Introduced at the March 2011 Coffeehouse at All Saints, The Basement Boys are a quartet of local musicians who play folk/country/Americana songs in an easy, laid-back style. They were playing at a house party in August at common friends, Vic Rauch and Ellen DeRosia. Vic and Ellen were the ones who brought The Basement Boys to us. I was fortunate to sit in with them at the request of band leader, Mark Manrique. Those of you who have been to house parties where the music was live can appreciate the fun nature of the event. Everyone os loose and easy-going and it makes the music flow that much better I think! We had a lot of fun...managed a John Prine tune or two and many others. I have since practiced and played several times with the Basement Boys, a fun group of fine musicians. Thanks Vic and Ellen!
While finally taking that long-awaited vacation is what we look forward to in the summer, another alternative is to hone a skill or expand your horizon. During a 6 week period each summer Dr Jonathan Reed, Assoc Director of Choral Activities at Michigan State University, offers local singers an opportunity to sing wonderful choral music with his summer graduate conducting class. I found out about it as a member of MSU Choral Union(a large mixed chorus of 150 to 200 voices designed to bring the campus and community together.
Repertoire focuses on the major choral/orchestral works of every stylistic period, which are performed with the Greater Lansing Symphony Orchestra and university orchestras.) The setup is much like a workshop where the grad students have been given a piece of music to direct (or most likely a section) and it is relatively rapid-fire succession of one conductor to the next. As a singer-participant you get to sing beautiful pieces and as a grad student you have a choir to direct. I have enjoyed a couple years of these rehearsals and feel lucky to have the opportunity. If you're interested, send me an email or contact Dr. Reed directly (linked above).
Although Nicky and I attended 2 weddings this summer there were no soloists or choirs involved...a little congregational singing. The wedding here in East Lansing was held on the 4th Floor of Spartan Stadium...cool place for sure. The live band (thank you Lashbrooks!) was excellent...an R&B outfit that utilizes (extremely slyly) a synthesized backing of instruments need to "fill out" the sound. They have a guitarist, bass, drummer and keyboard player, but it is the background sound that polishes the songs to sound like the original. They were really good. I will ask Deb Lashbrook for the name of the group as they should be mentioned.
The other wedding in England where my niece got married. Nicky and I were fortunate to spend a week hiking in the Peak District before descending on the town of Great Missenden where Alsion and Simon were married. My brother-in-law had convinced the local pub owner (on the edge of town and known for their excellent cuisine) to host the reception on the lawn in their back garden...he had never done that before. They put down a wooden "floor" and assembled the tables and chairs as normal and also installed a stage at the back of the room where a live band "rocked it out" for the night. They were quite good and definite crowd-pleasers. It's interesting attending weddings in different parts of the world to see the similarities and differences...and for me, the differences in music choice! There were many numbers I had never heard of but were well known by the wedding attendees. It was a wonderful, perfectly planned wedding weekend .