Monday, December 20, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time...

So many opportunities for live music in December it is overwhelming.  On a regular night we have several options for attending a performance but in December it revs into high gear.  This year we took a wide-angle view and saw several different types of talented souls.

December 5 we joined Kate and Jim N. for the delightfully playful romp, "Robin Hood: The Holiday Panto".  This was performed in the charmingly small (54 seat) Piccolo Theatre in Evanston, Illinois.  Our very own Lisa has been reviewing plays for, "Centerstage" ( a Chicago Sun-Times-owned website) and I think she does a much better job here than I could.  I'll say this, my sister and brother-in-law hooted and howled along with us at this campy, holiday fun!


Saturday the 11th brought the very fine, Steiner Chorale.  This group, about 35 singers, are on the more accomplished end of the choral scale with many fine individual voices who come together at concert time to produce a beautiful sound.  This Christmas program was varied and strong with beautiful pieces performed well...mostly a cappella.  Here's the program:

  • Gloria in Excelsis, Franz Joseph Haydn
  • Virga Jesse, Anton Bruckner
  • O Little One Sweet, J.S. Bach
  • Three Latvian Carols, Andrejs Jansons
  • E’en So Lord Jesus, Paul Manz
  • Magnificat, Halsey Stevens
  • The Three Ships, Eric Thiman
  • Salvation is Created, Pavel Chesnokov
  • There is No Rose of Such Virtue, Robert H. Young
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas, John Rutter


Sunday brought the 2nd Annual Holiday Show of John Latini and Jamie-Sue Seal. This benefit (the Housing Assistance Fund...Homeless shelters in East Lansing [Haven House] and Lansing [Loaves and Fishes] was severely impacted by the first big snowstorm in the Greater Lansing area.  We were to be treated by the entire Flying Latini Bros band, but the bassist and keyboard fellas coming from Dexter and Ypsilanti were stuck below I-94.  Not to be thwarted, John brought his actual brother, Jim, who was a wonderful addition to the fun, funny and lively show.  John and Jamie-Sue are seasoned performers who playfully work with each other providing a first-class show, enjoyed by all. Personally, I like all the original tunes they do (e.g. John's, "Merry Christmas From The Holiday Inn" and Jamie-Sue's, "Northern Lights") as we get inundated with the same Christmas songs over and over again each holiday season.

Another highlight was Jim Latini  doing lead vocals on Robbie Robertson's, "Christmas Must Be Tonight"...catchy tune, perfectly laid down by Jimbo. For those that braved the stormy night, it was a real treat.  Plenty of time to chat with the musicians afterward around a punch and cookie table...made for a fitting end to a wonderful night.  Thanks for coming back Jamie-Sue and John...we raised some important funds for the shelters too.


On our drive down to Kalamazoo I said to Nicky, "Are we crazy going to see a Kalamazoo (hour and 15min drive) on a weeknight!" Boy am I glad we did.  December fills up every year and this was the only time we could make it to this exciting musical.  I suppose it didn't hurt to be sitting in the first table, center to enjoy the 4-member ensemble cast.  

This production was provided by Farmer's Alley Theatre...and from their website: "The Farmers Alley Theatre is a professional ensemble based non-profit performance company dedicated to producing popular and new work in the Downtown Kalamazoo area in a unique and intimate setting."  I would say they scored 110 on all items because this work was popular and new and with waited service for coffee and drinks and dessert it was an intimate and unique setting.

