"The Local Scene"

Lansing, MI

Caught in the Act...

...by the publisher (Geoff Wilbur)

Lansing headbangers rocked the Silver Dollar Saloon to benefit Cerebral Palsy. Frog and the Beeftones kicked off the evening with the mellowest set of the night, a set of fun, raucous classic rock and hard rock that showcased the band's charisma. "Sweet Jane" and "All Right Now" were among the highlights. Vivian Darkbloom followed with heavy rock that utilized lots of bass. There's some solid varying vocal work, enabling the band's repertoire to range from ballads to growlers. Vivian Darkbloom features a classic-styled musicianship, but the vocals and tempos combine to make it sellable here in the mid-nineties. The Fruitflies served up a strong set featuring heavy, melodic rock with occasional hot guitar licks. Stone Mary delivered a very heavy, very current sound but with a crispness that makes it listenable for a broader market. (In other words, it isn't simply a bludgeoning wall of sound.) Stone Mary's style is fresh while still being familiar. The band closed its set impressively with "The House of Lies." Uncle Chuck won "loudest band so far" with its trademark style -- heavy base, thrashy feel, but with distinct melody. Horror Factor closed the evening in typically heavy Horror Factor form. A known talent here in Lansing, crowds always come to hear Horror Factor's talent-driven, loud, attention-demanding, heavy, heavy (did I say heavy?) rock and roll sound.

I caught The Roadmasters during the Capitol Area Blues Society's Meals on Wheels benefit at Capitol Hill Station. (Mike Somers reviewed the whole evening on page 7.) The 'masters are five bluesmen who are obviously having fun while playing. They can slow things down if they have to but clearly prefer the faster, more energetic stuff. Highlights included "Emergency" and "Framed."

Chicago sister act The Twigs played the Small Planet in late November. I got a day-of-show call from Renegade writer Michael Fuller, who saw The Twigs in Grand Rapids the night before, advising me that this was a band I shouldn't miss, and he was, indeed, right. They played a set of catchy, acoustic music with an alternative edge. They were only two on stage, but they projected more force than some full bands. (The Twigs are usually a four-piece.) The blending of two different voices results in a full vocal sound that may not result from exclusive use of either. Of note was the nice guitar hook and catchy tempo in "The Rainbow Man."

...by Shane Copher

Election night '96 found East Lansing's Silver Dollar Saloon the home of a "Grand Old Party" -- the "one night only" reunion of Lansing's Sinister Black was all we anticipated and more! After a mere three weeks' rehearsal, the Blackians were tighter and as thunderous as ever. Their hour long set covered the band's career, from a medley of cuts from their Courts of Corruption release, to a fresh track written just prior to the show. Killer riffing, great sound, and power to spare. Mid-Michigan has missed these guys; let's hope this leads to more work in the future.

Next up was Brazil's Overdose, who I raved about last year after catching them with the Spudmonsters and Skrew. Well, I'm still raving! Clean, powerful, often vicious hardcore, with one of the most ferocious rhythm sections I've experienced... ever. This band is hot! and this show introduced them to a new audience; the Dollar ate it up.

The night's headliner was King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. A bit disappointing, really. The sound was a mess (go easy on the reverb next time) and the King's vocals less than stellar. He was suffering from bronchitis, or so we were informed, but that still doesn't explain the poor mix. Musically, the band was much more sound, and many fans took it in stride... I didn't.

Overall, a great show, and a good reminder of the lack of quality metal shows in this area. The Dollar was packed, so let's hope somebody was paying attention.

If you'd like Shane to catch your show, call him at (517) 694-5625.

...by Patrick Ondrus

In case people haven't noticed, original heavy rock is coming back in this town in a big way. No doubt it has something to do with the fact that a certain radio station is actually promoting original music (or at least a certain DJ, right Jaz?). At the Silver Dollar, I caught a double bill with KGB and Aceldama. I like KGB (Killer Green Bud, for those who don't know). They rocked; they grooved; they jammed. I only saw the last part of their show, but I'd go see them again.

Aceldama -- well, let me tell you about them. Musically, heavy as hell, really tight, and all very good players. As a musician myself, I could appreciate that. But lyrically and vocally, I couldn't deal with them. Let it be known that I can't stand gargle vocals. (They made Lemmy sound like Geoff Tate.) And a band can only sing so many songs about death, dying, and destruction.

