies.
In the Zone and Scott Tucker made an odd but effective pairing at the Fox's Den. In the Zone delivered energetic, fun classic rock favorites like "Cheap Sunglasses," "Gimme Three Steps," and "Too Much Time on My Hands," while Tucker performed a smooth, flowing, rising, falling brand of folk not stylistically dissimilar to the religious wing of folk music. Then he grabbed an electric guitar and concocted a funky, rockin' jam with the guitarist and drummer from In the Zone!
I spent a Sunday at the Michigan Festival and caught a lot of great music. Though I pulled up just as local favorites the Kathy Ford Band were wrapping up their country show, my subsequent search for lunch was interrupted by some inspiring sounds crossing the Festival field. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the gospel music and stage presence of Flint's Sisters, who expect to have an album in stores this fall. Their smooth, four-part vocal harmonies were especially evident during the a capella numbers, while the talented organist, guitarist, and drummer who backup them up got a chance to show off during some of the other numbers.
The Capitol City Jass Society played some solid, enjoyable stuff. Some tunes I recognized; others I didn't. Detroit's Downhome Blues Boys turned the Folklife Music Stage tent into a veritable blues party. Los Bandits delivered a raucous brand of Tex Mex country rock. Every so often, you'd notice they had changed languages, but their energetic, engaging Midwestern-flavored Tex Mex music formed a common -- and fun -- thread. Curtis Remington and the Fabulous 5:01's covered the many faces of folk, with country, rock, reggae, and more influences showing through on different songs. A couple of my favorites were folky "Mystic Wheel" and reggae-spiced "Cool Breezes, Hot Jamaica."
Curb recording artists Boy Howdy gave a free performance at the Lansing Center on Friday, 5/26, and this reviewer was quite impressed. They shed the very commercial skin shown on their albums and delighted the crowd with a harmony filled show that went a long way to display the instrumental talent of the band. Sure, they played all the hits, but they included a lot of lesser known material and a sound cover of Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With" that was much better than it appears on their latest release. Johnny D & the Wittle-ometers opened with a surprisingly good show that included the kind of covers you'd expect from a band of radio personalities, but their talents are real, not just a gimmick.
Horror Factor impressed the Small Planet crowd with highlights from their recently released COUGHING INK. I have not heard the CD, but if this show was any indication, you'd better give it a listen.
On July 4th, at a neighbor's party, I caught my first glimpse of Reggae Ambassada. They performed a great collection of calypso, reggae, and ska selections and had the very mixed crowd literally dancing in the aisles. A very tight cover outfit (and a good bunch of guys and gals), they are available for booking by contacting Carlton Dawes, 483-4462.
August 9th, Johnny Cash came to town, and if you missed his performance at the Michigan Festival, you should be ashamed! Johnny mixed classics from the '50s with selections from last year's American Recordings LP. I've gotta tell you, after all these years, Johnny sounds better now than he ever has... He actually carries a tune. His wife June Carter, along with members of her musical family, were spotlighted with a set that included bluegrass, gospel, and some outstanding blues covers. Great show!
Sparty's was rockin' on August 16th, as several local metal bands performed a benefit for cerebral palsy. Stone Mary provided heavy progressive rock, with an excellent lead guitarist. Uncle Chuck got things pumped with their thrashing set, while Drip combined a little hardcore sound with their alternative metal. Skull Buzz lit into the most impressive set of the night, behind extremely powerful vocals and the best drumming I've seen in some time. Horror Factor proved that they've still got it; their doom metal set had the crowd on its feet. Powerface wrapped it all up with a mosh heavy set of very original numbers. Many of the bands were recording live, so watch for some possible live demo material in the near future.
If you'd like Shane to catch your show, call him at (517) 694-5625.
Harm's Way opened a great show at the Small Planet on a Saturday night in the beginning of August. This band from Ann Arbor likes to call themselves the L.S.G.H. (Life Sucks Get High) Clan. They took the stage with a four foot long burning and smoking joint. You would usually expect stoners to play laid back, melodic music, but that's not what you get here!! Harm's Way has been around for quite a few years, and they have progressed from a totally '80s heavy metal band to a heavy, hardcore rap band, a combination they handle well. Their originals like "Down in the Mix" and "Ballistics" carry strong rap rhythms and cool bass lines mixed with punk -- almost tribal-style -- drum beats, which make this band very successful in what they do. Definitely a must-see if you're down with the clan.
Look out Michigan! Look out world! Head Injury is here, and they are really good. This newer heavy metal band from Laingsburg is one of the best metal bands to pop up in a long time. They are screaming loud and completely metal, with the indecipherable lyrics and all. Head Injury headlined their own show at the Rock House in August. These guys have the greatest attitude and wonderful stage presence, which really wakes up the crowd. Their all-original set, which was really tight, shows how much work they put into their band. Check them out!
If you'd like Tammie to catch your show, call her at (517) 484-7775.
Recently, I had the chance to check out Open Mic Night at The Riviera Cafe. I know that open mic doesn't usually count as The Music Scene, but this particular one was hosted by Christopher Doyle. One Sunday I caught Chris in a fantastic acoustic set with such guests as drummers Steve Knapp of Hero Pig and Casey Booth of the reunited Reservoir (and I can't wait 'til this band starts playing out again! If you get a chance, check Reservoir out -- I'm not sure who will be playing bass, but Casey and guitarist/vocalist Ryan Wells make a fantastic team).