Our daughter's friend, Amanda Martin was in the cast so we were excited to see her.  She, and her castmates were splendid!  This is a funny, irreverent romp with the first half set in 1958's Prom night and the second half at a reunion 10 years later.  The music was well known and so much fun to see how the script brought each performer in to the song.  Here they are:

"Welcome"/"Mr. Sandman"
"Allegheny Moon"
"All I Have to Do Is Dream"/"Dream Lover"
"Stupid Cupid"
"Lipstick on Your Collar"
"Lucky Lips"
"Secret Love"
"Mr. Lee"/"Born Too Late"/"Teacher’s Pet"
"Sincerely"/"Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight"
"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me"
"Welcome Back"/"Heat Wave"
"It's in His Kiss"
"Wedding Bell Blues"
"You Don’t Own Me"
"With This Ring"
"I Only Want to Be With You"
"That's When the Tears Start"
"It's My Party"
"Son of a Preacher Man"
"Leader of the Pack"
"Maybe I Know"
"Needle in a Haystack"
"Rescue Me"
"Thank You and Goodnight"/"Sincerely"

Amanda was brilliant as the catty Cindy Lou and best friends with Betty Jean (and not-so-secretly making it with BJ's boyfriend!).  They all sang so well, it was a delightful night.

The poor guy at our table (about 45 yrs old...there with his mother) was pulled up into the play twice as the  high school teacher point of affection for Missy (the ironic thing was that he is, in fact, a high school teacher form Muskegon!).  I think Nicky was pretty glad I wasn't that guy (not so sure I am... ;o)   ).

Great fun.  I understand it is sold out but if you do get a chance...GO SEE THIS SHOW.   5 stars!!


Friday, Dec 17 brought the 5th annual The Coffeehouse at All Saints...the most fun of the year.  We had an awesome variety of performers this year including 2 pieces nicely played by Haley Helm.  Pastor Kit Carlson rolled out her reading of, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" to everyone's enjoyment (Kids on the floor looking up with fascination and scary anticipation).

Several folks from All Saints had a hand in making the night interesting and fun from piano accompaniment by Carol Baker and Jack Minton to readings by Carol Swinehart and Dedria Barker to cello solos by Kathy Burgess.

Guests included the return of Maggie Fossum and her sister, Ellanor Digo.  They performed individually and then brought the house down with a duet that was simple beautiful.  We are most fortunate to have them come to The Coffeehouse...thank you Maggie and Ellanor!

Another guest was Augustine Jay who played a couple originals ...Augustine used to work at Magdalena's Tea House (what Maggie and Ellanor's mother used to own).

The sing alongs were fully participated and great fun to lead.  If you haven't been to a Coffeehouse yet, please stop by on the 3rd Friday of the month sometime between 7:30 and 9:30pm (the next one is January 21).

The surprising hit (surprising to me anyway) was the lively performance by the Broadway cast of "9 to 5" playing at the Wharton Center on MSU's campus.  Nicky and I saw it last night and were delighted with the 3 principals.  They had excellent voices and were damn funny!  I was pleasantly surprised...and having 4 women in my house for the last 26 years was pretty good training!


We still have Christmas Eve and all things New Years...but that's for next time.  2010 was an excellent year for live music in the Mid-Michigan area...we are fortunate to have so much going on.  Here's to 2011 !

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"I heard a bird sing in the dark of December...."

...."A magical thing, and sweet to remember." 

Let's remember the lovely bird, Doris Muramatsu of Girlyman fame, as she begins a battle with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)... and truly the good news is her case is in the "chronic" stage, the earliest (and most treatable) stage. Doris would appreciate being included in your thoughts, prayers, and positive visualizations (whichever you tend to do). If you'd like to send her a note, you can write to  More information can be found at:  Their December 12, Creole Gallery show has been postponed.

Photo courtesy of

Another opportunity for December 12 is to support the local homeless shelters, Haven House in East Lansing and Loaves and Fishes in Lansing, by attending the 2nd annual holiday benefit concert by John Latini and Jamie-Sue Seal.

This fun concert features the local Michigan talents of award-winning artists from Ann Arbor and the Lansing area.  John and Jamie-Sue gave a wonderful show last year so we asked them backed and they are delighted to perform.  You'll hear some old favorites as well as originals, sure to entertain.

