Chris DuPont believes the right live album includes an eclectic mix of original and cover songs recorded in a venue and a studio.
The Ypsilanti, Mich. folk singer-songwriter melded these two sounds together for his new live album, “Live in A2,” which drops today.
The 12-track live album features six songs recorded during a June 4, 2016 show at The Ark and another six recorded during a studio session at Solid Sound in Ann Arbor, Mich. Each side of the LP represents a different live feel for listeners.
Side A incorporates the intimacy and energy associated with hearing DuPont perform his classic tunes – “Evergreen Waltz,” “Winterfox” and four others – in the 400-seat acoustic and folk music venue known as The Ark.
“I hope it’s a fun listen,” said DuPont while traveling back from a May 12 show in Denver. “I hope that it gives people the type of energy and affirmation that they might get at a live show because for better or worse I really strive for polish.”
This stunning seven-track album from the self-proclaimed “prog-bluegrass locomotive” fueled by Billy Kirst (vocals and guitar), Kyle Rhodes (vocals and mandolin), Jordan Adema (violin) and Ryan Shea (bass and vocals) pulls listeners along a personal journey while they ride in “psych-folk” boxcars filled with frustration, nostalgia, love and self-discovery.
The journey begins with the energetic title track and captures the frustration of living in an era when “…instead of seeing everyone as sisters and brothers/They started pointing fingers at one another.”
While the lyrics brilliantly capture anger and blame, the band’s acoustic guitar, violin, mandolin and bass harmoniously meld together and instrumentally portray a sense of hope for the future.
That hope is carried through to “Madison,” which features Kirst’s and Rhodes’ lush harmonies coupled with nostalgic lyrics and the fast-paced sonic partnership of Adema’s violin and Rhodes’ mandolin.
Dawes is quickly becoming one of our favorite bands.
Brian and I made the 90-minute trek to Kalamazoo, Mich. last night to see the Los Angeles-based indie folk rock quartet play two powerhouse sets at the State Theatre for about 1,000 fans.
Called “An Evening with Dawes,” the 2.5-hour show served as the band’s first headlining performance at Kalamazoo’s historic 90-year-old theater and included 25 songs that spanned their eight-year career.
The show is part of Dawes’ current 51-city North American tour and most recent album, “We’re All Gonna Die,” which came out in September.
My visit was brief – about four and a half hours – but I traveled through the shimmering, dreamy soft rock tunes of Denver-based indie pop band Tennis.
Tennis created a 1970s sonic feel by featuring pre-show music from Hall & Oates, Minnie Riperton, Bob Welch and other artists from my favorite decade.
Led by wife and husband duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, Tennis played a sold-out show to an energetic crowd of 400 at Ferndale, Mich.’s The Magic Bag, one of my favorite music venues in southeast Michigan.
In a sense, Friday’s show also served as an informal release party for Tennis’ fourth album, “Yours Unconditionally,” which dropped that day and features a 1970s-inspired pop sound. The album’s cover includes a faded close-up shot of the duo that’s reminiscent of 1970s era vinyl album covers.
While growing up, their name popped every time I read about my favorite artists’ musical influences, listened to “best of” musical countdowns on the radio or watched a documentary about the history of rock and roll on TV.
My parents raved about The Beatles during their early college days at Ohio University in 1964-1965. The songs “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Eight Days a Week” served as the soundtrack of their transition from youth to adulthood.
Anytime The Beatles were mentioned, my parents fondly recalled dancing to their songs at college mixers, watching them play on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and getting excited about the British Invasion.
Over the years, my dad and I would have this recurring conversation:
“Dad, Were The Beatles really that big of a deal?” I asked.
“L, They were a big deal. Everything changed overnight here when they played ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ Before The Beatles came here, all that boring folk music was popular. That stuff put me to sleep,” he said.
“I still don’t get it,” I said while shaking my head in disbelief. “I guess I had to be there.”
My mom retreated to her bedroom to unearth a classic rock album from her 1970s era vinyl collection.
She flipped through the dusty Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon and Eagles albums to locate Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.”
There it was. The original copy she had purchased when I was a baby.
She quickly grabbed the album and brought it downstairs to play during a family listening party one night in April 1987. She plopped the album down on my grandma’s large wooden stereo system, which featured a 1972 era record player inside and was adorned with large golden knobs.
My brother, Steve, and I requested the listening party after picking up a copy of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tango in the Night.” We wanted to hear the band’s mega hit album from a decade earlier in its entirety.