Tuesday, May 27, 2008

East Lansing Art Festival...Huge Success

The "iffy" weather held off and it was beautiful for most of the 2-day festival. I know I should look at the art...and I do....but I do not "engage" in the art as much as I do in the music. There were 2 stages with such wonderful acts...I wish you could be 2 places at once. This year Nic and I managed to see: "MOIRA SMILEY & VOCO" on Saturday and "DOWN THE LINE" and "SETH BERNARD & DAISY MAY" on Sunday. My, what a treat this music is! Moira Smiley was powerful, confident, joyful. Her 3 companions blended smoothlyfor a terrific performance. My favorites were the Eastern European-flavored tunes. Thank you ladies.

I have been waiting for over a year to see, "Down The Line" live. Being from Chicago I am always interested in what the hometown is producing (lest we forget some of the "other" talent, like, Wilco, David Roth and countless more) and these fellas are the real deal. Good instrumentalists and they really shine on the vocals. Clever, funny lyrics combined with some fun stage antics make for a pleasant hour. Thanks fellas ( I know they play the "Kraftbreu" in Kalamazoo) and we'll certainly look you up again.

Finally, with my daughter Lisa in from Chicago we were able to enjoy Daisy May and Seth Bernard again. The size of the audience dictates they perfoem on the Main Stage next year and I'm sure Wanda Degan (the EXCELLENT music host and booking manager for the festival) realizes this and will make the adjustments for next time. Daisy and Seth just get better and better every time. There intrumentation is more adept and their harmonies are sweet and pure. It was a beautiful concert...from 2 people who know how to share their craft. Thank you Daisy and Seth.

I was sad to miss the other wonderful acts for this year's festival.

Off to France...

Monday, May 19, 2008

This is how it went....

So, Friday night rolled around and as usual, when there is a Coffeehouse to put on, Bob Kilbridge is there to assist. I am very grateful for his help. We set up the undercroft (funny name, I know...it's really just the lower level of our church...the location of the Coffeehouse) with chairs and tables and hurricane oil-filled lamps, set up the sound system, make copies of the sing alongs for that night, practice a little and off we go.

This past Friday was different because we "Skyped" with my daughter Emily who is in France!
She stayed up till 2am to be with us. I had a laptop connected to an overhead projector illuminating a screen and a webcam. Emily was up there slightly larger than life. She brought her guitar and played her latest original song. I think the audience thought she was a "video" at first. What a blast! Thanks for staying up so late Emily, you were great!

The night was a full one, to be sure. In addition to Emily checking in from France we had my eldest, Lisa, in from Chicago and she sang on a bunch of songs with me. Lisa has excellent taste in music....I am always learning of new bands from her. Some of her friends were in town and one of them, Amanda Wyant came up and sang a lovely rendition from the musical, "Fame". That was a fun surprise and everyone loved it.

Then we morphed a little and went with a short play, "Here We Are" by Dorothy Parker. Yours truly was joined by local thespian, Susan Murphy, for a fun 20 minutes of "newlywed bliss". Ok. Not. It was funny though...thanks Susan.
Onward to a first time performance by Thomas McKee and his friend Nick doing a selction from Nirvana's "Unplugged" album. Great harmony fellas. Come back in the fall.
Diedra Barker read a hilarious chapter form her book and had us all rolling. I wonder if her son David knows of the book's effect? Great stuff.
Bob Kilbridge came in with a Bob Marley favorite and I joined him on a Jayhawks tune (dedicated to Janet Chegwidden...cuz she's from Kansas).
It's difficult to remember every detail but not the poetry reading of Janet Navarro. She read 3 poems...some made you think, all were beautifully read.
The sing alongs were fun as usual..we di a few. Then Jean Lepard sang a lovely song from the movie, "Potter" (about Beatrix Potter), "When You Made Me Dance" and after a few more sing alongs finished with, "Memory" from Cats.
Well, if I missed anyone, my apologies. It was great to see so many people there and enjoy the music, the 10th anniversary of Matt and Dori Helm's wedding, Lisa from Chicago, Emily from France, and so much more.
The next coffeehouse will be an outdoor effort at the home of Gail Shafer-Crand and Dan Crane. This is a farm in northwest Lansing, Michigan and we'll have a potluck meal, a tour of their antique car collection, their horses, a hayride for the children and the campfire, of course. We'll sing and make s'mores for dessert. Look for it August 23. More to come.
Thanks to everyone involved in the All Saints Coffeehouse. This July we will have our 2 year anniversary...every month....usually the 3rd Friday.
As local music fan, director, singer, producer Sally Potter says, "Without you there is no sound".
Next time we'll look at the East Lansing Art Festival....which had such excellent music brought in by Wanda Degan.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All Saints Coffeehouse Friday May 16 7:30pm

So, what's all this about a "coffeehouse"? Well, it started in July of 2006 where a group of us were wondering if we could create an opportunity for folks to participate in a musical offering in a casual setting on a regular basis. All Saints Episcopal Church has been the most gracious host and allowed us to have a once/month event whereby local musicians come and perform. It has grown and expanding since it's beginning.

A common night at the coffeehouse is a combination of music performed (guitar, fiddle, piano, voice, hammered dulcimer, double bass, trumpet, and more), music shared (we always have several "sing along" songs that everyone joins in on...we provide the lyrics) and now includes poetry readings, short stories, skits, and other performances. It is multi-generational. We have children doing solos on clarinets and duets from "Wicked".

The atmosphere is tablecloth-covered tables with lit hurricane lamps. People bring their own beverages and snacks/desserts and all is shared. It is a "drop-in" event...meaning folks come for some part or all of the night...there is no requirement to stay. A very casual, relaxing evening.

This Friday there will be a short play read, music from some of your favorite 70s artists (no, not disco....that's for another blog session) and another installment from Deidre Barker's upcoming book. We alos we be attempting an international performance via video! That's 7:30 to 9:30pm this Friday, May 16 at All saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbot Rd., East Lansing, Michigan.

So, please come if you are able...if you want to perform, please give me a heads up at steve.findley@gmail.com.

The coffeehouse will take a break in June and Juky and resume on a Saturday (this time only) in August (the 23rd) at the farm of Gail Shafer-Crane and Dan Crane. This will be an expanded version of the coffeehouse to include a full potluck meal, hayrides for the children, the tour of the Cranes' antique car collection and a campfire where we'll do the songs. What a blast. More to come.

See you Friday!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Blog Created...

So, here we are with the first posting...and, of course I've managed to put up a Porcupine Tree logo. It's been 6 years and I still think they are great. But not to put too fine a label on this old blog, it won't be all "Progressive Metal-type" stuff. Nope. Too many things to work with and the tastes are too varied. So, what might you get out of blog like this? Live musical offerings in the Mid-Michigan area, reviews of CDs or digital releases, concert commentary, recommendations for instruments, organizations to check out, opportunities to participate, and things like that. Things that relate to music.

More to come, thanks for listening.