Tickets are $10 and are available now from the All Saints Episcopal Church office 517-351-7160 (Susie Pearson) or from me, Steve Findley, or 517-432-9738. 

The concert will begin Sunday, December 12 at 7pm:

All Saints Episcopal Church
800 Abbot Rd
East Lansing, Michigan 48823


The Christmas edition happens on Friday, December 17, 7:30p to 9:30p.  This is the rowdiest, most fun coffeehouse of the year.  Holiday-themed, we'll see and hear a variety of classics and unknowns in voice, instrument and song. It's true, I have seen an elf-priest appear in the past, along with some pretty witty verse. You love the music (we do lots of carols you like) and there's always an amusing reading or 2.

I've been in touch with the Fossum family and it looks like Maggie and her mother (at least) will be returning.  If you were here on November 19 you know what an extraordinary night that was. 

Bring a beverage and snacks to share.  Come anytime, leave anytime, it's that kind of event.
The address is above.


On Nov 12 Nicky and I were able to visit with the American icon, John Prine at the State Theatre in Kalamazoo. OK, we didn't really "visit" with him, but that's what it feels like some of the time at a John Prine concert.  Although he had stellar musicians with him, (bassist Dave Jacques and the amazing Jason Wilber on guitar) it was when he played solo, quietly, that he drew you in for the conversation.  Classics like, "Sam Stone" and "Hello In There" were darn, near, perfect. Seen him 5 times....and I'd go again.


It is difficult not to like Mary any way.  Sure she's slightly annoying, but it is the twinkle in her eye and complete disregard for authority other than her own that make her a joy to enjoy.  The Wharton center brought the Broadway touring company's version to the Great Hall and it was as magical as can be.

Yes, she flies, but it was the singing, dancing (Step In Time) and the practically perfect performance of understudy Elizabeth Broadhurst that made the show for me.

Being so tardy with this review (we saw the show Nov 14) I have found several others which give a good sense of how it went., and


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's All Happening This Friday

Wow, it is a busy day (or should I say night) in Lansing/East Lansing, Michigan this Friday, November 19. Among the many things to see and do certainly Silver Bells in the City is a highlight and if you've never been, it's great fun for the family.  It starts at 5 and goes till 9.

Of course what I hope you'll come to is The Coffeehouse at All Saints...our monthly (3rd Friday) get together for live music, poetry and sing along.  The free event is in its 5th year and has been a haven for a laid back place to enjoy either performing or listening.  You are encouraged to bring your own drinks and snacks.

This Friday is special...we have a full show with the beautiful sound of the a cappella group, RCAHppella from Michigan State University performing at 8pm.  We'll have the amazingly talented voice and ukelele-playing of the young Magdalen Fossum, from Ann Arbor (click her name to see at least one of her YouTube videos) about 8:30.  Finishing up the night will be the holiday sounds of John Latini and Jamie-Sue Seal direct from their Silver Bells in the City gig.

We have some other local talents in store including cello, sing along and poems. It's a full night, loads of fun.

The Coffeehouse at All Saints (click for flyer)
800 Abbot Rd
East Lansing, Michigan 48823
info: 517-432-9738

Time: 7:30p to 9:30p
Admission: FREE

It's going to be a great night!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Oops.  Linda and Matt will be at the Soup Spoon Cafe THIS FRIDAY Aug. 27th, 2010 from 6:30-8:30 pm.  Hope you can be there!

Saturday at the Market

One of the joys of living in East Lansing is being able to catch live music virtually anywhere, anytime. Nicky and I were able to see our friends, Linda Abar and Frederick Isaac at the Lansing City Market on Saturday, Aug 21. It's really an intimate atmosphere considering where it is. We were able to do some fresh produce and fish shopping as well as get our lunch for the day and enjoy the playing and singing of Linda and Frederick.