Downtown at the Rock House, I caught Powerface. I missed the opener, but Powerface had the place hopping. It's kinda nice knowing there is a place in town where they will let people mosh! Their heavy alternative sound really seems to strike a chord with the local crowds.

I guess I'll mention this one -- Kiss at the Palace. Yeah, it was Kiss -- I won't put them down (but I won't talk them up, either).

If you'd like Patrick to catch your show, call him at (517) 669-7124.

...by Bob Smith

If you'd like Bob to catch your show, call him at (517) 622-1451.

...by Kevin Hurrell

I caught Rock Binge at the tail end of Riverfest '96, and it proved to be a worthwhile afternoon, shattering previous records for crowd attendance. It was an energized show featuring everyone's favorite classic rock tunes with a spicy taste of some of their original stuff thrown in as well. Cover tunes such as "Jesus Just Left Chicago" and "Girl's Got Rhythm" ground hard into the souls of the onlookers as a preamble to "Down On The Ground", a bluesy J. Giels-esque original that scored high marks with me on intonation, tone, and tempo during both the chorus and dual guitar solos. A power packed performance for the Lansing-based band.

Well, all the hype about Octoberfest '96 proved true with the grand finale... the Reverend Horton Heat show. Other bands, such as Lansing's own Powerface put on tremendous performances, but the Reverend was exquisite in their own psychobilly way. With a new set percussionist, longtime favorite standup bass player, and the tripped out sounds of that screaming guitar, the Reverend Horton Heat put on a great show that people of all ages could enjoy. Sponsored by 92.1 The Edge, Octoberfest's greatest lineup yet hit hard in Old Town Lansing. Let's hope the trend continues in years to come.

For all you local blueshounds seeking your blues fix, check out Big Jack Johnson. Caught in the act of bluesification at Lansing's own Capitol Hill Station, Big Jack put on a show better than any I have seen since Dave Dale and the Blues Control played back in early February. With smooth guitar solos, bluesified dual vocalists, and a groovin' set of tunes, Big Jack Johnson entertained a packed house on old Washington Street that night with the enthusiasm of three bands. Big Jack Johnson has a CD out that can be purchased at selected music stores and Big Jack gigs.

And as if straight out of the streets of Chicago, Dave Dale and the Blues Control blew me away at Caffe Latte some months back with the energy that's a little jazzy, a little rock and roll, and a whole lotta blues rolled into one. With multiple guitarists stepping in and out of songs with electric and acoustics and the impenetrable sounds of that lead v., Dave Dale is another blues "must see."

All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween as some call it, set the perfect stage for a night filled with blues, booze, and boos. Delta Rhythm Kings did the boo-fest down at Capitol Hill Station where I sat in awe of these blues giants. Sometimes six, sometimes seven, sometimes eight musicians graced the stage on the thirty-first, feeding those ever so blues hungry goblins in the audience. Trust me on this one; if you like the blues, you'll love the Delta Rhythm Kings. Go check 'em out.

Saturated with the soul of one-thousand screaming butterflies, and amidst a cloud of smoke arose a band named Nackt. Attracting many faithful followers to a Friday night gig at Cafe Venezia, this band is not new to the Lansing scene. Often found at The Bach Dor Cafe in Old Town, this band combines the ear-friendly chords of folk with the time changes found in jazz and stirs it all together in a kettle full of Phish-esque jam-outs which most eloquently replace any old guitar solo. On acoustic guitar is Larry, who plays on fire with intensity, intonation, tone and amazing ability. DuWayne, the lead vocalist, pulled from the bottom and hit the top time and time again, giving me the flavor of Glenn Danzig (with much more talent) and the spirit of J. Morrison hovering over his lyrics. Bandmates Jeff (bass guitar) and Drew (set percussion) make Nackt complete, showing top notch musicianship through and through. Nackt currently has cassettes and CDs for sale at Nackt gigs (go see one) and over Nackt info: Drew (517) 346-5667.

Smooth Daddy played Moriarty's Pub on the 15th of November and put on a great show with their smooth blues technique. Showing the crowd that Lansing's blues scene is gaining fame, Smooth Daddy had applause to spare after each tune. Members Joe Cardenas, Mike Daniels, and the man they call Frog got the blues goin' on and should definitely be on your top ten blues bands to see in the Lansing area. Jennifer Lewis stepped up with Smooth Daddy on the 15th to strut her stuff with the band. Her voice, so strong and beautiful, can be caught at Moriarty's pub every Monday.

