Lifest and Cornerzone shows

Greetings from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where my family is spending a much-enjoyed vacation this week. Had a couple cool shows in recent days, and here are the details:

LIFEST in OshKosh, WI, last week Thursday and Friday

I returned to LiFest this Summer after a two-year absence. The festival seems to have streamlined and refocused a bit since my last gigs here in 2004. There were less stages/venues, less artists on the schedule, a toned-down glamour factor, and a ramped up focus on music for teenagers. I was certainly representing the Dad-rock genre on the bill this year (which, funnily enough, is just fine with me).

My main performance took place in the air-conditioned comfort of the pavilion, which is my favorite LiFest location (I hate playing outside!). Had about 100 folks in the audience, and about 1/3rd of them had seen me play in the past. Played a short and basic little set, with few surprises. I did take audience requests, which is kinda rare for me...they wanted to hear “Librarian” and “Smart Girls” and I was happy to oblige. My favorite part of the set was a set-closing duet with Audrey Hatcher Woodhams, the performer who was on stage before me. She was an incredible vocalist, and was sitting at her sales table during my set talking to fans. I called to her from the stage and invited her up to sing a duet, even though we’d never even met before. She was cool, and jumped right up. We had a brief conference, deciding on “Amazing Grace.” Audrey sang lead, I played guitar and sang harmony, and it was awesome. Rarely do performers guest on one another’s stages at LiFest, so I was glad to create a loose, collaborative vibe. Audrey is the real deal, and I hope to see her perform again sometime!

CORNERZONE CAFÉ in Marquette, MI on Saturday night

On Saturday I drove up to my hometown of Ishpeming, MI. My cousin Bruce Rundman lives in the U.P. (by the way, here’s Bruce’s brand new MySpace his friend!) and plays his own gigs in the area. We hadn’t played together since my Fall Tour of 2004, so I was really looking forward to a chance to perform again with my earliest musical collaborator. We met at my parents’ house, talked through a set list idea, and drove to Marquette for load in and soundcheck. Our venue was the Cornerzone Youth Center, which hosts benefit gigs each week in their Concerts for a Cause series. We were designating the proceeds of the show to the local branch of Habitat for Humanity.

It’s always fun to gig with Bruce, and although it took us a few songs to shake off the musical cobwebs, we eventually got in the zone. Highlights included a set using the mandolin on songs like “The Princess Wants to Spend Her Time With Me” and a sizzling take on “The Sound of the Cicadas.” We also banged through some cool cover tunes like “All You Zombies” by The Hooters and “Hey Geronimo” by Vinnie’s that for obscure! For our final songs, we invited our opening act Odon Soterias to join us on stage and play some hand drums, and they put an amazing world-beat hippie spin on “No More Walls” and “Canticle for Departure.” Not unlike the impromptu duet with Audrey at LiFest, there was an undeniable electricity on stage during this all-band jam session....something happens between musicians (especially, when you don’t even know each other personally) who perform together, and everybody catches the wave, finds the groove, and that spiritually-connected community bond of joy and energy is created. Music is a powerful thing.

I’ve got a couple weeks now with no shows on the calendar, so hopefully my singing voice will have time to recover. I totally blew it out these past few, I can’t wait for that tonsillectomy I’ve got scheduled in September. Rip those babies out of there and give me my voice back!


Popular Posts