Sunday, December 18, 2016

The State of Music 2016 - You Might Be Surprised


                                            The State of Our Musical Union
                             Music Trumps Hairballs and Backroom Deals
By Bo White
For the life of me I cannot recall counting the coupe so viciously though I would scalp any low life billionaire who takes advantage of sloganeering and backroom deals in the name of progress. I’ve seen those people in grey with their feckless high-end uniforms, sartorial delights, and Viagra hard Eunuchs when they are just keeping up with appearances.  I’ve been down the road with the Kinks for forty-five years, loving their missteps, feuds, and musical faux pas.  It started with Arthur and took a hard left to Something Else and ended with Lola. I recently read a book about the Kinks written by Ray Davies. After a few hundred pages down road, it dawned on me that the book was incomplete; it went only to 1996, twenty years short of my goal of knowing the complete mania surrounding the kinkdom.
Oh, well. I’m not the man I used to be. I now get up at 4am, drive over to White’s Bar by 5am and I count all the money and laugh hysterically, maybe it’s the coffee. One thing I know for sure is there is a lot of great music in the Great Lakes Bay of Michigan.  Take Andy Reed, one of my musical heroes. He sent me three vinyl LPs including Always on the Run; The Legal Matters, Conrad; Relay Vol.1. I couldn’t imagine a better set of LPs since I love power pop, cool lyrics, and high harmonies. Reed is a musical institution in Michigan as well as parts unknown as the music drifts into the ether only to reappear when the aspects are right. I love Andy Reed because he is talented and honest. He doesn’t jump and jive and he offers no pretense to being pretty. I need to mention the Legal Matters recent vinyl release. It is an incredible piece of music and harmony plus it has a card so you can download some goodies.  The Legal Matters rocked the Magic Bag in Ferndale on November 5th, it is one of the last bastions of free world rock & roll!
The local scene is becoming more resilient due to the resurgence of White’s Bar. Allysha Guldenzoph is the manager and she has made White’s the place for great music and good vibes. There is a rotating group of singers/musicians who make the place hop from Michale Graves, Honesty & the Liars, Marsupial Creampie, David Asher’s DAB, Eastside Mike with Tommy Dolson and Chris, Joe Balbaugh, Tim Avram, The Mongrels, Charlie Klein, Margie & the Madness, Aaron Johnson Spout & the Orange, and the spirit of John Krogman, the man that made it all happen.
Chris Zehnder has been a compelling presence in the Music Scene in the Great Lakes Bay Region of Michigan. He cut his teeth with the Avery Set, a great band that was done too soon. College, travel, and life itself intervened to give Chris a wanderlust that served him well. Thus, Zehnder matured and blossomed as an artist. He can do rock, country, alternative and acoustic solo without blinking. He’s earned his stripes the hard way, moving out and moving forward but never leaving us behind. Chris provides the proof that great music continues to be designed. Thank god for Andy Reed, Donny Brown and the host of musicians that created this living document of great music.
Michael Robertson deserves a special mention. After dissolving Maybe August Michael and Roscoe Selley created some incredible music together. Michael is older and wiser. He’s embraced playing music in smaller venues (like White’s Bar) and continued to focus on music and lyrics. He is now working with Honesty Elliott on a regular basis and the marriage of musical ideas have flourished. Michael sings low to allow Honesty’s high harmonies to make a statement. The band’s photos are silhouetted in perfect sepia tones, Michael’s hair is windblown and impervious to the overgrown grasses and haggard trees. Incredible!
 Lumber Barons Fire Bar and Stable Martini Bar has entertainment 7 nights a week. The Bancroft Wine & Martini Bar has great drinks, Ladies Night, and music from their vinyl record collection. At times, they have live music with cool artists like Joel Rydecki, Andrew Kitzman, Avenue Acoustic and the Jim Pagel Jazz Trio.
Counter Culture is located on 620 Gratiot Avenue. They feature great live bands. They are the good guys!
Jeff Hall is still a fixture at Delta and continues to play beautiful music whether it’s tenor or baritone sax. He can play piano if you ask nice. Jeff was acquainted with Sonny Stitt through his gigs at Bakers Keyboard Lounge back in the seventies. It was a heady time for music, music was everywhere!
My last rock & roll concert was in Detroit and it featured my all time favorite singer/songwriter/musician Todd Rundgren. I loved the show. Rundgren took a page from each of his most well loved LPs including Todd, A Wizard; A True Star; Something /Anything? Back to the Bars. Good Stuff!
It was a great show that highlighted Rundgren’s ability to make the crowd stand up and pay attention. Well known players like Kasim Sulton and Prairie Prince were excellent and helped layer the harmonies. Rundgren performed his greatest songs such as Hello It’s Me, Just One Victory; I Saw the Light and Open My Eyes (Nazz). By the last third of the show I was beginning to tire, my energy was spent and I was nodding off and just when I got into a deep REM sleep, Rundgren started banging his drum and I awoke with a start. I had been dreaming of days gone by when Angelo Lorenzo was playing Sleepy Time Gal and Kenny Roberts was singing Going up the Country while Dick Wagner defrosted the Mystery Man and Question Mark danced through all those tears and through it all Lillie Gonzales took what she needed especially when Bobby Balderama played his guitar. Bob Seger is our hometown hero, he played Daniel’s Den in 1969 and came through White’s Bar with Tom Wechsler back in the seventies.
Bo White

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