If you'd like Kevin to catch your show, call him at (517) 482-7613. You can reach Kevin via e-mail at Hurrellk@pilot.msu.edu.

...by Mike Somers

The Capitol Area Blues Society and Capitol Hill Station teamed up on November 10th for a night of fundraising for the Meals on Wheels program. Six area blues bands donated their time and talent to raise money and promote community awareness for this worthy cause. Mike Espy warmed up the historic train station with some traditional slide blues. Next up were the Grand Avenue Blues Cats, who delivered a tight set of classic blues and originals. The Roadmasters were next on stage and treated the crowd to a loud set of harp-driven jump blues. The local trio Microtones followed with a strong set of rock blues and instrumentals. Don Cadwell was joined by some friends and kicked out some fine rockabilly rhythm and blues. The evening was wrapped up by the winning band in last summer's CABS blues talent competition and local favorite, Those Delta Rhythm Kings. Lead vocalist Jill Messing bounced and danced and led the boys through an excellent collection of revivalist swing and jump blues. The Kings proved again why the judges voted them the best area blues band. A real fine evening of great blues music, great food and drink, and some money raised for a worthy cause.

Stopped by to catch a couple sets from the house band at the Colonial Bar and Grille. Patti Ross and the Wanted have been providing the Lansing area with years of great music with their blend of contemporary country and rock. Patti Ross has a strong and passionate delivery and can switch from pure country to flat out rockin' in the blink of an eye. Great voice, great musicians, and a great variety of energetic material.

Got a chance to catch the Detroit-based jump blues band The Alligators at Capitol Hill Station. Bursting from the gate with aggressive, driving rhythms and an energetic stage presence, the 'Gators played with confidence and practiced skill. The dancing started in the first set, and the appreciative crowd bounced and boogied along to spicy hot original numbers "See Ya Later Alligator" and "Six Foot Blues." Revved up blues standards like Studebaker Johns' "She Gets to Me" and my favorite tune of the night, "20% Alcohol," were given the full Alligator treatment. Tight time changes, frenzied lead breaks, and a packed house gave lead vocalist David Krammer and harp man Greg "Wailin' Dale" Blankenship and The Alligators a chance to blast out their passionately-played blues sound in the warm and friendly confines of the Station. If you can't see The Alligators live, do yourself a favor by picking up their recent CD release, Gimme Some Skin.

If you'd like Mike to catch your show, call him at (517) 393-8473.

...by Matthew Brown

Caught Chicago-based Hello Dave at Rick's in Ann Arbor in early November. This four piece was worth the four dollar cover. Their original material has a mature "Hootie" sound with exceptional harmonies. Vocalist/songwriter Mike Himebaugh carried the show with his vibrant, interactive stage presence. They also did a rollicking rendition of John Denver's "Country Boy."

If you'd like Matt to catch your show, call him at (517) 333-9330.

Lansing Band Guide:

To help club-goers, the Renegade asks the Lansing area's local bands to describe themselves briefly. Their descriptions are featured here.

dt's: "Consistently engaging original rock-n-roll."

The Epidemic: "The Epidemic is an original metal funk blues rock band with hard hitting grooves. The anti-alternative, anti-pop trio brings new meaning to the word musicality, concentrating on time changes, tempo changes, key changes, and the all out obliteration of alternative music."

Bands: Read the "Hey Bands" box on this page for information on how to get listed in the Lansing Band Guide section.

Lansing Music News

Monkey Chuck's CD Going to Ben's is available on Yikes! Records.

The annual Yikes! compilation is out now, and it's entitled Volume 6 -- In the Be-Guinea. Featured this go-round are Lansing/East Lansing acts the Caustic Pop!, Dorothy, Drew Howard, the dt's, Fat Amy, Nineteen Wheels, Powerface, and Storyville, Kalamazoo's Monkey Chuck, Grand Rapids' Domestic Problems, Ann Arbor's Grin, Detroit's Mental Landscape, Toronto's Blue Dog Pict and Conscience Pilate, Cleveland's Queue-Up, and Buffalo's the tails. The CD was supported with release parties featuring several of the bands on the disc at East Lansing's Small Planet, the Rivertown Saloon in Detroit, Sluggo's in Grand Rapids, and Symposium in Cleveland.

Attention blues fans: You can join the Capital Area Blues Society for annual dues of just $20. Contact them at P.O. Box 1004, Okemos, MI 48805-1004 or via the blues line: 517-349-0006.

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