You can see Linda and our friend, Matt Bliton, at the Soup Spoon Cafe, 1419 East Michigan Avenue, Lansing, THIS FRIDAY Aug. 27th, 2010 from 6:30-8:30 pm. . You can expect a bluesy, folksy, artsy mix with hints of jazz. Together and separately, they have quite a few new tunes to share. Should be a treat!! Nick of the "Spoon" will have some outrageously tasty dinner special as well!! Reservations are highly recommended for this show. The last one "sold out." Please call 517-316-2377 and start looking forward to a very lovely evening!
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Great Lakes Folk Festival 2010

So much to see and do at this year's festival, held Aug 13-15 in downtown East Lansing, Michigan...with some interesting additions of "green" displays like the "Green Kitchen" tent, bringing good ideas for local, healthy eating.

Highlight? Performance-wise it had to be Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Doug Neal of the incredibly wonderful radio show, "Progressive Torch & Twang" on Tueday nights, 8p-Mid, on MSU's 88.9 ImpactFM, has played Doyle Lawson for years and I know he wanted to bring him to East Lansing. Well Doug was the emcee at this particular stage and introduced Mr. Lawson and his fine band. Tight instrumentalists, they also sing up a bluegrass storm...with plenty of Gospel as well. They even had some good jokes...e.g., "How hot is it? It's so hot I saw a dog chasing a rabbit... and they both were walking."

During his 31-year career Doyle Lawson has had a string of bluegrass and gospel awards. This, I believe is due to his collecting a group of superb musicians to tour and record with. This year's group, although some quite young, are accomplished technicians of their instruments, both hardware and vocals. When they are in 4-part harmony, it's a little eerie, a little sublime...and they make it look easy.


The other outstanding performance was the Community Sing, the brainchild of Sally Potter, organizer, musician and the main reason this event was added to the GLFF. Anchored by song leaders Sally Potter, the Rev Robert B. Jones for Detroit and local favorite, Ray Kamalay. Each musician started us off on songs we (mostly) knew and I have to say, the singing was very good, often with beautiful harmony. No song sheets needed (mostly) because the tunes were so well known. As somewhat expected, Robert Jones led gospel and blues-tinged songs, Ray Kamalay led standards (some beauties!) and Sally led traditional folk tunes. The audience was diverse in all ways and came through quite nicely. Did you notice the AMAZING ASL interpreter? She was truly into it, knew most of the words of all the songs...and did not get a break for the entire 2hrs. She was wonderful.

As Sally, who wrote to my daughter Emily (who wrote to thank the folks who run the festival because she was so moved) said,

"The singing community around here is only getting stronger, as folks are hoping on board the train. And why not? It's fun, it's full of energy, it hits at the very core of who we are - as active people. and - it's real.

In September, WKAR TV is showing a half hour documentary it produced about this singing community. And more and more festivals, and concert series, and community organizations are adding singing to their programming.

With the first Mid-Winter Singing Festival in 2003, we were at the beginning, in front of the big wave.

Yet more water and energy have arrived, nationwide, and the community singing movement is growing. It's fun to watch."

Thank you to all the Festival organizers, volunteers and patrons who made this year's festival one of the best.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

December 2009

Hooray for December! So much to see! It started off with a real treat. I ventured down to Chicago to join my eldest daughter Lisa and brother Dan at a performance of The Beatles as envisioned by the group, "Tributosaurus". You have to see these folks. From their website:

"In August 2002 we became The Who. September was Sly & the Family Stone, followed by CSNY and then The Police. Tributosaurus is not just a band…it is a musical event, a happening. Tributosaurus is the Jurassic beast of multiple musical faces, and every month, the beast morphs into a different rock group. Every set is tweaked with the lineup essential to accurately re-create the recorded material of an amazing array of artists. This mandate draws the finest musicians from Chicagoland and beyond to join the core group to sit in…to sing and play songs they’ve wanted to cover all their lives. For Paul McCartney, we had members of the CSO and 30 people on stage, for Ray Charles we had a full big band, for Paul Simon we had an ensemble of native South American flutes -- whatever it takes. If there's a song that requires 2 keyboard players, 3 guitarists, a mandolin and a 6 piece horn section -- you can bet we'll have 'em.

