Tuesday, October 13, 2009

April's Fool

Have you ever seen John Latini? What a trip! John played at the Creole Gallery in Lansing on April Fool's Day to an appreciative crowd. I have known John for about 15 years and he has simply gotten better and better to the point where his award-winning songs and guitar-playing abilities have allowed him to, "quit his day job". He was fun, funny and plays wonderful guitar. Thanks John (Jonesy)!

This show was sponsored by the local radio station WLNZ from Lansing Community College and hosted by Lyn Peraino.
From John's website:
About John Latini
Winner of the 2008 Detroit Blues Challenge, John Latini is a multiple award winning veteran singer/songwriter, performer, and above all, entertainer whose energy and presence are infused so deeply in his music that every song, indeed every style, becomes his own. Growing up in a musical family in Queens, NY hearing everything from Hank Williams to Harry Belafonte, participating in the nightly guitar pull around the family table, and finally, seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show sealed his fate. Since that time, the journey has been long and gratifying with explorations into many musical styles and collaborations with many great bands, players, songwriters and above all, friends. Through it all, the one constant remains John's ability to "deliver" the song. A captivating storyteller and an exciting performer, he compels you to watch and to listen.

You can see John all over Michigan. I hope he will drop by our All Saints Coffeehouse after performing with Jamie-Sue Seal at the "Silver Bells In The City" celebration in downtown Lansing Nov 20. Then, John and Jamie-Sue will be performing a benefit concert 7pm Sunday, Dec 20 at All Saints Episcopal Church. More to come on that in a future blog.

Oh so much more in April...

Jumping to Monday, April 20, my good buddy, Ed Baker and I, rambled down to Ann Arbor to catch the venerable Bruce Cockburn for a solo show at The Ark.

Ed and I managed a stop at Zingerman's Deli....where I saw (I swear) a $64.00 carrott cake. Great food, expensive carrots!
Mr. Cockburn...this was the 4th time I have seen him, he is one of my heroes for many reasons not the least of which is his guitar playing and song-crafting. What I thought might be a night of all new material turned into a delightful balance of old and new. In fact, he encored with, "Wonderin Where The Dragons Are", a song I thought he long ago abandoned. It was wonderful. He is a master.

Lest we have nothing else to do, Ed and I also went to see, "Steppin In It" w/ Shout Sister Shout at a WKAR TV studio taping (Backstage Pass) on Tuesday Apr 21. This was so much fun (in fact Nicky and I went to another taping of Joel Mabus and Ray Kamalay a little later this year...in a different post). It only seats 50 people...and Steppin In It are so popular they had to have another night to accommodate the fan request (it wasn't very well advertised by WKAR...and I don't blame them...this was an intimate atmosphere..yet still "sold" out (actually it was free...thank you WKAR!). The taping was for a series WKAR won't bring to the screen until Feb 11-May 13, 2010...so it was pretty cool to be a part of this now).

Steppin In It (Josh Davis and crew) are simply wonderful. They are clever, funny, and damn good musicians. Joe and Andy Wilson (yep, twins) are excellent players....of many instruments. from accordions to trumpets to Hohner Echo Harmonica to steel guitars they provide the eclectic sound of Steppin In It. Backed by Dominic Suchyta on double bass, Steppin In it provide an entirely entertaining night. Couple it with the unique atmosphere of a TV studio audience, it was a great night.

Did I mention Rachel Davis (I do believe she and Dominic are married...) was there? She is the "Shout Sister Shout" component of the group, occasionally joining them for a set of (some) standards and tunes that sound like standards. She is adorable to watch and a great singer. This set was very well received by the studio audience.

A great 2 days!


Not to be outdone by pop/folk music, I was fortunate to perform on the Great Hall stage of the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts on MSU's campus with 250 other musicians
(MSU Symphony Orchestra, University Chorale, State Singers, and Choral Union,
Melanie Helton, soprano; Kurt Ollmann, baritone; and David Rayl, guest conductor) in a rendering of Vaughn Williams, "Dona Nobis Pacem". A beautiful piece and I think we did it very well.

The other piece was a world premiere of Hutcheson's, "The Silver Sword" an ancient fairy tale for chorus and orchestra. This was a unique work, filled with fairy tale images and percussive, descriptive singing. I do not think I will ever again sing, "Grashadoo"!
What? There's more? Yep. Nothing much. Just, Lil 'ol "Carmen" by Bizet! On April 30 Nicky and I were fortunate enough to attend the Michigan Opera Company's production of "Carmen" at the Great Hall of the Wharton Center. We sat in the Grand Tier and as we approached our seats we noticed we would be sitting next to our good friends, Susan and Nico Gisholt! And right in front of us?...Jean and Will Maples. And not to be left out, Paulette Johnston was also there. A little All Saints viewing the not-so-saintly, "Carmen".
Powerful singing and great stage presence for the star of the show. I look forward to more opera, possibly Romeo and Juliet in the spring (2010).
Well, April was unique....that's a lot of public performances and I enjoyed all of them. Next time we'll look at May...end of the academic year...a busy time in the Findley household.