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Caught in the Act...

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Thanks once again go out to ETCH magazine for bringing some great out-of-town acts to Macís Bar. Among the bands Iíve caught at Macís lately was Frozen Houndís Leather Hyman. Interesting percussion and rockiní violin-work power the sometimes arty, often full-tilt, offbeat rock band. "I Liked You Better Then" is the closest Leather Hyman comes to the usual radio-friendly song, owing to its comparatively straightforward approach and humor. Overall, it was a very entertaining, varied, club-shaking set.

Iíve always liked the sound bands get out of Tommyís Place, and Showdown makes the most of this great room by filling it with powerful, enveloping melodies and harmonies from mostly mid-tempo, broad-appeal rock spanning four decades, from "Love the One Youíre With" to "One Headlight."

Troll for Trout motored through "Resolving," my favorite track from INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER, at light speed, and they churned out a notable cover of Peter Gabrielís "Salisbury Hill," but they especially introduced several new songs during their recent Small Planet gig... "The New Blood" fuses hints of blazing rock into a mellow song -- great, radio-ready sound; a Talking Heads-ish rhythm drives college pop rocker (with a light feel) "Happy Too Much"; and "27 Hour Day" is right outta a montage scene from a movie like CLUELESS.

Those attending the Michigan State-Ohio State game had to stay in their seats during halftime to catch one of the day's few highlights, when Lansing vocal gods Three Men & a Tenor performed three songs with the MSU Marching Band. The guys entertained the crowd with "I Do," "Love Is Like a Rock," and a fun rendition of "Drift Away."

Whirl-i-Gig recording artists Merge rocked Rick's with a full vocal sound, varied styles in the guitar lines, and a hint of Southern alterna-scream in the vocal edge at times. In addition, some funk and psychedelic influences show through. The packed Rick's crowd was treated to a raucous show from this fast-rising band.

I attended the Yikes! Records wake at the Small Planet -- the release party for the very last Yikes! release, the 12-song compilation LUCKY NUMBER 7. The East Lansing scene will miss Yikes!, who helped local bands release their music to broader audiences and realize that their music is as good as any in the country. Several of the bands on the compilation played the gig. I caught I Hate Mars, the Dumpster Cowboys, The Deans, The Caustic Pop!, the dt's, Monkey Chuck, and The Clutters. I Hate Mars is a raw, fun, party-feel rock band -- more college rock than punk but a bit of each and mostly catchy. The Dumpster Cowboys are doin' that Southern-fried rockin' thing with a college edge. They've really got that faux cowpoke thing goin' on (and when they use the steel guitar on the slow ones, the music is thoroughly country). The Deans (Jimmy, not Bo) play a brand of surfabilly that had the cats and kittens groovin' & shakin'. Great rock -- fun for club crows and ready for '50s/'60s retro soundtracks. Thumping bass and emotional vibe power The Caustic Pop!, a '90s, semi-hard alternative band that drives each song home over and over. The dt's are still one of the area's elite bands. When they do the harmony, energy-filled, rockin'-pop-song-powered thing, ain't no one in town better. Monkey Chuck plays powerful, catchy, Midwestern college pop rock -- a unique brand of that distinctive Mid-/West Michigan sound. The Clutters closed the night with a floor-filling rock and roll holdover sound.

...by Shane Copher

Halloween night I caught a killer show at the Victor Township Hall in Laingsburg. Skull Buzz headlined the show, featuring some fresh tracks along with favorites from their demo. This band has a nice combination of controlled aggression, along with doom laden lyrics and haunting structure. The band was tight and the vocals outstanding.

Blackened Earth opened and is, in my opinion, the finest heavy act in the Lansing area. Searing leads, outstanding rhythms, and extremely strong vocals keep BE ahead of the pack. The band ripped through selections from their new demo, along with cuts from their previous release.

Also appearing on the bill was New Alien Striptease, but a hectic schedule caused a late arrival by yours truly, and I missed their set, but crowd opinions were very favorable.

For a relatively small venue, there was a good sized crowd of costumed metalheads, and the sound mix was real impressive; nice job, Rockfish!

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

...by Patrick Ondrus

If you weren't there, you missed it, and too bad you did. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the Uncle Chuck CD release party featuring The Fruitflies, Blackened Earth, and, of course, Uncle Chuck. It was a killer show! The Fruitflies opened with a set that ranged from straight ahead rock to jazzy R&B. These people are almost too musically talented. No wonder most of the players in the capital area hold this band in such high regard. Next, Blackened Earth raised the temperature even higher with their brand of melodic heavy metal. The crowd was definitely impressed, I just wish we'd see more of this band. After those bands got things going, Uncle Chuck came out and blew the roof off the place. The heavy funkin', groovin' sound had the whole crowd jumping. Do yourself a favor and see U.C. soon!

The Notorious Smith Brothers were laying it down at Macís on Washington. These guys mix blues, rock, and jazz into a stew that's all their own. They've got experienced chops and a go-for-the-throat attitude that sets them apart, well apart from your usual blues band. Well worth the cover! (Sorry, inside joke; go to Mac's and you'll know what I mean.)

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

...by Mike Somers

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

...by Kevin Hurrell

If you'd like Kevin to catch your show, call him at (517) 333-9417.

Local Scene Writers Wanted

Two RENEGADE local scene writers have left the Lansing area recently, so we have a couple of openings. If you're interested, call (517) 332-7648. No pay. Great perks.

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.

Life On Earth: "Original guitar-based "Adult Alternarock For the Masses"! Influences include (but not limited to): The Beatles, Joe Jackson, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths & Tom Petty. Life On Earth is: Craig Hendershott, Frank Pennoni, Curt Stoneham, and Mark Rogers. Rock On!!!"

Yakety Yak and the Mike Espy Band: "We try to capture the essence of blues, even though today there are many different philosophies, many different interpretations of where blues is going. We just consider ourselves straight-ahead, Chicago-style type of blues."

Solid Ground: "Solid Ground puts some 'drive' in their country! Catch the new band with their new sound! 1997 Jim Beam Talent Search winners! West Michigan's number one selling unsigned band! Appeared at the Wildhorse Saloon, Nashville, TN, and on The Nashville Network (TNN)."

dt's: "Microphonic garagerock."

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

Lansing Band News

Yakety Yak and the Mike Espy Band represented the area admirably at the International Blues Talent Competition November 21 and 22 in Memphis, a trip the band earned by winning the Michigan Blues Talent Competition in August.

Grand Rapids' Solid Ground won the 1997 Jim Beam Country Music Talent Search. The finals were held November 1, 1997 at the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville.

Check out the Capital Area Blues Society's website at http://lhq.com/~cabs.

Bands: Read the "Hey Bands" section for information on how to be included in the Lansing Music News section.

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