Last Blasts of Summer
So the city's crammed with Labor Day fests? Go see these bands.
Published: August 31, 2011
MT cover-girl Neals is making a bit of a name in no small part due to her strangely sultry blues voice that's as raw and authentic as it is honest and powerful. She's handily bridging the idea of a blues chanteuse, the classy, sexy singer, to a genre that seems to be overrun with style-over-substance singers. Neals will likely light up Labor Day.
Why you need to see her: Because husky crooners don't come along like this very often. Her band includes horns and Sunny Payton, the Four Tops' Lawrence Payton's daughter.
Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful
Monday, 5 p.m.; Soaring Eagle Stage
This Ypsi quintet established itself as one of the more dynamic delegates of that area's folk community with its '09 debut, the chilly, cathartic and achingly autumnal For the Dead. That richly dressed album (purring pedal-steel, sighing violins and chirping banjos) never bogged down in overly rootsy contrivances and supported the leading lady's warm, breathy vocals.
Why you need to see 'em: Well, for one, Matt Jones plays with them. Also, they're electrified by a less melancholic muse as of late, which translates better live. So the group — Misty Lyn Bergeron (vocals, guitar), Ryan Gimpert (guitar), Jim Roll (bass), Jones (drums), Carol Gray (strings) — won't go breaking your heart; nay, this is just fun, classy folk rock.
Friday, 3 p.m., the Budweiser Rocks Stage
Over the past year or so, these young dudes have grown from a fairly standard indie-rock outfit into a brilliant live band. Tunes just fly from their guts,but their real gift is their complicated but ear-sugary harmonies. Three of four band members are songwriters, and there's always a gaggle of screaming girls at their shows.
Why you need to see 'em: Frankly, the Handgrenades — Andrew Pawelski (vocals, guitar, bass), Tom Pawelski (vocals, guitar, bass), Nick Chevillet (vocals, guitar, bass), Joby Kaslowski (drums) — are a perfect fest band.
Billy Brandt & Sarana Verlin
Friday, 11 a.m., Made in Detroit Stage
This duo were fantastic during Don Was' Detroit revue at this year's Concert of Colors. Brandt is a great guitarist, Verlin's a jaw-droppingly sweet fiddler. They don't play folk exactly, and they don't play rock 'n' roll either. Folk-rock isn't right. But that's the ballpark.
Why you need to see 'em: Because the fiddle is terrible thing to waste!
Friday, 2 p.m., Ford Stage
Are you ready for the country, computer-popsters? Though they set an intricately wrought techno-y groove, when you dig into the vocals you'll discover the heart of these click-clattered, feedback-flumed nocturnes. See, they've a reverence for the outdoors, capturing similar vibes as Eno or Boards of Canada; they can oddly blur the electronic with the earthy.
Why you need to see 'em:Rising stars, to be sure. And curious newcomers may chance upon Christopher Jarvis (synth, sampler, guitar, vocals) and Lianna Vanicelli (vocals, percussion) still bandying their unique Neil Young cover
Saturday, 9:30 p.m., the Budweiser Rocks Stage
Tino and his funky rock 'n' roll combo are on the top of their game right now. God bless 'em, 'cause these lovable bastards have punched their times cards enough. It's that never-say-quit 'tude that has seen them through some tough times. Now they're getting rewarded, and their new "Mr. Right Now" single is getting mad love.
Why you need to see 'em: Tino Gross (vocals), John Evans (sax), Mo Hollis (bass), Erik Gustafson (guitar), Johnny Bee (drums), Jimmie Bones (keys) can strut like motherfuckers. Because nobody screams "Detroit" like these Howlers.
Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Bud Light Stage
A distinctive lead vocal needs the proper backing. James Link isn't some arena-rocking yowler, or a wispy folk weaver; nah, his creakily crooned falsetto can scat and soar, making it a fine match for the quartet of jazz-trained musicians, which include drummer Steve Boegehold, guitarist Matt Callaway, keysman Taylor Pierson and bassist Jeff Cuny.
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