The Tributosaurus Core is comprised of 5 of the top musicians in Chicagoland. These players consider themselves the Civil War re-creationists of rock and roll, as they skillfully learn a brand new set of material every month, note for note."

They told us they know the Beatles catalog is so large, they could never do it justice in one night, so, they picked the first 2 Beatles albums, "Please Please Me" and "With The Beatles" and did them, in order. Absolutely amazing...freakin' good sound, superb vocals and instrumentation. Here's the set list:

I Saw Her Standing There
Anna (Go To Him)
Ask Me Why
Please, Please Me
Love Me Do
P.S. I Love You
Baby It's You
Do You Want To Know A Secret
A Taste Of Honey
There's A Place
Twist And Shout
From Me To You
Thank You Girl
She Loves You
I'll Get You
It Won't Be Long
All I've Got To Do
All My Loving
Don't Bother Me
Little Child
Til There Was You
Please Mister Postman
Roll Over Beethoven
Hold Me Tight
You Really Got A Hold On Me
I Wanna Be Your Man
Devil in Her Heart
Not A Second Time
I Want To Hold Your Hand
This Boy
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
Sie Liebt Dich

What can you say? It was outstanding! We had so much fun. Everyone sang along. Check out their website and see who they've done (AND who's coming!). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Next December (2010) they will do the next 2 albums in the Beatles discography! Cannot wait!


Barely got back in town on Friday the 4th and was witness to the songwriters series Jamie-Sue Seal produces, this time at TheTen Pound Fiddle in East Lansing, Michigan. Jamie-Sue has her own location for this series and brought it to the fiddle for a different audience and exposure for these folks. Being slightly biased because my friends, John Latini and Jamie-Sue Seal, were two of the performers, we were sure to go. We in Michigan are blessed with fine musical talent...and this was showcased by these musicians. John Latini, Jamie-Sue Seal, Andre Villoch and Greg Jenkinson provided a variety of solo efforts, duos and sometimes all of them, supporting each other. This type of music benefits from the intimate atmosphere of the Fiddle and we were treated to gems all night long.


Dec 13 Nicky and I attended the Broadway production of "White Christmas" at the Wharton Center. Knowing the songs that come from this musical we were intrigued to see how the show would be. I think we were pleasantly surprised, it was a fun, well-sung, well-danced show. I remain embarrassed to say I have never seen the film.....


The Dec 18 version of The Coffeehouse at All Saints brought a whole host of folks out...we had about 55 come and enjoy a variety of performances from many sing alongs accompanied by Jack Minton or Eileen Marshall to amusing readings (Sedaris, etc.) by Marguerite Halversen, Dedria Barker and more. Pastor Kit has read, "The Grinch" each year and this time it was her excellent hat that stood out...(that and the kids' transfixed faces!)


For the first time we at All saints Episcopal Church, hosted a fundraiser concert (for the Housing Assistance Fund...we raised >$1,000.00) with Jamie-Sue Seal and John Latini. They provided a mostly original set of songs that either had us laughing, smiling or simply enjoying their light banter, excellent harmony and support of each other. It was a real treat and set the stage for further productions at All Saints. Merry Christmas everyone!

November Notes

Not many notes....the November edition of The Coffeehouse at All Saints was the Steve found himself looking for new work, most of the time was taken. December always has too much to do, so we'll just go there.

October Offerings

Have you ever been to a "Collage Concert"? Billed as: "...featuring premier student ensembles and soloists from the MSU College of Music in a fast-paced musical extravaganza", it was just that at the Wharton Center on Oct 2. So many different styles of performance music...opera, jazz, choral, after the other without any time between pieces (until the intermission). I have seen this at East Lansing High School and it was great fun. At MSU the talent level is ratcheted up and every performance was top were seeing the cream of the crop every time! I strongly urge you to check this out next year...

