Monday, October 14, 2013

Live Music Around Ann Arbor and Detroit

One of the things I like about my relationship with Greg is that we end up seeing a lot of live music shows. Our second date was to see Gaelic Storm. (It was supposed to be to a Rasputina show, but I got snowed in my apartment and we had to postpone for a month.) October seems to be a busy month music-wise, and we ended up seeing three shows in less than two weeks!

For free music in Ann Arbor, you can always head up to the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room on Friday and Saturday nights. I work Friday nights, so I usually end up listening to the artists from downstairs, missing out on a lot of the show. So I was excited to find out that Spencer Michaud, a very talented young singer-songwriter I had listened to and quite enjoyed a few times during his gigs over the past year, was slotted to play Saturday, October 5th. Since I now only open on Saturdays, regardless of which job I am at, I talked Greg into joining me in Ann Arbor for dinner and live music. 

We ate at Tios Mexican Cafe on Liberty, some of the best Mexican food I have ever had, including my time in California (so much cilantro out there), then arrived at Crazy Wisdom just in time for Spencer to start at 8:30pm. 

He did something different at this show that he hasn't done before. When I spoke to him after the show (and bought a spiffy new button for my bag!), he said it was only possible at a smaller, intimate venue like Crazy Wisdom. Partway through his first set, he asked the audience to imagine a street at night, hazy from rain, and a black panther for no reason. The song he performed was "Maneater" by Hall & Oats. From then on, each song was linked together by a bit of ongoing story that he made up as he went and became progressively stranger and stranger. It was good fun and kept everyone in the audience engaged and entertained. 

If you ever see posters for Spender Michaud around Ann Arbor, see if you can't catch his show. He's a super sweet guy who has a great voice and way with words. His original song "Tightrope Walker" was truly topnotch. Watch a video of the song from the show at Crazy Wisdom right here!


The night after we saw Spender, Greg and I headed to St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit to see ZZ Ward, a fantastic artist I learned about well over a year ago via a free promo CD sent to Crazy Wisdom. It's really weird to be in the position of saying I knew about her before she was popular, but it's true, I did. Working in retail occasionally has its perks. The promo CD came to us well in advance of her album's release, right around the time "Til the Casket Drops" was being featured in a season three Pretty Little Liars promo ad (so spring 2012). 

I'm a little surprised which of her songs the public has latched onto. The songs that stuck out to me apparently aren't that interesting to the rest of America. I agree that "Put the Gun Down," her first released single, is hella catchy, but it's "Til the Casket Drops" and "Move Like U Stole It" that I kept putting on repeat. Her second single, "365 Days," was barely a blip to me. Regardless, she makes great music and has a phenomenal voice. She also puts on a good show, building great rapport with the audience. 

However. After the first two opening acts were finished, she kept the audience waiting 40 minutes, no explanation and no apology. St. Andrew's is not a large venue with standing room only. There was little equipment that needed to be changed out from Alpha Rev. (Whom I enjoyed, by the way, especially when they attempted to do an unplugged song without mics. They were sadly drown out by the chatty crowd and gave up before the song was finished.) Before them was James Bay, also an incredibly talented guitar-playing singer-songwriter haling from the UK. (His website gives you a free download if you put in your email address. He's worth a listen.)

I'm not saying don't see ZZ Ward live because when she finally got on stage, she was awesome. I was just in near agony with back spasms induced by standing on my feet for too long without a rest. I am seriously thinking of investing in a cane for just such situations. Since it was pouring down rain that night, I had an umbrella with me that I leaned on heavily for support. Maybe a silver-topped one like Barnabas Collins has.

I was going to write about the third show we saw, but I think I am going to save it for its own entry. So next week, come back for a review of Secret Chiefs 3 and Goblin LIVE.

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