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Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Tale of Two Shows

Show Review: Dragon Wagon CD Release Party at the Blind Pig (Ann Arbor)

Sometimes it's not about the music.  I saw two great shows last night.  They couldn't be more different, but I really enjoyed them both.

The 11-member Tedeschi Trucks Band at Hill Auditorium
A couple friends had an extra ticket to see the Tedeschi Trucks Band perform at Hill Auditorium.  I've always been a blues fan as well as a bluegrass fanatic, and Susan Tedeschi's solo blues work has always been on my radar.  However, the 11-member, jam-band influenced TTB was  something I didn't expect.  This is generally not my favorite genre, but I found it mysteriously enjoyable. Once I got past the medieval torture devices that pass for seats in the Mezzanine (easily fixed by standing at the rear of the auditorium), and a superbly talented, yet uninspiring opening act (sorry...not my cup of tea) I focused on the real star of the show--Hill Auditorium.  I hadn't seen a show there since my high school band concerts and had forgotten the magical acoustics of this grand old venue.  Closing my eyes and listening to the warble and swell of that incredible Hammond B3 organ cranked through a sweet, big, old Leslie speaker cabinet as it reflected down from the ceiling of the hall, engulfing the crowd in rich, velvety waves of sound,  took and entertaining and majestic show and transformed it to something spiritual for the listener.  I don't think I would have liked this show nearly as much had they played the Palace, Cobo or Pine Knob (no...it will NEVER be DTE to me).  Hill Auditorium is a place where serious music fans go to seriously listen to seriously good music.  It is the best.

Dragon Wagon.  As Seen From a Crowded Dance Floor.
After the show, we drifted over to the Dragon Wagon CD Release Party at the Blind Pig.  Completely different show, totally different crowd, and just as thoroughly enjoyable.  No need to worry about seating at the Pig (there really isn't any), but the beer is cheap, the bartenders excellent, and the sound system remarkably good for a bar..  Unlike Hill Auditorium, the crowd was there to do more than listen: they were there to sing along, dance, sweat, and generally hitch a ride as the bands whipped them into a frenzy.  I've seen these guys more than a few times, and--while never lacking for energy--they were definitely inspired and bringing their "A" game Friday night!  Well set up by opening acts Match by Match (bummed I didn't get there in time for this set...does anyone have photos, want to write it up?), my new favorite funkgrass band Back Forty (who absolutely KILLED it--again!) and EmCee Nickie P who kept the crowd energized, the gang from Dragon Wagon took the stage and tore through the songs from their new album in order.  With the last-call crowd nicely primed, they closed the show with a flurry of original bar-band classics (definitely not for the PG crowd) including a cover of Push It, their party-anthem Smoke and Wine and a brawling, inspired rendition of F*** You I'm Drunk. 

All the bands I saw tonight are great .  (Hey...I don't go see bad music!).   But when a great band hits the stage in that perfect venue, something happens.  Something magical.  A bond forms between the band and the audience and we are transported to a place where music is king, and we're all a part of the show; hanging on every note, and singing along with every verse.  Time stops, our cares vanish and we live--together--in the music.  Thanks, I loved it all!


  1. free download or streaming of Back Forty's performance here:


  2. This is really cool. Can't believe how good the sound quality is. Mind if I share it on the blog's facebook page?

  3. not at all! share away!


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