Oct 9 Nicky and I attended the MSU Choral Society's fundraiser...a "Cabaret" at the Hannah Center in East Lansing. Being fans of choral music (and me having served on the MSU Choral Union board in the past) we were excited to see what was to come. The variety of performances were vast (as was the talent :) ) and we had a wonderful time. This is where I made contact with the acapella group "RCAHpella" (somewhat-awkwardly named for the "Residential College of Arts and Humanities" at MSU"). They were good and I knew the director....and thought, "They would be a great addition to The Coffeehouse at All Saints. (They did come at a later date). The Choral Society raises funds for choral conducting graduate students at MSU and I think the program produced enough funds for several students. Great job. Great fun.

The 16th brought another edition of The Coffeehouse at All Saints, a couple hours of live music, and spoken word in an informal, laid-back environment complemented by snacks and drinks provided by those who come. We have it the 3rd Friday of the month from 7:30-9:30p at All Saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbot Rd, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.

Though not music, I want to give a shout out to our friend, Jenifer Banks, a retired MSU English professor who gave the "pre-glow" talk for the Oct 18 David Sedaris presentation at the Wharton Center. Jenny did a fine job, describing David's body of work in an enlightening, sometimes amusing way. Of course David Sedaris was wonderful...he has such a funny way of looking at relationships and the world. Kudos to him for choosing an MSU student to come out and introduce him (the highlight for her, so far, I'm sure!).

Nicky and I were fortunate to gather up our daughter Heather and fly to NYC to visit her twin, Emily the next weekend. Of course we took in a show, and chose, "Billy Elliot, the Musical" at The Imperial theatre. We all enjoyed the movie version and were looking forward to how this would be presented on stage. Well, "Billy" was wonderful (we saw him perform on the tony Awards show earlier)...but so was his "Mother". I'm pretty sure this show will travel to East Lansing in 2011...don't miss it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Some Things in September

Our first foray into live music in September was on the 12th at the Gone Wired Cafe on Michigan Ave in Lansing to see, "Everlovingmind", the creation of our good friend, Matt Bliton. This was a 4 (of the 5) piece band playing a variety of tunes in anticipation of their Lansing "Blues fest" debut later in the month. An intimate audience turned out to see a well-rehearsed, fun band play songs they know and love. Intermixed with some great "regulars" like Van Morrison's, "Tupelo Honey" were some of Matt's own songs. Everlovingmind
think the audience thoroughly enjoyed the show and were certainly enthusiastic for the group. Nicky and I could not attend Bluesfest this year but heard they did a great job there. Congrats Matt, it was a very good time.

Sept 21st marked the release of the latest Porcupine Tree album, "The Incident". More of a "concept album" than in the past it nevertheless contains all the bits of PT we have come to know and love, e.g. dark passages followed by lyrical interludes and beautiful melodies. As with the previous album, "Deadwing", it took me a few listens to really enjoy it, but enjoy it I have. If you've never heard Porcupine Tree before, try their 2005 release, "In Absentia", prog rock album of the year.

Sept 24 brought Willie Nelson and Family to the Wharton Center. I'll say this, he's 76 years old...and he and his band played (and I counted) 12 break or song intro. Wow. He has a style you can love (or hate or anywhere in between) as when he leans into the mic with sincerity or not love...the way he consistently sings out of time (stilted...on purpose). I loved him, so did Nicky and the crowd was enthusiastic to say the least. I've seen Willie 3 times and this was the best.

The Coffeehouse at All Saints
"Campfire Edition"

August 22 brought the 2009 edition of this annual (3rd) outdoor event at the farm of Dan and Gail Shafer-Crane. This is always a special night because it is truly multi-generational. From toddlers to their grandparents folks come to the farm to enjoy a hayride, antique auto show (the Cranes own several Model Ts), cookout, campfire complete with sing alongs and s'mores. This
year we had about 65 people who took advantage of all that was offered and I belive everyone had a great time.
Many, many thanks to Dan and Gail Shafer-Crane for the kind hospitality.