There's a new place in Lansing called the Black Squirl, 306 North Grand River Avenue, which caters to all forms of art and expression. It's not a bar, so don't go to get trashed and mosh ... it won't happen! But owner Ben Emery offers sodas, coffee and munchies for a small donation, and any other donations are welcome. The idea behind the Black Squirl is to offer a forum for artists of all sorts, for both artists and the community in general to enjoy. As yet there are no set nights for entertainment, but you can go any night to check out what's going on, or call Ben at 372-3349 to find out what's happening or what you can do to help. And anyone is welcome to perform... but a word of warning, loud sets are discouraged because the space is pretty small. Saturday nights are a variety show of sorts with everything from belly dancers to poetry readings to quiet jazz to rock 'n roll. The shows are always different, usually interesting, and definitely a fantastic idea. I hope this place takes off; I've seen great rock shows, drum circles, poetry readings, folk music, and nearly every other type of performance there at one time or another, and it's a lot of fun. It needs some organization, but it's already come a long way. The Black Squirl has my vote for best new entry onto the local scene.
I got a chance to check out Uncle Chuck at the Rock House a few weeks ago... the band provided an aggressive show of rockin' metal, with excellent guitar and some loud, ear-splitting vocals. The set started out pretty loose but improved greatly after a few songs, and the crowd was swingin' hair all over. I didn't get a chance to talk to them, but these guys seem well on the way to being a solid metal band with a pretty solid core of fans. If you dig loud-and-fast metal, catch an Uncle Chuck show.
If you'd like Cheryl to catch your show, call her at (517) 351-2866.
This year's Michigan Festival was its usual melting pot of culture, art, and especially music. New this year was an all-reggae day at the Capitol Stage on Saturday, August 5. This stage was sponsored in part by Reggae Ambassadors Worldwide, an organization unselfishly dedicated to the promotion of reggae music everywhere.
The first band to take the stage was Gullibanque, a Gospel/roots rock group that is new to the national reggae scene. They got the crowd going with an extremely smooth original set. The dynamic female lead singer contrasted beautifully with the laid back sound of the rest of the group. They closed their set with a high energy cover of one of Bob Marley's most militant songs, "Burnin' and Lootin'."
Next on stage was Columbus, Ohio's The Ark Band, a seven-piece, high energy roots rock group. These guys are veterans, and they definitely know how to move a crowd. They also put on a great show later that night at Rick's American Cafe. This show showed what East Lansing club owners have been missing by not showcasing more reggae music. Definitely go see this band next time they come to town.
Closing the afternoon at the Michigan Festival was The Indika Band, playing a newer style of reggae called dancehall. With its tasteful mixture of roots rock, dub-style, and punk rock, Indika had everyone up dancin' and skankin'. In the middle of the set, the two lead singers jumped off the stage and joined the excited mob while the music raged on. Watch for this group; they are definitely going places.
Kudos to the organizers of the Michigan Festival this year for supporting and showcasing a style of music that enjoys a universal appeal and is experiencing a worldwide comeback.
If you'd like Dominic to catch your show, call him at (517) 374-9433.
Saturday, June 24, 1995 -- The North Lansing Heritage Festival's "Classic Rock" concert series was a huge happening! Things got going noise-wise around 11:30 AM with Jim Cott and the Silver Sun. The Crunch Hogs then displayed their own unique brand of rock 'n roll. The Marquis played a solid set of classic rock covers, including a great "Purple Haze." Another highlight was the long-awaited return of The Last Hippy Band, led by lead vocalist Scott Litz (of Ded Engine fame). The Hip Ones played very intense versions of old stuff like "Born to Be Wild" and a version of "Gloria" that ended with a rap by Litz about the problems in Bosnia, which in turn prompted a crowd chorus of "B-O-S-N-I-A" before the song ended. Black & the Blue T's played a set of great classic bluesy material.
Longtime Lansing favorites Frog and the Beeftones played their medley-oriented classic rock set, leaving the crowd thirsty for more, and they got it too! Powerlight, an R&B flavored bunch from Detroit City got up next and wailed an hour long set consisting of classic Motown soul standards plus a fantastic runthrough of Prince's "Purple Rain." Finally, the evening finished with a nearly two hour set by long time favorites Rare Earth! Led by vocalist and sax master Gil Bridges, the band played all of their big hits from 1969-1971 plus a couple of newer songs ("Live It Up" and "Living in the Real World") that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rare Earth is still a musical force to be reckoned with in the '90s! Overall, Saturday's show was a true crowd pleaser, sponsored by the North Lansing Community Association in conjunction with everyone at WMMQ. Next year, I'm coming again!
The RENEGADE knows how hard it is to know what to expect from a local band. So, to help club-goers, we asked a couple of the Lansing area's local bands to describe themselves briefly. Their answers follow.
Uncle Chuck: "Swinging, heavy, funky, crunchy -- exciting live performances. Well written creative originals that make you mosh & sweat. Available for hire. Call 24 hours -- 1-517-371-6988 -- Jaye, Mgr."
Stone Mary: "Original hard rock."
The Band Guide will feature a few local bands each month but won't repeat the same bands very often, so be sure to save this Guide and look for new bands in September.
Bands: Send us a 1-to-40 word self-description for inclusion in the "Band Guide."
Mr. Finster has changed bass players. Todd Anthony now mans the hard rock band's bass slot.
On September 15 at a Small Planet record release party (the first of several around Michigan), Yikes! Records, the people responsible for the SO THIS IS EAST LANSING... discs, will release VOLUME 5 -- SO THIS IS A COMPILATION... BEST OF MICHIGAN. The new CD will feature songs from The DT's, Verve Pipe, Fat Amy, 19 Wheels, Big Blue Couch, Kiss Me Screaming, Dorothy, Drew Howard, Mystic Shake, Powerface, Moisture, Botfly, and Chunky Chicken Stool.
Bands: Call the RENEGADE (517-332-7648) with your latest big show, big break, or member change to be a part of the "Band News."