August: Festival Time

The Great Lakes Folk Festival - Aug 7-9, 2009

Always fortunate to attend this wonderful live music/arts/crafts/etc festival in downtown East Lansing. 3 days of opportunities for intimate audiences, immediate feedback with performers and music you'd be hard-pressed to find in one spot. Nicky and I tend to gravitate to the Dance Tent for one performance, something "close" on a smaller stage and a larger show at the end. This year we saw three groups I had never heard of and am glad to say I know who they are now!

We met friends Ed and Joni B for the Acadian-favorite, "Gadelle" on Friday night. Gadelle comes from Prince Edward Island (PEI) on Canada's east coast, where our friends have spent time in pubs listening to groups just like this. Excellent fiddlers and singers (and sometimes dancers) they really get you going. We all had a good time despite the crummy weather.

On Saturday we saw, "Beyond The Pale", a klezmer band and, "Lost Bayou Ramblers", Cajun masters. It is not the first time the Festival has brought klezmer and Cajun groups to east Lansing but these are certainly 2 of the best. It is difficult to sit in your seat while they jam away, looking like THEY are the ones having the good time.

Thank you MSU Museum and the City of East Lansing for this thoroughly interesting and rewarding opportunity. I have only scratched the surface with regard to what is available these 3 days (day and night). it is a true "Folk" festival in that it always has displays of artists for the Great Lakes area including storytelling, crafts and poetry. The 2010 Festival will be Aug 13-15...don't miss it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer

Nicky and I spent the first week of June in Santa Fe, New Mexico...a state I had only driven through in the past. This was a planned week by my sister for all of us sibs and spouses. What a place Santa Fe! We loved it...and Taos...and the mountains...and the dry desert air. The only musical highlight (besides not seeing Ottmar Liebert who was playing in the local performance theater that week) was this wonderful classical guitarist who played in the square in downtown Santa Fe. She's Romanian and played with passion and skill. I spoke with her and she said she usually performs with her husband but he was out that day. I could have sat there all day.

June 19-20 brought the inaugural Summer Solstice Jazz Festival in downtown East Lansing. Nicky and I were fortunate enough to see 2 acts...the first of which was the KNOCKOUT Esperanza Spalding on Friday and Linda Abar and the Neil Gordon Trio on Saturday. This Esperanza Spaulding was AMAZING! What a talented, confident, diverse performer. She played bass (double, electric...I believe she could play any stringed instrument) like she was born with it, sang beautifully and had a stage presence that commanded your attention. This was a thoroughly satisfying hour. Her band was tight and were the perfect accompaniment to her solos and total expertise. What a delight this was. Thank you Ms. Spaulding.

Saturday brought Linda Abar out with the group she has played most regularly with recently, the Neil Gordon Trio. They all know what to do to put on a smooth show. Linda was in particularly fine voice this day and Neil was particularly swift on his jazz solo runs. If you are in East Lansing in the summer, look for Linda and the NGT...they perform more often then. We enjoyed the band's company afterwards for dinner at Beggar's Banquet who, quite cleverly, put quite a bit of outside seating in the parking lot so diners could listen to the festival.

The next live musical event I enjoyed was Matt Bliton playing at the Lansing City Market at noon on July 24. He was accompanied on a couple tunes by our good friend, Linda Abar (they do a great rendition of Paul Simon's, "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" and the traditional, "Wayfaring Stranger"). This show was simulcast on Lansing Community College's radio station, WLNZ 89.7FM. Matt's originals ring true and were well-received by the noon-time audience.

That's it for June and July. Since August includes the Great Lakes Folk Festival we'll save that entry for next time. Thanks for reading....what have you seen?